Carry on the party in Carlisle’s ‘rave taxi’

A taxi driver, who battled anxiety and addiction to alcohol, says starting a rave in his taxi has changed his life around.

Ferrying drunk passengers home late at night sometimes worried Stuart Curtis, 41, of Eilbeck Close, Raffles, Carlisle.

But over the years he has developed a way of making sure their spirits remain high and they don’t get aggressive – by carrying on the party.

Mr Curtis, who is also a DJ, decided to play dance music in his taxi and even added some flashing lights before Carlisle City Council asked him to take them down.

He said: “I just came up with this idea to create a party environment for my passengers.

“I’m still just a normal taxi, it isn’t a limo or a rave bus but I just create a party atmosphere.”

By making his taxi into a rave machine, Mr Curtis also said he has taken the focus of his passengers off himself.

Mr Curtis was an alcoholic but has now been sober for eight years. He suffers from anxiety but said that making people happy in his taxi really helps him.

He said: “I have just learned a technique: instead of thinking of myself, if I think about other people and making them happy, I forget about myself.

“Ever since I have been thinking about that my anxiety has disappeared.”

Mr Curtis has now set up a Facebook page where he posts disco selfies of the ravers in his taxi.


App company fails to expand in Oxford and North East England

Taxi drivers are celebrating a victory over Uber after the firm was barred from launching in Oxford.

Uber applied to operate in the city after 50,000 people tried to access the service there in a year, despite it not being available.

But licensed drivers and private hire firms rallied together to try and block the firm, which allows users to request a car through its mobile phone app.

Two of the city’s biggest private hire firms, 001 Taxis and Royal Cars, merged and launched their own app earlier this year to combat the potential threat.

They also raised concerns about the safety of Uber, questioning whether its drivers would abide by Oxford City Council’s regulations.

A year after announcing its intention to move to the city, Uber’s bid has been rejected as the company ‘didn’t get around to’ submitting vital details in time.

Local cabbies are delighted at the decision.

Niaz Mohammed, managing director of Royal Cars, said: ‘It’s great news for us and our customers.

‘We were very concerned about the safety of Uber and whether its drivers would abide by Oxford City Council’s regulations.

‘Their goal is to close down all the other companies and they would have disrupted the system that has been in place for many years.’

City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association secretary Sajad Khan added: ‘I’m very pleased and I’m sure all the city’s drivers are.

‘It would have been devastating for our trade and they would have wrecked the current system.

‘They charge awkward fares and there is also the question of safety. Our drivers go through very stringent checks but you hear some worrying stories about Uber drivers.’

A spokesman for Uber said it would not rule out reapplying in the future.

This comes as plans to ban Oxford’s black cabs from a new road to the city’s shopping centre were put on hold.

Oxford City Council said it did not decide to ban Uber from the city’s streets, but their application lapsed.

A spokesman said: ‘Uber’s application was made a year ago and they did not complete meeting all required criteria for a Private Hire Operator within the permitted 12 month period.

‘As such, they will need to reapply as a new applicant.’

Uber said: ‘We applied for a licence and you have a year to complete that process.

‘We put it in a year ago and that licence expired because we didn’t get around to finishing the application.

‘It is something we are going to do at some stage.’

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Uber taxis pulls plug on plans to extend to other parts of the North East

The taxi app firm decides not to press ahead with plans to extend operations, having already set up camp in Newcastle and Sunderland

The march to global domination of taxi app firm Uber has halted in parts of the North East at least.

We can reveal after submitting applications to operate in Gateshead and North Tyneside several months ago, they have now been withdrawn.

A Gateshead Council spokeswoman said: “Uber Britannia Ltd applied to the council to be licensed to operate taxis in Gateshead. In June this year, after a number of months of discussion, the company informed us it was withdrawing its application.”

Meanwhile North Tyneside Council said the application was first submitted on October 25, 2015 and it was withdrawn on June 1, 2016.

Neither council would say if the company gave any reason for its withdrawal.

