Daimler to take stake in UK taxi app Hailo

The Ft reports that Daimler will increase its drive into the world of car booking services by taking a stake in Hailo, the UK taxi app.

The owner of Mercedes-Benz will announce a deal to partner with the service as early as Tuesday, according to people briefed on the matter, write Peter Campbell in London and James Fontanella-Khan in New York.

It already owns MyTaxi, a German company it bought in 2014 that links consumers to nearby taxis.

The deal will be the latest advancement by automakers into ride booking services, which many in the industry believe may be the future of urban transport.

General Motors has made a $500m investment in US group Lyft, Volkswagen has taken a $300m stake in Israeli app Gett, and Toyota has announced an undisclosed investment in Uber.

These deals allow the car makers to develop on-demand services and share technology with the app groups.

They also propel the car groups to the front of the queue to sell vehicles to taxi operators or minicab drivers, in a time when personal ownership is expected to dwindle in city centres – especially among younger people – and be replaced with a greater number of “on demand” services.

The founder of Gett, Shahar Waiser, has predicted that within a decade, half of all journeys made will be using a vehicle summoned by an app.

While services such as Gett and Hailo link consumers with taxi drivers, Uber has its own drivers who do not have to be members of a taxi group.

Hailo, which launched in 2011, has not been without setbacks in its journey so far, and has been seeking a strategic investor for some time.

The company, which has raised around $100m to date, pulled out of the US and Canadian markets in 2014 after saying that strong competition from Uber and Lyft rendered it unprofitable. At the same time, Jay Bregman, co-founder and co-chief executive, left the company.

Its current investors include investment group Accel, Wellington Partners and Sir Richard Branson. The group continues to operate in cities across Europe including London, Madrid, Barcelona and Dublin.

In 2014, the most recent year for which figures are available, Hailo Network Holdings Limited reported a pre-tax loss of £10m.

Hailo and Daimler were not immediately available for comment. The planned investment by Daimler was first reported on the Sky News website.

source: http://www.ft.com/

Minicab driver Assaulted After Teens Fled Without Paying

A private-hire driver has ended up in hospital after being an assaulted in Plymouth.

The 46 year old suffered injuries to his head and face after picking up a group of teenagers from a pub on North Hill.

Police say they tried to run off without paying at Honicknowle Lane and when the driver followed one of the group, he was assaulted.

Officers are urging anyone who saw something in the early hours of Sunday to come forward.

A spokesman from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Police are appealing for witnesses following an assault on a private-hire driver on Honicknowle Lane, Plymouth, at around 5am on Sunday 24th July.

“A Private-hire First blue Ford Mondeo estate picked up four teenagers near the Carpe Diem pub, North Hill around 4.50am, and drove the group to Honicknowle Lane.

“On arrival at Honicknowle Lane, all four occupants fled the private-hire without paying. The driver followed one of the group who, along with another person, proceeded to assault the private-hire driver.

“The victim, a 46 year old local man, sustained head and facial injuries which required hospital treatment.

“The four occupants of the private-hire are described as a white female aged 16 to 18 with long blonde hair, and three white men, all aged between 16 and 18 and around 5”3 in height.

“One man was of slim build wearing a black baseball cap black jacket and grey bottoms; another was wearing a black baseball cap, wearing a dark top, and carrying a black man bag. The other man wasn’t wearing a cap but was also carrying a black man bag over his shoulder.

“Police are appealing for witnesses to the attack and for any information to help the investigation.”

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the police on 101 or 101@dc.police.uk quoting police crime reference CR/050256/16.

You can also give information anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

source: http://www.piratefm.co.uk/

New policy after South Ribble Council taxi licence row

Months after a taxi licensing scandal broke at South Ribble Council, a comprehensive regulation policy has been agreed.

Council members have voted to approve a draft document outlining the council’s policies including a ‘fit and proper person test’, qualifications needed and condition of vehicles.

