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.


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.


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.”


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



Pendle private hire driver and operator lose licence appeals

2BR news reports that a Pendle taxi driver and a taxi operator have lost in court as Pendle Council’s decision to take away their licences has been upheld by magistrates.

Mohammad Ayub from Crown & Greenline Private Hire, lives at Carr Road Nelson.

He hit and injured an elderly woman in Colne in January without stopping and was not granted his appeal to get his taxi licence back.

The Chairman of the Bench said:

“Mohammad Ayub had shown a shocking lack of care in his driving.”

Pendle Council’s Head of Legal Services played video footage of the incident at the appeal hearing which showed the collision with the pedestrian.

This was taken into account along with the nine penalty points he’d clocked up for three speeding convictions and two other complaints Pendle Council had received against him.

Ayub was described by the Chairman of the Bench as “not a fit and proper person” and awarded Pendle Council £250 in court costs.

Also in court was Riaz Ahmed of Union Cabs, Colne, who was appealing against Pendle Council cancelling his taxi operator’s licence.

The court heard that Ahmed, of Park Avenue Barrowford, had been allowing unlicensed drivers to drive his taxis.

Riaz Ahmed had not kept proper records of bookings, his cars were poorly maintained and Pendle Council had received complaints from the public about his taxi company.

The chairman of the magistrates noted that there had been 16 months of complaints and warnings in respect of record keeping, unlicensed drivers and mechanical faults and that the breaches were continuing.

The court awarded Pendle Council £500 in court costs from Riaz Ahmed, for his failed appeal.

Mr Ahmed has now begun an appeal to the Crown Court against the Magistrates’ Court’s decision.

Councillor Paul White, Leader of Pendle Council said: “The court said that he was trusted with public safety and there had been no improvement in his business.

“These two unsuccessful appeals against our decisions show that we are right to take a tough line in tackling problems with taxi drivers and operators.

“Taxi safety in Pendle is very important to us,” he added.


Fantasist jailed after accusing innocent taxi driver of sexual assault

The Daily Telegraph reports that an innocent taxi driver was unable to provide financial support for his family after he was falsely accused of groping a female passenger, a court heard.

The father of three spent six hours in custody and faced possible sex assault charges as part of the “devastating impact” of claims made by Claire Morgan.

Morgan, 35, alleged she was sexually assaulted three days after she took a five-minute fare from the driver in Bridgend, south Wales in May last year.

She lied the man had taken her to an adventure playground, grabbed her breast and put his hand down her underwear.

The victim, a treasurer at his local mosque, was the sole source of income for his family but was forced to hand over his badge during a six-week investigation, the court heard. Police spent 60 hours investigating Morgan’s allegations as well as £450 on forensics.

A judge said the man avoided charges because of “diligence” from investigators while CCTV also proved inconsistencies in her account.

After reporting the fake offences, Morgan later set up a fake Facebook profile under the name Sarah Jenkins to answer a police appeal in which she claimed she witnessed the attack. She also made an anonymous call to Crimestoppers to provide further bogus details.

The driver was arrested – but Morgan’s web of lies began to unravel after she gave different accounts of the attack to friends.

Morgan’s clothes were taken for forensic examination but only her DNA were found on the items. She later admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Cardiff Crown court.

Judge Eleri Rees said: “She went to remarkable lengths to bolster her account.

The court heard Morgan had told lies in the past including that her daughter had left the Manchester Arena half an hour before the bomb went off and that her brother was killed by a drink driver.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the mother of one suffers from a personality disorder.
After the hearing, Detective Constable Steve Gunney said: “Her allegations also had a devastating impact on the man she accused.

“I hope she uses her time in prison to reflect on the harm her lies have caused.


Button on Taxis Licensing Law and Practice

Press release

Child Exploitation and App-Based Taxis Force New Look at Taxi Licensing Law


In Rotherham, for decades, licensed taxi drivers ferried children between addresses where they were sexually assaulted by organised gangs, revealing that criminals were being licensed to drive taxis despite a “fit and proper persons” regime being in place.

Last week, Brighton City Council renewed Uber’s licence to operate in the city, but only for six months whilst the dust settled on the London decision to revoke Uber’s license and a clearer picture emerges from this test case.

The taxi licensing landscape is changing dramatically as stakeholders grapple with fundamental issues such as passenger safety, driver rights and game-changing leaps in technology.

A new edition of Button on Taxis, could, therefore, not be more timely.

Stretching to a bumper 1,648 pages, Button on Taxis, Fourth Edition, provides the much needed analysis of licensing law that will enable authorities and operators to navigate the new landscape and forge a way forward, ensuring the welfare of customers and drivers are kept at the heart of this essential service.

With clear explanations of the law and procedure relating to the licensing of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles in England and Wales, including London, the new edition highlights the overlaps and conflicts that exist, so providing invaluable analysis and commentary.

This edition updates the text to take account of changes to legislation, case law and Guidance, including important Senior Court decisions relating to adoption of legislation, local authority decision-making processes, licence fees, Hackney carriage ranks, suitability of drivers and action against licensed drivers and vehicles.

