Airportcarz PSV Minibus Rapist Gets 10 Years!
Rapist Mateen could be out in 4!
Report Date March 2 2007
The Partington Rapist Murtaza Mateen who worked for Airportcarz Bus Company at Manchester International Airport has been sentenced to at least four years in prison after being found guilty of raping a 42-year-old Partington woman. As previously reported on TDO, Murtaza Mateen of Lime Crescent, Old Trafford was found guilty of rape following a four-day trial at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court on Thursday 11 January 2007. JD of Taxi Driver Online was the only person in the entire country to get the facts right about this driver. His diligence in seeking out facts is a testament to the lengths he will go to in order to report the truth.
Mateen was sentenced on 26th February at Minshul street Crown Court Manchester where the Judge made it clear that under the previous sentencing system, Mateen would have received a ten-year sentence. Under the new system, this equates to an 'indeterminate' sentence with the recommendation that he serves at least four years and one hundred and ten days before being considered for parole. Mateen was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for life and was prohibited from working as or purporting to be a taxi driver for life.
Mateen who had a previous sex offence for indecent assault had twice unsuccessfully applied to Manchester city council for a private hire drivers license. On the second occasion Mateen appealed the refusal but the Magistrates court upheld the Council decision.
Mateen, who has other offences recorded against. him found employment through PSV legislation as a bus driver. His employer Airportcarz operates as a bus company but the law, which has not yet been tested in the courts would seem to allow for a quasi-private hire system to possibly be legally effected?
Unlike Taxi and Private hire drivers Bus drivers by law are not required to undertake a Criminal Record check. Airportcarz say that although it is not compulsory they do ask their drivers to submit to a CRB check. It is believed that in the case of Mateen Airportcarz has yet to supply evidence to support that statement.
PSV legislation is a mess and it allows for the circumvention of many private and public hire laws relating to Taxi and Private hire vehicles and their operation.
It is understood that Airportcarz has enquired about licensing some of their vehicles as Manchester private hire and have asked the City council to relax their conditions of license in order that their vehicles are exempt from displaying the Council crest. Airportcarz say this will make their livery unrecognisable, however JD is of the opinion that should Airportcarz apply for a private hire vehicle license they should have to conform to Manchester's current regulations regarding vehicle colour and driver standards. However there is nothing to stop Airportcarz from licensing their vehicles as a hackney carriage in another authority and using them as private hire in Manchester?
Applications to the DVLA for a Passenger Carrying Vehicle license (PCV) requires the disclosure of all criminal record convictions but because there is no mandatory CRB check any applicant can put down what they want? More than likely the only details the DVLA will be able to confirm are those motoring offences recorded against the applicant's license?
Beverley Bell, the North West's Traffic Commissioner, is of the opinion that CRB checks should be mandatory for all PCV drivers. It is understood police chiefs also support the introduction of mandatory CRB checks.
JD believes that Manchester International Airport should now seek evidence from Airportcarz that all criminal background checks undertaken on their drivers are bone fide and that drivers do not present a danger to the public. Other UK Airports contracted to Airportcarz and similar firms, should take steps to make sure the public is safe by demanding to see Criminal record checks of every licensed PCV driver operating from their Airport.
The story as TDO reported in January.
On January 11th 2007 Greater Manchester police issued a press release in respect of yet another sad
case of a woman being raped. Trafford CID informed Taxi Driver Online that the offender is a licensed
Taxi Driver. The problem that TDO had is that no one seemed to know just exactly where this rapist was
licensed? We didn't even know if he was a bone fide Hackney carriage or private hire driver? Trafford
CID flatly refused to state where he was licensed or whether he was a hackney or private hire driver?
After making extensive enquiries TDO can confirm that the rapist is not a licensed Taxi or Private hire
driver but a an unlicensed PSV minibus driver operating under section 75 1 B of the 1976 LGMPA.
Trafford licensing has had numerous enquiries about this gentlemen and are quite distressed that people
are ringing up accusing them of licensing rapists. The Rapist is one Murtaza Mateen from Lime crescent,
Old Trafford, which is a stone's throw from Manchester United Football ground.
