Leeds revises Clean Air Zone proposals

Air Quality news reports that Leeds city council has outlined details of its final proposal for the establishment of a Clean Air Zone in the city, following feedback from residents and businesses.

Proposals were initially outlined in December, and the city council has submitted revised proposals following a public consultation process.

Leeds proposals include the introduction of a ‘category B’ clean air zone in the city centre, alongside stricter requirements for the registration of taxis in the city

The council has been directed by the government to provide a full business case by 15 September 2018 which addresses the city’s proposals to ensure it becomes compliant with air quality standards in the shortest possible time.

At a meeting of the council’s executive board next week (27 June), members will be asked to approve entering into a period of statutory public consultation on both the clean air charging zone, the enforcement of anti-idling, the citywide clean air strategy and proposed changes to licensing conditions for taxis and private hire vehicles.

Boundary and charges

Changes to the proposals include a smaller boundary area, as well as revisions to the proposed charges to be levied on heavy goods vehicles after feedback from the initial consultation suggested a charge of £100 was too high.

Now the council is proposing a charge for buses, coaches and HGVS of £50 a day and a charge of £12.50 a day for taxi and private hire vehicles, with a reduced weekly rate available for Leeds licensed drivers who choose to purchase this in advance.

The council is also seeking government support to accredit HGV retrofits and help smaller companies finance the change, along with a national register of private hire and taxis to ensure all relevant vehicles entering the zone are charged proportionately.

On a national level, the council is pushing for a nationwide policy on intercity charging that would see vehicles only charged once per day regardless of the number of Clean Air Zones that were entered.

Councillor James Lewis, the city council’s executive board member for resources and sustainability said: “Ensuring we reduce pollution levels across the whole city is a real priority for the council and something we are working hard to achieve. As much as the clean air charging zone forms a key part of our preferred scheme – ensuring all our communities are able to breath clean air is the end goal.

“We will be entering into a statutory consultation at the end of June (subject to approval by the executive board) and will be asking for feedback on our preferred scheme for a Clean Air Charging Zone and the clean air strategy for the whole city – including what our ambitions should or could look like after 2020.”

He added: “As part of ensuring we submit a business case that works for the whole city, we are currently engaging with those trades and organisations that will be directly affected by the implementation of a charging zone in Leeds.

“These meetings are vital for us to better understand the support that businesses who operate in the city need to make the move to become ‘compliant’ under the clean air charging zone stipulations.”

source: https://www.airqualitynews.com/2018/06/19/leeds-revises-clean-air-zone-proposals/

Private hire driver fined after illegally plying for trade in Reading

A private hire driver has been forced to pay £1,000 after illegally plying for hire in Reading last year.

Alyas Mahmood, 45, of Greathill Crescent, Maidenhead, became the second taxi driver successfully prosecuted at Reading Magistrates’ Court this month for illegally plying for hire in Reading, Berkshire.

The licensed private hire driver from Windsor and Maidenhead, was spotted by Reading Borough Council officers in Friar Street plying for trade at 12.38am on Sunday, December 17.

Mahmood falsely displayed a taxi roof sign and failed to display a Private Hire Vehicle badge or plate while parked in a Reading Hackney Carriage taxi rank.

He pleaded guilty at court on Friday, June 8, and was ordered to pay fines totalling £600, a £30 victim surcharge and £340 in legal costs.

Private hire drivers are only allowed to pick up fares booked in advance.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for strategic environment, planning and transport, said:

“Thanks to the hard work of the council’s licensing team, we are sending out the message this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.

“I hope both these prosecutions serve as a deterrent to drivers who are tempted to work illegally and opportunistically in Reading.”

The council’s licensing team carries out test purchases and spot checks to ensure drivers and vehicles meet the council’s standards and adhere to current taxi legislation.

source: https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/private-hire-driver-fined-after-illegally-plying-for-trade-in-reading/

Spot-check finds ‘noticeable improvement’ in Harrogate taxis

Stray FM reports that Officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Road Policing Group have carried out a multi-agency operation to check on taxis in Harrogate, to ensure the vehicles are providing a safe service to passengers.

Police officers working with partners from Harrogate Borough Council, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) carried out the operation which ran from 6pm to 11pm on Friday 15th June 2018.

A total of 23 private hire vehicles and Hackney Carriages were checked, to ensure that drivers were properly licenced and in compliance with HMRC rules, and that vehicles were safe to carry customers on the roads.

All 23 vehicles underwent full mechanical examinations for defects by the DVSA. As a result of the checks only one taxi, licenced in the Bradford area, was given an immediate prohibition notice by the DVSA, which means the vehicle was ordered off the road due to faults with its tyres.

Three other vehicles were given a delayed prohibition notice due to issues with wheels, suspension and other components, giving them seven days to rectify the fault. Seven drivers were advised in relation to minor vehicle defects and several drivers were also warned by taxi inspectors about breaches of taxi licencing rules.

