Codswallop! Councillor’s fury at Wolverhampton taxi protest

The Express and Star report tha Wolverhampton taxi drivers have been lambasted for talking ‘codswallop’ and told their planned protest this month is ‘outrageous’ and ‘pointless’.

Councillor Alan Bolshaw, the licensing lead for Wolverhampton council, has launched a scathing attack after taxi drivers revealed plans to hold a go-slow protest in the city on June 28 – the same day as England’s final group stage match against Belgium in the World Cup.

The drivers are protesting in a bid to pressure the council into introducing tougher licensing tests as they say they are being forced out of their jobs as thousands of licences are handed out by the council to drivers across the UK.

But Councillor Bolshaw described the drivers’ comments as ‘codswallop’ and said it was ‘pointless’ to keep protesting.

He said: “This proposed action is nothing short of outrageous.

“Protests of this nature do nothing but inconvenience the public and to plan this on the evening of an England World Cup match, when the city centre will be very busy, is a provocative act which will only serve to antagonise people.”

Campaigners claim the council have made the licensing test too easy, which has led to too many taxi drivers on the roads.

The test also takes 20 working days or less, and costs £69 – the cheapest in the region.

A total of 40 per cent of candidates fail the exam each time, the council revealed.

Councillor Bolshaw added: “The driver representatives talk about public safety being the motivation behind this action.

“This is utter codswallop, this action is about protecting an industry which for too long has been a closed shop which doesn’t welcome competition – even if the public do.
“Technology has revolutionised the taxi industry and Wolverhampton Council has been at the forefront of this step change.

“It is pointless drivers protesting to us about issues which are governed by national legislation and the fact I keep having to say this is frankly becoming tiresome.

“The law allows drivers and operators to get their licence where they wish and if people choose to come here because of our efficient and speedy system, then we are not allowed to turn them away.

“I urge the drivers to call off this futile action and if they are serious about these issues, perhaps would do better to take them up with the lawmakers at Westminster rather than once again target the people of Wolverhampton.”

source: https://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-hubs/wolverhampton/2018/06/14/codswallop-councillors-fury-at-wolverhampton-taxi-protest/

Commons Questions

Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of granting additional powers to local authorities to carry out taxi and private hire enforcement activities in response to taxi and private hire drivers and operators (a) engaging in cross border hiring and (b) operating in their local area under a licence issued by a different local authority.

Nusrat Ghani Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

At a Westminster Hall Debate last year, the Rt Hon John Hayes MP announced the formation of a Task and Finish group to consider any regulatory issues and remedies. The Group’s remit includes the current powers of licensing authorities, their application and effectiveness. Issues that may arise from taxi or private hire vehicle drivers working predominantly or exclusively out of the area in which they are licensed have been considered as part of its deliberation.

The group is expected to submit its report shortly.

Borough council agrees to consult on taxi policy changes, including safeguarding training for drivers

The Eastern Daily Press reports that Proposals setting out new safeguarding training for Great Yarmouth taxi drivers are moving forward, after councillors agreed to a consultation into the matter.

A variety of potential changes to the borough council’s taxi policy went before licensing committee members this week, with training to help drivers spot signs of abuse included in these.

Under the new policy, drivers will be required to undergo safeguarding training before they can be granted a licence to take passengers.

This particular change was designed to make drivers aware of the tell tale signs that somebody is suffering from abuse and train them on how best to report these issues.

A spokesman for Great Yarmouth Borough Council said the changes aimed to “bring Great Yarmouth in line with other Norfolk districts, which already have completed the process of incorporating safeguarding training in their taxi policies”.

They added: “Taxi drivers come into contact with lots of people on a routine basis and therefore can play an important role in helping to identify where a person is being abused.”

A spokesman for domestic abuse charity Leeway last week said the proposals were “massively positive”.

He said: “Quite often people use the same taxis and build rapport with their drivers so may feel comfortable opening up to them.

“The more people that can identify the signs and know how to point people in the direction of the help they need the better.”

The proposed policy change also sees the council making a conscious effort to encourage firms to use more eco-friendly vehicles, by abolishing the current 1400cc minimum engine size requirement.

A third proposed change suggests the removal of age limits on renewal of vehicle licences, along with a condition that vehicles must be nine years old or under on initial registration.

At a meeting of the borough council’s licensing committee, members agreed to consult on the proposed updated policy, as per the recommendation of their officers.

A six-week consultation period will now begin later in the month, from Monday, June 25.
Anybody wishing to take part in the consultation can do so via www.great-yarmouth.gov.uk/have-your-say

 

source: http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/politics/great-yarmouth-taxi-policy-changes-1-5558991

Pendle private hire driver and operator lose licence appeals

2BR news reports that a Pendle taxi driver and a taxi operator have lost in court as Pendle Council’s decision to take away their licences has been upheld by magistrates.

