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

Black cabs not unique, high court rules, paving way for ‘green’ taxis

Posted by admin on January 22nd, 2016

Source: The Guardian

A high court judge has ruled that one of London’s most famous sights, the black cab, is not that unique after all, concluding that they are “devoid of inherent distinctive character”.

Mr Justice Arnold said that the taxis are “merely a variation of the typical shape of a car” and ruled that trademarks exclusively relating to its shape should be deemed invalid.

He made the judgment on Wednesday after a legal row between the manufacturer of the traditional London taxi and the group behind a new eco-friendly cab. The ruling paves the way for the “green” taxis to hit London’s roads over the next few years.

Arnold said: “In my view the CTM [the design of the black cab] would have been perceived by the average consumer of taxis as merely a variation of the typical shape of a taxi.

“I should make it clear that, if one considers the question from the perspective of the average consumer of cars, in my view the CTM would be perceived as merely a variation of the typical shape of a car.”

The two trademarks in question during the hearing related to three-dimensional drawings of the exterior of the typical black cab.

The London Taxi Company, which is owned by Chinese group Geely, had claimed the new Metrocab was “substantially copied” from the design of the TX4, the latest version of the hackney carriage.

The Metrocab is a hybrid-powered taxi developed by Frazer-Nash Research and Ecotive. The zero-emissions vehicle uses an electric battery and a petrol engine, which extends the range of the battery.

The judge dismissed fraud allegations by the London Taxi Company as “deeply implausible” and said that even if the trademarks were valid then the Metrocab was not simply a copy of the TX4.

The Metrocab is scheduled to go into bulk production later this year and is at the forefront of a drive by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, to ensure that all new taxis are zero-emission by 2018. Geely has pledged to invest £250m into a new facility in Coventry to produce greener versions of its black cab.

Peter Johansen, the chief executive of the London Taxi Company, said: “We are understandably disappointed by the judge’s ruling. We will review the ruling to determine our way forward.”

The London Taxi Company has been in operation since 1899, with black cabs going on to become one of the symbols of London.

A fleet of black cabs featured in the closing ceremony for the London 2012 Olympics, and last year it was voted as London’s favourite transport “design icon” in a survey conducted by Transport for London (TfL) and the London Transport Museum.

It represents another blow for the traditional London taxi as it battles against the rise of Uber, the car-hire smartphone app.

TfL announced on Wednesday that after conducting a consultation it would not be introducing proposed new regulations that would have affected Uber, including forcing minicab operators to provide booking confirmation details to the passenger at least five minutes before a journey starts.

The high court decision follows a similar ruling on Wednesday about KitKat, with the same judge deciding that Nestlé could not trademark the shape of its chocolate bar.

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Caught on camera: The disgusting moment a Lincoln taxi driver is SPAT at by an angry passenger

Posted by admin on January 17th, 2016

Source: Lincolnshire Echo

A Lincoln taxi driver was spat at by a passenger in an unprovoked attack in the city this week.

Video footage captured on the taxi’s dash cam shows the shocking moment the passenger became argumentative with the driver before spitting in her face as he was asked to get out.

The incident took place outside the Stags Head, Newport, at around 7.30pm on Tuesday, January 12. The self employed driver, who wanted to only be known as Kris, was left so shocked she had to take time off work since.

The 31-year-old said she had never experienced like it in her seven years on the job. “I’d started my shift at about 6pm – this was about the third of fourth job of the night. “I was called for a pick up at pub. The caller wanted a taxi to North Greetwell.

“Two men and a woman got in the car. They were not sober but not overly drunk. “I asked them if they could shut the back door. They said they were waiting for one more person but I said could they just shut the door while we waited.

“The man in the front was being quite funny from when they got in. He was saying he didn’t want to sit in the front because then he would have to pay. “He started calling me names so I said ‘pardon?’. I was trying to be professional. I was thinking at that point I would send the job back and get someone else to pick them up so I asked them to leave.”