Previously, the authority’s policy could be found within numerous decisions taken by the General Licensing Committee over previous years.

Councillor John Rainsbury, committee chairman, said this was the case for 80 per cent of borough councils across the country.

However, following a high-profile investigation into failings of South Ribble’s licensing department – including drivers being given licenses without correct documentation and reports of child sexual exploitation by two taxi drivers – it was “seen as best practice to have a comprehensive policy as it promotes a transparent and consistent approach towards the regulation of the trade”.

Developing a policy was also the number one recommendation made by independent solicitors who reviewed the council’s licensing functions.

Labour Councillor Matthew Tomlinson asked for two amendments to be made to the policy, which were agreed.

The first point related to items of clothing deemed inappropriate for drivers.

He said: “It’s picking out clothing that women might wear and I think that’s casual sexism. Just take it out and say inappropriate clothing, we all know what that means.”

He also suggested adding a requirement that a driver should have a valid driving licence, as there has been a case where a driver did not have permission to drive in the UK.

Coun Warren Bennett suggested reducing the time between health checks from five years to three years, but it was decided that this should go to consultation.

source: http://www.lep.co.uk/

Teenagers jailed for knife and meat cleaver attacks on taxi drivers

TEENAGERS who lured taxi drivers into a series of New Year attacks and robberies have been jailed.

Ryan Costello, 18, and Anthony Graham, 19, attempted to rob four separate taxi drivers over two nights starting in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Bolton Crown Court heard how one of the drivers was so badly hurt that his life has been ruined and the teenagers are regarded as so dangerous that the court imposed an extended sentence for public protection.

Judge Richard Gioserano sentenced Costello to six years and nine months in custody and Graham to seven years and two months. They will each spend an additional three years on licence.

The court heard how the defendants called Royal Taxis in Bury asking for a taxi on what is the busiest night of the year for taxi drivers.

Javed Ahmed picked up the pair from Coronation Road, Radcliffe, taking them on a round trip to get pizza.

But on their return Costello produced a knife which he held to Mr Ahmed’s throat and shouted: “Give me your money, give me everything, give me your phone.”

Craig Macgregor, prosecuting, said: “Mr Ahmed was very scared — he could feel the sharp blade against his throat. He thought he was going to be cut. Then the blade was held to his left cheek.”

The driver managed to escape the car and scream for help, at which point the defendants ran away.

Undeterred, the teenagers then called Royal Peel Cars to Coronation Road at 4.30am and driver Abdul Anjum arrived.

While Graham asked him to open the door, Costello held up an eight inch bladed machete and “brought it down with force” towards Mr Anjum’s head.

The taxi driver was then pulled out of the car by Graham, with Mr Anjum telling the robbers to take his money.

But Graham continued to punch the victim in the head and back, laughing as he rained down blows.

“Graham was saying ‘you should be recording this’ and at this point Costello then used the machete to hit him (Mr Anjum) on his leg just below his knee,” said Mr Macgregor.

The teenagers then stole £350 before running off.

The court heard how Mr Anjum had to have an operation on his leg and, in a statement read out in court said: “I feel like this has destroyed my life. I have lost my independence and I am scared and paranoid.

“I do not trust people any more. I can walk but I have to keep stopping to rest between and it is very painful.

“I am unable to pray because I can’t kneel down and I struggle to get to the mosque. It has had a huge impact on my life.

“This incident has destroyed my plans for the future, I don’t how long it will be before I get better or if I will get better at all.”

In the early hours of the next day the pair targeted another two taxi drivers.

Mohammed Ahmed, from Swiftline Taxis, picked them up at 2.45am on Coronation Road and the court heard how Costello, sat in the back of the vehicle, was bragging about the “attempted murder” of Mr Anjum the previous night.

When the taxi stopped in Coppice Street Costello, said to have been armed with a meat cleaver, and Graham demanded money from Mr Ahmed.

The final victim was Ibrahim Ali who works for Magnum Taxis.

