Taxi driver convicted for charging ‘extortionate amounts’

A former taxi driver, operating in Surrey, has been convicted of grossly overcharging customers.

41-year-old Firoz Mohammed, of Gabriel Close in Feltham, has had his licence revoked.

He charged six vulnerable adults between £10 and £15 EACH for a journey between Staines Train Station and Shepperton.

Following his conviction on 14 charges, Mohammed was given six points on his licence and fined £180 for having no insurance.

He was further fined £650 for breaching taxi licensing bye-laws, a victim surcharge of £20 and costs of £1,000.

He also had his Spelthorne hackney carriage licence revoked.

Councillor Robin Sider, Chairman of Spelthorne Council’s Licensing Committee, said: “I am very pleased with the outcome and would particularly like to thank the witness, without whose clear evidence this case would not have been able to proceed.

“Mr Mohammed took advantage of vulnerable adults by charging them an extortionate amount for a journey of just a few miles.

“He also put them at risk as his insurance was invalidated. The council takes this type of dishonest behaviour very seriously and I hope the outcome of this case serves as a deterrent to others.”

Bristol: Taxi drivers filmed turning away disabled passengers

Taxi drivers in Bristol are breaking the law by turning away some disabled passengers, an ITV investigation has found.

The City Council says it will launch an inquiry after we filmed hackney drivers telling a woman in a wheelchair they couldn’t give her a lift.

Kate Sweetman, who uses an electric wheelchair because she has multiple sclerosis, missed a concert after travelling from her home in Chippenham to Bristol because no hackney cab could take her to the venue.

ITV West Country filmed with her in Bristol city centre as four out of five drivers she approached said they were unable to help:

Reasons they gave included the size of her chair or weight restrictions on their vehicles. One didn’t have suitable ramps to get Kate into the back of the vehicle. Kate says her chair is no wider than a manually operated one.

“It makes you feel like a second-class citizen,” she said. “It smacks your disability in your face. Everywhere should be suitable for anybody to use. Your human right should be for you to use anything the same as anybody else.”

The chair of the Public Safety and Protection Committee, Cllr Sultan Khan Chair, told us drivers were committing a criminal offence by not taking Kate.

“They shouldn’t be doing that,” he added. “We can suspend their licence, we can revoke it if necessary. The bottom line is the hackney vehicles are wheelchair accessible and nothing can prevent them from taking passengers, whatever their disability.”

He said the local authority would be investigating the findings and reviewing its policies. It also intends to carry out undercover spot-checks.
The City Council issues just under 1,000 hackney cab licences in Bristol.

The Bristol Disability Equality Forum told us Kate’s experience was ‘depressingly common’.

source: http://www.itv.com/

Uber driver races the rising tide, and the tide wins

For some reason, people keep thinking they can outsmart Mother Nature, and Mother Nature always wins.

Take this uber driver, who either thought the tide would not rise for him or that his car would turn into a raft, Transformers-style.

Unfortunately, it didn’t end well – as this drone footage shows.

The driver was caught out at Holy Island, off the north east coast, while travelling back from Lindisfarne.

One of his passengers, a Buddhist monk, waves to the drone while the car is stopped on the only part of the bridge that wasn’t submerged.

Mark Bradshaw, from Seaton Burn, Tyne and Wear, posted the video on his YouTube channel.

He said: ‘I went out to Holy Island with a friend to take footage of the castle.

‘We saw the vehicle coming over from the island side. It was very brave of him and I decided to film him.

‘I was in the military for 24 years and I’ve seen lots of things but nothing as ridiculous as that.

‘One of the passengers got out and walked up and down, pondering what their next move was.

‘I guess they just had to wait for nature to take its course before they could leave.’

Eventually, the stranded driver and passengers were rescued, with footage showing a lifeboat pulling up to help them to safety.

Holy Island causeway has safe crossing times due to the high tide that covers the road – but it appears this driver ignored the advice.

Read more: http://metro.co.uk/

Derby man used forged documents to work as a taxi driver

Manveer Singh Khakh pleaded guilty at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court today to 23 offences relating driving a taxi without the correct licence.

The court heard Khakh had been given private hire work by an operator in Derby on the basis that he was licensed as a hackney carriage driver with Gedling Borough Council.

Derby City Council’s licensing team carried out an investigation which found that Khakh had not been licensed as a hackney carriage driver by Gedling Borough Council since December 17, 2014, and that he had been allocated work by providing forged documents to the operator.

The city council said it was pleased with the outcome of the case.

Councillor Baggy Shanker, who has responsibility for licensing at Derby City Council, said he was pleased with the outcome of the case. He said: “This is a welcome decision by the magistrates that highlights one of the loopholes created by hackney carriages licensed in other local authorities working in the city.

