Drink-driving Sevenoaks minicab boss fined for operating without a licence

A former Sevenoaks minicab boss has been fined after being found guilty of operating without a licence.

Mohammed Abdul Jabbar, of Glyn Davies Close, was convicted of two counts of the offence at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

The 31-year-old was fined £180 per count plus a £20 victim surcharge and £1,200 in costs, totalling £1,580.

Sevenoaks Taxis – the firm he used to run – was ordered to pay £4,600.

Sevenoaks District Council investigated allegations that Jabbar had been collecting fares without a licence and found CCTV footage of him taking fares on 2 and 24 August 2015, despite having his licence revoked for a drink driving offence in January 2014.

Sevenoaks Taxis did not attend court but was found guilty in its absence on three charges at the same court hearing and was fined £500 per count, plus £1,500 in costs and a £50 surcharge totalling £3,050.

A spokesman for the firm has previously said Jabbar is no longer anything to do with the business.

Councillor Anna Firth, Sevenoaks District Council portfolio holder for licensing, says: “We take the safety of the travelling public very seriously and we work hard to ensure drivers are fit and proper people to do the job.

“In this case a driver had no licence so wasn’t insured to pick up the public.

“Our licensing and legal teams worked hard to bring about this successful prosecution and the size of the fine and costs demonstrates the magistrates took the case seriously.

“I hope this prosecution sends out a warning to rogue drivers who are thinking about breaking the law.”

Sevenoaks Taxis has 28 days from the court cases to pay the £3,050 fine and costs. Jabbar has been ordered to pay his fine and costs at £40 a month.

Read more at http://www.kentlive.news/

Cumbrian health trust’s taxi bill to be raised with Prime Minister

The taxi bill of almost £600,000 chalked up by hospital bosses in north Cumbria is to be raised with the Prime Minister.

Copeland MP Jamie Reed reacted furiously to news that the NHS trust running Whitehaven’s West Cumberland Hospital and The Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle spent £585,000 on taxis in three years.

That was the bill for nearly 13,000 taxi journeys, used to transport drugs, patient records, and patients.

The spending – revealed in response to a Freedom of Information request from the News & Star – came to light as North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust confirmed it faces a predicted £49.5m deficit.

“This is utterly scandalous,” said Mr Reed.

“It’s a diabolical illustration of the chaos caused by centralising services at Carlisle. “The patient and the taxpayer both lose out. The worst of it is: we told them so. I’ll be raising this with the Prime Minister.

“The government is presiding over a seemingly endless crisis and it must get a grip.”

One Whitehaven based NHS campaigner said a patient sent from the town to Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary recently saw her medical records, crammed into carrier bags, arrive at that hospital in a taxi.

Trust officials rejected the claim, saying drugs and medical records are always sent in secure packages or containers.

The News & Star’s investigation revealed that the trust routinely uses taxis to transport pathology samples, medical records, and patients, with some individual taxi trips costing more than £600.

Managers say patients are sent by taxi if using an ambulance is not appropriate and to beat treatment waiting time targets.

Siobhan Gearing, who started the We Need West Cumberland Hospital Campaign, said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous.

“How can they claim to be in financial difficulty when they’re spending nearly £600,000 on taxis over three years?

“It makes no sense at all. That money would be better spent on the services which, time and time again, they tell us they can’t afford to give us.”

Mrs Gearing, a mother-of-two, who has argued consistently that services at the West Cumberland Hospital should be protected, said using taxis also raised questions about patient confidentiality.

She said: “A lady told me yesterday that she was at The Cumberland Infirmary for an appointment when a taxi arrived there and dropped off three carrier bags filled with her medical records.

“That’s not a professional way to run a hospital.

“A patient’s medical records should only be transported in a sealed, tamper-proof packet. It would make more sense if they employed somebody in the trust to do this work.

“It’s a management failure.”

In its response to our Freedom of Information request, the trust confirmed that 2,800 of the taxi journeys it paid for in the last three years were between the hospitals in Whitehaven and Carlisle.

The most expensive taxi trips, taking patients from Silloth to non-trust destinations, cost £640 and £600 respectively.

The public sector union Unison described the trust’s taxi bill as “excessive”.

