Asad Shah: Uber minicab seized by police investigating murder of Glasgow shopkeeper

An Uber minicab has been seized by police investigating the murder of Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Shah – who was stabbed to death after wishing friends and customers a “very happy Easter”.

The grey Volkswagan Passat mini-cab with Uber branding in the windscreen was parked opposite “man of peace” Mr Shah’s shop in Glasgow, where he was killed just four hours after posting his Easter message to “my beloved Christian nation”.

The vehicle – a private hire cab registered with the city council in Bradford, 200 miles from Glasgow – was within the police cordon set up at the crime scene and was removed by police forensic officers wearing white protective suits.

The forensic officers slowly drove a recovery truck into the cordon and winched the private hire saloon cab onto the back of it before driving away.

It’s believed the vehicle, which is feared to have transported Mr Shah’s killer to the scene, is now undergoing forensic testing.

The vehicle seizure happened at 2.30pm on Friday afternoon outside Mr Shah’s shop on Minard Road in the Shawlands area of Glasgow but has only just come to light.

News of the seizure comes 24 hours after reports that Mr Shah’s killer had travelled to Scotland from Bradford.

An Uber spokesman said yesterday that the car was registered to a private hire cab driver in Bradford who last used the Uber app on Monday March 21.

The spokesman said the car had not been used for any Uber trips in Glasgow and said any driver given a private hire licence by Bradford City Council had to pass enhanced DBS disclosure tests.

Police Scotland yesterday refused to comment on the seizure of the vehicle.

Meanwhile a crowdfunding site set up to raise money for Mr Shah’s family has reached £70,000 thanks to donations from across Britain and further afield.

Police said on Friday that Mr Shah’s death was being treated as “religiously prejudiced”.

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

Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Operators (Regulation)

Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Operators (Regulation)

– in the House of Commons at 12:34 pm on 22nd March 2016.

Motion for leave to bring in a Bill (Standing Order No. 23)

Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 22 March 2016, c1384)

 

Wes Streeting Labour, Ilford North 12:45 pm, 22nd March 2016

I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision about the skills and knowledge required of a person driving a taxi or private hire vehicle (TPHV) and related responsibilities of TPHV company operators and service providers; to require operators of TPHV companies and service providers to hold specified types and levels of insurance; to make provision about the tax liability of TPHV companies and service providers; and for connected purposes.

I am grateful for the opportunity to present the Bill, and I am delighted by the strength of support from right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House, which is reflected, I think, in the attendance today.

The Bill seeks to put fair competition and passenger safety at the heart of the taxi and private hire vehicle industry in London and across the country. The advent of new technology in the industry is revolutionising the way people navigate our great capital city; indeed, it is revolutionising transport in cities across the United Kingdom and the world. At its best, disruptive technology drives innovation and increases competition, with enormous benefits for businesses and consumers alike. However, as we have seen on the streets of London, it also brings significant challenges. The Bill seeks to address some of those challenges, which have been neglected for far too long.

The debate about the future of London’s taxi industry has been unfairly characterised as a debate between those who support competition and innovation on the one hand and those who want to cling to the past on the other. That is lazy analysis. It is true that London’s iconic black taxi trade is at risk; indeed, I would go as far as to say that the threat to it is existential—but the cabbies I represent are not afraid of change and innovation, they are not afraid of new technology and they are not afraid of competition. However, they are finding it increasingly hard to compete in a changing marketplace with both hands tied behind their backs. [Interruption.] It is great to see even the Chancellor taking an interest in their plight. [Hon. Members: “Taxi?”] The Chancellor may need a taxi.

I represent many black taxi drivers; indeed, Ilford North was once known as “Green Badge valley”, and it is still not unusual to see taxis parked on the driveways of Gants Hill, Clayhall, Barkingside and Woodford. I also represent hundreds of minicab drivers and drivers who work for new market entrants such as Uber. Like many Londoners, I use black taxis, particularly in central London. I also use minicabs and apps such as Uber locally. I welcome the choice and enjoy the benefits of competition, but I also recognise that the explosion in the number of private hire vehicles in London presents regulatory challenges and risks for passengers.