Mateen aged 47 was driving a 12 or 15 seater minibus on Manchester road Partington, which is close to
Sale, Altrincham, Lymn and other parts of Cheshire. His victim was a 42-year-old woman who either
lived in Partington, which is primarily made up of a large council estate, or on the outskirts of Partington
where you will find the occasional isolated private dwelling. Partington is surrounded by open countryside
so it is rather obvious that a female walking home at 3-30 in the morning is taking a huge risk in exposing
herself to the dangers of the night.
Mateen drove past his victim then stopped and waited for her to walk past his vehicle so he could entice her into his minibus. He then drove on for a short-distance, stopped his vehicle and committed the rape.
We have JD to thank for this diligent investigation in revealing the facts of this incident. JD would not believe this rapist was a Taxi Driver until he had concrete evidence that proved beyond all reasonable doubt that he was? As it is, JD's instincts were well founded and perhaps the Taxi trade owes him a debt of gratitude for exposing the facts.
We all campaigned for the removal of section 75.1.B of the 1976 Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions act but if any case highlighted the need for its removal then surely this is that case?
I'm going to leave the press release as the police issued it and let you form your own opinions.
Murtaza Mateen born on 10th January 1960 of Lime Crescent, Old Trafford was found guilty of rape on Thursday 11 January 2007, following a four-day trial at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court.
On Sunday 11 June 2006, the woman was walking home along Manchester Road in Partington at about 3.30am after a night out when she saw a taxi drive past her and stop a short distance away.
When she reached the taxi, Mateen asked her if she wanted a lift. The woman felt safe she was getting into a genuine taxi and accepted the offer. Mateen drove her a short distance before locking all the car doors. He then leant over and raped her.
The woman moved her hand towards the door handle, but Mateen noticed and the victim feared he would hurt her if she tried to escape. The woman managed to get out of the vehicle and returned home where she called police.
As part of the investigation into the rape, police obtained CCTV footage from the area and traced the taxi and Mateen as the driver. DNA evidence also linked Mateen to the rape. Mateen was arrested on suspicion of rape on Thursday 14 June 2006 and was subsequently charged following interview.
Detective Constable Alison Barber from Trafford CID and who investigated the case, said: "Mateen has denied this offence from the beginning and would not even assist in police interviews despite having photographic and DNA evidence that linked him to the crime.
"Mateen used his job as a taxi driver to persuade the woman into his car before raping her.
"This has had a devastating effect on the woman's life and I can only hope that the guilty verdict will bring some sort of comfort to her that the offender has been convicted and will remain behind bars."
Mohammad Parvaiz. 4 "Jailed" 2 Get Detention!
Report Date March 2 2007
Four teenagers have been jailed for the racially aggravated murder of an Asian taxi driver in West Yorkshire.
The two TUC TUC's will operate for six months of the year from April through to September and mainly in the Swanage area. They will be equipped with Taximeters and ply for hire at Taxi ranks under normal conditions of Taxi licensing.
Father-of-three Mohammad Parvaiz, 41, was beaten to death by a gang near Huddersfield in July last year. Christopher Murphy and Michael Hand, both aged 19, were given minimum jail terms of 25 and 21 years by Judge Dame Heather Steel at Leeds Crown Court. Graeme Slavin, 18, and Steven Utley, 17, were sentenced to 17 years behind bars for their part in the attack. Michael Beeby, 16, and Jason Harris, 17, were cleared of murder last month but convicted of violent disorder. Beeby of Sigott Street, Longwood, received a 10-month detention and training order. Harris of Royles Head Lane, Longwood, Huddersfield, received an eight-month detention and training order.
Judge Steel said it was a joint attack in which they all took part, but Hand and Murphy were the ringleaders - whereas Utley and Slavin played a lesser part.
She said: "Mr Parvaiz sustained a serious head wound, from which he was bleeding profusely when he was attacked from the driver's side and dragged out to be kicked and beaten to death. Mohammad Parvaiz died in hospital from his injuries "Violence on this scale is savage beyond belief.
"It is not difficult to imagine the terror that Parvaiz must have experienced as he lay dying on the road," She added that it was not just the lives of Parvaiz's family that had been "completely devastated" but also their own and their families'.