Mohammad Ayub from Crown & Greenline Private Hire, lives at Carr Road Nelson.

He hit and injured an elderly woman in Colne in January without stopping and was not granted his appeal to get his taxi licence back.

The Chairman of the Bench said:

“Mohammad Ayub had shown a shocking lack of care in his driving.”

Pendle Council’s Head of Legal Services played video footage of the incident at the appeal hearing which showed the collision with the pedestrian.

This was taken into account along with the nine penalty points he’d clocked up for three speeding convictions and two other complaints Pendle Council had received against him.

Ayub was described by the Chairman of the Bench as “not a fit and proper person” and awarded Pendle Council £250 in court costs.

Also in court was Riaz Ahmed of Union Cabs, Colne, who was appealing against Pendle Council cancelling his taxi operator’s licence.

The court heard that Ahmed, of Park Avenue Barrowford, had been allowing unlicensed drivers to drive his taxis.

Riaz Ahmed had not kept proper records of bookings, his cars were poorly maintained and Pendle Council had received complaints from the public about his taxi company.

The chairman of the magistrates noted that there had been 16 months of complaints and warnings in respect of record keeping, unlicensed drivers and mechanical faults and that the breaches were continuing.

The court awarded Pendle Council £500 in court costs from Riaz Ahmed, for his failed appeal.

Mr Ahmed has now begun an appeal to the Crown Court against the Magistrates’ Court’s decision.

Councillor Paul White, Leader of Pendle Council said: “The court said that he was trusted with public safety and there had been no improvement in his business.

“These two unsuccessful appeals against our decisions show that we are right to take a tough line in tackling problems with taxi drivers and operators.

“Taxi safety in Pendle is very important to us,” he added.

source: https://www.2br.co.uk/news/local-news/2606497/pendle-taxi-driver-and-operator-lose-licence-appeals/

Fantasist jailed after accusing innocent taxi driver of sexual assault

The Daily Telegraph reports that an innocent taxi driver was unable to provide financial support for his family after he was falsely accused of groping a female passenger, a court heard.

The father of three spent six hours in custody and faced possible sex assault charges as part of the “devastating impact” of claims made by Claire Morgan.

Morgan, 35, alleged she was sexually assaulted three days after she took a five-minute fare from the driver in Bridgend, south Wales in May last year.

She lied the man had taken her to an adventure playground, grabbed her breast and put his hand down her underwear.

The victim, a treasurer at his local mosque, was the sole source of income for his family but was forced to hand over his badge during a six-week investigation, the court heard. Police spent 60 hours investigating Morgan’s allegations as well as £450 on forensics.

A judge said the man avoided charges because of “diligence” from investigators while CCTV also proved inconsistencies in her account.

After reporting the fake offences, Morgan later set up a fake Facebook profile under the name Sarah Jenkins to answer a police appeal in which she claimed she witnessed the attack. She also made an anonymous call to Crimestoppers to provide further bogus details.

The driver was arrested – but Morgan’s web of lies began to unravel after she gave different accounts of the attack to friends.

Morgan’s clothes were taken for forensic examination but only her DNA were found on the items. She later admitted perverting the course of justice and was jailed for two-and-a-half years at Cardiff Crown court.

Judge Eleri Rees said: “She went to remarkable lengths to bolster her account.

The court heard Morgan had told lies in the past including that her daughter had left the Manchester Arena half an hour before the bomb went off and that her brother was killed by a drink driver.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the mother of one suffers from a personality disorder.
After the hearing, Detective Constable Steve Gunney said: “Her allegations also had a devastating impact on the man she accused.

“I hope she uses her time in prison to reflect on the harm her lies have caused.

source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/12/fantasist-jailed-accusing-innocent-taxi-driver-sexual-assault/

Button on Taxis Licensing Law and Practice

Press release

Child Exploitation and App-Based Taxis Force New Look at Taxi Licensing Law

 

In Rotherham, for decades, licensed taxi drivers ferried children between addresses where they were sexually assaulted by organised gangs, revealing that criminals were being licensed to drive taxis despite a “fit and proper persons” regime being in place.

Last week, Brighton City Council renewed Uber’s licence to operate in the city, but only for six months whilst the dust settled on the London decision to revoke Uber’s license and a clearer picture emerges from this test case.

The taxi licensing landscape is changing dramatically as stakeholders grapple with fundamental issues such as passenger safety, driver rights and game-changing leaps in technology.

A new edition of Button on Taxis, could, therefore, not be more timely.

Stretching to a bumper 1,648 pages, Button on Taxis, Fourth Edition, provides the much needed analysis of licensing law that will enable authorities and operators to navigate the new landscape and forge a way forward, ensuring the welfare of customers and drivers are kept at the heart of this essential service.