An investigation for LBC by Theo Usherwood exposed the ease with which individuals can access a private hire licence without adequate insurance. We know that a number of vehicles are already on the road without appropriate insurance. Last year, The Guardian was able to demonstrate how easy it was for an Uber driver to pick up a customer, having provided fake insurance paperwork via the company’s operating system. Some private hire vehicles are illegally plying for hire and touting, increasing the risk of passengers getting into cars driven by unlicensed and unknown drivers, with considerable risk to their safety. This is an illegal practice that the regulators ought to be acting a lot harder on. Guide Dogs UK found in a survey of assistance dog owners that 43.5% of respondents had been refused access to private hire vehicles, and it is all too common for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender passengers to experience discrimination.

Though I enjoy price competition as much as anyone else, is it really fair to expect cabbies to compete on fares while Transport for London continues to put up regulated fares for black taxis and apps such as Uber are able to drive their prices down, as profit-shifting allows them to avoid paying their fair share of taxes here in the UK? If we fail to act, London’s iconic black taxis will be driven off our streets. This is bad for competition, bad for passengers, and bad for London.

The Bill proposes action in three areas to improve passenger safety and make competition fairer so that our black taxi industry can continue to survive and thrive alongside minicabs and other private hire operators. First, on the issue of training, private hire vehicle drivers undertake only a rudimentary topographical test and in many cases do not undergo formal training. This sees many relying on sat-nav, which means that the risk of collision is increased due to sharp braking or not focusing on the road ahead. The Bill proposes that in order to obtain a PHV—private hire vehicle—licence all drivers should complete an enhanced Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency assessment, requiring additional skills such as how to drop off and pick up passengers and wheelchair exercises to learn how to support the disabled. PHV drivers should also undertake an assessment on the principle of plying for hire and touting regulations, so that there can be no excuses for breaching regulations. PHV drivers should be properly and fully trained and assessed in their obligations under the Equality Act 2010, so that protected groups such as LGBT people and disabled people can travel with confidence.

The second issue that the Bill seeks to address is insurance. The current system requires “hire and reward” insurance for all drivers where the responsibility for insurance rests with individual drivers. There is a higher cost for this insurance, which means that many private hire vehicle drivers can be tempted to opt for a cheaper form of insurance when accepted by a licensed operator. In order to resolve this issue, I propose moving to a system of operators’ insurance that places the responsibility on operators as a prerequisite for obtaining their licence. This will deliver three key benefits for passengers and industry: guaranteeing that cars managed by the operator are insured so that customers have confidence that they are safe; reducing the cost of insurance through bulk purchasing, thereby delivering better value for money; and making the regulators’ task easier because checking a few thousand operators is easier than checking over 100,000 individual policies. Some companies, such as

Addison Lee, already do this voluntarily, meaning that customers and businesses can book with the confidence that is sometimes lacking around private hire operators.

Finally, my Bill makes provision for the tax liabilities of taxi and private hire vehicle companies. It cannot be right that some companies in this industry are making huge profits but not paying their fair share of taxes. Lower fares are great, but some operators are frankly trying to drive their competition off the road through new apps by offering lower fares made possible by offshore tax arrangements, in effect robbing Peter to pay Paul. I pay particular tribute to my right hon. Friend Caroline Flint, who a week ago today brought forward her own ten-minute rule Bill on transparency for multinationals. Her proposals would be a refreshing step in the right direction.

This Bill would introduce a requirement for the Chancellor or the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to make an annual statement to this House on the progress of the OECD’s base erosion and profit-shifting project and the action that Her Majesty’s Government are taking to ensure that there is proper scrutiny in this area—though I hope that the Chancellor might be better at making progress there than on his own targets. It is a small measure, but it would indicate the view of this House that the Government need to do much more to tackle tax avoidance. These changes collectively would go some way towards levelling the playing field. TfL needs to go further than it currently proposes, and, in any event, these challenges also exist in towns and cities across our country.