“This sends a clear message to drivers that, if they are found to be operating in the city without the correct authorisation, the council will not hesitate to take action against them. We intend to continue our pressure on other local authorities who license drivers operating in Derby to close these licensing loopholes.”

A spokesman for Derby City Council said following the case that all operator licence holders in the city were being reminded of the importance of stringently checking documents provided by drivers to ensure they were genuine prior to allocating work to them.

Khakh was charged under section 47 of the town and police clauses act 1847. He was fined £60 per offence, in total £1,380, but, due to his guilty plea, the fine was reduced to £920. Derby City Council was awarded £1,977.35 costs.

Read more at http://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/

Minicab company owner to have licence reviewed after driver caused motorcyclist’s death

The owner of a Minicab company that failed to act upon a complaint against a dangerous driver who killed a motorcyclist is to have his licence reviewed, an inquest has heard.

Hayley Barsby, deputy chief executive of Mansfield District Council, told coroner Mairin Casey that the authority will review Dennis Lamb’s operator’s licence within 28 days as a result of evidence heard in the inquest into Mark Buckley’s death.

The 34-year-old was killed in the early hours of March 30, 2014, when Minicab driver Kevin Wiesztort collided with him on the A611 Derby Road at 5.30am

Wiesztort admitted causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed last year for 45 months.

On Monday, the inquest heard that a dispatcher at Mr Lamb’s company Aaeron Cars, in Mansfield, received a complaint about Wiesztort’s driving and reported the issue to his wife Edna Lamb.

Mrs Lamb failed to act upon the complaint and just hours later Wiesztort hit Mr Buckley’s motorcycle.

The inquest heard that the company had no formal complaints procedure at the time of the accident but Mr Lamb said that he has since introduced a complaints sheet where employees can document them formally.

The hearing heard that Mr Lamb is subject to a “strict 12 month warning” until February next year to assess his fitness to hold an operator’s licence.

Miss Casey told the inquest that, following his evidence, Mr Lamb “concedes” that he failed to implement a complaints procedure or train staff in how to deal with them.

As a result, Mrs Barsby said she was concerned that Mr Lamb had been unable to adhere to the requirements of his notice.

She said: “Mr Lamb was to implement a complaints procedure and he was to train staff.

“I think it’s very clear on the evidence that Mr Lamb gave yesterday that that has not been put in place.”

Mrs Barsby told the court that the review of Mr Lamb’s operator’s licence would be a priority.

She said: “We will be requesting him to attend a panel hearing in order to satisfy that he is fit and proper to hold that licence.”
Read more: 200 Degrees is to open a fourth coffee shop

Police family liaison officer Helen Neaverson told the inquest that efforts could have been made to stop Wiesztort from driving if a complaint had been made to the police that day.

She said: “There’s a chance that we would have been able to find the vehicle – it wasn’t a particularly busy time of day – we would have known the route back to Mansfield and we would have been able to, potentially, put vehicles out looking for the Minicab driver.”

Samantha Yates, licensing team leader at Mansfield District Council, told the inquest that a letter was sent to Mr Lamb following a hearing with the authority in February, requiring him to implement a complaints procedure.

She said the council believed that Mr Lamb had fulfilled the requirement, however he admitted that that was not the case during the inquest proceedings.

Miss Yates said future checks will have to go further to find out “is this a reality or a piece of paper”.

Mr Buckley’s partner Rachael Price was also able to the witness.

During her questioning, she stated that Wiesztort continued to work for Aaeron Cars after the accident.

Coroner Miss Casey interjected and asked Miss Yates when Mr Lamb reported the incident to the council.

Referring to a report, Miss Yates said that he notified the council that one of his cars had been involved in an accident on April 1, 2014.

Miss Casey said that Mr Lamb had given a “partial account” and had left out crucial information relating to Mr Buckley’s death.

As a result, the council only investigated whether or not the vehicle involved in the accident was fit to be on the road.

The coroner asked Miss Yates what action would be taken if the council received a similar call now.

She said that a full investigation, including questions relating to any people involved in the accident, would be carried out.
The inquest continues.

Read more at http://www.nottinghampost.com/

Taxi driver Abdo Al Arab loses his appeal against Taunton Deane Borough Council revoking his licence

Barred taxi driver who ‘gave false address’ loses appeal to get licence back

A CABBIE who gave a false address to try to get a licence has been told the council was right to block his application.

Magistrates have upheld Taunton Deane Borough Council’s decision to revoke Abdo Al Arab’s taxi and private hire vehicle and driver’s licence.

