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News, comment and advice on the UK taxi and private hire trades

Private hire taxi drivers praised by council chiefs for not breaking licensing rules

Posted by admin on October 19th, 2016

Source: Plymouth Herald

Council chiefs have praised local private hire drivers after a recent test purchase operation gave them a clean bill of health.

The test found 100 percent of Plymouth’s private hire drivers stopped during a recent test purchase operation passed.

The council revealed that over the past month two test purchase operations were carried out and of the 19 private hire drivers approached no unauthorised journeys were accepted. The taxi licensing team undertake regular test purchase operations to find out whether private hire drivers hold the correct licence to work and if they will accept passengers without a pre-booking, this is commonly known as “plying for hire.”

Councillor John Riley, cabinet member responsible for licensing said: “I’m really pleased with the results of our latest test purchase operations. We carry them out to make sure private hire drivers abide by the conditions of their licence.

“All private hire journeys must be pre-booked through their respective operator, pick-ups by private hire vehicles are not covered by the vehicle’s insurance, so this in turn puts passengers at risk. If passengers have problems the journey will not be recorded and the circumstances of any complaint are more difficult to investigate.”

Hackney carriage (Taxi) drivers can ‘ply for hire’ off the street or from the Council’s appointed taxi ranks situated throughout the city.

Councillor Riley said passengers were reminded that yellow door stickers were attached to the front doors of private hire vehicles which clearly state that the driver can only take pre-booked fares and they should not try to flag down a private hire vehicle. If they do, they are then not covered by the drivers’ insurance and passengers would be considered to have put themselves at risk.

Councillor Riley added: “I will soon be looking to engage with Private Hire drivers, Operators and Hackney Carriage drivers to seek to improve the taxi service available to Plymouth city residents and visitors alike. “Making a start with that process I would welcome observations, comments, opinions and experiences from the wider public as to the quality of taxi service currently available in the city, their views as customers are invaluable.”

The Taxi Licensing Team can be contacted on or 01752 304141.

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Met Pc sacked for ‘dishonesty’ in dodging cab fare after night out

Posted by admin on September 20th, 2016

Source: Standard

A Met Police constable who got into a drunken row with a minicab driver over a £24 fare has been sacked.

Nicola Elston, 30, was told her conviction for making off without paying the fare amounted to gross misconduct when she appeared before a disciplinary hearing.

The panel heard that Elston, who has served with the force for seven years, was branded “relentlessly dishonest” by a judge following a three-day trial at Southwark crown court. Michael Kirk, for the Met, said that on June 27 last year the Lambeth-based officer took a cab home to Croydon after a night drinking with colleagues but refused to pay the fare on arrival.

The panel was told she had a row with the driver, who claimed she punched him in the stomach. Elston was arrested hours later but told officers at her first interview that she was unable to recall the events of the night before. She was charged last September and during her trial in March claimed she left the fare in the cab before getting out. Elston was cleared of the assault charge but fined for the fare evasion.

She was called to the disciplinary hearing to answer allegations her behaviour breached the Met’s standards for professional behaviour concerning honesty and integrity.

James Southgate, of the Met Police Federation, told the panel that the conviction had “devastated” Elston. He added: “She must accept the court ruling but she disagrees with the outcome. She said she left the fare in the cab but the jury didn’t accept this. It did accept she did not assault the driver.

“She made a mistake. She accepts it, learned from it and the court has punished her for it. Please don’t take away this previously unblemished career.” Elston wore her Pc’s uniform for the hour-long hearing but did not speak.

Assistant Commissioner Helen King concluded that she breached standards of honesty, saying her conviction and comments by the judge meant she could no longer work for the Met. She added: “I must also consider the aggravating factors and what Londoners rightly expect from the force.”

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Uber launches legal action over new London taxi rules

Posted by admin on August 21st, 2016

Source: CityA.M

Uber has launched legal action against London’s transport regulator over new rules that threaten to limit its business in the capital, City A.M. can exclusively reveal.

The billion-dollar startup is seeking a judicial review to halt the introduction of new rules it claims are too strict.

Transport for London set out new regulations earlier this year after a wide-ranging consultation of the taxi and minicab industry following a long-standing feud between Uber and London’s black cab drivers.

The initial regulation was previously welcomed by Uber, but in recent months the details of the rules have become too onerous, Uber claims. Now, Uber is pursuing legal action over the matter, filing official papers with the courts this week after sending a so-called letter before action to TfL.

TfL said it would defend the legality of the new regulations. “We responded to Uber’s letter and will be robustly defending the legal proceedings brought by them in relation to the changes to private hire regulations,” a TfL spokesperson told City A.M. “These have been introduced to enhance public safety when using private hire services and we are determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market with space for all providers to flourish.”