He was called to Mossfield Close in Bury and as the defendants got to the taxi they told him to get his money out.

Mr Ali called the police and both youths were found at a flat in the street, where police retrieved a hunting knife with an eight inch blade and a meat cleaver.

A phone was also recovered which had been used to call all four taxis.

Costello, of Coronation Road, Radcliffe and Graham, of Mossfield Close, Bury, both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob and wounding with intent.

The court heard how both defendants had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs when the offences were committed.

Mark Friend defending Costello said: “He is still haunted by what he did and it’s clear that the defendant has had a very difficult start in life.”

Michael Lea, defending Graham said: “He has had a troubled childhood and a troubled family background.

“He had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs which is no excuse, but that’s the position that he was in.”

Passing sentence on the teenagers, Judge Richard Gioserano said: “You, Ryan Costello, issued a merciless attack on a defenceless man, you attacked him before he had the chance to say that you could take his money.

“He was a man at night working alone providing a public service and he was outnumbered and defenceless and it had a devastating effect on his life.

“It was not an isolated attack and instead you repeatedly lured in other taxi drivers to attack them.

“One night’s violence was not enough to you two and you moved on to your next victim, leaving the last victim to live with what you did to him for the rest of his life.

“Both of you pose a significant risk of serious harm to the public.”

source: http://www.burytimes.co.uk/

View sought on council’s new taxi policy

A consultation on the draft policy was given the go-ahead this week by councillors at Licensing Committee. It will run until 22 August.

The council is responsible for licensing hackney carriage and private hire vehicles and their associated proprietors and operators throughout the city.

The aim of the proposed policy is to give a clear statement on how the council will work with operators to protect the public and the environment and deliver a professional, respected and easy to access taxi service for all.

One of the most important elements of the proposed new policy is the objective to license only low emissions taxi vehicles by 2026.

Air quality is poor in a number of locations in the city where there is a concentration of emissions from buses, taxis and service vehicles.

The council’s Air Quality Action Plan last year identified reducing emissions from taxis and buses as one key policy to help improve air quality here.

Incentives to encourage the take-up of low emission taxis, in order to help meet the proposed 2026 targets that are under consideration in the proposed new policy, include:

  • A discount or exemption on fees for drivers of ‘Low Emission Taxis’ (petrol electric hybrids) or ‘Ultra-Low Emission Taxis’ (fully electric);
  • Extending the maximum age limit allowed for taxis if they are fully electric or petrol/electric hybrids;
  • Creating an electric taxi-only rank;
  • Providing a number of taxi-only charging points.

Other initiatives under consideration in the proposed policy include:


  • Making training in safeguarding and disability awareness mandatory for all taxi licence holders;
  • A review of the current medical examination requirements for licensed drivers;
  • Prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes or similar devices in taxis.

The current policy, which has been updated from time to time, has been in place since October 2011 and is now due for review.

Cllr Gerri Bird, Chair of Licensing Committee, said: “For a number of residents of the city, as well as people doing business here or visiting, the taxi trade provides an important service.

“It’s the council’s job to provide a taxi service that’s safe, accessible to all and meets demand.

“Low emission taxis are less polluting and have lower operating costs, so it is right that we look at encouraging their take-up by the taxi trade.

“Our draft policy sets out the high standards we expect and I would encourage everyone to take this opportunity to have their say on the future operation of this important city transport service.”

Residents, visitors, taxi operators and others can take part in the consultation which will be published at: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/consultations/tell-us-what-you-think-of-our-revised-taxi-licensing-policy .

Consultation letters to taxi operators and other stakeholders will also be sent out and a trade forum held.

All comments will be taken into account in preparing the final policy and the results of the consultation will be discussed by councillors at the next Licensing Committee on 17 October.

source: http://www.cambridgenetwork.co.uk/

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.

source: http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/

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.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/


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.”

source: http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/

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.”

Read more at http://www.luton-dunstable.co.uk/

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.

source: http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/

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.

source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/