But a spokeswoman for the trust said: We have a process in place for using taxis and we only send medical records and drugs in sealed bags and containers. The taxis we use operate under a formal contract.

“It happens in almost all other trusts.”

She added that previous investigations had shown it was more cost effective to use taxis rather than operate a similar service in-house. The practice is regularly reviewed, she said.

A recent centralisation of medical records is expected to reduce the need to use taxis, a statement added.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “There isn’t anything wrong with using taxis to fill in the gaps every now and then, but the authorities must make sure they opt for the most efficient option, providing value for taxpayers’ money.

“When families are struggling with ever-rising bills, authorities must do all they can to keep costs down.”

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

Taxi drivers having to work longer hours to make a living

New research shows both Hackney and private hire drivers in the city have had to increase their working hours over the last three years

Taxi drivers in Liverpool are working harder than ever just to make ends meet, a new study reveals.

The research shows Hackney and private hire drivers in the city , including those working for Uber, travel 27,485 miles a year and take an average of 95 fares a week – up 35 fares since similar research carried out in 2013.

The survey of more than 1,000 drivers across the UK, including Liverpool, was commissioned by taxi insurance broker insureTAXI.

Longer hours

More than a third of respondents in Liverpool said they have increased their working hours over the last three years, with 45% citing increased competition as the reason for clocking up more time on the road.

Half of drivers in Liverpool said they’re working longer hours to make ends meet at home.

In an average week, taxi drivers in Liverpool are now working 43 hours and earning £316, making the average hourly rate £7.35 – £0.65 above the current national minimum wage.

On top of this, the research revealed they can expect an average tip of 68p for each fare. Considering the number of fares taxi drivers take on average a week, this means they could earn around £64.60 in tips each week.

Rising costs

But while the research paints a largely positive picture of taxi drivers’ earning potential, there are a number of costs that taxi drivers regularly incur.

On average, taxi drivers in Liverpool spend £100 a week on fuel, £91 a month on general vehicle maintenance and £1,901 a year on their taxi insurance – totalling an average of £8,193 of expenditure each year.

The rising cost of being a taxi driver is a concern for a number of taxi drivers in Liverpool, with 35% stating it’s the biggest threat to their profession.

And 28% think the increase in competition is the biggest threat, while 17% of non-Uber drivers think Uber is the biggest threat.

Increasing demands

“Speaking to over 1,000 taxi drivers has given us a real insight into the demands and challenges faced by our customers,” explained Tim Crighton, marketing director of insureTAXI. “Taxi drivers are having to work longer hours in order to combat the increase in competition and changes in consumers’ lifestyles.

“What’s more, the associated costs of being a taxi driver is a real concern to some – especially when they feel that there isn’t as much business available as there was a few years ago.”

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

Hazzard announces immediate review of taxi legislation

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has announced that a full and comprehensive review of the current taxi legislation is set to get underway.

The Minister took the opportunity to make the announcement at his first meeting with representatives of the recently formed Northern Ireland Taxis (NIT) group.

Minister Chris Hazzard said:

“Much work has already been carried out to help build a safe and professional taxi industry that benefits the hundreds of operators, drivers and administrative staff who work in the industry and to the hundreds of thousands of people who use taxis regularly.

“There are still many challenges ahead, however, I am determined to support and grow the industry through legislation that protects the industry itself and its customers.

“Metering remains a central plank of how taxis will be regulated in the future and current requirements remain in place.”

The Minister is aware of concerns around licensing classifications for taxis and reiterated that Class C is intended for use by, for example wedding, funeral and novelty vehicles and not as a general taxi class. He made it clear that he will be moving promptly to resolve the matter.

The Minister continued:

“To help inform and develop this work I have asked officials to establish a Taxi Advisory Group as soon as possible.”

The review will take into account the views of local operators and drivers, as well as those of the general public and other key stakeholders. New proposals are expected to be brought forward for public consultation in spring next year.

source: https://www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/

Mayor quadruples team tackling illegal taxi and minicab activity

Sadiq Khan has committed to a dramatic expansion of the Transport for London (TfL) team responsible for tackling touting and illegal activity affecting the Capital’s taxi and private hire trades.