A North Tyneside spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, due to commercial sensitivity, we aren’t able to provide any further detail.”

In April last year, Newcastle became one of 400 cities around the world to give permission to the ride-hailing platform to operate since it was launched in 2010.

This April, Sunderland joined its ranks while we understand an application is also being considered by Northumberland.

Chris Chandler, spokesman for the National Taxi Association in the North East, suggested the applications might have been withdrawn as Uber wasn’t able to meet the criteria laid down for taxi firms operating in those areas.

Mr Chandler, a long term critic of Uber whose operation he describes as “spreading like germs”, said many of its drivers had no local knowledge and would fail any ‘locality tests’ on knowing the patch they are in, known as ‘the knowledge’. Its drivers rely heavily on sat navs.

Newcastle City Council was criticised last year by long established operators after it scrapped the stringent test which demanded cabbies had in depth knowledge of the area they cover, opening the door for Uber to start up there.

Bosses at the city council say the decision to make the changes related to pending Government legislation, and the increased use of satellite navigation systems and app based systems.

To use Uber, passengers download its app on their smartphone which then uses GPS enabled maps to locate them, and they can request a nearby taxi with the press of a button.

The app then provides the taxi driver’s photo, name and car registration and users can watch the taxi approaching via a moving symbol on the map.

Uber spokesman in the North East, Harry Porter, said: “There’s been a lot of noise from a couple of local operators. The simple fact is the applications were withdrawn because we didn’t need the expense.

“We submitted applications in North Tyneside and Gateshead back in 2015. Since then, Uber has grown rapidly and we’ve been really pleased with how popular the service has become throughout the North East.

“We spent many months waiting for our applications to be progressed but our growth was not hampered in the meantime, so we decided there was no need to pursue these any further and instead focus on getting on with serving the region.”


Plans to operate ‘executive’ taxis with tinted windows at Luton Airport blocked by council

PLANS to operate tinted window taxis like limousines from Luton Airport have been dealt a blow by the council.

Addison Lee, who recently won the contract to operate taxis from the airport, had wanted to introduce a fleet of 30 ‘executive vehicles’ which featured tinted windows and would be exempt from the display of licence plates identifying them as a taxi.

But Luton Borough Council’s taxi licensing panel rejected the move on Monday.

It’s a big blow for both Addison Lee, who have said they are exploring an appeal, but also for the airport.

Luton Airport had consistently said that their decision to replace the Luton Hackney Carriage Association with Addison Lee was so that passengers could see an ‘improved fleet of vehicles’.

And although Addison Lee has said that service levels have already gone up, they conceded the council’s decision not to allow the executive fleet was ‘saddening’.

Dr Michael Galvin, head of regulatory affairs with Addison Lee, told Luton on Sunday: “I was more sad than angry at the decision.

“The case we put to the licensing panel was open and honest and presented in good faith, and we felt we had addressed any issues.

“The thought of going to appeal is not something we usually like doing, but we are exploring that process.”

A spokesman for Luton Borough Council said: “The application to relax the conditions in the Private Hire Operators Licence which would allow the company to operate vehicles with tinted windows and which did not display the licence plate and standard signage was refused.

“Whilst there is no express definition of the term ‘Executive Licence’ the Panel did not consider Addison Lee’s operation to fall within such a category.

“The Panel recognises that certain private hire operators undertake contracts which are more akin to a chauffeur driven car, often using prestige vehicles, being contracted to a specific customer or company and often at the disposal of the hirer for extended periods rather than for single journeys.

“The Panel did not consider Addison Lee’s operation to differ significantly from an ordinary private hire service and serves the general public using the airport rather than any exclusive or separately identifiable customer base.

“Given the similarity with other private hire operators and also to the previous hackney carriage provision at the airport, there was no reason to justify departure from the Council’s policy requiring the grant of a licence with standard operator conditions.

“The standard conditions are imposed for the purpose of protecting customers and the wider public who come into contact with private hire vehicles.

” Accordingly, the application to exempt the Operator from the standard is refused and the standard conditions will remain on the licence previously issued.”


