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.


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.”

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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

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

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

Press release: Leeds Uber drivers protest 17% rate cut

Uber drivers will be demonstrating outside Leeds Town Hall on Friday March 18 between 4pm and 6pm to highlight to the City Council licensing authorities the grave impact of recent fare cuts.

Uber recently cut fares by up to 17% resulting in a reduction in driver take home pay by as much as 40%. These cuts come on top of a significant increase in area licensing and the reduction in the number of operators as Uber begins to capture the entire market. The result is drivers have to work much longer hours for much less money. Drivers are working excessive and unsafe hours – as much as 90 hours per week – and earning £5 per hour or less. Besides the obvious violation of basic worker rights, these working conditions pose a significant threat to the travelling public.

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.’

Councillor Mary Harland, Chair of the Leeds City Council Licensing Committee and John Mulcahy, Head of Elections, Licensing and Registration have agreed to meet a delegation from UPHD representing drivers to hear their concerns.

Protesting drivers intend to raise key questions to the Council including

Should a firm that fails to guarantee compensation to drivers of at least the national minimum wage equivalent, pays VAT on UK business in the Netherlands and contracts Leeds drivers from the Netherlands be assessed as ‘Fit and Proper’ for an operator’s license in Leeds under the law?

· Does the Council appreciate the safety implications of drivers having to work increasingly excessive hours due to declining pay at Uber?

· Why has the Council allowed Uber to operate without a 24 hour manned office in the City per the regulatory requirements?

· Why has neither the City nor Uber provided suitable infrastructure for Uber’s growing operation in the City including parking areas so to avoid congestion and suitable rest and comfort facilities?

Nadeem Iqbal, UPHD West Yorkshire Organiser said:

‘Leeds drivers are crying out for the City authorities to step into what has become an increasingly out of control, unsafe and unfair licensing regime. 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 Uber have promised riches to.’

Yaseen Aslam Co Founder of UPHD said:

‘Throughout the country we are seeing the same story unfold with Uber. Local operators are driven to the wall while Uber force all responsibility and cost onto drivers while it retains the profits while bearing no risk. We welcome the technological innovation Uber brings to the market but exploitation of people does not have to be the price we all pay for progress.’


James Farrar – 07530 319206
Yaseen Aslam – 07894 528992
Nadeem Iqbal – 07716 552700

Barrow’s first black cab for 20 years hits the road

THE first black cab in a south Cumbrian town for around 20 years has hit the road – and its owner is hoping it can spark a new era for taxi services in the area.

The driver, Charlie Buck, of Ferry Road, Barrow, will be picking up customers in the area’s only registered hackney carriage.

He hopes that other taxi drivers will follow suit, and that people in the community will get to experience what he says are the many benefits of a hackney carriage.

Mr Buck said: “I hope other people will get them as I think it is better.

“The reason behind this is that I want everyone to be able to have one. The more of them the merrier.”

“I don’t want to be the only person to have one and I would like to see the number of them expand.”

Supporters of hackney carriages say they offer a number of advantages including being able to accommodate more users, easier disabled access and a secure position in the front seat for the driver.

Mr Buck gained his licence for the carriage around two weeks ago following discussions with councillors.

Speaking about how important easy disabled access is for customers, Mr Buck added: “It is very important. The advantages are the disabled access and I think that it is more comfortable for passengers, it is a better idea I think.

“The more people who get hackney carriages, the more carriages there are going to be which is better.”

Unlike private hire vehicles, hackney carriages can be hailed down by customers instead of having to pre-book them in advance.

Barrow Borough Council, as the licensing authority for hackney carriages, has a legal duty to commission independent periodic surveys of unmet demand for hackney carriages.

The last of these surveys, conducted by Vector Transport Consultancy, was considered at a meeting of the licensing regulatory committee on November 12 last year.


Commons Questions

Cat Smith Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, Junior Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what representations his Department has received on the incidence of refusals by taxi drivers to carry assistance dogs; and if he will introduce compulsory disability awareness training for drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles.



Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I am aware of the ongoing problems passengers accompanied by assistance dogs encounter when using taxis and private hire vehicles.

The Department has issued comprehensive guidance to both licensing authorities and the licensed industry in respect of the relevant duties in the Equality Act 2010. Any allegations of breaches of the Act must be reported to the local licensing authority to enable them to take appropriate action.

Although there is no legal requirement for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers to undertake disability awareness training, the Department’s Best Practice Guidance on taxi and private hire vehicle licensing recommends that local licensing authorities to work with the industry in their area to improve drivers’ awareness of the needs of disabled people. This includes encouraging their drivers to undertake disability awareness training.




