Bridlington’s largest taxi firm has had its licence revoked “in the interest of public safety”.
Q Cars, which employs around “30” drivers was given 21 days notice to cease operating, by East Riding of Yorkshire Council on Wednesday, last week.
The authority would not confirm the reasons behind the licence withdrawal.
But a spokesman added: “There have been concerns around the operation of a private hire business and so a decision has been made to revoke the private hire operators licence in the interest of public safety.”
It is understood that Q Cars plans to appeal the council’s decision.
However, the news spells an uncertain future for around “30” drivers employed by the firm.
One driver told the Free Press: “Everyone is going to be put out of a job.
“The owner is in a dispute with East Riding of Yorkshire Council and has lost his licence.
“We are going to have start driving on our own. We had a meeting last night (Tuesday February 7) and the council won’t budge.”
The employee added: “In the incident, a purse, containing bank cards and cash, was stolen.”
Q Cars’ website describes the company as “Bridlington’s largest taxi and private hire firm”. It also claims to make “5,000 bookings per week locally and nationally”.
The family-run business has been operating in Bridlington for more than 25 years.
The business owner was approached by the Free Press, but he declined to comment.
Another shocking tale of discriminatory behaviour by taxi drivers has emerged in St Albans, after a man with brittle bones disease revealed that some cabbies point-blank refuse to transport him.
The upsetting revelation was aired at a public meeting at St Albans district council, during a forum on Thameslink services.
Dominic ‘Dom’ Hyams, of Harpenden, who uses an electric wheelchair, told councillors he was often left stranded at local stations by taxis.
He told Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) representatives at last Thursday’s (2) planning scrutiny committee meeting that, generally, his experience was ‘very good’ as he calls station staff ahead of his departure, and the “friendly hardworking staff at St Albans, Harpenden and St Pancras always try and deliver a great service”.
He regularly commutes to St Pancras, which is close to his job at Assist-Mi, an assistance and customer service app.
Dom went on: “For many years I have found myself in need of using a taxi to get me home from St Albans to Harpenden when something goes wrong on the line.”
Although GTR gives him a special docket to enable taxi-drivers to recoup payment later, when there are service problems, he has found that “all taxi drivers at the rank now refuse to take the dockets from Thameslink staff, as they are not being paid within the 30 days payment terms. Frankly I don’t blame them.
“Many say they often are sent back forms if they are not precisely filled in. Thirty day payment terms can be up to 60 days or not at all. A couple of drivers will go beyond what is expected of them, and offer to still take me and my wheelchair but in recent weeks, they have both said that due to their struggle to get the money, they too would have to stop doing the docket work as it feels like they are doing it for free.”
However, he also faces difficulties when offering cash, as while most drivers have accessible taxis they “are still refusing to take wheelchair jobs” and he has been left to wait ‘indefinitely’ at St Albans City Station.
Dom said: “I believe in the main [they do so] because they can make this choice without any repercussions.”
He told GTR officials that “the docket system needs to be revised, it isn’t working.”
And he called upon St Albans district council, which has a statutory duty to license private-hire vehicles and drivers, to do more to protect those in wheelchairs.
He added that if there are no taxis willing to transport him to Harpenden, he is forced to contact “one of my parents to get me, who live over half an hour away. This is on the back of a long day at work, now delaying my journey home by hours.
“There needs to be a genuine punishment for cab drivers refusing to take wheelchair jobs. Having so many accessible taxis seems pointless, without the attitudes of the drivers changing and them realising they have a duty to take work from all individuals.
“The experience in London is completely different, with black cabs happily accepting all wheelchair jobs. They would lose their badge if they got caught doing such things.”
This follows revelations in this paper last year about a St Albans woman in her 60s complaining to the government about her shoddy treatment, when a taxi driver refused to take her to the Abbey Theatre, because she had a wheelchair.
Cllr Richard Curthoys, chair of the council’s licensing and regulatory committee asked Dom to discuss his ‘shocking’ experience further with him.
