Horley taxi driver loses licence after making sexually suggestive comments to a lone female passenger

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s decision to revoke Shahid Tafader’s taxi licence was upheld by a court

A taxi driver has lost his licence to operate in Reigate and Banstead after making sexually suggestive comments towards a lone female passenger.

Shahid Tafader had his taxi licence revoked by the borough council and, at a subsequent hearing at Guildford Crown Court on Friday (October 27), the decision was upheld by the court.

Mr Shahid Tafader’s licence was revoked in November 2016 following the allegation and the council later rejected an appeal against the decision.

After failing to get that decision overturned at Friday’s court hearing, he was ordered to pay costs of £4,500.

Tafader of Hyperion Walk, Horley, was already facing a bill of £700 in court costs after first taking the case to Redhill Magistrates’ Court before it closed down.

Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s Executive Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, Graham Knight, said: “We expect taxi drivers licensed by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council to meet high standards of behaviour.

“Mr Tafader’s behaviour fell far short of those standards so revoking his licence was the right thing to do.

“We are extremely pleased that the courts endorsed our decision at each stage. Passengers should feel confident that they are safe in taxis licensed by this council.”

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

High Court rejects appeal by taxi driver over council livery policy

A High Court judge has rejected a taxi driver’s appeal over Guildford Borough Council’s livery policy, it has been reported.

The local authority said the driver had claimed in a previous hearing in November 2016 at Guildford Crown Court that the livery policy amounted to a licence condition and should be removed from his licence.

The judge dismissed that appeal, finding that the reasons for the livery, such as protecting public safety, were sound and reasonable.

The taxi driver then took his appeal to the High Court.

The High Court has now dismissed the appeal, deciding that it was reasonable to attach conditions on licences which relate to council policy.

The court awarded Guildford an additional £2,000 in costs. The appellant now owes the council £11,000 in costs for this and other appeal cases, the local authority said.

​Cllr Graham Ellwood, Lead Councillor for Licensing and Community Safety at Guildford, said: “I’m delighted with the ruling made by the High Court. My hope now is that this judgement brings to an end the legal challenges that have diverted the Council from other important work to help taxi drivers. This has caused delays in implementing a policy that is aimed at raising standards and protecting the travelling public.”

The policy change was previously challenged at Redhill Magistrates Court in July 2016 and at Guildford Crown Court in November 2016. At each stage costs have been awarded to the council.

​​​Cllr Ellwood added: “Guildford will now have a fleet of easily identifiable, liveried taxis from 1 January 2018. I would like to remind drivers that they need to make arrangements to livery their taxis as soon as possible to ensure they are not off the road after this deadline.”

Uber deserved to lose its licence – Londoners’ safety must come first

Our city is a hotbed of innovation and entrepreneurship. That’s because it’s renowned as a place where everyone has to play by the same rules

From the steam engine to the web, Britain has a long history of inventing and embracing brilliant new technology, often with London leading the way with the very latest developments.

In recent years, we have seen great leaps forward in areas such as green technology, medical innovations and contactless payments on the underground, but also with mobile phone applications that can make the lives of Londoners easier – whether it’s ordering food, renting a flat or doing financial transactions.

As we move through the next stage of 21st century innovation, I want London to continue to be at the forefront of these developments and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.

I welcome and embrace these innovations – not only because they can improve the everyday lives of Londoners, but because they can spark new ideas for business, new possibilities for jobs in our city and new opportunities to cement London as a global capital of digital technology.

However, as with every other sector doing business in this city, from the financial services to manufacturing, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect – above all when it comes to the safety of customers.

Providing an innovative service is not an excuse for it being unsafe.

Today, Transport for London has made the formal decision not to renew Uber’s operating licence. This was made independently by TfL as the regulator. I know this decision will be controversial in some quarters. Uber has become a popular service for many Londoners. But I fully understand the decision that has been taken.

