Taxi Driver Online

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

London Taxi Drivers: MPs’ Inaction over Rickshaws Will Cost Lives

Posted by admin on November 5th, 2014

Source: International Business Times

MPs’ inaction over Rickshaws in the capital will cost lives, according to the London Taxi Driver’s Association.

Bob Oddy, deputy general secretary of the trade union, told IBTimes UK that the vehicles, otherwise known as pedicabs, can flip-over and throw passengers out.

“Fortunately, no one has gone under a passing vehicle, but I’m afraid it’s going to happen and when it does a lot of the parliamentarians, who have not acted when they might have acted over the last few years, are going to be looking for a lot of reasons to justify their inaction when someone gets killed,” Oddy said.

The union official’s comments come after the Law Commission recommended giving local authorities the power to ban rickshaws who fail to meet safety standards and advised that the vehicles could be licenced.

The move, if enacted, would bring London in line with other capital cities like Berlin and Amsterdam.

But Oddy said that it was unlikely that the Law Commission’s recommendation would be acted upon until after the 2015 General Election next may and he argued that “primary legislation” from the House of Commons is needed.

“It’s primary legislation that’s required and parliament feels it has more important things to deal with, I guess,” Oddy told IBTimes UK.

“Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that the Law Commission’s recommendations will be acted upon because of the coming general election.

“But when they do get around to it, whoever gets elected next year, what’s been recommended is that there’s an opportunity for different areas around the country to licence or not to licence.

“It’s probable that they won’t ban them nation-wide for that reason.”

“You can’t licence a vehicle that’s inherently dangerous.”

The comments come after figures from Transport for London and the Metropolitan Police revealed that there were more than 650 incidents involving rickshaws in 2013.

Friedel Schroder, the director of BugBugs and the chairman of London Pedicab Operators Association, admitted to IBTimes UK that there are some “cowboy” rickshaw drivers on the streets of the capital.

“The cowboy operators will have a bike and run it into the ground, so there’s no regular maintenance or training,” he said.

But Schroder claimed that pedicabs have been one of the safest forms of transportation in the last 15 years in London.

“You have had no fatalities in the last 15 years, compared with 10 a week from motorised vehicles in Central London,” Schroder.

“The detractors will work with a lot of hearsay and, unfortunately, it’s not as libellous as it should be.

“They have the idea that they can stamp something out while it’s still in its birth phase.”

Schroder also claimed that the taxi drivers’ efforts to oppose the rickshaws have “backfired” because the number of pedicabs have grown from hundreds to up to a thousand in London.

Discuss this story on the TDO Forum

Posted in Non-standard vehicles, Unlicensed vehicles, Vehicle safety | Comments Off

Rochdale minicab firm admits providing white drivers on request

Posted by admin on October 26th, 2014

Source: The Guardian

Car 2000 minicab company, which serves area where Asian grooming gangs have operated, says it is catering to demand

Customers ordering minicabs in the town at the centre of Britain’s biggest grooming scandal are being offered white drivers on request.

Residents in Heywood in the Greater Manchester borough of Rochdale have been offered the service after two local drivers of Pakistani origin were jailed for their part in the rape and trafficking of young white girls.

Stephen Campbell, the manager of Car 2000, which took over Eagle Taxis, a firm that employed drivers at the heart of the scandal, said that a consequence of the affair was that many white customers ask for white drivers – or “local” drivers, as they usually describe them.

“We have had quite a lot of customers requesting what they call a ‘local’ driver. A bit insane if you consider that most of the [Asian] lads were born in Rochdale.

“But its a business and we have got a duty to do what the customer asks us to. I don’t think we can discriminate against the customer in the same way. It is a business at the end of the day. We have a large bank loan to pay back,” he said.

If he could, Campbell said, he would persuade people to take any driver. “The Asian drivers are harder working, they do what they are asked and they don’t complain about it. They have a much better work ethic. If the public could actually see these [Asian] people close up and see what they are about, I don’t think they would be asking for white drivers.”

The disclosure comes as MPs in areas where Asian grooming gangs have operated have voiced concern about racial tensions, which have yet to subside some six years after the scandals first emerged.

Heywood was at the centre of the Rochdale scandal after a sex trafficking gang of men of mainly Pakistani origin were found to have preyed on at least 47 girls, all of whom were white. Two drivers from the now defunct local firm of Eagle Taxis were among nine Asian men jailed for their involvement.

Ukip ran a byelection campaign in Heywood and Middleton earlier this month focusing on the issues of child grooming and immigration and came within 617 votes of overturning a near 16,000 Labour majority.

Simon Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale, said: “This is extremely worrying and a stark reminder of the impact that grooming scandals have had on northern towns. This will not be a problem exclusive to our borough, I’m sure.