As part of a concerted drive to improve customer safety, an extra 250 Compliance Officers will be recruited and deployed over the next year to patrol London’s streets and crack down on illegal activity and improve safety. The Mayor’s move quadruples the size of a team which provides a highly visible, uniformed presence in the West End, City and other areas across London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:

‘I want Londoners to feel safe when they take a taxi or minicab and that is why I have approved a major increase to the size of our team that targets touts and illegal activities. It is the first part of a wider programme I will be introducing that will drive up standards in the industry and help our world famous cabbies continue to thrive.’

Steve Burton, TfL’s Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said:

‘Illegal minicab activity not only poses a serious risk to passenger safety but undermines licensed, law abiding taxi and private hire drivers. This welcome boost to our enforcement team provides Londoners with additional reassurance and also sends a message to those not complying with the law that they will be caught and dealt with robustly.’

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, said:

‘This is fantastic news for Londoners and the black cab trade; it is so refreshing to have a Mayor who recognises the danger posed to the travelling public by illegal minicab activity and is prepared to act to ensure their safety. We welcome this substantial increase in compliance officers, and look forward to working with Sadiq in the future.’

The new officers will be funded through changes to private hire operator licensing so that larger firms pay a greater share of the costs of enforcement.

TfL and its partners regularly carry out operations to deter and disrupt illegal minicab activity in the Capital and protect the public from touts. Operation Neon is a joint operation between TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service and Westminster City Council that takes place every weekend. An operation running between May 2015 and July 2016 has seen the following results:

Operation Neon results:

  • 127 Operations
  • 9699 private hire drivers advised and moved on to keep roads clear for taxis and booked private hire cabs.
  • 448 private hire drivers were reported for not having a badge and were stopped from working for the remainder of the evening.
  • 5116 private hire drivers were reported for not wearing their badge.
  • 65 private hire drivers reported for plying for hire offences.
  • 1265 private hire drivers reported for parking on taxi ranks.
  • 2916 Parking tickets issued.

Today’s announcement is the first part of a comprehensive strategy overseen by the Mayor that will herald in a new era for the Capital’s taxi and private hire trades. It will deliver radical improvements for customers, a boost to safety, support for the taxi trade and further improve the quality of service offered by the private hire trade. There will also be a concerted effort to make the Capital’s taxi fleet the greenest in the world.

This activity will sit alongside improvements already underway following TfL’s review of Private Hire Regulations. From 3 October this year all taxis in the Capital will be required to accept card payments, including contactless, to make services even more accessible to the public.

source: https://tfl.gov.uk/

Fife councillors welcome first electric taxi

Councillors have welcomed the first electric taxi to Fife’s roads – and have hailed the success of Fife Council’s ECO Stars scheme.

Aitch Taxis, one of the scheme’s members, has become the first company in Fife to start using an electric car as a private hire vehicle.

Councillor Bob Young, chairman of the regulation and licensing committee, said: “The ECO Stars scheme encourages operators to run their vehicles in the most efficient way, which reduces carbon emissions as well as their own running costs.

“Cleaner air is good for everyone and 22 operators – running 111 vehicles – have joined the scheme so far, showing they’re committed to reducing air pollution in Fife.

“I’d like to congratulate Aitch Taxis for putting us on the road to a cleaner environment and hope others will follow their lead. Electric vehicles don’t emit any pollutants while they’re in use so they can play an important role in tackling climate change and improving local air quality.”

Cllr Young added Fife had an excellent network of chargers that anyone can use if they were considering switching to an electric car.

There are 19 charging points for electric vehicles, including three rapid chargers. These are available for the public to use at long stay car parks in town centres and at public transport interchanges such as railway stations.

The three rapid chargers can be found at Petheram Bridge car park, St Andrews; Bankhead Central (visitors car park), Glenrothes; and Halbeath Park and Ride.

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

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/

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/

Rebuilding trust in Rotherham taxi trade

TODAY marks the deadline for most taxis in Rotherham to have CCTV equipment fitted.

Rotherham Borough Council commissioner Mary Ney said the policy sets a standard among the highest in the country.

A raft of measures have been introduced to rebuild trust in Rotherham’s taxi industry, which was criticised in the Jay report.

Other changes inlcude a ‘fit and proper’ person test, child safeguarding classes, English and maths tests and more stringent vehicle regulations.