Legislative changes include extensions to the duration of certain licences, the ability for private hire operators to subcontract across local authority boundaries and the need for Immigration checks for drivers and operators.

This invaluable reference book also includes coverage of many other important areas, including: the licensing decision process, appeal mechanisms; licence fees; and the impact of criminal convictions.

Procedural flowcharts and exhaustive coverage of case law, by means of summaries and discussion, help to further illustrate the subject.

About the author

James Button is a solicitor and principal of James Button and Co, a niche licensing, environmental health and public health practice. Formerly a local authority solicitor, he has over 25 years’ experience in taxi licensing. Currently president of the Institute of Licensing, he is a well-known and popular lecturer, specialising in licensing and environmental health issues, and has written and contributed to many other works.

About the book

Author: James T H Button
ISBN: 9781780434933
Published: 13-11-2017
Format: Hardback
Extent: 1,648 pp
RRP: £115




York Council chiefs refuse to renew Uber’s licence in York

Council chiefs have refused to renew the taxi-hailing company Uber’s licence to operate in York. Members of York Council’s Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee tonight debated for more than two hours over Uber Britannia Limited’s application. The company’s current 12-month licence is due to expire on Christmas Eve.

Councillors concluded that the taxi-hailing firm was not a fit and proper person – a required condition to refuse an application of its kind. A spokesperson for York Council said: “The application by Uber Britannia Ltd to renew its private hire operator’s licence in York has been considered by City of York Council’s Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee tonight.

“Applying the legislation, the committee has decided to refuse the application having concerns about a data breach currently under investigation and the number of complaints received.”

Speaking after the meeting Neil McGonigle, general manager for Uber in York, said the company would now review the details of the decision. He said: “This is a disappointing vote for the riders and drivers who use our app in the city. “More choice and competition is a good thing for both consumers and licensed drivers in the area. “Passengers tell us they love being able to track their car on a live map, pay without cash and get a receipt with their fare and the route taken.

“Licensed drivers partner with us because with Uber they can choose if, when and where they drive. We will review the details of the decision once we receive the formal notice from the council.”

It comes after Transport for London refused to renew Uber’s licence on the grounds of “public safety and security implications” in September. The firm’s appeal against that decision in London will be heard by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in Spring next year. Uber Britannia Limited can lodge an appeal with the Magistrates’ Court over the latest decision by York Council.

Coun Sonja Crisp tabled a motion to refuse the application on the basis of the data breach that affected the 57 million customers and drivers in 2016. The second reason for refusal related to complaints made against the firm in York. The decision is the latest blow to hit the taxi-hailing company, after Uber had its licence suspended in Sheffield this week. The move came after the firm failed to respond to requests for information about its management.

Since December 2016, 296 complaints were made relating to hackney carriage and private hire vehicles or drivers in York up to November 22. York Council said 155 of these complaints related to Uber vehicles or drivers. But only four related to an Uber vehicle or driver licensed by the council – and 129 were made against those licensed by other local authorities, leading to councillors raising questions about the number of Uber drivers coming from outside York to work in the city.

Coun Dave Taylor, a member of the committee, said during the meeting: “This city needs to have control of its taxi services and it needs to have a level playing field and I don’t know if that means then national legislation aught to be tidied up. “But I don’t think that we can license a company which directs drivers to go around the houses, pumping up fair for customers, that tries to claim it has no liability for any claims, demands or losses, which claims to have a local office but never seems to staff it and the number of complaints against them is so high. “I think those are the grounds on which we can refuse this licence.”

Neil McGonigle, Uber Head of Cities, North of England, spoke in support of Uber at the meeting. He revealed that some 28,000 have used the company’s app in York in the last three months. Mr McGonigle said: “From our experience the passenger like the ability to press a button to request a car, take a trip without having to use cash at all and from a safety point of view, being able to track every element of that journey real-time.

“Whether that’s themselves, family members, friends or whatever through the app.” He said people from 73 different countries are now using the app in York, as Uber has recently taken on more international visitors in York.

The meeting was told licenses for Uber to operate had been refused in Reading, North Tyneside and Cardiff. Saf Din, chairman of York Hackney Carriage Association said he does not object to competition, but that Uber was not a “fair player” in the public transport game. Ahead of the decision, Mr Din told the meeting: “I urge you to be the most active members by refusing the application and offer no licence until you are fully satisfied.” He also handed over a petition regarding safeguarding of passengers, objecting to Uber’s licensing renewal.

Speaking during the debate tonight, Coun Suzie Mercer said: “I was still undecided having read the papers and I’m still undecided. “Everyone is just trying to do a job, you’ve got good apples and bad apples in all trades. “Uber is used all over the world by millions of people. In York it’s mainly the young people who use it and I think maybe as well it’s probably a young thing. “Out of town drivers wouldn’t come if there wasn’t any work and we must remember that if the public want it, then who are we to deny it?”