The footage then shows the passenger start to get out of the car but before he does, he spits at the driver’s head.

Kris said: “It was awful. I felt absolutely disgusted. Nothing like that has ever happened before.” The shaken driver reported the incident to the police but was felt unable to carry on working that night or for the next two days.

She added: “So many things can happen to taxi drivers but nothing is done to protect us. “I want this person to be charged for what they did. I have had to take time off because of this but I need to earn a living.”

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‘Illegal’ taxi service in Southampton shut down

Posted by admin on January 3rd, 2016

Source: Southampton Daily Echo

AN “ILLEGAL” taxi service that offered cheap rides in private vehicles has been shut down.

The online group Southampton Town Lifts is no longer operating after the Daily Echo yesterday revealed that the group was being used by motorists to act as unofficial taxi drivers. Yesterday morning the Facebook group changed from a closed group, where only members could see posts, to “secret”, meaning the group could only be searched for and seen by members, before being completely removed.

One of the people who ran the group commented on the Daily Echo website, saying: “Thanks for your support everyone. We set up the site because we were fed up with constant posts on our timeline about people wanting lifts.

“We weren’t trying to take business away from taxis, we weren’t aware we were doing anything illegal. The site has been taken down, but it’s not going to stop people seeking lifts from elsewhere because taxis are just too expensive. “As for the claim that we may be putting girls at risk of assault; all of the members were vetted and no one was assaulted, every member was a friend and any nasty behaviour or comments resulted in removal from the group.”

Southampton City Council yesterday released a warning to residents about the dangers of using an unlicensed driver and reminded motorists they could be fined up to £5,000 and receive six points on their Driving Licence if they are unlicensed.

Simon Letts, leader of Southampton City Council, said: “Our licensing team went straight into action and contacted the people involved and explained to them what they can and cannot do and explained they cannot run this on Facebook. “I suspect some people thought they could do it and have now been told it is not within the law and hopefully that is the end of it.

“The job of the council is to protect the public and that is the reason we carry out the proper checks for taxi drivers. “There are sites were people can share vehicles for getting from A to B, but charging strangers a cash fee is running a taxi company.”

Chairman of Southampton Hackney Association, Ian Hall, said: “I am glad it has been taken down but the problem is how many others are operating in Southampton? “The council must keep tags on this when we send them information and they need to investigate it straight away. “On new years people need to be careful and some of the prices are more than what we would charge on the meter.”

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Leytonstone terrorist was a UBER driver

Posted by admin on December 8th, 2015

Source: The Telegraph

The family of the terror suspect accused of the London Underground knife attack raised concerns to police three weeks ago over his mental health.

Relatives of Muhaydin Mire, 29, had growing fears over his behaviour and asked the Metropolitan Police whether officers needed to intervene, it is understood. Scotland Yard admitted it had been in contact with a family member before Mire allegedly knifed a passenger at Leytonstone Underground station, shouting “this is for Syria”.

The family is understood to have told officers they wanted Mire committed under the Mental Health Act. Mire’s brother Mohamed said: “He was saying odd things, talking nonsense and saying that he was seeing demons.” However, the Met Police claimed ​in a statement sent to the Telegraph that “there was no mention of radicalisation”.

A statement from the force said: “The police were contacted by a family member approximately three weeks before the incident on Saturday.
“There was no mention of radicalisation; the conversation related entirely to health related issues and the family were therefore correctly referred to health services for help.”

Mire was interviewed by mental health specialists over the weekend and is undergoing ongoing assessments while awaiting a court appearance at the Old Bailey. Mohamed Mire told how his brother came to Britain when he was 12 from Somalia and went to school in Camden, north London.
“He was a good boy and he loved football. As far as I know he loved education, he wanted to be a computer scientist,” he told Channel 4 news. “It didn’t work out for him. He got in with the wrong people.”

He said that his brother developed mental health problems after smoking cannabis. “He was diagnosed by a doctor and treated in 2007 for paranoia and [treated] in hospital for three months.”