Gwyneth Paltrow once said:

“Brits are far more intelligent and civilised than Americans. I love the fact that you can hail a taxi and just pick up your pram and put it in the back of the cab without having to collapse it.”

Perhaps more profoundly, Professor John O’Keefe, a Nobel prize-winning neuroscientist, said:

“Some of the best navigators in the world are London taxi cab drivers. They have to learn 25,000 streets and how to get from one to the other.”

I am sure that the whole House will agree that Brits are more intelligent and taxi cab drivers are the best navigators in the world. They are also small businessmen and women providing a world-famous service and struggling to make their families a good living. We owe them a chance to compete fairly, and we owe it to our great capital city to ensure that the iconic black taxi industry and the great iconic black taxi itself are not consigned to London’s history books. For these reasons, and so many more, I commend this Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered,

That Wes Streeting, Lyn Brown, Neil Coyle, John Cryer, Clive Efford, Mr David Lammy, Kate Osamor, Joan Ryan, Mr Virendra Sharma, Mr Gareth Thomas and Mr Charles Walker present the Bill.

Wes Streeting accordingly presented the Bill.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 22 April and to be printed (Bill 154).

Leeds minicab drivers protest over claims of “slave labour” and “rolling sweat shop” conditions by an app company

Hundreds of private hire drivers gathered outside Leeds Town Hall to protest at fare slashes which they claim are tantamount to “slave labour” - and will put passenger safety at risk by forcing cabbies to work longer hours to make ends meet. 
The row relates to new minimum rates being introduced by The app company, the European app-based private hire operator which is no stranger to controversy 
The firm is cutting minimum fares by 13 per cent in a bid to boost passenger numbers and dominate the huge market. It claims drivers’ hourly earnings will actually go UP - but has promised to “re-assess” the situation if that doesn’t happen. 
However drivers claim the opposite - and that their cars will become “rolling sweat shops”. The calls earlier today (Friday) were led by the United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) union. It wants Leeds City Council to step in and cap all private hire driver numbers. 
As well as lobbying the authority, it claims support from Leeds MP Hilary Benn and Naz Shah from Bradford West, as they fear the issue will spread across other West Yorkshire and Lancashire cities. James Farrar, co-founder of UPHD, said: “No fair minded person can condone working conditions little better than rolling sweat shops in 2016 Leeds. 
“Certainly, we should not expect an elected city council to preside over such an exploitative system.” Nadeem Iqbal, UPHD West Yorkshire Organiser, added: “Leeds drivers are crying out for the city authorities to step into what has become an increasingly out of control, unsafe and unfair operating environment. 
“Every day I meet drivers now facing debt and despair as they struggle to keep up with their fixed costs while their incomes fall due to falling fares and a flood of new drivers who The app company have promised riches to.” 
Max Lines, from The app company, said: “We want the thousands of drivers who use our app to have more fare-paying passengers in their car for each hour on the road. 
“That’s why, to encourage more people to use The app company to get from A to B, fares were reduced in West Yorkshire. “It’s early days but the impact of the first couple of weeks of this change is really encouraging. 
“Cheaper fares have seen more people using The app company to get around and the result is hourly payments for drivers have gone up by 2.5 per cent compared to the week before the price change. 
“We believe these changes will continue to mean drivers are busier, but while the city adjusts to the new prices we have put in place minimum payment guarantees. 
“Drivers using our app in Leeds are getting average payments of £12-13 an hour after The app company’s service fee. And, as we said at the outset, if the amount partner-drivers make on the road isn’t what we expect, we’ll reassess this price change.” 
Councillor Mary Harland, chair of Leeds City Council’s licensing committee, said: “We are aware of a number of concerns raised by license holders regarding The app company and have arranged to meet with the organisers of today’s protest to listen to their concerns first hand. “We will then consider the matter further and then take any action as necessary.” 
Read more: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/

Investigation launched after wheelchair ‘taken’ in row over taxi fare

A woman from Cambridgeshire has described the moment she was left without her wheelchair after a dispute over payment saw a taxi driver keep it overnight.