It would be simply wrong for TfL to continue to license Uber if there was any way this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety or security. TfL has said it believes Uber’s conduct demonstrates a lack of corporate responsibility around a number of issues that have potential public safety and security implications. These include Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences, and the way it obtains medical certificates and security checks (Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service) for their drivers.

All private-hire operators in London need to play by the rules. The safety and security of customers must be paramount.

Uber’s current licence does not expire until the end of September so the service will continue, for now. The company will also be able to continue to operate until the appeals process has been exhausted.

Around the world, new private-hire vehicle companies and other disruptive technology businesses are springing up all the time, with new and different ways of working. We know it is possible to combine innovative technology within these fields while also ensuring the necessary safety standards are met. It would not be right for exceptions to be made.

I have repeatedly said the regulatory environment is critical in protecting Londoners’ safety, maintaining workplace standards for drivers and sustaining a vibrant taxi and private hire market with space for a range of providers to flourish. It is not simply regulation for regulation’s sake.

One of the reasons why London has become such a success with international business over centuries is because of our professionalism and sense of British fair play, with transparent rules, laws and regulations. This ensures that all companies are treated equally – something we would never want to lose.

I suspect it will take some time before this situation with Uber fully plays out. In the meantime, I will continue my work to help support innovative businesses in London and to create a vibrant and safe taxi and private hire market.

During the mayoral election, I promised I would be the most pro-business mayor London has ever had. That promise is reflected in the work we are doing from City Hall to support companies and entrepreneurs who are reinventing and reviving many of our traditional business sectors.

As we go forward in the months and years ahead, I know London will continue to be an incredible hotbed of innovation and new technology, as well as a city where businesses understand that they have no choice but to adhere to the rules like everyone else – especially when it comes to the safety of Londoners.

• Sadiq Khan is the mayor of London

source: https://www.theguardian.com/

Tough new rules say all Scunthorpe Hackney Carriages must be white and female drivers can’t wear short skirts

The new rules have been laid down by North Lincolnshire Council, with all cabs to be white by December 2023

Tough new rules for cabbies including a ban on female drivers wearing short skirts are to be introduced by North Lincolnshire Council.

Under a new policy agreed by the authority’s licensing committee today (Thursday, September 21) all Hackney Carriage vehicles will have to be white by December 2023.

Committee members were told a standard livery was required to ensure the cabs were easily recognisable to members of the public.

All new and replacement vehicles will have have to conform to the new livery requirement before the deadline in six years’ time.

But Councillor Carl Sherwood was concerned passengers might have problems with the new livery as there were lots of white vehicles around.
Licensing manager Nick Bramhill pointed out the cars carried plenty of signage.

Female taxi drivers will be banned from wearing short skirts under new rules.

Councillor Steve Swift felt the new livery requirement did not go far enough and suggested extra markings on the vehicles.

Mr Bramhill said the trade bodies were quite happy with the rule as white vehicles were easier to source.

Under the new policy, applicants for licences will also have to demonstrate they are able to read and write in English.

Cabbies who have other driving jobs will be required to keep a record of the hours they drive – even on private land.

Operators of cabs fitted with CCTV systems will have to ensure they are registered with the Information Commissioner.

Cabs will also have to be fitted with child seats and drivers will be held responsible for the safety of children.

Drivers will be required to disclose all their previous convictions, regardless of whether or not they would be regarded as spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

And for the first time, smoking electronic cigarettes in taxis will see drivers have points docked off their licence.

The licensing watchdogs also agreed to amend the dress code for cabbies.

Ear-muffs and scarves covering the face are banned, while headwear except for religious headwear including skull caps and turbans will also not be allowed.

Football shirts, flip-flops and skirts shorter than knee-length have also been banned, while offensive tattoos have to be covered up.

In a further change, operators will be able for the first time to buy and display private registration plates from the council for a £150 fee renewable at the rate of £50 every year.

The number plate must not be offensive and contain between three and five digits with at least one number at the end.