After the meeting, Michael Lovelady, head of regulatory services at council, said: “We are sorry to hear of Dominic’s experience at St Albans City Station.
“We have not previously had a complaint by him or anyone else about taxis refusing to take wheelchair users at the station. We’ve spoken to Dominic and asked that if this happens again, he should take a note of the driver’s plate number. We will then investigate.”
Mudassar Yasin, former general secretary of the now disbanded St Albans and Harpenden Taxi Association, said: “I’m disappointed that is the situation, but not surprised, as these sorts of incidents are happening on a daily basis.
“Some of the excuses drivers come out with are ridiculous.”
He suggested customers complain to the council, to prompt action from the authority.
Mudassar, who is director of Arena Taxis, said that his drivers were kept busy providing transport to residents in wheelchairs, particularly from Grove House, Grace Muriel House and other local nursing homes.
Throughout the UK thousands of unregulated Uber drivers have been improperly licensed by Transport for London and are operating illegally, putting the Public at risk. Customers personal security is compromised and road users are exposed to dangerous driving and accidents causing serious injuries and deaths.
Towns and Cities are gridlocked with congestion which is causing toxic air pollution (putting drivers, cyclists and pedestrians at risk) which has increased because Transport for London have issued thousands of Private Hire Licenses to Uber drivers without proper background, medical or insurance, checks who then operate illegally throughout the UK, ignoring traffic regulations and road signs causing accidents and traffic chaos.
TFL have made many improper decisions in relation to Taxis and Private Hire including the issuance of 2500 Private Hire Licenses each month without proper checks and the London Taxi Age limit and previous failed emissions strategies which have not complied with Public Law.
TFL is a Public body who receive £11 billion a year in taxpayers money yet are accountable to no one;
There is an urgent need for a Public Inquiry to expose the improper decisions which do not comply with Public Law and have resulted in injuries and deaths.
There should be an immediate suspension of TFL Private Hire License Applications and the Uber Operators License pending that Public Inquiry.
This petition will be delivered to:
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative PartyTheresa May MP
A seaside town has complained that Uber, the app-driven taxi service, is using convicted criminals to tout for business even though the council has banned them from working as cabbies.
Taxi firms in Southend, Essex, have been dismayed by the arrival of up to 50 Uber drivers operating in the resort.
Among the new drivers are two familiar faces — Nasser Hussain, 60, and Nisar Abbas, 37, who were stripped of their private hire licences by the council for operating a ring in which they and other drivers shared each other’s penalty points for speeding, running red lights and other offences to avoid being banned.
Uber drivers are required to hold private hire vehicle (PHV) licences issued by the local authorities, but the two men sidestepped their bans by applying through Transport for London (TfL) instead of Southend council.
Such “cross-border” drivers are exploiting a legal grey area, which has worked to Uber’s advantage as the company seeks to expand into new areas across the UK.
Other places affected by the tactic include Bristol, where dozens of Uber drivers are using London PHV licences to avoid the local council’s requirement that taxi drivers must take a special driving and city geography test.
At Southend Crown Court in 2010, Hussain and Abbas were each jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to 10 counts of perverting the course of justice.
The judge, Ian Graham, told Hussain, who lives in Southend: “You continued to carry the public when you should have been off the road altogether.”
Tony Cox, Southend council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “What I find astounding is that we did our part and removed these people from the road, but we now find we are impotent to protect the public.
“Uber are sticking two fingers up at licensing authorities like ours, and TfL is complicit in it.”
Despite complaints from the council, both Hussain and Abbas were still shown on TfL’s register of licensed drivers last week.
Steve ********, of the GMB union’s professional drivers’ section, said: “It is tantamount to an invasion and it is a much wider problem than Southend. Across the country, Uber are twisting the regulations to suit their ends. Local licensing systems are being sidestepped in the most cynical way.”