Dame Steel said the court had heard "lies", "half truths" and "some of the truth" from Murphy, Utley and Slavin when they took the stand during the trial. "Some parts of the evidence will never be explained," she said.
After the sentencing, Det Supt Tim Forber, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "I don't think I've ever come across anything so utterly mindless. "This just wasn't an ordinary event. It wasn't typical of the ordinary type of issues that taxi driver's face. This was a premeditated plan; it was a savage attack.
"As far as Mr Parvaiz's family are concerned, the length of the sentences, it's not going to bring him back. The pain still goes on and it always will." Wife of Parvaiz, Naheed Kausar, 33, attended almost every day of the trial. Speaking outside court, her brother Mohammed Ramzan said: "We are very happy with the result. Justice has been served.
"People have been sentenced according to the evidence. We believe the truth has come out."
Police catch robbers who beat up Oxford private hire driver.
Report date: January 2007
Two men have been arrested in connection with the robbery of a private hire driver at Oxford's Blackbird Leys estate.
Mr Al-Kotob a 37-year-old private hire driver was beaten and robbed after picking up two people in the city centre and driving them to Falcon Close on 14th January at 3-25am. Mr Al-Kotob tried to escape, but his attackers caught up and beat him unconscious. About £80 of cash was taken along with a car stereo. The men, aged 19 and 20, are being held in police custody. His nose was broken and needed 12 stitches to his face. He was unable to move his hands, and had bruises and injuries all over his body.
He was beaten up by two people he picked up in the city. They also stole a computer and £80 cash.
Mr Al-Kotob drove the men from St Aldate's in Oxford to Falcon Close, Blackbird Leys, where he was attacked. He tried to flee but they caught up with him and beat him unconscious.
He said: "I ended up thinking I was going to be killed. When I fell down, I bent my hand so hard I can't move it and I can't move my shoulder. During my whole life, I have never made any trouble or had trouble before."
Jahid Jan, 34, another private hire driver, said: "I'm scared. I drive a car with a secure shield in it. If I didn't have one, after seeing Mr Al-Kotob's face, I would get one fitted."
The attack is not being treated as racially aggravated.
Oxford police crime reduction adviser, Nick Gilbert, who used to be a taxi driver, said: "Cab drivers can get CCTV fitted in their cars, but the cost would be huge.
"Private hire drivers are safer when they are picking up passengers who have booked them. "Drivers have to use their best judgement. If you see a passenger and are worried, it's your personal choice whether to take them or not. This was a particularly brutal attack and this man has my personal sympathy."
NCC Say End Postcode Lottery.
Report Date March 2 2007
In a press release issued on 23 Feb the 'National Consumer Council' has called for an end to quantity controls on Hackney carriage numbers. The NCC is pre-empting a review by the DfT later this year into taxi provision. There are just 96 authorities that retain control of numbers in England Wales. All other authorities have either removed quantity controls or have given a firm commitment to remove them.
Almost a third of local councils in England are ignoring government advice by restricting the number of licensed taxis in their area – with damaging effects on their local communities, says the National Consumer Council (NCC).
This week NCC has written to council chiefs at the 96 councils, urging them to abolish these unnecessary and anti-competitive restrictions. They mean fewer licensed taxis on the streets and longer taxi queues – tempting people to risk unlicensed cabs.
NCC’s letter says that restrictions on taxi numbers not only disadvantage consumers, they unfairly prevent newcomers entering the taxi trade.
NCC is acting now ahead of a promised government review later this year.
Steve Brooker, NCC Senior Policy Advocate explains:
For many people, taxis are an essential service - especially if you are older or don’t have access to a car. A taxi may be the only way you can get to see the doctor or go shopping, for instance. Yet quantity controls can mean finding a licensed taxi when you most need one is a postcode lottery.
Our latest research shows that 2.4 million people used an unlicensed cab last year – with 16 to 24-year-olds most likely to do so. Many councils have already abolished restrictions on taxi numbers - we urge the remainder to put their local residents first and do the same without delay.
Newcastle in a quandary over cross border hiring.
