Cabbies ‘would be forced off the road’ as Hull council says they may ban diesel taxis from 2018

Councillor Martin Mancey has said the council may ban giving new taxi licences to diesel drivers

Taxi drivers would be ‘forced off the road’ if the city council stopped issuing licences to those with diesel vehicles, it is claimed.

Councillor Martin Mancey, portfolio holder for strategic transport, has suggested the Guildhall may consider following London, where mayor Sadiq Khan has said no new taxi licence should granted to drivers with diesel vehicles from January 2018.

But Peter Nilsson, chairman of the Hull Hackney Carriage Association, has warned that would undoubtedly result in fewer taxis because of the extra costs drivers would incur.

He said: “Would our fares go up? Probably not. But I do believe people would not taxi driving, and so there would be fewer taxis on the road. Each taxi represents a business.

Cllr Mancey was speaking ahead of the publication of the Government’s air action plan, which is expected later this month.

He said: “In London, the mayor is saying that no new taxi licence will be issued for diesel vehicles from January. As a council, we have to look at all measures and I would not rule that out.

“If we were to go down a similar path, and it’s a big if, it would certainly not be in January 2018. We would want to hear the views of both Hackney carriage and private hire drivers. We would have have a discussion with them. There would be extensive consultation.”

Cllr Mancey accepted the measure would be met with concern among Hull’s cabbies, many of whom claim they are struggling to scratch a living even without any incoming extra costs.

However, he said this needed to be seen in the context of an estimated 29,000 deaths each year caused by emmisions.

Cllr Mancey said: “From the point of view of taxi drivers, I imagine there will be some concerns because petrol vehicles do less miles to the gallon, potentially increasing overall costs. That may put pressure on fares. But we have to look at the bigger picture – public health.”

He added the council is working hard to encourage people to use public transport.

Despite this, Mr Nilsson has predicted a number of problems should Hull follow a similar path to London, and said the association’s lawyers would invariably be involved.

He said: “Trying to get a petrol taxi is very difficult, because they’re a lot dearer to run than diesel taxis.

“Electric cars? I personally have not seen any that are fit for purpose. You can only go 100 miles on a charge. What do you do if a fare wants to go to Manchester Airport? It just can’t work.

“Hybrid vehicles are very expensive, compared to say a diesel taxi.”

According to Mr Nilsson’s reckoning, there are 170 black cabs in Hull. He believes there are in the region of 1,300 private hire vehicles.

He feels the driving factor behind Hull’s congestion, linked to poor air quality, is “poor road layout” as opposed to traffic volume.

“The roads are not coping with the number of vehicles,” he said. “No-one one knows the roads like taxi drivers. We know how the city works.

“Look at Spring Bank West, Cottingham Road and Bricknell Avenue. There used to be two lanes in each direction. Now there’s one. That’s the reason why our roads are becoming clogged. We’re losing roads.”

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

Taxi drivers ‘are being fined £200 for picking up passengers at Cheltenham Railway Station’

They say they keep being caught out by the automatic numberplate recognition system

Taxi drivers Pete Ballinger and Neil Harvey outside Cheltenham Railway Station.

Taxi drivers allegedly face hundreds of pounds in fines because they keep being charged for dropping off and picking up people at Cheltenham Railway Station.

Three drivers from Andy Cars in Cheltenham are facing fines which could top £600 between them.

They say they keep being caught out by the automatic numberplate recognition system which is in place at the station which charges motorists who stay there longer than 20 minutes.

Each of them have received fines of £100, which would rise to £200 if they were not promptly paid.

But the cabbies say they are only staying in the car park for a few minutes while they pick up and collect customers – and their on-board computers can prove it.

He said: “If that’s the case that means we can’t pick up and drop off at the station, and that can’t be right. If you want to pick up a disabled person you want to stop as near to the station as you can.

“It’s our livelihoods, it’s our jobs. We go there every single day. I can go there five times a day myself.

“It’s very frustrating. Now they’re reluctant to do drop offs just in case they get fined.”

ANPR systems use cameras to capture images of the vehicle and the licence plate on their arrival and when they leave the car park to calculate whether a motorist is liable for a fine.