Traffic Sergeant Andy Morton, of North Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Group, said:

“We have been conducting these operations periodically for the last five years in an effort to improve safety for taxi customers.

“Previous years’ operations have found a significant number of vehicles were below the necessary safety standards, resulting in them being taken off the road. While it is disappointing that this year’s operation found four vehicles that had to be issued with some sort of prohibition notice, there has been a noticeable improvement in the overall condition of the vehicles inspected over the last two years, which I am very pleased about.

“I would again remind taxi drivers that it is their responsibility to ensure their vehicle is free of defects before they use it, regardless of the fact it is a company vehicle. They will be held responsible for these defects which ultimately put their safety at risk, as well as that of their passengers.

“I would, however, like to commend many of the drivers for the improvements we have seen in overall vehicle safety and compliance. We will be continuing these enforcement operations with our partners to ensure standards are maintained.”


source: https://www.strayfm.com/news/local-news/2611876/spot-check-finds-noticeable-improvement-in-harrogate-taxis/

Commons Questions

Daniel Zeichner Labour, Cambridge

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what progress the Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing has made; and when that Group’s concluding report is planned to be (a) submitted to his Department for consideration and (b) made publicly available.

Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

The Task and Finish Group on Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Licensing is nearing the conclusion of its considerations and is expected to submit its report shortly. The Government will consider the report and options for publication in due course.

People power forces U-turn over taxi stances at The Open

The Evening Telegraph reports that People power has forced a U-turn over taxi stances for The Open Championship next month.

Angus Council’s civic licensing committee previously considered a proposal to suspend Carnoustie’s sole rank in favour of temporary space along Links Avenue.

However, an angry backlash from locals has resulted in a rethink.

Objectors raised concerns about disruption to elderly residents, littering and the danger of additional traffic in the area.

The barrage of complaints has led to a new proposal, which now includes the former Kinloch School site, bounded on the east by Links Avenue and on the north by Dundee Street.

Under the previous plan, Links Avenue would have been reduced to one-way traffic for the duration of the event, between July 18-22.

The scheme would have involved two spaces for dropping off and picking up disabled passengers, two holding ranks for approximately 11 vehicles and one rank at the north end of Links Avenue for four vehicles.

Under the new plans, only taxis travelling from east to west along Dundee Street will be permitted to enter the Kinloch School site, which will be controlled by temporary traffic regulations.

Council officers have suggested taxis will be permitted to enter the school grounds to drop off passengers, or to wait at stances to the north and east of the site.

Taxis will be able to pick up fares from the pedestrian access on to Links Avenue and will be directed out of the site via Dundee Street.

Taxi marshals will be present at peak times.

source: https://www.eveningtelegraph.co.uk/fp/people-power-forces-u-turn-over-taxi-stances-at-the-open/

Taxi drivers celebrate as ‘restrictive’ policy is overturned by MCC

The Abergavenny Chronicle reports that TAXI drivers in Monmouthshire are celebrating after a council policy restricting the number of seats allowed in a vehicle was overturned.

Under the policy, taxis with eight passenger seats were only allowed if one seat was removed to allow access to a door.

This meant taxis with eight seats including one folding seat were not allowed.

The policy was implemented for safety reasons with the view that passengers had a greater chance of escape if they did not have to climb over a seat to exit the vehicle.

But it made it increasingly difficult for taxi drivers across Monmouthshire to purchase reasonably priced vehicles.

It also saw them struggle to compete for contracts for eight-seater taxis with neighbouring authorities who now have different policies in place.

When Monmouthshire County Council first adopted the policy in 2002, it was also followed by most other authorities in Wales.

However, new guidance from the Department for Transport in 2010 ruled the policy may be ‘restrictive.’

Safety features on vehicles have also been improved in recent years, leading to many councils now changing their policy.

Monmouthshire County Council’s licensing and regulatory committee heard on Tuesday that the vast majority of taxi drivers had asked for the policy to be changed.

At a transport consultation event, 20 drivers called for the policy to be changed, with just one saying it should stay the same.

Speaking at the meeting, Richard Horner, of Abergavenny Taxis, said the company is unable to bid on many contracts for eight-seater vehicles due to the policy.

Mr Horner said the company is also unable to update its fleet of 16 vehicles.

Paul Watkins, of Paul’s Cars, who requested for the policy to be changed last year, also said he wanted the policy to be overturned.

However, he said the change was now being made by the council to save money.

He said: “I’m hearing a very different tone and it’s quite clear the agenda is about cost saving not actually safety.”

But Kellie Beirne, deputy chief executive of MCC, disputed the claim.

Ms Beirne said the feedback received during the transport consultation event had been a “turning point.”

She said changing the policy would help get children to school safely as part of the council’s home to school transport.

“This is not about a cost-saving agenda,” she told the meeting.