Ms Ney, who has overseen the new policy, said: “Rotherham Council is committed to providing a professional and safe transport service.

“Our aim is to make Rotherham licensed drivers, operators and vehicles of the best quality.

“Ask for a Rotherham driver when you book your taxi and you will know your driver has met our high expectations.

“The regulations will ensure the safety of all those who use local taxis, rebuild trust and confidence in an industry which employs many local people whilst supporting drivers to do their job.”

Cameras must be activated whenever the vehicle is being used as a taxi. Audio footage must be taken when carrying children — and can be activated by any customer at any time.

Drivers will not have access to footage. Where 2016 renewal dates fall after July 6, CCTV must be installed when the driver next renews.

If you believe a driver is not abiding by the new rules, report your concern at http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/taxi

source: http://rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk/

Celtic FC Foundation donate £7,000 to Glasgow Taxi Outing

CELTIC FC Foundation has today donated £7,000 to this year’s Glasgow Taxis´ Outing Fund for Sick Children, continuing the club’s long-standing support of the annual charity event.

Former Hoops favourite, Tosh McKinlay handed over the cheque to help fund the trip for at least 300 deserving kids on the Celtic Way.

It brings the contribution by the club to the Glasgow Taxis’ Outing Fund to nearly £140,000 over the last 18 years.

Established in 1945, the Glasgow Taxis´ Outing Fund aims to provide a day of excitement and fun for children with special needs.

This year’s event takes place on Wednesday, June 15, and will see a colourful convoy of cabs once again make the traditional journey from the West End of Glasgow to Troon in Ayrshire, where the children will enjoy a fun-packed day.

Celtic Chief Executive Peter Lawwell said: “We are absolutely delighted to continue our support of the taxis outing for yet another year. This is a great annual occasion for the city, bringing great fun to children who really deserve our support”.

“The money Celtic has donated and the effort and hard work of so many people, has meant thousands of children and their families receiving much needed help. Everyone who makes this event so special deserves enormous credit”.

“Celtic was formed in 1888 to help to help people in need and we are pleased that today, the objective of making a positive difference to the lives of others remains such an important part of the club. We hope everyone involved in Wednesday’s event enjoys a great day out.”

Tosh McKinlay said: “I was lucky enough to see them off from the Kelvin Way last year in their 70th year, so it’s great to take part again. For Celtic FC Foundation to put in another £7,000 is a fantastic gesture and it’s great to promote that.”

Jim Buchanan, chairperson of the Glasgow Taxis’ Outing Fund, said: “We can’t thank the people and all the fans who have donated through Celtic FC Foundation enough. It’s fantastic and we really appreciate it and all they have done for us over the years.

“The outing is one of the first days that everybody thinks about.This is the really big charity we have in the taxi trade and everyone that attends the event speaks about it all the time.

“All the taxi drivers always want to know when the date is for next year, ask questions about it and it’s the only thing a lot of them speak about.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to determine who the real kids are – the ones in the front or the ones in the back!

“They work hard and a lot of them make a huge effort to do up their taxi with balloons and in the past we have had things like spaceships and tennis courts. They take their cab off the road for two or three days and work on it, they think it’s worthwhile and so do we.

“We aim for around 150 drivers and we have volunteers and charitable donations from people like Celtic. There are so many people involved all-year round, but on the day there could be up to 220 volunteers from different backgrounds distributing the food to the kids. The support we get is fantastic.”

Davie Hodgson, a taxi driver based out of Castlemilk, said: “My first outing was 24 years ago this year. We absolutely love it. It’s a humbling day. We are all Glasgow taxi drivers and it’s a day where we can give something back to the city – and it’s one day where everyone likes taxi drivers!

“It’s cracking day and a lot of the boys put in a lot of effort with dressing up, and this year we are going as The Magnificent Seven.

“It’s the one day of the year when the drivers can just act like weans. You see them all on the Kelvin Way leaping about like lunatics. It’s terrific and I would never miss it.

“It means a lot to the kids and it’s nice to give something back. We work up in Castlemilk and all the boys are all buzzing. They all have the cowboy outfits already and tomorrow they will start turning up with them even though the event is on Wednesday!”

source: http://www.celticfc.net/