A spokesman for APCOA said: “The ANPR system provides 20 minutes of free parking for dropping off and picking up passengers. We cannot comment on individual cases without further details.”

APCOA have been contacted for further comment.

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

Glasgow private-hire driver sacked after ‘locking terrified female passenger in car and demanding extra cash’

The private-hire was dismissed from City Cars after footage of the frightening ordeal was posted on Facebook

A GLASGOW private-hire driver has been sacked following reports he locked a female passenger in his car and demanded extra cash.

The private-hire driver was dismissed from City Cars after footage of the terrifying ordeal was posted on Facebook.

In the clip, the young female, who does not wish to be named, booked a private-hire car in advance from Clydebank to Neilston on Saturday night, agreeing a charge of £20.

She can heard getting more impatient with the driver who she is trying to give directions to and is heard saying to him: “Yeah, you’re back that way.”

Trying to justify the increased fare, the driver replies to her: “My friend, 17 miles I drive.”

At this point the operator, who is also heard becoming increasingly impatient states: “It is not 17 miles, that’s what I’m saying to you, it is 14 miles.

“So if you take her a long way you can’t charge the lady for that.”

Throughout the video, all that can be seen are the passenger’s legs and the back seat of private-hire car in the darkness.

The driver can be heard stopping the car and demanding she pay him upfront as she pleads with him to “go”.

The pair can be heard shouting at each other to the point where the operator tells the driver to stop arguing and take the passenger home.

Even then, the driver threatens to call the police.

Thankfully, the driver eventually took the passenger home and charged £20.

The young female posted the mobile phone video of the frightening exchange as a warning to other passengers.

City Cars today confirmed the incident had happened and said the driver had been dismissed.

A spokesperson said: “City Cars Management were shocked at hearing of the driver’s actions on Saturday night.

“We dealt with the incident immediately upon hearing the complaint and the driver no longer works for the company.

“We have reported him to Glasgow City Council and have advised the customer to do so also.

“At the time of the incident the driver was reminded by our Operator of City Cars’ zero tolerance policy of never allowing over charging but took it upon himself to attempt to violate this.

“City Cars do not in any way condone the actions of the driver in this isolated incident.

“We have spoken to the customer and extended our apologies and assurances that this will never happen again.”

TfL English Test Introduction delayed until 2018

The chauffeur reports that the Court of Appeal is to begin discussing the controversial Transport for London English Tests for Private Hire drivers.

A campaign by the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA) and the GMB Union has been successful in its early stages as TfL announces it has delayed the introduction of the tests until April 2018.

A spokesperson from the LPHCA commented; “Like many other interested groups, including representatives of disabled drivers, we wholly reject the current test levels set by Transport for London as arbitrary and excessive. The test itself, we maintain, is simply not fit for purpose.

“It imposes unnecessary costs and time consuming burdens. This is potentially, in our opinion, discriminatory, unreasonable and disproportionate. Comparatively, we note, other Transport for London regulated modes of transport are not subject to undertaking such obligations.”

President of the GMB Professional Drivers’ arm, Simon Rush commented; “There’s an uneasy feeling of uncertainty of where we stand as private hire drivers, and at the moment we need more support than ever to make sure we keep our jobs. This plan needs to be abandoned and started again with a new proposal to include grandfather rights for current drivers and an oral test for new drivers.

He added; “The Mayor needs to come back with a more straightforward and less expensive test and plan that will be acceptable to our members.

“It’s time for the London Mayor to get involved and deal with this increasing mess.”

A protest outside City Hall in December 2016 saw members of the trade displaying placards, banners and flags outlining the issues and then entering the building to fill up the Assembly Chamber to protest against the tests.

The English Test would require those applying for a Private Hire license to undergo an English language test to prove their abilities and submit the qualification to TfL. Drivers would be allowed to provide a copy of previously obtained exam certificate demonstrating English language proficiency.