With clear explanations of the law and procedure relating to the licensing of hackney carriages and private hire vehicles in England and Wales, including London, the new edition highlights the overlaps and conflicts that exist, so providing invaluable analysis and commentary.

This edition updates the text to take account of changes to legislation, case law and Guidance, including important Senior Court decisions relating to adoption of legislation, local authority decision-making processes, licence fees, Hackney carriage ranks, suitability of drivers and action against licensed drivers and vehicles.

Legislative changes include extensions to the duration of certain licences, the ability for private hire operators to subcontract across local authority boundaries and the need for Immigration checks for drivers and operators.

This invaluable reference book also includes coverage of many other important areas, including: the licensing decision process, appeal mechanisms; licence fees; and the impact of criminal convictions.

Procedural flowcharts and exhaustive coverage of case law, by means of summaries and discussion, help to further illustrate the subject.

About the author

James Button is a solicitor and principal of James Button and Co, a niche licensing, environmental health and public health practice. Formerly a local authority solicitor, he has over 25 years’ experience in taxi licensing. Currently president of the Institute of Licensing, he is a well-known and popular lecturer, specialising in licensing and environmental health issues, and has written and contributed to many other works.

About the book

Author: James T H Button
ISBN: 9781780434933
Published: 13-11-2017
Format: Hardback
Extent: 1,648 pp
RRP: £115

 

[Ends]

 

York Council chiefs refuse to renew Uber’s licence in York

Council chiefs have refused to renew the taxi-hailing company Uber’s licence to operate in York. Members of York Council’s Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee tonight debated for more than two hours over Uber Britannia Limited’s application. The company’s current 12-month licence is due to expire on Christmas Eve.

Councillors concluded that the taxi-hailing firm was not a fit and proper person – a required condition to refuse an application of its kind. A spokesperson for York Council said: “The application by Uber Britannia Ltd to renew its private hire operator’s licence in York has been considered by City of York Council’s Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee tonight.

“Applying the legislation, the committee has decided to refuse the application having concerns about a data breach currently under investigation and the number of complaints received.”

Speaking after the meeting Neil McGonigle, general manager for Uber in York, said the company would now review the details of the decision. He said: “This is a disappointing vote for the riders and drivers who use our app in the city. “More choice and competition is a good thing for both consumers and licensed drivers in the area. “Passengers tell us they love being able to track their car on a live map, pay without cash and get a receipt with their fare and the route taken.

“Licensed drivers partner with us because with Uber they can choose if, when and where they drive. We will review the details of the decision once we receive the formal notice from the council.”

It comes after Transport for London refused to renew Uber’s licence on the grounds of “public safety and security implications” in September. The firm’s appeal against that decision in London will be heard by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in Spring next year. Uber Britannia Limited can lodge an appeal with the Magistrates’ Court over the latest decision by York Council.

Coun Sonja Crisp tabled a motion to refuse the application on the basis of the data breach that affected the 57 million customers and drivers in 2016. The second reason for refusal related to complaints made against the firm in York. The decision is the latest blow to hit the taxi-hailing company, after Uber had its licence suspended in Sheffield this week. The move came after the firm failed to respond to requests for information about its management.

Since December 2016, 296 complaints were made relating to hackney carriage and private hire vehicles or drivers in York up to November 22. York Council said 155 of these complaints related to Uber vehicles or drivers. But only four related to an Uber vehicle or driver licensed by the council – and 129 were made against those licensed by other local authorities, leading to councillors raising questions about the number of Uber drivers coming from outside York to work in the city.

Coun Dave Taylor, a member of the committee, said during the meeting: “This city needs to have control of its taxi services and it needs to have a level playing field and I don’t know if that means then national legislation aught to be tidied up. “But I don’t think that we can license a company which directs drivers to go around the houses, pumping up fair for customers, that tries to claim it has no liability for any claims, demands or losses, which claims to have a local office but never seems to staff it and the number of complaints against them is so high. “I think those are the grounds on which we can refuse this licence.”

Neil McGonigle, Uber Head of Cities, North of England, spoke in support of Uber at the meeting. He revealed that some 28,000 have used the company’s app in York in the last three months. Mr McGonigle said: “From our experience the passenger like the ability to press a button to request a car, take a trip without having to use cash at all and from a safety point of view, being able to track every element of that journey real-time.

“Whether that’s themselves, family members, friends or whatever through the app.” He said people from 73 different countries are now using the app in York, as Uber has recently taken on more international visitors in York.

The meeting was told licenses for Uber to operate had been refused in Reading, North Tyneside and Cardiff. Saf Din, chairman of York Hackney Carriage Association said he does not object to competition, but that Uber was not a “fair player” in the public transport game. Ahead of the decision, Mr Din told the meeting: “I urge you to be the most active members by refusing the application and offer no licence until you are fully satisfied.” He also handed over a petition regarding safeguarding of passengers, objecting to Uber’s licensing renewal.