Licensing officers at the Deane House became suspicious when Al Arab gave his address as a property in Taunton, having previously supplied a Bristol address.

Their enquiries revealed that the premises was actually vacant and had been for some time and there were complaints about Al Arab using his taxi in Bristol.

They suspected Al Arab of trying to get round the authority’s rules, which state that drivers living outside the district must prove they will use their licence to drive in the Deane and not elsewhere.

The policy was introduced in August 2015 in response to an influx of applications from drivers based in Bristol looking for an easier and cheaper route to obtain their taxi driver licence.

He was interviewed by council officers who subsequently revoked his licence.

Al Arab appealed the decision at Taunton Deane Magistrates’ Court, where the bench believed he had made a false statement on his application and upheld the council’s decision.

The district council was awarded costs of £300.

After the case, Cllr Patrick Berry, Taunton Deane Borough Council’s executive member for environmental services, said: “It is very important that the travelling public has confidence in taxis, their drivers, and the local authority that issues their licences.

“We have taken positive actions to ensure that the taxis and drivers that are permitted to operate in Taunton, live in or near the area and have the necessary knowledge of the towns and the surrounding countryside.

“So our message to the taxi drivers is, ‘You have to work here to have a licence’.”

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

Killer taxi driver put passengers through “pure hell”, inquest is told

Taxi customers described a journey as “pure hell” and made a complaint about their driver just hours before he ploughed head-on into a Mansfield motorcyclist and killed him, an inquest was told.

Mark Buckley, 34, died when a taxi smashed into his Yamaha 125cc bike on the A611 Derby Road in the early hours of the morning.

Kevin Wiesztort is thought to have fallen asleep and his Fiat Doblo careered into the path of the bike ridden by the father-of-three who had been heading to work in Annesley.

However, the inquest into the death of Mr Buckley, held at Nottingham Coroner’s Court today, heard that a couple who had used the taxi in the hours before had even phoned the cab operators, Aaeron Cars in Mansfield, to complain about him.

Wiesztort had taken the pair, who are from the Mansfield area, to Birmingham Airport where they quickly rang the company.

Statements taken by David and Michelle Newton were read out at the inquest and had described his driving as “erratic”.

They said his speed fluctuated, he was fidgety and weaving in and out of lanes on the motorway, even crossing the rumble strips at one point.

The couple suspected he had either been drinking or was on drugs, and told the cab company that they did not want him picking them up when they returned from holiday.

Mrs Newton said: “I could not get out of that taxi fast enough. I told him he was not fit to drive and a danger.

“He had no right to be behind the wheel.”

The inquest was told how the cab radio operator, Stephanie Dudley, had taken the call from the angry passengers and she had contacted Wiesztort shortly after he had dropped them off.

He had stopped off at a garage to get an energy drink before heading back to the Mansfield area, but assured her he was fine.

Coroner for Nottinghamshire, Mairin Casey, asked Stephanie Dudley if the police had been contacted over his driving, to which she said they hadn’t.

Following the fatal smash, Wiesztort, 36, was found to have no alcohol or drugs in his system, but said he only had nine hours sleep in the three days previous to the accident which happened at around 5.30am on Sunday, March 30, 2014.

Wiesztort said he had no recollection of the incident, which happened near to Notts Golf Club.

Forensics suggested the taxi had veered completely over to the wrong side of the road, while conditions were described as being “extremely foggy”.

For his part, Wiesztort was jailed in February, 2015, for 45 months after admitting causing death by dangerous driving.

Earlier in today’s proceedings, Mr Buckley’s partner of seven years, Rachael Price, read out two heartfelt statements.

She said: “I would like to say it’s got easier, however, it hasn’t.

“In fact, at times, things have got much harder.

“We put our trust in taxi driver and expect certain standards to be in place.”

She told the coroner that she wanted to know what happened to the complaint made by the couple in the hours before her partner’s death and if any policies were put in place to prevent drivers from taking to the road if they were unfit through drink, drugs or even tiredness.

The inquest is expected to be completed tomorrow, Tuesday, October 25.

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

Taxi drivers could be forced to take BTEC to ‘improve quality of service’

CHRISTCHURCH council could ask taxi drivers to complete BTEC and NVQ qualifications in a bid to ‘improve the level of service’.

A report to the licensing committee which meets today asks members to decide if they want to introduce new measures and go out to consultation with the taxi trade on the proposals.

They will also discuss whether to introduce a safeguarding module for drivers to complete.

It comes after Bournemouth council asked their drivers to complete BTEC and NVQ courses, which led to a concern that drivers were moving to Christchurch to work.

The report said: “It was also felt that such qualifications may improve the general level of service offered to the public by taxi drivers.”