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

Councillors meet today to decide whether to push ahead with implementing the drive, first agreed in 1994, to make all Granite City cabs wheelchair accessible.

But the ruling has long provoked anger, with taxi drivers arguing they have to shell out thousands on the new vehicles – despite many disabled customers being unable to use them.

New legal advice from the UK government has also revealed that there is “no mandatory requirement” for the rule from a legal standpoint.

The opposition SNP group have indicated they will try to throw out the rule today.

But council officers have recommended the authority push ahead, with fears raised that disabled groups and drivers who have bought new cars could pursue legal action if there is a u-turn now.

A council spokeswoman said:”Currently 54% of Aberdeen’s taxi fleet are accessible vehicles.

“In 2012 Aberdeen City Council’s Licencing Committee set out a policy of a gradual progression towards a 100% accessible vehicle taxi fleet and settled on a date of June 2017 by which the exemption would no longer apply and all vehicles required to be wheelchair accessible. This date was amended to June 2018 by Full Council in May 2016. Operators have been given considerable advance notice.

“It is the view of officers that the policy remains the best method of ensuring the council complies with its obligations. It is important to note that the policy refers to the taxi fleet only, and not to private hire vehicles.

“The intention behind the policy however is that any person should be able to access any vehicle in a taxi queue or hailed on the street.”

Stephen Flynn, SNP leader, said: “As someone with mobility issues, I know that a lot of people struggle to access these supposedly accessible vehicles.

“Equality means we need to meet the needs of everyone and we will seek to get the council to look again at this policy.”

Tommy Campbell, north-east regional representative for the Unite union which represents many drivers, called the councillors to develop a “common sense approach” to the ruling.

He said: “The councillors should apply a healthy dose of common sense, I would call on them to finally abandon this policy for good.”

‘Terrorist’ Uber driver, 26, ‘left a note to his sister telling her to “be strong” before attacking police outside Buckingham Palace with a 4ft samurai sword’

An Uber driver accused of attacking police outside Buckingham Palace with a four foot long samurai sword had left a note to his sister, a court heard today. Mohiussunnath Chowdhury, 26, allegedly drove his blue Toyota Prius in the direction of a police van on Constitution Hill on Friday night.

He stopped just a few feet away from the police van when he is then alleged to have reached for the sword in the foot well of the car while shouting ‘Allahu Akhbar’ He was then wrestled to the ground by police who sprayed him with CS gas and the note was found inside the car, a court heard.

He appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court today facing one count of preparation of terrorist acts. Wearing a grey prison tracksuit the softly spoken Chowdhury spoke only to confirm his name, age and address.

Prosecutor Mark Carol said: ‘On Friday the 25th of August at around 8:30pm in the evening when uniformed officers were traveling in a marked vehicle at the Queen Victoria Memorial, Constitution Hill, when a blue Toyota Prius motor vehicle, drove towards them stopping two feet away.

‘Officers approached the vehicle and the male driver reached for a large sword from inside and shouted ‘Allahu Akhbar’ several times. ‘The officer struggled with the individual and sprayed him with CS spray.’

The court was told Chowdhury was arrested and taken to a police station and the court heard the samurai sword was just under four foot in length. Part of the note was read out in court and it said: ‘To my dearest sister… Do not cry and be strong. ‘Tell everyone that I love them.’ Chowdhury, of Luton, Bedfordshire, was remanded in custody to appear at the Central Criminal Court.

Taxi driver faces £1,100 bill after refusing to take a fare from blind woman with guide dog

A taxi driver who refused to take a fare from a blind woman with an guide dog is facing a bill of more than £1,000. Muhammad Imran Ashraf initially agreed to take the passenger when she approached him at a rank on North Road, Durham, last December before driving off when he saw her assistance dog. A second driver, who witnessed the incident, agreed to take the fare and was able to send the woman details of the first vehicle via text message.