The last time I spoke to Andy Gladen he was still unaware of the impact his case against Brentwood borough council is having on the rest of the Hackney Carriage trade.
In February we saw another argument unfold when Stephen Savage of Newcastle Environmental Health accused several local private hire operators of operating hackney carriage vehicles from other licensing authorities, as private hire vehicles. The charge is that hackney carriage drivers from other authorities need a Newcastle private hire driver license to conform to current private hire legislation and if no such license is in force then an offence is being committed. Mr Savage suggests that although the hackney carriage vehicle itself is not breaking the law, the driver by virtue of not having a Newcastle Private hire badge, is?
Personally I was always of the opinion that private hire legislation did not apply to hackney carriage drivers except where specified?
Newcastle licensing department suggested to me that standards in neighbouring authorities might not be as high as those in Newcastle? Perhaps the message being conveyed was more akin to the fact that the cost of a license in neighbouring authorities is relatively cheaper than one obtained in Newcastle?
Authorities such as Berwick Upon Tweed, and Eden were mentioned to name just two but after speaking with David Wilson of Berwick I'm not convinced that Newcastle's claim is necessarily correct?
David Wilson runs a tight ship in Berwick and has an impressive understanding of the laws relating to Taxi licensing. He reminded me that Taxi licensing revenue is not meant as a profit making exercise and that his authority works on the principle that revenue should be equal to the cost of the service provided.
Newcastle licensing department certainly believe they have a problem but I think the problem could be more to do with the fact they are losing licensing revenue to other authorities, rather than an inferior service being provided by Taxi drivers licensed outside of Newcastle.
Newcastle licensing department informed me they had taken legal advice on the issue and were told Newcastle "private hire" operators are breaking the law by using the services of drivers licensed outside the local authority.
I don't subscribe to that point of view but I did put it to them that if that is the case then the remedy lies is in their own hands?
When Taxi Driver online made casual enquiries with Newcastle private hire operators we kept getting the same message over and over again, that "private hire drivers previously licensed in Newcastle are taking advantage of the open licensing policy afforded to them by other local authorities in respect of hackney carriage licensing".
Newcastle operate a closed hackney carriage regime were license plates are restricted to a set number of vehicles. In order to obtain one of these licenses a person has to pay an exorbitant sum of money to an existing owner, which amounts to many thousands of pounds.
Newcastle has two types of licensed vehicles in respect of license plate values, the most expensive plates at approximately £45,000 are those attached to vehicles that were licensed prior to Newcastle removing hackney carriage quantity controls. At the same time Newcastle introduced a policy of only licensing wheelchair accessible vehicles and in turn when restrictions were re-introduced this created a second tier license plate value. A wheelchair accessible vehicle license is limited in respect that it can only be used on a wheelchair accessible vehicle. These types of licenses carry a scarcity value of some ten to fifteen thousand pounds cheaper than the more flexible saloon type license. Naturally that gap will narrow when the Government finally decides on their wheelchair accessible policy?
It is easy to see why existing and prospective private hire and hackney carriage drivers in Newcastle are turning to other authorities who offer an open access licensing policy and a better all round service that meets their needs. I don't believe it is the job of Newcastle licensing department to tell the public of Newcastle which taxi service they should use. Every Taxi service will no doubt rise or fall on the application of its own competence, no matter where the drivers are licensed? To suggest that vehicles from other authorities are not accountable is ludicrous, just because they might not be accountable to Newcastle does not mean they are not accountable to the authority in which they are licensed?
I believe David Wilson hit the Nail on the head when he wrote to all hackney carriage drivers and proprietors licensed by Berwick Upon Tweed council in December 2006 explaining the Councils position in respect of their understanding of the law. He wrote:
Licensing of Hackney Carriages and Hackney Carriage Drivers
Dear Hackney Carriage Drivers and Proprietors,
I have been asked by a member of the local taxi trade to set out, for their benefit and for the benefit of all others licensees resident in the Borough, the Council’s position with regard to the licensing of hackney carriage proprietors and drivers from outside the Borough.
