An Ipswich minicab driver has been convicted of touting for business and stealing a £450 phone belonging to a teenage girl he illegally picked up at Cardinal Park.
Valdet Miftari, of Compair Crescent, Ipswich, was also found guilty of plying for trade when not licensed as a public Hackney carriage and having no insurance for his Volvo V50, after a trial at the town’s magistrates’ court.
The 29-year-old denied all the charges.
On April 29, 2016 two teenage girls left Unit 17 nightclub in Cardinal Park between 2.30am and 2.45am, having booked a cab home through Hawk Express.
There were several cabs waiting for customers.
One of the women approached drivers to find the vehicle they had booked.
The third driver she approached was Miftari, a self-employed licensed private hire driver, working for Hawk Express.
The court was told he offered to take the women home, but when they got into his cab he asked one of them to call his office and cancel the booking, telling them to say ‘my mum had picked us up’.
It was claimed Miftari suggested stopping at a kebab shop on Norwich Road because he had heard the teenagers say they were hungry.
Miftari offered to wait inside for the food order, while the teenagers went to wait in his car.
One of the girls left her mobile phone on the counter. The prosecution said that out of the view of staff Miftari covered the phone with his arm, and then put it in his pocket.
After arriving home one of the teenagers realised she had lost her £450 phone. She contacted Hawk Express in the hope of recovering her phone, but Miftari had not been booked by the company.
The teenager went to the kebab shop and took a copy of its CCTV to the police, who identified Miftari’s Volvo.
She also went to Ipswich Borough Council as the licensing authority for taxis and minicabs.
A minicab driver invalidates his insurance if he touts for trade.
It was established Miftari had no reason to be in Cardinal Park. Miftari claimed he gave the teenagers a free lift home out of kindness, because they had been waiting in the cold, and he did not charge them for the journey. He admitted he took the phone, but said he had handed it back.
Miftari will be sentenced on March 21.
The city’s licensing chief Barbara Dring calls on taxi trade to shut off engines in a bid to help the city meet its clean air targets.
Taxis drivers who leave the engine running and pumping out pollution while waiting in city centre ranks are to be targeted by a new campaign.
The city’s licensing chief Barbara Dring has called on the taxi trade to make an effort to shut off engines in a bid to help the city meet its clean air targets.
But she has admitted it will be difficult to enforce such a measure with fines or bans and instead hopes drivers will turn off their engines voluntarily if prompted by warning signs.
It is estimated that 520 people in Birmingham a year die prematurely as a result of poor air quality and the council has been warned it faces a £60 million fine if it does not tackle pollution.
Measures already being looked at include a city centre Clean Air Zone in which high-polluting lorries, vans and buses will be charged, and controversial new restrictions to reduce the age of licensed taxis and minicabs – getting cleaner and greener vehicles on the roads.
Taxi drivers groups are up in arms over the plans, to be introduced in December. to replace the age limit from 14 years to a new emissions test which more than 500 cars would fail.
Now licensing chiefs are also looking at warning signs in lay-bys, taxi ranks and outside schools to get waiting cars to stop idling.
Cllr Dring (Lab, Oscott) said: “Taxis are among the worst for emissions when they stand and have their engines running.
“We are in talks with regard to the trade clean air act and this is one of the things we will be addressing.
“We have the right to ask any car to turn off their engine while stationary and we are looking to enforce this especially around New Street Station.”
She highlighted Sundridge Primary School in Kingstanding which has put up warning signs for waiting parents. “This is something which could be done across the city.”
And suggested that New Street Station, where taxis spend a long time waiting, could provide a warm waiting area for drivers to reduce the temptation to keep engines running in the winter.
A former taxi driver, operating in Surrey, has been convicted of grossly overcharging customers.
41-year-old Firoz Mohammed, of Gabriel Close in Feltham, has had his licence revoked.
He charged six vulnerable adults between £10 and £15 EACH for a journey between Staines Train Station and Shepperton.
Following his conviction on 14 charges, Mohammed was given six points on his licence and fined £180 for having no insurance.
He was further fined £650 for breaching taxi licensing bye-laws, a victim surcharge of £20 and costs of £1,000.
He also had his Spelthorne hackney carriage licence revoked.
Councillor Robin Sider, Chairman of Spelthorne Council’s Licensing Committee, said: “I am very pleased with the outcome and would particularly like to thank the witness, without whose clear evidence this case would not have been able to proceed.
“Mr Mohammed took advantage of vulnerable adults by charging them an extortionate amount for a journey of just a few miles.
“He also put them at risk as his insurance was invalidated. The council takes this type of dishonest behaviour very seriously and I hope the outcome of this case serves as a deterrent to others.”
Taxi driver loses licence after judge rules he was not a fit and proper person
Peter White, from Billingham, had his taxi licence revoked after being told he had a previous conviction which he failed to disclose
A Teesside taxi driver has lost his licence and been ordered to pay costs after a court ruled he was ‘not a fit and proper person’ for the job.
Peter James White, from Billingham , has had his licence revoked after a judge at Durham Crown Court endorsed a council view that he was not a fit and proper person to hold a taxi licence.
White, 40, of Tempest Court, Wynyard was also ordered to pay the council’s costs of £3,888.
The judge agreed with the Durham County Council committee that White was not a fit and proper person to drive taxis and its decision not to renew his licence
The local authority had initially made its ruling after hearing of a previous conviction which was considered relevant to White’s suitability to be licensed.
The committee had also based its decision on White’s failure to declare the previous conviction to the authority and complaints of aggressive behaviour towards council and enforcement officers.
A second man, Trevor Stark, 48, of Hawthorne Close, Langley Park had had his licence revoked by the authority after it found he too was not a fit and proper person to drive taxis as a result of previous convictions.
The two had then appealed the decision to Peterlee magistrates which ruled they should both be able to hold a licence.
But, unhappy with that decision, Durham County Council then took the case to the crown court which found in its favour.
Speaking after the hearing Joanne Waller, Durham County Council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: “We are satisfied with the ruling of the crown court judge in these cases.
“When deciding whether someone is fit and proper to drive taxis, it is only right that we consider convictions which might impair their suitability to be licensed.
“These could include road traffic offences such as speeding or breaching laws which prevent drivers plying for hire.
“We were always confident in our original decisions which took into account the drivers’ previous misconduct, the taxi licensing regime, the relevant legislation, our licensing policy and relevant case law.
“We will continue to take our duty of deciding who is fit and proper to drive taxis extremely seriously.”
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.”