Delta driver in court charged with raping passenger

A Delta private-hire driver appeared in court charged with the rape of a male passenger.

Khaldon Mohammed, 30, is alleged to have attacked the man in his taxi in Aigburth late last year.

The driver is alleged to have picked up the victim before attacking him near Sefton Park.

Mohammed, of Gwendoline Street in Toxteth, did not enter pleas to the charge at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court and spoke only to confirm his name and address.

The case was sent to Liverpool Crown Court where Mohammed will next appear for a trial preparation hearing on August 16.

Mohammed was released on bail with conditions not to contact the complainant.

Bootle based Delta is one of the biggest taxi companies in the North West and employs more than 2,200 private hire drivers, according to its website.


Two men injured jumping out of taxi to dodge fare lose bid to sue taxi driver

Joseph Beaumont and Lewis O’Neill, now both 24, jumped from the vehicle and suffered life changing injuries

Two teenagers injured when they jumped from a moving cab in a bid to dodge a £10 fare have had their bid to SUE the taxi driver snubbed by a judge.

Joseph Beaumont, Lewis O’Neill and four friends all decided to “jump” a cab on the evening of July 27, 2009, and cabbie David Ferrer picked them up in Salford.

They asked to be taken into town but the experienced cabbie, who was at the wheel of his Nissan Serena minivan, quickly realised what the youths were planning to do.

Mr Ferrer had been stabbed and robbed by a group of young passengers the previous year and was in fear of his life, London’s Appeal Court heard.

When he stopped on Deansgate, three of the youths leaped out and ran away – leaving Beaumont, O’Neill and an 11-year-old still inside.

Mr Ferrer said he “panicked” at the memory of being cornered in a cul-de-sac by youths the year before, stabbed twice and seriouisly injured.

It was “like deja vu”, said the cabbie who was also “justifiably aggrieved” and “understandably angry” at the attempt to rip him off.

He drove off with one of the cab’s sliding doors still open and Beaumont jumped out backwards onto the road.

O’Neill followed him out seconds later and both teenagers suffered severe, life changing head injuries.

Both men suffered severe head injuries and sued Mr Ferrer for substantial compensation stating he was negligent to drive off at speed to prevent them leaving the taxi.

Their lawyers argued that Mr Ferrer was negligent in driving off with the door open and two of his passengers not wearing seatbelts and said Mr Ferrer should have given in to the young criminals and “resigned himself to the loss of his fare”.

The case was rejected initially but was appealed at London Appeals Court,

Ruling on the case today, Lord Justice Longmore said it was “regrettably all too foreseeable” that Beaumont and O’Neill would try to get away.

Although his reluctance to lose his fare was “understandable” that was “not an excuse” for the risk Mr Ferrer took.

But the judge went on to rule that any fault on the cabbie’s part was “simply overwhelmed” by the teenagers’ recklessness and criminal intent.

Fearing attack, Mr Ferrer was in “a difficult dilemma” . He was intent on driving them to the nearest police station and the teenagers could have strapped themselves in and safely awaited justice, said the judge.

“However, each chose not to do so but rather to position himself at an opened door of the taxi and to jump out of the taxi as it was moving away.

Mum thanks hero taxi driver who saved baby’s life by clearing airways after he stopped breathing

“Neither had any legitimate reason for this deliberate and utterly reckless decision,” added the judge, sitting with Lords Justice Moore-Bick and Beatson.

The court’s decision backed up the long-established legal principle that criminals forfeit their compensation rights if they are injured in the course of illegal acts.

There were, said Lord Justice Longmore, powerful “public policy” reasons why Beaumont and O’Neill, now 24, should go uncompensated.


New 30 mile radius for hackney cabs slammed by taxi boss

The chair of the Rossendale Taxi Association says the group will formally object to the addition to the intended use policy

A Taxi boss has slammed the council for introducing a 30 mile catchment to stop Rossendale licenses being given to people who live more than 30 miles away.