If they can’t locate one, a driver would need to contact their exam board to obtain a copy or, if their exam board no longer exists, they would need to commence a likely minimum eight-week process to try and get hold of a copy from the AQA.

source: http://www.thechauffeur.com/

Committee rules CCTV in Adur taxis is not compulsory

An Adur taxi driver has praised the council’s ‘common sense approach’ for advising that CCTV in taxis should be discretionary, not compulsory.

The issue was considered by Adur District Council’s Licensing committee on Monday, June 19.

We thank the committee for taking a common sense approach and considering representations from the trade

Sean Ridley, an Adur hackney carriage proprietor of 39 years and Unite the Union representative for the area, said the decision was appropriate for Adur – ‘a low crime area’ with an ‘absence of incidences’ to justify the mandatory use of CCTV.

While CCTV can record evidence of incidents and deter crime, there are risks of intrusion into privacy, the council’s Privacy Impact Assessment found.

Mr Ridley said after the meeting: “We applaud the decision.

“We thank the committee for taking a common sense approach and considering representations from the trade.”

He said the council had noted guidance from the Department of Transport, which states that ‘unduly stringent’ licensing requirements tend to restrict the supply of taxis, which can ‘work against the public interest’ and have ‘safety implications’.

He said he did not believe many private hire or hackney carriage vehicles in Adur would decide to install CCTV, which costs around £474.

Councillor James Butcher, licensing committee chairman, said: “Taxis are an integral part of the district’s night-time economy.

“As the licensing authority, we have a duty to do what we can to improve public safety.

“But we also know that some drivers have concerns over data protection and the cost of installing these cameras.

“After listening to operators across the district, the committee decided to give drivers the option of installing CCTV cameras.

“The committee will also work with drivers and those that use taxis to regularly review the issue.”

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

Uber chief executive Kalanick resigns

Uber boss Travis Kalanick has resigned as chief executive after pressure from shareholders.

Mr Kalanick will remain on the board of the firm, however.

His resignation comes after a review of practices at the firm and scandals including complaints of sexual harassment.

Last week he said he was taking an indefinite leave of absence following the sudden death of his mother in a boating accident.

‘Bold decision’

Five major Uber investors demanded Mr Kalanick’s immediate resignation in a letter on Tuesday, the New York Times said.

Mr. Kalanick reportedly said: “I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”

Uber’s board said in a statement: “Travis has always put Uber first. This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber.

“By stepping away, he’s taking the time to heal from his personal tragedy while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history. We look forward to continuing to serve with him on the board.”

‘Uphill climb’

Dan Primack, business editor of the Axios news service, was one of the first to report the investor demands for Mr Kalanick to go.

Mr Primack said a group of investors, but particularly Bill Gurley of venture capitalist firm Benchmark, had put pressure on Mr Kalanick to resign.

“It’s important to note: Travis controlled the board in terms of votes, so really, it was a vey big uphill climb for [Mr] Gurley and the other investors to get this done,” Mr Primack said.

Uber’s future prospects were now “pretty bright”, Mr Primack added.

The firm has been searching for a chief operating officer, but now can seek out Fortune 500 chief executives to take over the top spot, he said.

Scandals

The ride-hailing company has had a series of recent controversies, including the departure of other high-level executives.

Eric Alexander, the former head of Uber’s Asia-Pacific business, left after a report that he had obtained the medical records of a woman who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014.

Mr Alexander reportedly shared them with Mr Kalanick, senior vice-president Emil Michael and others.

Mr Alexander was fired earlier this month, and Mr Michael later left Uber.

Board member David Bonderman made a sexist remark at a meeting about workplace practice recommendations last week and then resigned as a director.

This month Uber said it had fired more than 20 staff and had taken action against others following a review of more than 200 HR complaints that included harassment and bullying.

There has also been a lawsuit from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, over alleged theft of trade secrets related to driverless cars.

In February Uber said it was investigating “abhorrent” sexual harassment claims made by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40351859

Cambridge City Council is ignoring government advice on wheelchair-accessible taxis

Cambridge City Council is leaving wheelchair users taking taxis open to higher charges, no assistance getting on and off and even being refused a trip, it is claimed.

The authority does not have a list of accessible taxis under section 167 of the Equality Act 2010, despite it being strongly recommended by the government in preventing discrimination against disabled people.