Karen Lumley Conservative, Redditch

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, pursuant to the Answer of 27 January 2016 to Question 23178, what recent progress the Government has made on planning to enact section 165 of the Equality Act 2010 on alternative means of ensuring that wheelchair users are able to access taxis.


Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Government is continuing to actively consider how best to address problems wheelchair users face when using taxis and private hire vehicles, including the possible commencement of Section 165 of the Equality Act 2010.

Minicab passenger stripped off then wrecked his cab in a violent rampage

A minicab passenger took her clothes off in the back of a cab because she thought the driver wanted sex, then wrecked his vehicle and attacked him with a bottle.

Shareen Willock, 29, left Arshad Rasool spitting blood after drunkenly attacking him during a minicab journey in London.

A court heard that she was swigging from a bottle when she called a minicab to pick her up from Barnet, North London on January 17 this year.

Willock asked Mr Rasool to take her to East Ham, in East London – but on the way she suddenly undressed, wrongly thinking that the driver wanted to have sex with her.

She then began trashing the inside of his car, breaking an armrest and knocking the satnav off as she climbed into the front seat next to Mr Rasool.

At one point Willock poked the driver in the back of the head, causing him to sustain cuts to his ear, Thames magistrates’ court was told.

She demanded the car pull over, then snapped off a windscreen wiper and battered both Mr Rasool and his Toyota with it, costing £1,000 worth of damage.

Willock was given a suspended sentence after she pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage and common assault.

Prosecutor Alexa Morgan highlighted extracts from Mr Raspol’s victim impact statement in which he described having ‘no idea where I was because my satnav was broken’.
The driver added: ‘The female got out of the car and I got out as well. She broke the windscreen wiper and hit the windscreen.

‘She swung the wiper at the body of my car which caused several dents. She also hit me twice with the wiper on my arms and threw it away.’

Mr Rasool eventually dropped Willock off at a petrol station where the police were called and she was arrested.

Ms Morgan said: ‘The complainant suffered a small cut to the back of his ear and spat blood out when he actually got out of his car.’

Mez Motegheria, defending, said ‘She does accept fully that her behaviour was wrong and she is remorseful for her actions.

‘She does not recall any of the incident but she pleads guilty today and accepts she was intoxicated.’

Magistrate Stephen Bridges told Willock: ‘This is an assault of the highest category – you ruined his car.

‘All for the sake of we know not what. This assault is so serious that custody is the only option in the circumstances. Your behaviour beggars belief, frankly.’

Willock, from East Ham, was given a 12-week suspended sentence and 180 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay £650 in compensation.

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Kalamazoo shooter saw ‘devil’ on Uber app, blames visions for killing spree

An Uber driver charged with fatally shooting six people in western Michigan told police that the ride-sharing company’s app takes over “your whole body” and forced him to go on a killing spree that also left two wounded.

In a series of reports released on Monday, Jason Dalton, 45, admitted his involvement in three shootings that took place over several hours on 20 February in the Kalamazoo area, but said Uber’s smartphone app was to blame.

Dalton told police that when he opened the ride-sharing app, he “recognized the Uber symbol as being that of the Eastern Star” and that a “devil head” would pop up on his screen. He said that that was “when all the problems started”.

After the first shooting at an apartment complex, Dalton stopped at his parents’ house to switch vehicles with his wife, after getting into an accident with his Chevy Equinox, the report stated.

Dalton explained that he was “nearly run off the road” by an “angry taxi driver upset” that he was driving for Uber. 

Dalton’s wife “did not really believe Jason’s story about the crash because he would not look her in the eye, even when she purposely stepped directly in front of him”.

In an interview with the Kalamazoo department of public safety, Dalton said “he is not a killer” but “knows that he has killed”.

“Dalton said that the iPhone can take you over,” a report stated, adding: “Dalton said he wishes he would never have spoken what that symbol was when he saw it on his phone. Dalton described the devil figure as a horned cow head … and then it would give you an assignment and it would literally take over your whole body.”

Initially, he opted to plead the fifth amendment, but relented when police disclosed that he fatally shot a 17-year-old boy. Asked if he had a comment for the child’s parents, Dalton replied: “I’m sorry.”

He was charged last month with six counts of murder and two counts of assault with intent to murder in connection with the shootings at an apartment complex, car lot and Cracker Barrel restaurant.

A judge earlier this month ordered a psychological examination at the request of Dalton’s court-appointed attorney, and the evaluation is expected to take upward of 60 days.

The report stated that Dalton was apprehensive about discussing the Uber app, saying he didn’t “want to come across as being a crazy person,” and that was “why he was pleading the fifth earlier”.