Rossendale Borough Council say that since implementing their new hackney carriage intended use policy in February, they have ‘refined and clarified it’ in a bid to crack down on taxi drivers operating outside the borough.

This includes the rejection of applications whose address is beyond a 30 miles radius from a fixed point within the borough.

Rossendale are one of the first local authorities in the country to introduce such a measure after numerous complaints about taxis plying their trade out of the Valley in areas as far away as Bradford, Sheffield and Manchester.

However the chairman of the Rossendale Taxi Association David Lawrie, who worked with the council’s licensing committee to formulate the intended use policy, says the association are planning to lodge a formal objection to the amendment.

Mr Lawrie said: “This is something they have done without consulting with anybody, no notice, they just threw it in.

“This radius doesn’t make any sense whatsoever and if they have had [consulted] us about it we would have explained why. Things are going absolutely pear shaped.”

He added: “I would like them to go to the original intended use policy that they have only just adopted and give it a chance to work. This is nothing more than a waste of council time and money and stress for applicants who should not be being rejected.”

A report to the licensing committee states that the advice was communicated to applicants and the taxi trade online and face to face, however Mr Lawrie disputes that any contact has been made with his organisation.

Chairman of the licensing committee, councillor Steve Hughes, said the new radius did not need further consultation.

He said: “This is part of what was already agreed under the intended use policy, it’s not a change, it was a refinement of the policy and a clarification making it more specific but that wasn’t something that need to come back to a consultation.

“Ultimately the policy is there to ensure that people operate within Rossendale, if there is evidence that they are operating outside due process will be followed.”


17 Rotherham taxi licences approved by Lancashire council

A LANCASHIRE council which licenses taxi drivers from outside its borders has confirmed it has approved applications from 17 Rotherham drivers.

Rotherham commissioner Mary Ney has conceded that drivers are able to apply for licences in other boroughs to avoid Rotherham’s new strict regulations, including compulsory CCTV cameras in cabs.

Rossendale Council said it had not done anything wrong licensing cabbies from elsewhere.

Its policy currently required drivers applying for a licence to declare their intention to work “predominantly” in the Rossendale borough area, a spokesman said, stating that it was “unlikely” that drivers would be granted a licence if they live outside a 30-mile radius from the town centre.

Passengers and other drivers have noted Rossendale-licensed taxis operating in Rotherham.

And Ms Ney warned that drivers licensed elsewhere would avoid coming under Rotherham’s new rules meant to protect passengers and drivers, such as compulsory CCTV cameras in cabs.

The strict rules were imposed in the wake of the Rotherham child sexual abuse scandal, with the Jay Report saying cabbies played a “prominent” role in the abuse of hundreds of children.

The Rossendale spokesman said: “We are aware that there are Rossendale-licensed taxis operating in Rotherham.

“This is legal, and results from changes to national regulations which means taxi drivers have the right to apply for licences wherever they wish, subject to meeting the local application criteria.

“Once a vehicle has been licensed as a hackney carriage it is a hackney carriage for the duration of that licence, wherever it is currently located, and can therefore be used for pre-booked purposes in any district in England and Wales.

“It is not an offence for a licensed private hire operator to take bookings and then dispatch a hackney carriage licensed by a district which is different from that which licenses the operator.

“A hackney carriage can lawfully be used for pre-booked work outside its district.

“This is the result of national regulations, over which we have little or no influence.

“There are 17 currently licensed hackney carriages with the word Rotherham in the licence holder’s address.”

The spokesman said that Rossendale Council did not actively encourage taxi drivers to use its licences instead of Rotherham ones but drivers could choose where to apply for a licence.

He added: “For new applicants, we have an intended use policy, where applicants must declare their intention to work predominantly in the Rossendale area.

“We have also refined this down to a 30-mile radius and we’ve introduced basic skills tests for new applications.

“This is being phased in for renewals.

“Detailed assessment criteria for local areas are set by licensing committees.

“There is variation in these from area to area.

“We have not undertaken a direct comparison of Rossendale’s criteria with Rotherham.