Across the different council areas there are variances on the requirements for taxi drivers.

Bournemouth and Poole run safeguarding courses, Christchurch and East Dorset require English spoken tests for hackney carriage drivers and some authorities do knowledge tests on the area and aspects of the law.

The courses at Bournemouth are run by Bournemouth and Poole College and cost around £800 per driver.

Some of this is paid for via a government contribution, but this may not be available after 2017.

Previously, when the policies were reviewed, the idea of qualifications were “vehemently opposed” by the Taxi Liaison Forum, the report to members says.

And council officers have warned about the possibility of even stronger opposition in the light of the lack of government funding.

Councillors on the licensing committee will also be asked to look at a new safeguarding policy following the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse in Rotherham.

Officers have considered an e-learning course and seminars, but “have reservations” they could be too in depth and irrelevant.

“There is also concern that applicants would not complete the on-line course themselves, but instead enlist help from others.”

The practicality issue is also raised, with officers suggesting questions to be included as part of the council’s Knowledge test.

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

Hackney Carriage/Private Hire Driver Licence Conditions

Comparison of Dorset Policies – Appendix 1

Summary of BTEC and NVQ – Appendix 2 , item 4

“Words can’t express your stupidity” — Angus taxi driver sacked after touching teenager

An Angus taxi driver was sacked by his employer after he sexually assaulted a teenager, a court heard.

Brian Michie from Brechin appeared at Forfar Sheriff Court and admitted assaulting the female at his home.

The court heard the 60-year-old had become “attracted” to the teenager and had “made a move” on April 23 this year.

But he was told by a sheriff that words “can’t express” his stupidity at grabbing the young woman’s breast.

The court heard Michie had been working as a private hire driver in the area but was no longer licenced.

Defending Michie, solicitor Robin Beattie said his client had been sacked as soon as the offence was reported to his former employer.

He told the court: “He was previously working as a taxi driver.

“However he was sacked on the day of his initial plea in the court.

“That’s not surprising,” said Sheriff Gregor Murray.

Mr Beattie continued: “I think that’s one of the conditions of being a licenced driver.

“She…was friendly to him, at least until the offence.

“He accepts that he was sexually attracted to her and that was what caused him to make a move.”

Sheriff Murray told him: “Words can’t express your stupidity and the folly of what you did, and you’ll have to pay for that.”

The sheriff imposed a community payback order with supervision requirements, and 125 hours of unpaid work to be completed within nine months.

Michie was placed on the interim sex offenders register at his plea, and will remain on the register for the term of the order.

Michie, of Drumachlie Park, admitted a single charge on summary complaint of sexually assaulting the woman by touching her breast, contrary to section 3 of the Sexual Offences Act (Scotland) 2009.

source: https://www.thecourier.co.uk/

Uber driver who called passenger a black c*** before punching her avoids jails

An Uber driver who called a passenger a ‘black c***’ and then punched her in the face in a fit of anger has avoided jail.

Shahab Akbar, 33, hurled the insult at Taleka White, 27, before trying pull her from his cab and punching her twice in the face after a row over two drop-offs.

The former driver, who has since had his licence removed, pleaded his innocence but was found guilty of racially aggravated common assault last month.

Yesterday, magistrates in Croydon handed him a 16 week suspended prison sentence and a 200 hour community order following the incident in Addiscombe on November 29 last year.

His victim was left with a lump on her head, bruising to her face and a bloodied wrist and knuckles.

She told the Evening Standard: ‘I no longer trust minicab drivers. I have become very concerned about how I get home from a night out.

‘It has taken the fun out of my life. I have become the designated driver for my friends.’

The court heard how the attack occurred after the victim and a friend used the app after a night out in Croydon.

Prosecutor Angela Mahadeo said Akbar grew angry when he became confused over where to drop off her friend, he then began to insult Taleka as she continued the journey alone.

Ernest Aduwa, for the defence, said it was an ‘isolated incident’ and his client, of Lampits, Hertfordshire, was a man of good character and had no previous convictions.

He told the court: ‘Whilst he doesn’t accept that he committed the offence. He does accept that the behaviour alleged is unacceptable.

‘He would like me to tell the court that this whole experience has been embarrassing for him and has been quite traumatic and left him feeling ashamed.’

Akbar was ordered to pay £500 in compensation to the victim, an £150 victim surcharge and £600 in costs.

A spokesman for Uber told the Standard: ‘We were appalled by this horrific incident. Uber does not tolerate violence or discrimination of any kind.

‘We assisted the police with their investigation and immediately stopped this licensed driver from being able to use our app.’

Read more: http://metro.co.uk/