“It must act as a wake-up call to politicians who just pretend tensions like this don’t exist and bury their heads in the sand. There’s a lot of work to do to improve race relations and if we’re going to build stronger communities then we have to tackle these concerns head-on,” he said. ​

Campbell, 34, said his father James bought into the Heywood firm in 2011. A few months later, they realised that Car 2000 was at the centre of a major scandal as it emerged that drivers from Eagle Taxis were embroiled in grooming allegations. Mohammed Amin, 45, of Falinge, a driver for 14 years who was known as “Car Zero”, was convicted of sexual assault and received a five-year jail term.

Abdul Aziz, 41, a married father-of-three from Rochdale who was also a driver, was convicted of trafficking for sexual exploitation, received a nine-year sentence. They were two of nine men initially convicted in a complex trial.

“We were dead centre at the centre of that debacle. We bought the business knowing nothing,” said Campbell. “If you had lived through the 18 months that I went through you would understand how difficult it has been,” he said.

Around two thirds of drivers are of Asian origin, but more white drivers work during the day. Campbell said they receive up to 60 calls a week requesting a white driver.

Asked if he was concerned about the possible reaction from MPs and councils who may question the firm’s policy, Campbell said: “They [councils and MPs] can’t tell us what we can do.”

It emerged during the grooming trial in May 2012 that a number of men worked as taxi drivers and would ferry young and vulnerable girls around northern towns for sex with other Asian men.

The gang offered gifts to girls, won their trust and then forced them to have sex. Some victims were driven between Rochdale, Oldham, Bradford and elsewhere to have sex with men for money. Most of the victims came from Heywood, while most of the perpetrators came from Rochdale.

Since the trial, there have been serious racist incidents against drivers including threats with knives and assaults. Campbell said there has been a lack of a response from the police. “The Asian drivers do a great job, given the grief they have had from customers. They can’t say anything back. It is a terrible position to be in,” he said.

Abdul Afiz, 42, a driver at the firm from Rochdale, said that racist abuse happens often but only comes from a minority of customers. “You have to just get on with it,” he said.

But the “white drivers on request” policy does not run contrary to the conditions of the minicab firm’s license and can continue, a spokesman for the council said. Mark Widdup, the director of economy and environment at Rochdale borough council, said: “This is first the council has heard of this company’s policy. However, this appears to be a decision made by the company and there is currently nothing in the conditions of their license which state that they cannot operate such a policy, just as some firms choose to offer customers only female drivers.”

Discuss this story on the TDO Forum

Posted in Customer service, Operator licensing | Comments Off

Government scraps plans to relax taxi licensing rules

Posted by admin on October 17th, 2014

Source: LGA

LGA press release 15 October 2014

Commenting on the Government’s withdrawal of plans to relax taxi licensing rules within the Deregulation Bill, Cllr Ann Lucas OBE, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said:

“We are delighted that after concerted LGA lobbying, the Government has listened to our concerns and withdrawn plans to relax rules about who can drive licensed minicabs. Councils – alongside children’s charities, personal safety organisations and taxi drivers themselves – have long-warned that this unwanted change would increase the public safety risk to people using minicabs.

“When people get into a taxi, they put their trust in the fact that the person driving the car has been vetted and licensed and that it is safe to be in a vehicle with them, especially if they are travelling alone. Anyone getting into a minicab should be assured that the only person allowed to drive the car has had their background checked, and it is right that Government has now agreed to let councils maintain this protection.

“Government should also now delete the two remaining taxi clauses in the Deregulation Bill, which would increase the length of driver licences and enable minicab firms to sub-contract bookings to other firms from different areas, without any requirement to tell the person making a booking.

“Our own opinion polling shows 80 per cent of women would be concerned if they booked a journey with one firm and a different one turned up.

“Councils support comprehensive reform of taxi licensing but on the basis of the whole of the recent Law Commission report and not through this unwise piecemeal approach that could have a negative impact on public safety.”

Notes to editors

The poll found:

Seventy-three per cent of people polled would be very or fairly concerned if they booked a minicab from one firm and a minicab from another firm turned up – including 80 per cent of women.

Eighty-five per cent of those polled said they were fairly or very concerned about the plans – including 91 per cent of women.

1. Telephone Omnibus – Populus Data Solutions
(Minicab survey data (PDF, 5 pages, 61KB)) • A representative telephone survey of 741 English adults aged 18+, living outside of London, was conducted. London residents were excluded since the proposed new taxi licensing rules already apply in London.

• The survey took place 10-12 October 2014.