Uber now asks prospective drivers if they have had a PVH licence rejected or revoked.
An Uber spokesman said Hussain and Abbas still drove for the company but that their vetting was a matter for TfL.
A TfL spokesman said: “These are very serious issues, which have been raised with us and are under investigation
The suspension comes after Knowsley Council removed the ‘street knowledge’ test and there was a spike in applications
The issuing of new taxi licences in Knowsley as the council struggles to cope with a deluge of applications.
The move follows changes to the licensing process which some critics say have made it too easy to for people to qualify to drive a taxi – specifically removal of the ‘street knowledge’ section of the application.
Also it is no longer a requirement for a Hackney cab or private hire driver to live in the area where the licence is issued.
Taxi drivers in Merseyside have been speaking out over the issue claiming would-be drivers are ‘scamming’ Knowsley Council by going into the borough applying for a licence and then going to Manchester or Liverpool to ‘work for Uber’ because they don’t have to have ‘ street knowledge to get a licence in the borough.
Now Knowsley Council licensing bosses say they “intend to look into the reasons for the increased numbers, which may include a review of existing policies to ensure that they remain robust and fit for purpose”.
A statement on the authority’s website said: “The current rate of applications is not sustainable as the council’s licensing service simply has not currently got the resources to manage and regulate the increasing level of drivers, particularly if some of these drivers have no intention of operating within in the Knowsley area.”
For a taxi licence in Knowsley applicants must pay £49, show you ”are a fit a proper person’, pass a DBS and DVLA check, a medical and have been driving for 12 months.
Once you pass the checks applicants must complete the Level 2 Certificate in the ‘Introduction to the Role of the Professional Taxi and Private Hire Driver’ (QCF), which doesn’t include a ‘street knowledge’ test, before you are licensed to drive and take a driver skills assessment with council officers.
The temporary suspension is expected to last ‘no longer than 14 days’ and the council said “they would like to apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause but it is felt that this is a necessary measure at this time”.
A Knowsley Council spokesperson said: “The volume of taxi licensing applications received has significantly increased recently.
“In December 2016, we received twice as many applications as we would normally expect and we are not resourced to process and regulate this many applications.
“As a result, we are reviewing our processes and the reasons for the increase in applications. This is anticipated to take a few weeks and whilst this review is being undertaken, we have introduced a temporary suspension of any new licenses being processed.”
Paralympic double gold medal winner Libby Clegg, 26, suffers from Stargardt disease, a rare inherited condition that leads to the loss of central
TAXI drivers in Loughborough have left a Paralympic double gold medal winner stranded on the side of the road – because they didn’t want her guide dog in the car.
And the shocking incident hasn’t happened just once, but seven times at least.
Rio Olympian Libby Clegg, 26, suffers from Stargardt disease, a rare inherited condition that leads to the loss of central vision, that will eventually lead to a complete loss of sight.
And speaking to the Echo she says that on at least seven occasions in the last two years, taxi drivers in Loughborough have just driven off and left her and her guide dog Hatti, waiting for help.
Sometimes she has been left standing at Loughborough train station for half an hour waiting for a taxi with cabs just driving off.
This has also happened to her at least 20 times in London.
Libby, who lives in Loughborough, won gold medals in both the T11 100m and T11 200m sprints at the 2016 Rio Olympic games.
She told the Echo: “It is just ignorant, and I am just left absolutely shocked sometimes because I can’t believe what has just happened.
“Some people just don’t think dogs should be in the car, but it still isn’t an excuse to just drive off and leave someone stranded waiting for a taxi
“I think the best advice to anyone who has had similar difficulties to myself is to stay strong.
“I have learned that you really need to be able to speak up about issues like this.
“People need to know just how annoying and upsetting it can be when simple things like being able to get a taxi are made harder by ignorant and rude taxi drivers.
“I have sometimes admitted defeat and just walked home late at night.