The Council is of the opinion that not only is it lawful for it to grant hackney carriage driver’s and proprietor’s licences to people living and / or using those vehicles outside the Borough to undertake pre-booked hirings, but that it would be unlawful for it to refuse to grant such licences unless the applicant for a driver’s licence was not a fit and proper person or the vehicle was not fit for public service as a hackney carriage.
In arriving at this conclusion, the Council has considered legislation and case law; consulted with licensing officers and lawyers of other councils; consulted the Department for Transport; sought the opinion of a specialist licensing solicitor; considered the opinions of members of the local taxi trade; and considered the opinions of local, regional and national trade associations.
The legislation relating to the licensing of hackney carriages and hackney carriage drivers is contained in the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, which has been amended and supplemented by other pieces of legislation over almost 160 years, but most significantly supplemented by the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.
The 1847 Act created the current scheme for the licensing of vehicles (and their drivers) that stood or plied for hire in any street in the district, which vehicles it called hackney carriages.
The 1847 Act does not restrict or prohibit the operation of hackney carriages or any other type of vehicles undertaking journeys in respect of which the vehicle and driver have been hired in any other way (i.e. not hired as a result of standing or plying for hire in any street in the district).
The 1976 Act introduced a scheme for the licensing of vehicles (and their drivers and operators) that were pre-hired, which it refers to as private hire. Section 46(1)(a) expressly exempted hackney carriages from the requirement to be licensed to undertake private hire; and section 67 expressly provides the rate of fares that hackney carriages may charge under a contract of private hire.
The 1976 Act was ambiguous as to whether a private hire operator’s licence was required before a hackney carriage could lawfully undertake private hire, but that issue was finally resolved in October 2004 when, in the case of Brentwood District Council v Gladen, the High Court ruled that a private hire operator’s licence is not required for pre booked hackney carriages.
Accordingly, it is clear that a hackney carriage can be booked for a journey that does not commence, end or pass through the district in which the vehicle and driver are licensed. Such a booking can be arranged by a person who does not require any form of licence.
David B Wilson
Senior Licensing Officer
The alternative view is put by Newcastle head of public health and environmental protection Stephen Savage who argues that "the Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions act 1976 allows cars with a hackney licence to be used for private hire but the drivers themselves must have a private hire licence from the council within which they intend to work. While it may be permissible under the 1976 Act for a hackney carriage vehicle to operate as a private hire vehicle, nevertheless this council is concerned that the drivers of such vehicles do not hold a separate private hire driver's licence issued by Newcastle City Council under section 51 of the 1976 Act."
"The drivers therefore are committing an offence under the legislation."
Newcastle estimate twenty drivers from other authorities are working for seven different firms in Newcastle. A hackney carriage licence in Berwick costs £125 a private hire licence in Newcastle costs £255.
Both acts that Govern the combined Taxi trades are basically obsolete, especially the 1847 act which was designed for none other than the horse and cart. The chickens of that particular piece of legislation are well and truly coming home to roost with a vengeance in 2007. There is no doubt that apathy reigns supreme in the Taxi trade and it is noticeable that cohesion and leadership has never been a commodity that has endeared itself the Taxi trade outside of London. Government and local licensing authorities have taken a snail like approach in demanding taxi legislation be brought into the 21st century and likewise Taxi organisations such as the National Taxi Association have been quite happy to let things amble along at a pedestrian pace as long as their members can enjoy the benefits of quantity controls.
The remedy for Newcastle lies in their own hands, they can either instigate legal proceedings against those who it thinks are breaking the law, it can seek legislative change in respect of a new taxi act, or it can remove quantity controls. The decision is there's. JD
Dead Naked Cabbie 'died of natural causes'
Taxi driver Kenneth Poune aged 61, was found naked and dead in the car park of the Garston branch of McDonald's, on St Albans Road in Watford. His naked body was found stretched over the front seats of his gold Coloured Rover taxicab, on Sunday, October 15, 2006.
Mr Poune a diabetic had gone to pick up a booked fare at Heathrow Airport some days earlier but stopped at McDonald's when he started to feel ill. Assistant coroner for Hertfordshire Frances Cranfield reported that Mr Poune died from natural causes brought on by diabetic ketoacidosis, a fatal condition caused by an extreme lack of insulin in the body. She read part of a statement from Mr Poune's ex-wife and business partner, Tessa Poune, explaining that she travelled to Watford after being called by Mr Poune. It said: "I met him at McDonald's, It looked as if he had been sick." After getting the details of the job from Mr Poune, she left him at around 10.40am, to go to Heathrow and pick up the passengers.