Uber is challenging four of the new rules; requiring written English tests for drivers, having to locate its customer service call centre in London, requiring insurance that covers drivers when they are not working and having to alert TfL of changes to its business model or app.

It last week rallied customers to contact the mayor of London urging him to review the regulation while business leaders and entrepreneurs have also written to Sadiq Khan asking him to rethink the rules, raising concerns that the red tape could stifle innovation and London’s digital economy in the wake of Brexit.

It comes as the mayor promised to make new plans for the future of the taxi and minicab industry in the capital. A spokesperson for the mayor said: “Sadiq has asked his team to produce a comprehensive new strategy that will herald in a new era for the capital’s taxi and private hire trades.

“Further details will be released later this year of a plan that will deliver radical improvements for customers, a boost to safety, support for the taxi trade and further improve the quality of service offered by the private hire trade. There will also be a concerted effort to make London’s taxi fleet the greenest in the world.”

City Hall would not be drawn on whether this would include reviewing the new regulations, agreed under former mayor Boris Johnson. Tom Elvidge, general manager at Uber London, said: “This legal action is very much a last resort. We’re particularly disappointed that, after a lengthy consultation process with Transport for London, the goalposts have moved at the last minute and new rules are now being introduced that will be bad for both drivers and tech companies like Uber.”

London’s cabbies, who believe the new rules do not go far enough, have also backed Uber’s call for a rethink, indicating the black cab trade stood to gain from a more favourable outcome. The head of the London Taxi Drivers Association Steve McNamara on Monday said he was confident Khan would do “what’s right for London”.

Other minicab firms in the capital have backed the new regulation, however. Addison Lee chief executive Andy Boland said: “Having previously backed the proposals it’s hard to understand Uber’s resistance to implementation of these new regulations. The whole industry was fully involved in the consultation and there is a strong belief that they will benefit both passengers and drivers.”

Gett managing director for Europe Remo Gerber called Uber’s U-turn on the regulations “baffling”. “Frankly we’re surprised we’re wasting time on this. We should be focusing on the post Brexit needs of London, not minor operational details,” he said.

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GMB tests Uber ‘self-employed drivers’ claim at London tribunal

Posted by admin on July 24th, 2016

Source: The Register

UK union the GMB has brought two test cases to the Central London Employment Tribunal today to determine if Uber acted unlawfully by not providing its drivers with “basic workers’ rights”, such as holiday pay and a national minimum wage.

This is the first time that Uber’s claim that drivers are self-employed has been tested under UK law. The employment tribunal will also determine another 17 claims brought against the next generation cab firm.

Last year, GMB found that a union member who was an Uber driver received £5.03 an hour for the 234 hours he worked in August. After costs and fees were deducted, his net hourly pay was £1.47 below the national minimum wage. The driver paid £2.65 per hour to Uber.

Justin Bowden, National Secretary at GMB, said: Uber drivers face “very difficult working conditions and with cuts to fares we believe that some of our members are taking home less than the national minimum wage when you take into account the costs of running a car.

“GMB believes this could pose a safety risk to drivers, their passengers and other road users as some drivers are forced into working longer and longer hours in order to make ends meet, at the same time as being unable to take any paid holiday or have an entitlement to rest breaks that other workers have.”

“Uber’s defence is that it is just a technology company, not a taxi company, and that Uber drivers do not work for Uber but instead work for themselves as self-employed business men and women,” said Annie Powell, a lawyer from Leigh Day representing GMB.

“If Uber wishes to operate in this way, and to reap the substantial benefits, then it must acknowledge its responsibilities towards those drivers as workers,” Powell added. According to an International Business Times report cited by GMB, there are more than 30,000 Uber cabbies in London alone.

Uber has been taken to court numerous times before. This case joins a long list of other cases that question the legality behind its business.

The company service has been banned, partially banned or suspended in many countries including: South Korea, Thailand, Germany, Netherland, and cities in India, USA and Australia, over regulatory issues.

We have contacted Uber for comment. Jo Bertram, Regional General Manager, Uber UK, told us: “More than 30,000 people in London drive with our app and this case only involves a very small number. The main reason people choose to partner with Uber is so they can become their own boss, pick their own hours and work completely flexibly.

She claimed “two thirds of new partner drivers joining the Uber platform have been referred by another partner.”