• 50 per cent of the sample was contacted via landline and 50 per cent via mobile to ensure that the correct proportion of mobile only households is achieved.

• Sample methodology: RDD (Random Digit Dialling).

• Quotas are set on age, gender and region and the data weighted to the known GB profile of age, gender, region, social grade, taken a foreign holiday in the last three years, tenure, number of cars in the household, working status, and mobile only household.

2. The Government has dropped Clause 10 from the Deregulation Bill which would have allowed anyone to drive a licensed minicab when off duty. This follows extensive LGA lobbying supported by the NSPCC, Barnardo’s, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Victim’s Support, Age UK and the GMB Taxi Union.

3. Further taxi and minicab clauses remaining within the Bill will end annual license renewal for minicab drivers and enable minicab operators to subcontract a booking to another operator, licensed in a different area. The Bill returns to the House of Lords Committee Stage on Tuesday 21 October.

Discuss this story on the TDO Forum

Posted in Bogus drivers, Driver licensing, Fit and proper? | Comments Off

Taxi driver not liable for injuries sustained by fare jumping claimants

Posted by admin on October 7th, 2014

Beaumont & O’Neill v Ferrer
High Court
16 July 2014

In the recent High Court case of Beaumont & O’Neill v Ferrer (2014) two claimants, who were seriously injured whilst attempting to fare jump a taxi, failed in their attempt to claim damages from the defendant taxi driver. Not only had the claimants brought their injuries upon themselves by their actions, but the principle of ex turpi causa operated to preclude them from succeeding.

The defendant taxi driver received a call one evening to make a pickup in Salford. On arrival he found six youths waiting. His taxi was a minivan with three rows of seats. One youth got in the front passenger seat, three in the middle row and the remaining two, the claimants, sat in the back row.

The youths asked the defendant to take them to Manchester but they had already agreed amongst themselves that they would ‘jump the taxi’ and make off without paying the £10 fare.

As the taxi stopped at a set of traffic lights near to the intended destination, the three youths sitting in the middle row of the taxi, got out and ran off. One of the escaping youths had tried to release the middle row seats to help the claimants out of the back row but was unable to do so. Another of the youths closed the offside sliding door.

The defendant then decided to drive off with the three remaining youths whilst the two claimants tried to climb over the back seats. As the taxi approached a corner, the first claimant suddenly left the vehicle. He had opened the offside door and positioned himself to get out. As he tried to leave he fell out backwards hitting his head on the road, sustaining a serious brain injury. Within seconds of his companion’s exit, the second claimant left the taxi and also fell sustaining serious injury.

Kenneth Parker J dismissing the claimants’ claims held:

In relation to the first claimant, the witness evidence that the defendant ‘seemed to take the corner normally’ was reliable and there was an overwhelming probability that the claimant chose to jump or step out of the moving taxi. He had taken a recklessly obvious risk to join his companions in crime and escape any other unwelcome consequences of his actions. The judge came to this conclusion without reference to the expert evidence but when considering that evidence did agree with the proposition that the taxi was right at the beginning of its turn, thus limiting the lateral force on the claimant’s fall.

In relation to the second claimant, the judge rejected the claimant’s expert evidence that the defendant’s overcorrection of the vehicle imparted such lateral force that the claimant fell out. The claimant had simply jumped out of the moving taxi.

The defendant had not done anything to put the claimants in the position where they were poised to exit the taxi and whilst the judge did not believe that fear of attack was the defendant’s dominant motive in driving off, it did play a part in his decision to drive off.

Even if the defendant was in breach of his duty of care by driving on as he did, that breach did not cause the claimants’ injuries as the conduct of each claimant in jumping or stepping out of the taxi broke the causal link between the fault and damage. Both claimants had the undeniable opportunity to resume their seats in the taxi and to put their seat belts back on at which point neither would have then sustained serious injuries. Instead the claimants deliberately chose to position themselves at an opened door of the taxi and jump/step out as the taxi was moving away. In essence, the claimants brought about the injury to themselves.

The judge rejected the claimants’ submission that the defendant breached his contract by driving on, discharging the claimants’ obligation to pay a fare. There was no act on the part of the defendant that converted the claimants from members of a joint criminal enterprise into genuine passengers by the time each jumped, or stepped out of the taxi.

The claimants had also argued that their offending was not of such gravity that it should engage the public policy of ex turpi causa. The judge commented that taxi drivers provide a valuable service to the community including to the vulnerable and disabled members of the community who would have substantial difficulty in travelling on public transport. Dishonest evasion of the fare by an individual or group should not be dismissed as just another inevitable expense of driving a taxi but should be seen for reasons of public policy as a pernicious and reprehensible practice.