Hauxton resident Jayne Oates, who has multiple sclerosis, had to be carried back into her home by her partner after the couple returned from an awards dinner in Newmarket last week.

The “uncomfortable” incident meant Jayne, who was diagnosed in 2011, was forced to use her cumbersome outdoor wheelchair round the house until her partner Lee Hill, 47, could retrieve her chair the following day.

Jayne, 41, told the News: “It was a bit rubbish because we had a really nice night out.

“It was a real treat for myself and my partner to go out together because it’s tricky for me to go out and attend events.

“I think the driver thought because Lee had questioned the rate on the meter that he didn’t have enough money, or wouldn’t pay, but that was never Lee’s intention.”

The couple said their intention was to pay the driver, employed by Newmarket company New Tax Taxis, as soon as he had helped get her chair out of the boot, which they said he refused to do.

Jayne added: “It was rubbish because it makes you realise you might not be able to do things and you really don’t need to be reminded of that.

“It makes you reluctant to go on taxi journeys again because you don’t want the same thing to happen.

“An apology would be nice but I’m not expecting anything – I just hope people will be more considerate.”

However the driver, who asked not to be named, denied that he had refused to help unpack the chair and said he had offered to do so upon receipt of his fare.

He said: “He [Lee] insisted he needs his wheelchair first and then he would pay.

“I said since you are home now you pay in the car with me and I’ll come out and take the wheelchair out.

“He was flashing £55 [but] wasn’t willing to pay. We get customers who try not to pay every week – I know when someone is trying to do something like that.

“I said I’m going to hold your goods until you pay [and] he said ‘fine’. He wasn’t very concerned about this wheelchair.”

New Tax Taxis said it was aware of the incident.

A spokesman for Forest Heath District Council, which licenses New Tax Taxis’ vehicles, added: “We are aware of the incident and we are investigating it.”

Read more: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/

Taxi driver spent FOUR hours caring for stranded pensioner he found at bus stop

Kamaran Rasheed, 44, spotted 87-year-old William Place seeking shelter in a bus stop at 2am

Taxi driver Kamaran Rasheed, 44, was commended by GMP’s Chief Constable Ian Hopkins after he spent four hours caring for a vulnerable pensioner

A taxi driver who spent four hours caring for a vulnerable pensioner after discovering him cold and disorientated in a bus stop has been honoured by GMP’s Chief Constable.

Kamaran Rasheed came to the aid of William Place, 87, after he ended up locked out of his home.

Mr Place had been visiting his wife Moreen at the Manchester Royal Infirmary earlier that evening but lost track of time and left later than normal.

When he arrived home, he found the entrance to his shared sheltered housing in Manchester had been padlocked shut, and he didn’t have a key.

Confused, the pensioner wandered onto Stockport Road to the bus shelter where he was seen by Mr Rasheed, 44, at around 2am.

Knowing that the bus service had stopped for the evening, Mr Rasheed dropped off his fare and went back to the bus stop to offer Mr Place a lift home free of charge.

He decided to stop off at McDonalds to get the retired police officer a hot drink to warm him up before taking him to Longsight Police Station.

It was at this point that PC Peter Crowe drove past and approached the pair thinking it was a dispute.

He was soon heartened to learn that Mr Rasheed in fact intended to take Mr Place home for food and a warm bed, or to pay for a hotel room for him.

They took him home but were unable to enter the property.

In total, Mr Rasheed stayed with Mr Place for four hours.

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins branded his actions a “glowing example of community spirit”.

“Mr Rasheed’s dedication ensured that this vulnerable man was looked after and rescued him from a potentially serious situation and I’m delighted that William is now safe and well.