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Two men who jumped out of taxi to avoid paying £10 fare are now SUING the driver

Posted by admin on July 7th, 2016

Two men who deliberately leapt out of a taxi to avoid paying the £10 fare and suffered head injuries are SUING the driver. Joseph Beaumont and Lewis O’Neill, now both 24, jumped from the vehicle as it drove along Deansgate in July 2009. The pair, who were both 17 at the time, suffered head injuries following the accident and are trying to sue taxi driver, David Ferrer.

The case was rejected initially but is now being appealed at London Appeals Court .

Joseph and Lewis’ barrister, Marc Willems QC, admitted that the youths had agreed among themselves not to pay the cabbie his £10 fare and Mr Ferrer was determined to prevent his passengers from ‘making off without payment’. He said three members of the group left the taxi without paying when it reached its destination.

Mr Willems told London Appeals Court that Mr Ferrer then drove off with his three remaining passengers still on board, including Joseph and Lewis. The vehicle’s rear sliding door was still open, and seconds later Joseph and Lewis decided to jump out of the cab.

Joseph ‘miscalculated the risk’ and struck his head on the road after ‘coming out of the vehicle backwards’. Lewis followed his pal also striking the road as Mr Ferrer ‘continued to accelerate away from the corner down Deansgate’. Both men suffered severe head injuries and sued Mr Ferrer for substantial compensation stating he was negligent to drive off at speed to prevent them leaving the taxi.

Lewis’ father, Shaun, said he feared for his son’s life after the incident, saying he needed several operations on his brain. He said: “He was in hospital for months. We weren’t sure he would survive. He had to have several operations on his brain and were told he could have epilepsy and may not even recognise us.” He is still recovering from the crash and still suffers problems.

The Manchester-based taxi driver said he was ‘justifiably aggrieved’ at the youths’ attempt to dodge paying his fare. He said he could never have foreseen that the pair would take the drastic step of jumping from a moving vehicle, his legal team argued.

In July 2014 Mr Justice Kenneth Parker refused to award Joseph and Lewis compensation. He ruled that they had ‘brought about the injury to themselves’ whilst trying to evade paying Mr Ferrer’s fare. A decision on the appeal will be given later this year.

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Hull taxi driver’s CCTV lands ‘sex attack’ liar Claire Carr in jail

Posted by admin on May 22nd, 2016

Source: Hull Daily Mail

A woman has been sent to prison for falsely claiming a taxi driver sexually assaulted her. Claire Emma Carr, 20, from west Hull was jailed for 12 weeks after she admitted lying.

The falsely accused driver today told the Mail he could have “lost everything” if he did not have CCTV in his vehicle – which proved she was telling lies.

The 48-year-old driver picked up Carr from an address in Camelford Close, Bransholme, and took her to her home in Wesley Court, west Hull, on April 13. He said: “It was just a normal job. I asked her where she was going, we didn’t even speak until we got to Freetown Way. Someone had been knocked off their bike and we were saying how bad it was. I dropped her off as normal, she paid me the fare, and that was that.”

The next morning, the taxi driver, who has worked in the city for 25 years, had a knock on his door from a police officer. “It was about 8.30am,” he said. “I asked if I could help him and he said there had been an allegation of a sexual assault against me. I was absolutely mortified.”

The driver told the police officer he had CCTV cameras in his vehicle, which were checked and proved nothing had happened. “She had told police I had made some sexual remarks to her, and that when we got to Fountain Road she said I had tried to put my hands down her trousers,” he said. “She said she screamed and made me stop the car and ran off. Thankfully, the CCTV proved different and showed what really happened.”

The taxi driver, who has asked not to be named, said the CCTV he has inside his vehicle saved his life. “If it wasn’t for my CCTV I could have lost everything,” he said. “I would have lost my job which is my living, I could have lost my house. Thankfully, I have got a rock-solid marriage and my wife knew she was lying, but someone else might not have been so lucky.”

The 48-year-old is now urging other drivers to install CCTV in their vehicles after he purchased the equipment himself. “It saved my life,” he said. “I dread to think what could have happened if I didn’t have this in my vehicle.”

The taxi driver described Carr as “completely normal” when he met her on April 13. “I just don’t know what went through her head,” he said. “I believe she should be named and shamed for what she has done. Her actions undermine actual victims of sexual abuse and assault. “There was no reason for what she did. The stress I have been under has been horrendous.”

Carr pleaded guilty to wasting police time when she appeared at Hull Magistrates’ Court on Monday. She was jailed for 12 weeks.

Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Foster, of Humberside Police’s protecting vulnerable people unit, said: “We actively encourage victims of sexual assault to contact the force so they can be supported by specialist officers. Any allegation of sexual assault is then thoroughly and robustly investigated to ensure offenders are brought to justice.

“However, in cases like this, any false reports of sexual assault will not be tolerate.

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