The passenger later contacted Durham County Council to complain and a licensing enforcement officer from the authority was able to confirm the incident had taken place using CCTV footage. Information provided by the woman helped the officer identify that the vehicle was licensed to Ashraf and a letter was sent to him asking to confirm who was driving it at the date and time concerned.

Ashraf later confirmed in a telephone conversation that he was the driver. He said that if any complaints had been made about him then his licence should be revoked as he was not willing to attend an interview or appear before a licensing committee. It was explained to Ashraf that his licence would not be revoked by the officer but that he would be sent a formal request for interview. Ashraf was sent two such letters but did not reply to either.

Ashraf, 44, of Chestnut Avenue, Newcastle, failed to attend Peterlee Magistrates Court when the case was heard on Monday morning after pleading not guilty at an earlier hearing. Magistrates found the case proved in his absence. He was fined £440 and ordered to pay £711 in costs and a £44 victim surcharge.

Owen Clough, Durham County Council’s consumer protection manager, said: “While we know the vast majority of the drivers we license comply with all relevant legislation, we have received information that suggests Mr Ashraf is one of a small number who are refusing to take passengers with assistance dogs. “This practice is an offence under the Equalities Act and we will not tolerate it in County Durham. “We hope that the financial penalty imposed by the magistrates will serve as a deterrent to other drivers who may be minded to refuse passengers.

We would also like to express our thanks to the driver who assisted us in this case. “Although Mr Ashraf is no longer licensed by us, we will continue to investigate allegations of this type and will take appropriate action if any offences are identified.”

Transport chiefs tell Uber drivers they must apply for new criminal record checks

Transport chiefs have told Uber drivers they must apply for new criminal record checks. Regulators have rejected the taxi giants current vetting process and are writing to 13,000 minicab drivers telling them their background checks are no longer valid. Up to a tenth of the company’s workforce now has 28 days to make new applications for vetting or risk being struck off. Some of the drivers work for other companies but Uber is responsible for the largest majority of people.

A spokesman for Uber said: ‘Every private hire driver in London has been through the same Enhanced DBS background check that black cab drivers go through. ‘These background checks are all carried out by the government’s Disclosure and Barring Service. ‘Uber does not process the background checks, does not require potential drivers to use a specific provider, and does not have a say in who gets licensed. ‘It is ultimately up to the regulator (TfL in London) to review the application and DBS check and decide who is granted a licence.’

Last month police accused the firm of failing to report crimes on passengers with figures showing sex attack claims involving Uber drivers are up 50 per cent in a year in the capital. The Sunday Times reported officers were concerned the US company was ‘allowing situations to develop that clearly affect the safety and security of the public’.

Last week it was revealed the man arrested and charged with a terror related incident at Buckingham Palace worked for Uber. Mohiussunnath Chowdhury allegedly attacked three police officers with a samurai sword while shouting ‘Allahu akbar’. And in December 2015 a former Uber driver, Muhiddin Mire, tried to behead a stranger in a London Tube station, yelling: ‘This is for my Syrian brothers.’

All would-be minicab drivers in London must be checked against information held by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), a government agency, for criminal records, unsuitability to work with children or police warnings. TfL accepted these certificates until this year. However, it said this weekend that ‘following a recent review of policy’ it would no longer accept them from Onfido or any other ‘third-party provider’ but only its own contractor. TfL declined to describe its concerns about Onfido and other providers.

The company which runs using an app allows customers to book a taxi anywhere – meaning councils are powerless to regulate the company. Currently local taxi businesses are licensed by local authorities but the new technology firm operates across borders. Police figures show sex attack claims involving Uber drivers are up 50 per cent in a year in the capital.

Between February 2015 and February 2016, there were 32 claims made against the firm’s drivers in London. But in the past 12 months to February 2017, that figure shot up to 48 alleged attacks.