The Department for Transport’s statutory guidance states that: “Whilst local authorities are under no specific legal obligation to maintain a list under section 167, the Government recommends strongly that they do so.

“Without such a list the requirements of section 165 of the Act do not apply, and drivers may continue to refuse the carriage of wheelchair users, fail to provide them with assistance, or to charge them extra.”

Doug Paulley, who discovered in a freedom of information request to Cambridge City Council that they did not keep a list, says the lack of one is “utterly astonishing”.

He said: “Cambridge City Council put in their newsletter to all their taxi drivers that drivers would be subject to the new anti-discrimination law preventing them from refusing wheelchair users, charging wheelchair users extra and the like.”

Despite not following government advice, the council says it has it own in-house measures to prevent discrimination.

Councillor Gerri Bird, chair of licensing at the city council, who is also the disability lead and a wheelchair user, said: “Wheelchair users should never face an additional charge for calling a taxi.

“I am sorry that our response to Mr Paulley’s Freedom of Information request, whilst it correctly dealt with the questions asked regarding the Equality Act, did not also explain why the City Council does not currently keep a list of wheelchair accessible vehicles under the legislation.

“In fact our own Hackney Carriage and Licensing Hire Policy already requires that no additional charge can be made and that all new hackney carriages must be wheelchair accessible.

“Currently around two-thirds of the taxi fleet is wheelchair accessible. Provisions on our policy also allow for enforcement action to be taken if a driver refuses to transport a wheelchair user, fails to provide them with appropriate assistance or charges them more than a non-wheelchair user.”

Councillor Bird said the city council has taken the view that their own strong policies provided sufficient safeguards, but she said they would be reviewing the Accessibility Policy later this year.

She continued: “As part of that we will be considering not only if we should further strengthen the safeguards for wheelchair users by including a list of designated wheelchair accessible taxis, but also how to meet the needs of those with other mobility impairments, for whom lower, saloon type vehicles may be preferable.

“In the meantime, I’d like to assure Mr Paulley and any wheelchair user that we will be ensuring all taxi drivers are fully aware of their responsibilities under our policy in the July newsletter and that they can travel with confidence in taxis in Cambridge.”

source: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/cambridge-city-council-taxi-licensing-13206504

Taxi reforms on the cards in Wales

THE system licensing taxis and private hire vehicles in Wales is to be reformed, it has been announced.

Control over the licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles will be devolved to the Welsh Government early next year.

And, yesterday, Wales’ economy and infrastructure secretary Ken Skates announced plans to revamp the system.

Speaking in the Senedd Mr Skates said the reform would form part of a wider revamp of public transport in Wales, including the South Wales Metro.

“When these planned improvements to rail and bus services are implemented, there will remain communities within our society for which public transport is simply not available or a viable alternative to use of a private motor vehicle,” he said.

“Taxi and private hire services are, therefore, an essential aspect of the transport network here in Wales.

“Taxis and private hire vehicles provide a vital public service, connecting people to places when alternative public transport services are not available or viable.

“The contribution that the sector makes to the night-time and tourism economy in many of our communities should not be underestimated.”

But he said the legal framework governing taxis has not been significantly reformed for more than 200 years, while the most recent legislation relating to private hire vehicles outside of London dates back to 1976 and this, along with more recent developments such as mobile phone-based booking apps such as Uber, had resulted in “a complex and fragmented licensing system”.

Mr Skates announced a consultation into the planned changes, due to begin shortly after next month’s General Election.

He said he hoped the new rules would protect licensed drivers from exploitation by rogue firms, as well as ensure customers had the best service possible. He added he also hoped he would be able to make it easier for drivers to work across local authority borders.

“Above all, we have a duty to ensure that the licensing arrangement in Wales safeguards the public and prevents the exploitation of the professional drivers that are delivering these very important services across our communities,” he said.

There are around 9,200 licensed taxi and private hire drivers in Wales.

Details of the reforms are yet to be confirmed.

 

source: http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/gwentnews/15305277.Taxi_reforms_on_the_cards_in_Wales/

Law change provides equal treatment for disabled taxi users

Law change makes it illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users.