“However, we do participate in local officer networks to help understand, review and share good practice.”


Penalty points scheme and code of conduct proposal for taxi drivers

Taxi drivers who commit minor offences could receive penalty points under a new proposal.

Crawley Borough Council wants to introduce a penalty points scheme and a code of good conduct to help secure compliance with licensing requirements as well as responsible and ethical behaviour from hackney carriage and private hire licence holders.

The scheme would give points to taxi drivers who commit minor offences or acts of non-compliance instead of taking more formal action.

The council wants to identify drivers who persistently commit minor offences or fail to comply with requirements placed upon them as licence holders.

A licence holder that reaches a certain number of points would then be referred to the council which would consider whether to suspend or revoke the licence.

The penalty points scheme is not intended to be used to deal with more serious offences or acts of non-compliance and in deciding what action to take, each case will continue to be considered on its own individual merits.

Councillor Mike Pickett, chair of the council’s Licensing Committee, said: “We want to find out what the public and taxi drivers think about these proposals before making a final decision.

“I’d urge everyone to give us their views so we can ensure that any final policy works for both taxi users and taxi drivers.”

A short survey along with the draft penalty points scheme and code of good conduct can be viewed and completed at

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Corrupt minicab driver lied in bid to save licence

A corrupt minicab driver lied in a bid to avoid two speeding tickets and save his private hire licence.

But 31-year-old Zahoor Rehman paid a far higher price after the plot was discovered.

The father of three had only held the licence for three months when first caught travelling over the limit along Sandwell Road, Handsworth on September 2, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

His Vauxhall Vectra was pictured by a speed camera doing 37mph in the 30mph zone.

When the notice of prosecution arrived he denied being behind the wheel, claiming to have sold the vehicle on July 31.

Rehman had done this but almost immediately bought back the car without notifying the authorities of the further change in ownership, revealed Mr Howard Searle, prosecuting.

Three months later, on December 2, the Vectra was pictured speeding once more on the same stretch of road and so he repeated the lie when the paperwork arrived.

But police inquiries revealed that Rehman was still working as a cabbie driving the vehicle he claimed to have sold.

He already had three penalty points when the first offence occurred and had been warned that a second speeding conviction could lead to his licence being suspended.

Rehman from Greenfield Road, Smethwick admitted two offences of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He was given a four month sentence suspended for a year with 100 hours unpaid work and £400 costs. He was also fined £100 with three penalty points for the second speeding offence.


Tunbridge Wells taxi drivers could be banned from smoking e-cigs

The decision on whether or not to ban Tunbridge Wells taxi drivers from vaping in their vehicles have decided to put their decision on ice.

Council chiefs have decided to hold off until they can ask the public for their views.

The licensing committee at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council unanimously voted to consult people on the matter of e-cigarettes and vaping in hackney carriage and private hire vehicles

It will be part of an already planned Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Policy review scheduled for later this year or next.

Licensing committee chairman Bob Backhouse told the Courier: “Further to complaints from members of the public concerning taxi drivers who have vaped while driving, I was asked ‘is this illegal?’ ‘Is this against taxi regulations?’ We discovered we only had a policy that stops smoking in taxis and obviously in the light of the widespread growth of vaping this needs to be amended.”

He added: “Owing to the fact that we were about to make a public consultation with taxi drivers and members of the public, the licensing committee thought it best to incorporate this issue in that consultation. At the meeting councillors agreed that for people with asthma or other breathing difficulties it was considered anti-social for anyone to vape in a taxi, drivers or passengers.”

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, also known as vaporisers, are battery-powered devices that deliver nicotine by heating a solution of nicotine, flavouring, additives and propylene glycol and/or vegetable glycerine (glycerol).

The devices typically consist of a mouthpiece, battery and cartridge or tank containing the nicotine solution.

When a user sucks on the device, a sensor detects air flow which activates a heating element, the atomiser, which heats the liquid in the cartridge so that it evaporates. The vapour delivers the nicotine to the user.

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