The inquest heard Ms Poune spoke to her ex-husband by mobile phone for the last time at 3.40pm. He told her he was still feeling unwell and would stay where he was until he felt better. She tried to call him again a number of times, but there was no answer. The statement said: "On the Saturday, I was in a state of panic." She called the police but, unfortunately, did not identify the correct McDonald's outlet to them. Jennifer Challenger, who took the call to Hertfordshire Constabulary, told the inquest she contacted a branch in Elton Way after speaking to Ms Poune, and got the manager to check the car park and premises. Unsurprisingly, no sign of Mr Poune was found. The following day, Mr Poune's body was found in his car in the car park of the St Albans Road branch. His soiled clothes were in the back of the car.
Mr Poune had previously suffered persistent health problems due to his diabetes, including the amputation of part of his left leg. Ms Cranfield recorded a verdict of death by natural causes, noting Mr Poune had a history of controlling his diabetes poorly.
Although it is not known how he came to be naked, people with diabetic ketoacidosis can experience a state of acute confusion. Hertfordshire Constabulary's Vanessa Lye said: "In her summing up, the coroner stated Ms Challenger and Ms Poune had done their very best to identify the location of this incident. It is unfortunate that despite our best efforts it was unsuccessful."
Hey Big Spender
ALIGHTING from a taxi after a 20 pounds fare from Wigmore Street in the West End to her Hampstead home, Geri Halliwell gave the cabby a 20p tip. It prompted the driver to remark that the last time she was a passenger in his cab she also left a 20p tip. The singer replied, "that she always tipped taxi drivers 20p."
'Airport Carz' lose Bristol Contract!
Report date March 2 2007
I suspect this story might put a smile on the face of a few cab drivers working Manchester Airport, when I inform them that Airport Carz, which run buses taxis and practically anything else on four wheels, has lost the exclusive contract to ply for trade at Bristol International Airport.
The multi million pound contract was put out to tender in December 2006 but Airportcarz who held the contract since 1998 were outbid by Checker Cars. The newly won contract will run for three years, starting in April 2007 and ending in 2010. Checker also has a similar contract with Gatwick Airport which has been established for quite some time but a short excursion into Manchester Airport in 2002 proved a financial disaster. This followed a court battle in Manchester where the local council refused to give checker cars a license.
History shows that Checker cars won the court room battle to set-up at Manchester Airport but nine months into their contract they pulled the plug with reported losses of 100 grand.
Manchester city councils refusal to give Checker cars a licence was mainly based on an unfavourable dossier on the company and its owners. This dossier was compiled by a private investigator working on behalf of the Manchester Airport Taxi trade but in the local Magistrates court the Stipendiary Magistrate allowed the appeal even though the business dealings of Checker's boss David Cullen-Crouch "left a lot to be desired." It was reported that the dossier contained evidence that Mr Cullen-Crouch had been banned from being a company director for eight years.
Martin Walsh, for the city council, claimed Mr Cullen-Crouch made his decisions based on "commercial expediency rather than propriety and company law.'' The court was also told Mr Cullen-Crouch, who was then 43, had been disqualified as a company director for eight years, following an investigation by the Department of Trade and Industry. However, the court was told that he did have special permission to run Checker cars, which also operates at Gatwick Airport.
Stipendiary Magistrate Peter Ward stated Mr Cullen-Crouch's disqualification had been significant and some of his business dealings had not been satisfactory, particularly in keeping proper records. "That kind of thing leaves a lot to be desired, but this did not mean Checker Cars was not fit and proper to be given a licence, particularly bearing in mind the operation's success at Gatwick Airport". The court granted the license until the end of 2002. Checker cars strategy was to compete with the black cab fraternity at Manchester Airport and he expected Manchester Airport to supply his vehicles with a cab rank near to Airport terminals, similar to that granted to Manchester licensed Taxi drivers. In other words he wanted to put his vehicles on display to the general public.
