Nearly 150 taxi drivers have signed a petition accusing private hire cab drivers of “tarnishing the name of all taxi drivers in Cambridge” by picking up passengers illegally from the street and knocking over a pedestrian.
Taxi associations in the city, Cambridge Hackney Carriage Drivers Association (CHCDA) and Cambridge City Licensed Taxis (CCLT), have written to the council calling for them to take action over what they claim is an increase in private hire cabs taking on-street bookings despite not being licensed to do so.
Glenn Hall, chairman of CCLT, told the News: “What they are doing is illegal, it is endangering the public and it is taking away the trade of licensed drivers.”
Amjad Sheikh, a night taxi driver for CCLT who put the petition together, said the problem also included overcharging on small fare jobs, not allowing emergency vehicles to get past quickly enough and getting customers to ‘book’ the job after they have been picked up.
He said: “We are appealing to the city council that a handful of wrongdoers are tarnishing the name of all taxi drivers in Cambridge.”
On the knocked-over pedestrian, a spokesman from Cambridgeshire Police confirmed they were called to a collision between a car and a pedestrian outside Cineworld at 11pm on January 27, where a woman suffered minor injuries.
He added: “The driver, a 30-year-old man, was sent on the National Driver Improvement Scheme as an alternative to prosecution for careless driving.”
Rowhi Nemer, the owner of Camcab, a private hire cab company in Cambridge, said it was the case some private hire drivers were picking up fares from the street.
He said: “It’s happening and it should not happen – for the safety of both the drivers and customers.
“We have been told some of our drivers have been doing it and we have had a chat with them.”
He said his company supports the licensing officers in any action they take and said while CamCab trained its drivers, all newly qualified private hire drivers needed training to avoid them breaking the rules through ignorance.
Taxi drivers are allowed to pick up passengers on the street but their private hire peers can only accept bookings.
A spokesman for the city council said: “Nine drivers are currently under investigation for taking customers without pre-booking and are being considered in line with the council’s enforcement policy.”
Jas Lally, head of refuse and environment at the council, said: “We will always begin with educating the licensed taxi trade and provide guidance on appropriate practices, but where this fails, formal enforcement action will be considered.”