Mohamed said that his brother had been working as an uber driver, but in August this year his mental health worsened once again. “He went a bit crazy, he was saying odd things. I explained to the family the situation, we tried to get him help, we tried to call the local authority.

“They could not help him, they said he was not a harm to people and he was not a harm to himself. We tried to tell them – this guy has mental issues, can you at least section him. I talked to the police. “And then I decide to move him out of the country so I called my mum [who lives in Somalia] and she told me to take him out the country to help him out. So I decide to book tickets for him this Sunday.”

The 6ft 3in 29-year-old appeared before magistrates on Monday accused of leaving his victim with a 12cm knife wound after looking at terrorism linked to Syria on his mobile phone. He pounced on his victim from behind before carrying out a ferocious beating and shouting “this is for Syria, my Muslim brothers”, Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard.

Material linked to the Syrian conflict and “terrorist actions around the world” were discovered on his mobile phone, it is alleged. Mire spoke only to confirm his name and address as he appeared in the dock at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday to answer a holding charge of attempted murder.

Prosecutor David Cawthorne said the 56-year-old guitarist victim, named only as “Male A”, had been walking through the station at 7pm on Saturday when he was attacked from behind. The court heard Male A was was hit around the head and body before collapsing to the floor, where he was kicked and stamped on by Mire. Witnesses attempted to intervene as Mire brandished a knife, held Male A’s head and began to cut his neck “in what is described by some as a sawing motion”. The victim was left in a pool of blood and required five hours of surgery in hospital.

Police arrived at the Tube station at 7.06pm, where Mire was said to be “stalking around the concourse”, slashing his knife in the direction of at least two other witnesses. One officer “fearing for his safety” deployed his Taser twice before another officer also deployed his weapon before Mr Mire fell to the floor and was disarmed.

The Crown said the offences were being treated as “acts of terrorism” falling within definition of section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000. As the hearing opened, Mire – who wore a grey t-shirt and matching tracksuit bottoms – had his handcuffs taken off under the orders of district judge Quentin Purdy. Mire, of Leytonstone, was remanded in custody to appear again at the Old Bailey on Friday. Male A is understood to be recovering in hospital.

The case came as it emerged Scotland Yard is considered recalling previously trained firearms officers as standby for the growing terror threat. The Met has pledged to double the amount of firearms officers on the street at any one time to react in the event of a marauding attack.

Questions were raised over why armed officers were not deployed to Leytonstone Tube station on Saturday to tackle Mire, who was Tasered by uniform officers. Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan, who heads the specialist crime and operations unit, said: “In terms of how we increase the capacity, there are several ways that we can do it. “We may well look at someone who is a current police officer who has been a firearms officer in the past, about whether we can train him or her to become a ARV (armed response vehicle) officer or firearms officer.”

A junior doctor who saved the life of Mire’s alleged victim has told how he went to the man’s aid despite fearing he could be stabbed as well. Matt Smith, 28, was leaving the Tube station when he heard people screaming and saw a man with a slashed throat. He administered first aid to stem the flow of blood before helping the man out of the building. “At any moment I thought the guy with the knife could come up and start attacking us all. We couldn’t see any of what was happening down there,” he said.

David Cameron yesterday thanked the mystery passenger who can be heard on video footage of the incident shouting “you ain’t no Muslim, bruv”, which has become an internet hit. At an event in Staffordshire, the Prime Minister said: “”Some of us have dedicated speeches and media appearances and sound bites and everything to this subject, but ‘you ain’t no Muslim, bruv’ said it all much better than I could have done. “Thank you, because that will be applauded around the country.”

Meanwhile one of Britain’s most senior legal authorities warned that aspects of the Government’s counter-terrorism approach could indirectly fuelling the radicalisation of young Muslims. Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former top judge who chaired a two year inquiry into religion in Britain, said that the language used was making Muslims feel excluded from society and under suspicion.