“His actions that night deserve to be recognised. I am proud to be able to award him with a Chief Constable’s Commendation.”

Mr Rasheed, who is also a foster carer, said: “At first I only stopped to tell him that the buses had stopped, but he told me he wasn’t waiting for a bus. I offered him a lift and took him to get a warm drink before I took him to the station. I just did it because it was the right thing to do

“It’s wonderful to receive this commendation. It was new experience and I never thought I would be recognised with anything like this so I’m really proud.”

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

Driver Accused Of Murder Sues Uber For $10m

Jason Dalton claims the ride-sharing company “ripped” him off and would not let him spend time with his children.

A man who told police that a “devil figure” on the Uber app was controlling him when he allegedly killed six people in western Michigan is suing the ride-sharing company for $10m.

In a handwritten complaint, Jason Dalton claims he is “currently in prison because of Uber”, but does not mention the shootings in Kalamazoo.

Dalton is accused of fatally shooting six people and wounding two others between picking up passengers for Uber in the city on 20 February.

In the lawsuit, filed in US District Court in Detroit, he claims the company “ripped” him off and failed to pay him back wages and overtime.

He wrote: “I busted my butt for them. They gave me no Christmas bonus, I wasn’t invited to any corporate parties, they made me work when I was sick and didn’t let me spend time with my two children.

“My life is ruined because of Uber. My wife is divorcing me because of Uber.”

Uber has said Dalton began working for the company in January this year.

In a statement, it said: “It’s hard to know how to respond to someone who refuses to take responsibility for his own actions.

“Our hearts go out to the victims’ families who have to live with the consequences of his terrible crimes.”

Dalton is charged with murder and attempted murder over the shootings, which took place in three separate locations in the city.

According to documents released by police on Monday, Dalton told investigators that when he opened the Uber app “a devil head popped up on his screen and when he pressed the button on the app, that is when all the problems started”.

The 45-year-old has been ordered to undergo a mental competency exam.

source: http://news.sky.com/

Transport for London approves clampdown on Uber and minicab drivers

Transport for London has today approved plans to curb the soaring number of Uber cars and minicabs by using English and geography tests alongside beefed up insurance requirements.

Drivers will now have to take basic English language and “Knowledge-lite” style geography tests before driving in the capital.

Minicab drivers also face a crackdown on insurance requirements to ensure passengers are covered for accidents.

The TfL board approved all but one of Boris Johnson’s proposals to crackdown on minicabs at their meeting this afternoon.

Plans to scrap “men with clipboards” outside nightclubs who were licensed to provide minicabs have been put on hold and will be reconsidered at a later date.

The Mayor has come under growing pressure to do more to curb London’s 25,000-vehicle strong Uber, which the black cab trade claims is driving it out of business.

But in a statement, Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the London Taxi Drivers’ Association (LDTA), said the changes did not go far enough.

He said: “TfL has wasted a huge opportunity to improve standards within the private hire industry for the benefit of drivers, passengers and other road users.

“The review of private hire regulations was aimed at improving passenger safety, and most of the proposals were sensible and endorsed by the LTDA.

“We are pleased TfL has committed to taking some of them forward, but as result of undue influence, TfL has not gone anywhere far enough.

“Introducing Hire and Reward operator insurance is the only way to categorically ensure that all passengers travelling in a private hire vehicle (PHV) in London are covered in the event of an accident.

“The failure to take this proposal forward means uninsured PHVs will continue to operate in the capital, putting Londoners at risk. The next mayor needs to address this issue as a matter of priority.

The number of private hire drivers has grown from 59,000 in April 2010 to about 100,000 today, contributing to congestion, pollution and illegal parking.

Mr Johnson has previously failed to persuade the Government to allow him to cap the number of minicabs.

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

Terror ordeal of taxi driver’s passengers

A Wigan taxi driver who terrified two young women passengers and demanded money from a cash machine has been spared jail.