“This is about making sure we have enough money in the pot to meet the demand as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

Cllr Richard Roden (Dixton with Osbaston ward) said the change would help get more modern vehicles on the road to transport children safely to school.

Councillors voted to change the policy.

source: http://www.abergavennychronicle.com/article.cfm?id=107252&headline=Taxi%20drivers%20celebrate%20as%20%27restrictive%27%20policy%20is%20overturned%20by%20MCC&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2018

Codswallop! Councillor’s fury at Wolverhampton taxi protest

The Express and Star report tha Wolverhampton taxi drivers have been lambasted for talking ‘codswallop’ and told their planned protest this month is ‘outrageous’ and ‘pointless’.

Councillor Alan Bolshaw, the licensing lead for Wolverhampton council, has launched a scathing attack after taxi drivers revealed plans to hold a go-slow protest in the city on June 28 – the same day as England’s final group stage match against Belgium in the World Cup.

The drivers are protesting in a bid to pressure the council into introducing tougher licensing tests as they say they are being forced out of their jobs as thousands of licences are handed out by the council to drivers across the UK.

But Councillor Bolshaw described the drivers’ comments as ‘codswallop’ and said it was ‘pointless’ to keep protesting.

He said: “This proposed action is nothing short of outrageous.

“Protests of this nature do nothing but inconvenience the public and to plan this on the evening of an England World Cup match, when the city centre will be very busy, is a provocative act which will only serve to antagonise people.”

Campaigners claim the council have made the licensing test too easy, which has led to too many taxi drivers on the roads.

The test also takes 20 working days or less, and costs £69 – the cheapest in the region.

A total of 40 per cent of candidates fail the exam each time, the council revealed.

Councillor Bolshaw added: “The driver representatives talk about public safety being the motivation behind this action.

“This is utter codswallop, this action is about protecting an industry which for too long has been a closed shop which doesn’t welcome competition – even if the public do.
“Technology has revolutionised the taxi industry and Wolverhampton Council has been at the forefront of this step change.

“It is pointless drivers protesting to us about issues which are governed by national legislation and the fact I keep having to say this is frankly becoming tiresome.

“The law allows drivers and operators to get their licence where they wish and if people choose to come here because of our efficient and speedy system, then we are not allowed to turn them away.

“I urge the drivers to call off this futile action and if they are serious about these issues, perhaps would do better to take them up with the lawmakers at Westminster rather than once again target the people of Wolverhampton.”

source: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/wolverhampton/2018/06/14/codswallop-councillors-fury-at-wolverhampton-taxi-protest/

Commons Questions

Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of granting additional powers to local authorities to carry out taxi and private hire enforcement activities in response to taxi and private hire drivers and operators (a) engaging in cross border hiring and (b) operating in their local area under a licence issued by a different local authority.

Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

At a Westminster Hall Debate last year, the Rt Hon John Hayes MP announced the formation of a Task and Finish group to consider any regulatory issues and remedies. The Group’s remit includes the current powers of licensing authorities, their application and effectiveness. Issues that may arise from taxi or private hire vehicle drivers working predominantly or exclusively out of the area in which they are licensed have been considered as part of its deliberation.

The group is expected to submit its report shortly.

Borough council agrees to consult on taxi policy changes, including safeguarding training for drivers

The Eastern Daily Press reports that Proposals setting out new safeguarding training for Great Yarmouth taxi drivers are moving forward, after councillors agreed to a consultation into the matter.

A variety of potential changes to the borough council’s taxi policy went before licensing committee members this week, with training to help drivers spot signs of abuse included in these.

Under the new policy, drivers will be required to undergo safeguarding training before they can be granted a licence to take passengers.

This particular change was designed to make drivers aware of the tell tale signs that somebody is suffering from abuse and train them on how best to report these issues.

A spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said the changes aimed to “bring Great Yarmouth in line with other Norfolk districts, which already have completed the process of incorporating safeguarding training in their taxi policies”.

They added: “Taxi drivers come into contact with lots of people on a routine basis and therefore can play an important role in helping to identify where a person is being abused.”

A spokesman for domestic abuse charity Leeway last week said the proposals were “massively positive”.

He said: “Quite often people use the same taxis and build rapport with their drivers so may feel comfortable opening up to them.

“The more people that can identify the signs and know how to point people in the direction of the help they need the better.”

The proposed policy change also sees the council making a conscious effort to encourage firms to use more eco-friendly vehicles, by abolishing the current 1400cc minimum engine size requirement.

A third proposed change suggests the removal of age limits on renewal of vehicle licences, along with a condition that vehicles must be nine years old or under on initial registration.

At a meeting of the borough council’s licensing committee, members agreed to consult on the proposed updated policy, as per the recommendation of their officers.

A six-week consultation period will now begin later in the month, from Monday, June 25.
Anybody wishing to take part in the consultation can do so via www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/have-your-say


source: http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/great-yarmouth-taxi-policy-changes-1-5558991