“I really feel that sometimes it is just Hatti that is discriminated against, but also sometimes I definitely take it personally, just because I have a visual impairment doesn’t make me different to anyone else.
“Some taxi drivers are really helpful, and really good, but I have had too many bad experiences now that I just prefer to use my own private one.
“Hatti is part of my family now, I have had her for two years, but also she is a working dog, she is clean and very well trained, so I just don’t understand why people still have this stigma and won’t take myself and her in the car.”
Libby is an ambassador for the charity Guide Dogs and Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan recently attended an event run by the charity in Parliament, to show her support for a move that taxi drivers should receive disability equality training when getting their licence.
Mrs Morgan told the Echo: “I think it is outrageous that this has been happening, and it just shows that the call for the equality training is real.
“It is very worrying to hear from so many people who have been illegally turned away from taxis because they travel with an assistance dog.”
UBER drivers are coming from Leeds, Bradford and London to work in York, according to a council report.
City of York Council has received 72 complaints about Uber’s vehicles and drivers since the app-based service was allowed to operate in the city four months ago.
A union representing local drivers has now urged city leaders to rescind Uber’s licence, when it comes up for renewal later this month.
The company operates in 536 countries and works by customers ordering a taxi to their location on their smartphone.
It has proved controversial in other UK cities and York is no exception.
Thirty one complaints have been made about vehicles coming into the city from elsewhere, however investigations found 24 of the complaints were unfounded or could not be fully investigated due to insufficient evidence.
A council report said drivers of vehicles licensed by authorities in Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees and London appeared to have chosen to work in York.
Uber was reported 23 times for plying for hire – the process of a private hire car picking up passengers who flag them down instead of booking them – but 22 cases were deemed unfounded or could not be pursued.
Picking up people illegally means passengers would not be insured if the driver was involved in a crash.
Other complaints range from Uber cars not having the correct door signs and licence plates to no insurance and smoking in the cab.
Councillors will meet next week to discuss renewing the firm’s licence, which expires on Christmas Eve, but is facing strong calls from the GMB union to rescind it.
GMB, the trade union for Hackney and Private Hire drivers, met with Rachael Maskell MP, for York Central, on Friday.
Bill Chard, speaking on behalf of the GMB’s Professional Drivers’ Section, said: “These drivers have no connection with, and are not controlled or managed by City of York Council.
“GMB calls upon the council to withdraw Uber’s licence as they have proved that they are neither fit nor capable of operating safely in the city.
“GMB would like the council to confirm whether Uber’s operating licence was given on the basis of six licensed vehicles.”
A spokesman for Uber said: “Uber is fully licensed in York and abides by the same rules and regulations as other operators in the City.
“Uber is also licensed in surrounding areas and licensed private-hire drivers are not restricted from carrying out bookings in other areas provided the operator, driver and vehicle are properly licensed. Uber only uses licensed drivers and vehicles under its operating licences, and therefore such bookings are not illegal.
“York licensed drivers booked by other York private hire operators are also able to carry out booking in other areas, for instance picking up bookings from Selby.”
A “worrying” loophole that allows people to drive members of the public in minibuses without having a criminal record check must be solved by urgently updating taxi licensing laws, councils warned today.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils, says the safeguarding flaw is a huge loophole which is putting the public at an increased risk of harm, including those who may be more vulnerable after a night out.
Under current laws, drivers of Public Carriage Vehicles (PCVs) – those seating between nine and sixteen passengers – are licensed by the DVLA but are not subject to a criminal record check.
This contrasts with councils whose licensing of taxis – both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles (minicab) – requires drivers to produce an up-to-date enhanced criminal record check. Councils have the power to refuse or revoke a licence if a driver has convictions or cautions, or has behaved in a way that they believe renders the driver a risk to the public.
The loophole means that drivers refused a taxi or minicab licence, or whose licence has been revoked by councils, are obtaining a PCV licence and then continuing to operate in the same area – sometimes working for the same company. The drivers are effectively operating as licensed drivers by transporting members of the public around in larger vehicles, despite not having had the same checks or being deemed not ‘fit and proper’ to do so by the council.