Mansour Ghaemi, of Swinley Road, Swinley, was issued with a 16-week prison sentence which has been suspended for 18 months after a trial at Wigan Magistrates’ Court found him guilty of two counts of using threatening and abusive behaviour to cause distress and alarm.

Sarah Perkins, prosecuting, said that on August 1 last year, Jenna Matthews, 20, and her sister, Harriet Collinson, 19, were travelling in a taxi driven by Ghaemi.

But the 39-year-old soon locked the vehicle and became verbally abusive. He then demanded that they go with him to a cash machine, taking £50 from them.

Reading a victim impact statement from one of the women, Ms Perkins said: “The way he made demands and took me to a cash machine against my will filled me with total panic. My sister was crying and felt degraded when he was calling us names. She felt he was treating us as inferior and second class to him.

“I don’t believe he would have spoken to us in that way if there were other men in the car. I was most terrified.”

She added that Ghaemi has no previous convictions, but has a caution for being aggressive towards a police officer. He also received a warning letter from Wigan Council’s licencing department last May after a passenger complained about his abusive behaviour, which he denied. He was also given a verbal warning following reports of inappropriate behaviour.

James Parry, defending, said: “The threats and insults made in the taxi were clearly unpleasant and were over a 30-minute period. There have been two allegations made about him by other passengers but there are no findings that was true and he was not sacked. There is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty on those.

“He chose not to renew his licence and the fact he no longer is a taxi driver is a punishment.”

Ghaemi, who is now a recruitment consultant, was also ordered to pay £800 court costs, £80 victim surcharge, £50 compensation to Ms Matthews and Collins, plus £50 that he took from them. He also has to carry out 300 hours’ unpaid work, with a rehabilitation activation requirement.

The magistrates’ chairman said: “You deliberately isolated your victims and there was potential for this to escalate in violence.”

After the hearing, Wigan Council reguatory services chief Julie Middlehurst said: “We take all complaints very seriously and will investigate and take action where necessary, including referral of some matters to the Regulation Committee for their decision.

“In this case the committee were aware of the ongoing police investigation, and as such felt it appropriate to await the outcome of this prosecution. As Mr Ghaemi’s licence expired on February 26, there is no longer the need for the committee to consider the matter further, as Mr Ghaemi is no longer licensed to drive a taxi.”

Read more: http://www.wigantoday.net/

London’s finest

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

On Friday 12th  February my daughter (Kim Briggs) was knocked over by a pedal cyclist in Old Street, London, sustaining a serious head injury. She was taken to the Royal London Hospital, and the prognosis was not good. I am sorry to say my daughter only lived for one week after the accident and died on Friday 19th February, as a result of catastrophic brain damage.

On Saturday 13th February I took a black cab from King’s Cross Station to The Royal London Hospital. The driver was a friendly guy, and on hearing why I was going to the hospital would not accept the tip I offered, and only added £1 to the cost of the ride. 

My daughter’s funeral took place on 11th  March at Sidcup in Kent.  This was followed by a celebration of her life, which took place in the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich.

At sometime between 22.00 and 22.15 my wife and I hailed a black cab to take us back to Lewisham. This driver was also a friendly guy and asked if we had been out to a party and celebrating. I of course told him what had happened to my daughter.

On reaching our destination in Boyne Road Lewisham the driver would not accept any payment, and asked that the money be added to the charities set up to benefit from what had happened. The charities concerned are as follows;

 

London Air Ambulance

https://www.justgiving.com/Matthew-Briggs6/

Winston’s Wish (A charity that helps bereaved children)

https://www.justgiving.com/Matthew-Briggs5/

The sympathy, kindness and compassion we was shown by the drivers was excellent and could not be faulted. I would like to thank them for the way they acted. Their attention and kindness was greatly appreciated. It  gives one the belief there are still good people out there, who are not out to rip you off. 

If possible, please ensure my thanks is passed on to your drivers.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

W.D. Johnston