Accordingly, the claimants who intended to engage in a criminal activity were precluded by the policy of ex turpi causa from succeeding in these claims and no part of the claimants’ loss could be attributed to the defendant.

This decision follows the Court of Appeal’s consideration of the principle of ex turpi causa in Gray v Thames Trains (2009) and Joyce v O’Brien (2014.) The distinction between this case and the latter was that the driver was not engaged in a criminal enterprise with the claimants.

The claims were dismissed on two grounds. They firstly failed on causation. Even if the taxi driver had breached his duty of care towards the claimants by driving off while they were standing inside the van and unrestrained, this did not cause the claimants’ losses. The losses occurred because of the claimants’ conduct in stepping or jumping from the vehicle as it was moving. This broke the chain of causation and in essence, the claimants brought their injuries upon themselves.

The claims also foundered upon the ex turpi causa defence. The circumstances of the accident were inextricably linked with the claimants’ criminal enterprise and therefore the principle was engaged. The court rejected the submission of the claimants’ counsel that the prospective offence was not sufficiently serious to invoke the defence of ex turpi; in fact it held that there were strong public policy reasons to apply it in this case.

Discuss this story on the TDO Forum

Posted in Crime and the trade, Security, Vehicle safety | Comments Off

Two men arrested on suspicion of murdering taxi driver 20 years ago

Posted by admin on September 24th, 2014

Source: Nottingham Post

POLICE have arrested two men on suspicion of murdering a 26-year-old taxi driver nearly 20 years ago.

Ethsham Ghafoor was shot dead in an ‘execution-style’ murder while sitting inside his taxi in the car park of a nursery in Lambley Lane, Gedling, on November 22, 1994.

The men, aged 42 and 43, will be questioned in connection with the inquiry throughout the day.

Mr Ghafoor, known to his friends and family as Shami, was a popular man who lived in Sherwood. More than 1,000 mourners turned out for his funeral at the Islamic Centre, in Curzon Street.

Last year, relatives took to Facebook to launch the page Justice for Ethsham Ghafoor, asking people to come forward with information.

Despite numerous appeals by police and family over the years, the case is one of Nottingham’s longest unsolved murder investigations.

Anyone with any information about the murder is asked to contact the incident room on 0115 8446913.

Discuss this story on the TDO Forum

Posted in Crime and the trade, Security | Comments Off

Milton Keynes taxi driver rapist: David Cameron criticises ‘bad decision’

Posted by admin on September 4th, 2014

Source: BBC Online

David Cameron has said it was a “bad decision” to allow a convicted rapist to become a taxi driver in Milton Keynes.

Members of a licensing committee saw a document detailing crimes committed by Nadeem Ahmed Kiani before they decided to grant him a licence in 2011. The 44-year-old was imprisoned in 1994 for rape and serious sexual assault. His taxi licences have been revoked.

The prime minister said it was a “rather shocking story”. Mr Cameron said it was the government’s responsibility to “set the ground rules” and advised local authorities to check whether drivers were “fit and proper persons”. “We advise they should do Criminal Record Bureau checks,” he said.

“It’s obvious in this case that the council followed the correct procedures but then made a bad decision. “When that happens, the person making that decision should bear the consequences.” Milton Keynes mayor Subhan Shafiq, who had vouched for Kiani, resigned from his post last week.

The document detailed how Kiani and a co-defendant had picked up prostitutes in a vehicle, threatened them with weapons, then raped and sexually abused them. Mr Shafiq had described Kiani as “a friend” and spoke of his “good current character and family circumstances”. Kiani was sentenced to eight years imprisonment at Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court in October 1994. His name was also added to the sex offenders register.

Milton Keynes Council leader Peter Marland said Mr Shafiq should examine his conscience over whether he could even continue as a councillor. Meanwhile, a council investigation found seven of the area’s taxi drivers had criminal convictions. One, who was convicted of a sexual offence, has not had his licence taken away.

Conservative MP for Milton Keynes North, Mark Lancaster, described the news as “one of those absolute jaw-dropping moments”. “We have a duty to ensure the safety of our residents and being a taxi driver means you’re in a confined space with an individual who could be vulnerable,” he said.

“We need to toughen our approach to the licensing process. “I accept people go to prison and serve their sentences, and after a period of rehabilitation, that conviction is spent. “But there are some offences that are so severe, like rape or sexual assault, that mean you should never be allowed to become a taxi driver,” he said.

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Taxis and private hire vehicles are licensed by local authorities in England and Wales. “Local licensing authorities have a statutory duty to ensure that any person to whom they grant a driver’s licence is a fit and proper person.”

Discuss this story on the TDO Forum

Posted in Driver licensing, Fit and proper? | Comments Off