The LGA says the loophole is undermining work to safeguard taxi passengers and is urging the Government to amend the law to ensure that 9-16 seater vehicles are licensed by councils in line with the requirements for taxis and minicabs. The Law Commission made recommendations on this in its 2014 report into taxi licensing, but the Government has yet to respond to the report or introduce a taxi reform Bill.
Examples of drivers who continue to drive members of the public despite councils determining that they pose a risk to passengers include:
A taxi driver whose licence was revoked following a conviction for harassment and further allegations of harassment and inappropriate conduct with a child was granted a PCV licence.
A taxi driver whose licence was refused for issues relating to misconduct – mainly with young female and vulnerable passengers – was granted a PCV licence within six months, working for the same company.
A taxi driver whose licence was revoked for inappropriate conduct with two young female passengers – specifically using data from booking and dispatch records to call and text them from his mobile phone – is working for the same taxi company as a PCV driver.
A man who, after being refused a taxi licence twice, drove his car through the barrier of the site where the councils’ officers were based in order to confront them, is now driving a 16-seat minibus taxi.
As larger minibus taxis become more commonplace, the LGA says that it is vital that the public receives the same level of protection regardless of whether they are using a standard sized taxi, minicab or minibus.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:
“The majority of PCV drivers will be people who the public can trust, but this loophole provides an opportunity for unscrupulous drivers to continue to work in close proximity to passengers, even when a council has determined that they are not safe to do so.
“Anyone who books or flags down a standard taxi has the reassurance that all drivers are vetted and licensed by councils. The same safeguarding checks should apply to anyone driving a nine to 16-seat minibus
“Larger minibuses are often sent in place of a regular taxi to pick up individuals or small parties, purely because they are nearest to the pick-up point rather than because there is a requirement for such a large vehicle. They are used to take groups of children to school, or to drive groups home after nights out.
“It is therefore extremely worrying that councils’ proactive work to protect taxi passengers from harm – and particularly those who may be most vulnerable – is being undermined by this loophole.
“We are urging the Government to act quickly to address this and bring PCVs into line with other local taxi licensing requirements.
“Two-and-a-half years after the Law Commission’s report into taxi licensing, this issue shows why it is vital that the Government introduces a Taxi Reform Bill to address this and the many other anomalies hindering our taxi licensing system.”
Taxi drivers in Bristol are breaking the law by turning away some disabled passengers, an ITV investigation has found.
The City Council says it will launch an inquiry after we filmed hackney drivers telling a woman in a wheelchair they couldn’t give her a lift.
Kate Sweetman, who uses an electric wheelchair because she has multiple sclerosis, missed a concert after travelling from her home in Chippenham to Bristol because no hackney cab could take her to the venue.
ITV West Country filmed with her in Bristol city centre as four out of five drivers she approached said they were unable to help:
Reasons they gave included the size of her chair or weight restrictions on their vehicles. One didn’t have suitable ramps to get Kate into the back of the vehicle. Kate says her chair is no wider than a manually operated one.
“It makes you feel like a second-class citizen,” she said. “It smacks your disability in your face. Everywhere should be suitable for anybody to use. Your human right should be for you to use anything the same as anybody else.”
The chair of the Public Safety and Protection Committee, Cllr Sultan Khan Chair, told us drivers were committing a criminal offence by not taking Kate.
“They shouldn’t be doing that,” he added. “We can suspend their licence, we can revoke it if necessary. The bottom line is the hackney vehicles are wheelchair accessible and nothing can prevent them from taking passengers, whatever their disability.”
He said the local authority would be investigating the findings and reviewing its policies. It also intends to carry out undercover spot-checks.
The City Council issues just under 1,000 hackney cab licences in Bristol.
The Bristol Disability Equality Forum told us Kate’s experience was ‘depressingly common’.