Speaking during the debate tonight, Coun Suzie Mercer said: “I was still undecided having read the papers and I’m still undecided. “Everyone is just trying to do a job, you’ve got good apples and bad apples in all trades. “Uber is used all over the world by millions of people. In York it’s mainly the young people who use it and I think maybe as well it’s probably a young thing. “Out of town drivers wouldn’t come if there wasn’t any work and we must remember that if the public want it, then who are we to deny it?”

Uber driver licence standards should be made national, say MPs

A group of more than two dozen cross-party MPs have called on the government to introduce new rules controlling the licensing of drivers for Uber and other minicab services with new national standards.

Labour’s Wes Streeting and Jess Philips, and Green Party leader Caroline Lucas are among the 25 MPs to sign a letter to transport secretary Chris Grayling urging a new definition for cross-border hiring, along with taxi companies Gett and MyTaxi, the LTDA taxi union and the company making London’s newest electric black cabs.

Currently drivers can gain a licence in one area and work in another, something they claim is putting passengers at risk. Data from Transport for London (TfL) identified 177 drivers licensed in London registered to postcodes in Sheffield earlier this year, while drivers in Southend who had their licence revoked were found to be using ones gained from TfL.

Now the MPs, part of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on taxis, wants national standards for drivers to be introduced which would bring and end to the practice.

“The current system where a driver can lose a licence in one part of the country and simply get one by tapping up another council is playing fast and loose with passenger safety,” said Streeting. “The safety of passengers should be the cornerstone of licensing. That’s why we’re calling for a statutory definition on cross border hiring which will effectively stamp out this dangerous practice, alongside national minimum standards so when a passenger gets into a vehicle- wherever they are – they know they are safe.”

The call comes as Uber fights for permission to operate in London. TfL said it would not renew its licence due to safety concerns. Uber’s appeal against the decision is due to be heard next year while it continues talks with the regulator.

Uber has previously said that it would welcome a national register as a first step in “a more joined up approach” and has introduced new processes for keeping tabs on local licencing decisions. “An increase in app-based taxi and PHV services coupled with out of date legislation has contributed to a rise in cross-border hiring,” said MyTaxi general manager Andy Batty. “MyTaxi, is calling on government to legislate for a legal definition of cross-border hiring, which will give both passengers and regulators certainty of the standards of drivers in their area.”

The government has indicated that it’s considering new rules. “I think the system is being gamed,” said transport minister John Hayes over the summer, adding that it “can’t be right” that local rules can be undermined by more permissive neighbouring regimes. “I want greater consistency in the way licenses are issued,” he said.

Manchester Airport is putting an end to a taxi ‘free for all’ – and it means your fare could go up

Manchester Airport are closing a loophole so that they can control all taxi pick ups – and it could cost passengers more.

Currently, hackney drivers picking up directly from the three terminals must pay for a £27.96 permit.

Along with drivers for the airport’s official Arrow Cars service, they wait for their fares in a ‘feeder car park’ managed by airport marshalls who direct them to where cabs are needed, where they pay £1.60 every time they leave.

But until now pick-ups directly outside the airport’s railway station have been a ‘free for all’ for private hire cars and hackney drivers with or without permits.

But that’s set to change. From next week, a new lane will be installed outside the station – to be used only by hackney and Arrow drivers with permits – and the £1.60 pick-up charge is likely to be passed on to passengers.

All other drivers will be forced to use public car parks around the site.

It’s caused consternation among cabbies and passengers – with passengers likely to pick up the £1.60 bill.

Drivers, meanwhile, say they can be forced to queue for up to two hours to use the official ‘feeder lanes’ that lead to the terminals.

This, they argue, is worth it for a likely £50 fare for a passengers off a flight – but not for the shorter fares more common from the station.

One hackney driver who asked not to be named said: “Most railway passengers just want to head to a nearby hotel with an average fare of £8. That isn’t worth the two-hour wait we usually have when we’re queuing in the feeder lane.”

Airport bosses say the charged for permits and pick ups will be ploughed back into the feeder park, which includes a prayer room and toilets.

A Manchester Airport spokesman added the new system and controlled lane would make the station ‘consistent with the current operation of the three terminals’.

He added: “This lane is for Hackney Carriages with airport permits, and Arrow Cars – our onsite private hire provider.

“Hackney Carriages currently without an airport permit can apply for one, for a small one-off fee. This provides access to the dedicated Hackney Carriages facilities, and contributes to the costs of operating these. The current drop off arrangements at the station remain unaffected for all other users.

“As well as ensuring a consistent passenger experience, this will also improve congestion on the road network and make the site a safer, more secure place.”

source: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/manchester-airport-putting-end-taxi-13974176