Dalton also told police that he did not drink or smoke, and was not on “psychotic or psychosis drugs”, adding that that he was not in bad financial straits and did not consider himself a “anti-government or militia-type person”.

In an interview with the Kalamazoo county sheriff’s office, a former colleague of Dalton’s said he was “quirky” but added “there seemed to be a ‘side’ to Jason that many people may not have seen unless they worked with him”.

The pair worked for an insurance company and, on one occasion witnessed “Jason yell at a customer over the phone, eventually slamming the phone down, hanging up on the customer.”

“Jason was very upset and stood up and paced around his desk after the conversation,” the report stated. “[The former colleague] said that Jason had been counseled about his professionalism with customers prior to this.”

At one point, a detective asked Dalton why he never uninstalled the app, but Dalton said it “sort of had you at a certain point”.

“Dalton said that if he would’ve never ever mentioned the Uber symbol resembling the Eastern Star,” the report said, “he never would’ve had any problems.”


Minicab firm boss jailed after council bribe offer recorded on mobile phone

Muzaffar Hussain

A county council employee “became suspicious” and recorded the offer of the bribe on his mobile phone

A minicab firm boss has been jailed for offering a council contracts officer a “four-figure sum” to stop his company getting penalised.

Muzaffar Hussain, of Station Road, Redhill, asked his friend Saeed Shakir to offer a £500 cash sum with the promise of further payments to the Surrey County Council official.

Hussain, 46, was a director of the Road Runners Gatwick Ltd minicab company, which provided home-to-school transport services for the local authority.

At Croydon Crown Court on Friday (March 11), Hussain was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to offering a bribe contrary to the Bribery Act 2010.

Shakir, aka Sid Owen, 46, of The Quarry, Betchworth, was jailed for 20 months after pleading guilty to the same offence.

Contract terminated

The court heard problems had arisen with the contract, due to the company not managing a number of the routes satisfactorily, and it was about to be penalised by having these routes taken away.

In December 2013, Shakir arranged a meeting with the council officer, at which he offered him a £500 cash bribe along with a promise of ongoing payments of a four-figure sum, to be negotiated with Hussain.

The council employee reported the matter to his line manager and group manager, who subsequently contacted Surrey Police.

The minicab company’s £1m contract with the county council was subsequently terminated.

‘Plan backfired’

Detective Constable Pete Irvine, of Surrey Police’s economic crime unit, said: “This investigation has resulted in the imprisonment of these two men and demonstrates how seriously we take allegations of bribery.

“These men took desperate action when they realised the contracts were about to be taken away but their plan has backfired on them thanks to the victim, who became suspicious before the meeting and had the foresight to record the offer of the bribe on his mobile phone.

“He then acted with integrity and professionalism by reporting the matter to his line manager straight away.”

Surrey County Council’s travel and transport group manager, Paul Millin, said: “We have a zero tolerance approach to anyone attempting to bribe our staff so as soon as I was made aware of what happened I reported it to Surrey Police.

“We have been working closely with them since the incident and are pleased with the outcome of the case.

“We hope this will send out a strong message that this behaviour will not be tolerated and will be dealt with severely.”


Uber drivers in Manchester angry over ‘sweatshop conditions’ after fares cut

Drivers say decision to cut fares left them earning below minimum wage

Drivers for the smartphone cab service Uber have claimed they are being employed under “sweatshop conditions” as they launched a protest against a move to drastically reduce fares.

The drivers in Manchester, dozens of whom protested outside the firm’s office in the city, said the decision to cut fares there had been made without concern for their welfare and left them earning below the minimum wage.

They have now written to Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese asking for a “crisis meeting” to discuss the “sweatshop conditions” amid claims some are having to work 90 hours week to make ends meet.

Uber said the average 14 per cent reduction in fares had led to higher demand for the service and average hourly payments for drivers had increased by 8 per cent.

Yaseen Aslam, co-founder of United Private Hire Drivers, the UK’s largest organisation for the private-hire trade, said: “Uber drivers are earning well below minimum wage and are having to work excessive and unsafe hours to meet their costs and earn enough to support their families.”

The US-based firm has transformed the taxi business since it was launched in 2008. Customers use a mobile phone app to book and pay for their ride, which has angered black-cab drivers who say it undercuts their business.

Ahmed Nurein, chairman of the Manchester Private Hire Drivers’ Forum, said: “Manchester City Council must not close their eyes to unsafe, sweatshop conditions as meted out to drivers by Uber.”

Mustafa Khanbhai, general manager of Uber in Manchester, 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 fares were reduced in the city.”