The Local Government Association (LGA), the body representing councils in England and Wales, said laws dating back to 1847 needed updating to protect passengers and create a level field. The LGA has urged the Government to support legislation to modernise the licensing system. It wants national minimum licensing standards for drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles, a national database of all licensed taxi and private hire vehicles drivers, and cross border hiring.

Councils cannot take enforcement action against the rising numbers of taxi drivers licensed by other authorities operating in their area, the LGA claimed.

Uber has been accused of failing passengers by not reporting sex attacks to the police in a letter from Scotland Yard. It argued while local mini cab companies and black cabs have to adhere to the rules, Uber and other firms from outside licensing areas escape scrutiny despite operating on the same roads. There are also concerns drivers who have been refused or had a licence revoked by one authority were able to be licensed by another authority.

Earlier this month, the Daily Mail reported that according to police, Uber had not been reporting sex attacks by its drivers. The firm was accused of putting passenger safety at risk by failing to inform officers of ‘serious crimes’ in a formal letter from Scotland Yard. The alleged offences included at least six sex attacks and an assault. In one case, the firm was alerted to a sexual assault on a woman by a driver but took no action after he denied it. The driver was only blocked from working after he committed a more serious attack on a second woman.

During the Rotherham child sex grooming scandal, a ‘common thread’ emerged that taxi drivers would pick the children up for sex from care homes and schools. The Mail also revealed earlier this year how David Cameron and George Osborne allegedly told aides to lobby Boris Johnson against curbs on Uber. When Mr Johnson was mayor of London in September 2015 he threatened to curtail the activities of the smartphone app.

SOUTHAMPTON’S cabbies fear they could be driven out of business

SOUTHAMPTON’S cabbies fear they could be driven out of business by a new council crackdown on pollution.

Angry taxi drivers are demanding a meeting with civic chiefs over plans to ditch ageing petrol and diesel cars for new low-emission vehicles.

But according to the city’s taxi groups, some of the electric and hybrid cars, being touted in a new council consultation, cost as much as £50,000.

Southampton Hackey Association (SHA), Ian Hall, fears this could drive already hard-pressed cabbies out of the business.

Mr Hall, a taxi driver of more than 35 years, said: “Southampton City Council is expecting us to buy these purpose built vehicles.“But some of the electric ones cost as much as £50,000.“There is no chance in a million of us being able to pay that for electric vehicles because we haven’t got the work in Southampton that they have for example in London.”

Mr Hall, who has urged the council to have a meeting with drivers, added: “I don’t think it’s fair that they are targeting taxi drivers and private hire vehicles.”

“We’ve got these big ships calling in at the port all the time. Surely they should be targeting them first?”

The city council’s online consultation, which ends on Monday, asks drivers about their preferred choice of vehicle, including hybrid, electric and hydrogen powered cars.

It also asks how the authority can financially support those taxi and private hire drivers who wish to ‘go green’.

The move comes after council chiefs secured a £250,000 grant from the government to help taxi drivers get compliant with the authority’s incoming Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

Civic bosses hope the zone, which could be enforced as early as 2019, will help tackle the problem of high nitrous oxide level in the city.

The authority hope to achieve this by introducing a penalty charge for high-emission vehicles, such as older buses, coaches and lorries.

This could also include certain taxis and older more polluting cars.

In a statement, the city council said it was “required” to introduce a Clean Air Zone and a penalty charging system by the government.

To avoid the charge, vehicles will need to be a minimum “euro 6 standard” – the current lowest emission band and applied to all new car registrations on or after September 2015.

Petrol vehicles will need to be “euro 5” – which are those registered on or after January 2011.

Talking about the taxi consultation, a council spokesperson said: “The council is currently undertaking a feasibility study that will help guide how the city’s CAZ will work. Consultation on our findings, with the public and stakeholders, will take place in early 2018.

“Southampton City Council will also be looking to identify funding opportunities to support taxi operators who may choose to adopt this technology, although this is not a requirement of the Clean Air Zone.”