Speaking as she formally launched the Commission on Religion and Belief in public life, she said that she is “totally in favour” of anti-terror law but added: “There is a danger that the rhetoric that lies behind counter-terrorism … that it is turning certain groups, particularly the Muslims into feeling ‘other’, feeling that they’re not trusted, feeling that they’re not part of British society. “Now that’s very sad for the vast majority of very decent Muslims who live in this country: they should feel that they belong, not that they don’t belong. “But it also has a real danger of radicalisation.”

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Fife cabbies urged to install CCTV

Posted by admin on November 29th, 2015

Source: The Courier

Taxi drivers have been urged to install CCTV cameras in their vehicles in the wake of a recent armed robbery in Kirkcaldy.

A man abducted 46-year-old cabbie Alistair Rankin and forced him to hand over a ransom note to terrified staff during November 11’s raid on the Bank of Scotland in Mitchelston Industrial Estate.

The incident once more brought the safety of taxi drivers and their passengers into sharp focus.

Calls are now growing for drivers to use the equipment they have been offered in recent months following successful pilot projects.

Brian McGurn from the Fife Taxi Owners Association said CCTV cameras had proved beneficial in many cases.

“One of things the incident does highlight is that the council has recently offered all the taxis CCTV in cars, which a huge number of members have taken up,” he said.

“Obviously if there is CCTV in the car when something like this happens then there’s a real possibility there will be images of the person or people involved.

“But even if you’ve got a sign up saying there’s CCTV in the taxi, it can act as a deterrent.

“It’s definitely an unusual situation that happened with this bank robbery but it’s a worrying one for anyone to go out to their work and find yourself in the midst of something like that. It’s not a situation anyone wants to be in.

“I think if police catch the person involved then so much the better, although it always makes people worry.”

Research into the pilot camera projects earlier this year suggested CCTV had a measurable effect on improving safety and cutting crime.

During the pilot in Dunfermline, only one of the 41 taxi frauds recorded happened in a vehicle fitted with CCTV and the culprit was caught.

In the same period, there were just two other crimes in taxis equipped with cameras – an incidence of vandalism and a report of sectarian singing – and police said the CCTV footage had helped them with their inquiries in both instances.

Although those responsible were not identified, police said the CCTV had helped them with their inquiries.

The scheme was so successful it was rolled out to taxis in Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes and Levenmouth among other areas.

Funding has been found through local community safety budgets to assist with the provision of cameras.

Meanwhile, police say they are still hunting the culprit behind the armed robbery – more than a fortnight after the incident took place.

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London Uber drivers refuse to stand for increased levy

Posted by admin on November 14th, 2015

Source: Morning Star

UBER drivers stepped out of their cars yesterday in protest against commission increases that will leave the controversial firm’s employees £50 worse off every month.

Drivers are being charged a new levy of 25 per cent, while the tech giant’s mass recruitment ahead of Christmas is threatening the jobs of many of the company’s longer-serving staff.

Outside Uber’s London headquarters, dozens of drivers represented by the GMB union demanded better pay and job safety.

GMB professional drivers representative James Farrar told the Star that the protest was “really heartening” due to the tough conditions many of those attending were working under.

He said: “To make a call about the unfairness of Uber to drivers and ask these guys to show up, under the fear they might be deactivated, they might lose their jobs, the fact that they shook off those fears and came here anyway shows three things.

“One, the spirit that these guys have and their determination.

“Two, their absolute courage. And three, the absolute need for something to be done.”

In the past 12 months, Uber drivers have had their journey fares lowered twice and their salary, allowing for deductions, squeezed to just over £5 an hour.

Uber driver for the last six months Abdul Shah said the rise “is going to be detrimental to drivers’ livelihoods because they are already struggling.

“They are doing 60 to 90 hours a week and they are basically earning peanuts for it.”

Mr Shah, who had only heard of GMB a week before the protest, joined the union on the day “because they are a very credible organisation and they are the true voice and representatives of Uber drivers,” he said.

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