The venture lasted nine months and left a bitter taste in the mouth of David Cullen-Crouch. It is understood he contemplated taking legal action against Airport bosses, who he claimed did not implement a deal to provide his 10 Ford Galaxies with a rank outside the terminal to compete with the black cabs. He said Many passengers simply walked past and could not see the Checker booking desk inside the terminal. The Galaxies were parked up instead in the surrounding car parks and when they were called for a booking they were forced to wait on double-yellow lines outside the terminal and were repeatedly moved on by police and traffic wardens. Mr Cullen-Crouch, said "The whole thing was a "farce". We were promised and shown some of the options of where we could park. We feel let down.
Airport Carz who are based in Stansted, Essex won the Bristol contract in 2000 and were successful bidders again in 2003. Practically all of the drivers involved with Airport Carz were self employed and one assumes that most if not all will just transfer their vehicles over to checker cars.
In 2004, Bristol International Airport had around 4.5 million passengers pass through its doors, a figure expected to rise to six million this year, and to nine million by 2015.
Aberdeen council tells disabled to choose between 'Taxi or Badge' but you can't have both!
Anne Begg, the MP for Aberdeen South has used her position as President of the Blue Badge Network to call on Aberdeenshire council to allow disabled people access to Blue Badges as well as Taxi Cards.
The MP has asked politicians in Aberdeenshire to lobby the council in a bid to change a policy she believes is discriminatory. Aberdeenshire Council change of policy is to make disabled people choose between having a local taxi card or a blue badge. A recent review in a bid to save money has resulted in the council deciding that those who own a car, those who drive or have ready access and hold a blue badge should choose between continuing to own their blue badge and having a taxi card.
The MP’s call comes after she was approached by Aberdeenshire residents affected by the change and through her role as Blue Badge network. The Blue Badge Network are concerned that a local Aberdeenshire Council seem to be unilaterally changing the qualification criteria for a Blue Badge.
In her letter to Alan Campbell Miss Begg wrote that her understanding was that you can set your own criteria for qualification for a Taxi Card but not the criteria for a Blue Badge which is a national scheme.
"Forcing people to choose a taxi card, rather than hold both, is especially hard on those, like multiple sclerosis sufferers whose condition fluctuates so they are sometimes well enough to drive on some days but so bad on others they have to use taxis. Miss Begg hopes that the politicians in the shire will join her in lobbying for Aberdeenshire Council to change its policy. Battle is et to be joined at the March meeting of the council committee.
Liverpool plan to pluck more 'Cherry Pickers'
Report date: March 2 2007
Liverpool Licensing officials are planning another sting on so called 'Cherry Picking Cabbies'.
Licensing officers say Cherry Pickers overcharge, but how would they know if they've never driven in a cherry pickers cab? The last sting Liverpool undertook involved CCTV cameras, which we are told caught out eight cab drivers who supposedly knocked back punters in a specific area of Liverpool. Fortunately for the licensing department the drivers took it on the chin and held their hands up to being selective but what laws did they break?
The first law that springs to mind is section 55 of the Town Police Clauses act 1847 which states.
53 Penalty on driver for refusing to drive. A driver of a hackney carriage standing at any of the stands for hackney carriages appointed by the commissioners, or in any street, who refuses or neglects, without reasonable excuse, to drive such carriage to any place within the prescribed distance, or the distance to be appointed by any byelaw of the commissioners, not exceeding the prescribed distance, to which he is directed to drive by the person hiring or wishing to hire such carriage, shall for every such offence be liable to a penalty not exceeding [level 2 on the standard scale].
The second is by way of the model byelaws adopted by most Authorities that require a hackney carriage driver to proceed to the nearest Taxi rank if they are plying for hire within the licensed district.
I am of the opinion that this particular bylaw which was designed to regulate congestion created by horse drawn carriages would be deemed unlawful in this day and age. Therefore if anyone is ever prosecuted for that particular bylaw offence then please let us know because I will give you my full support in trying to remove it. I can already hear the cries of thousands of disenchanted cabbies throughout the country who every night rank up outside rank-less night clubs, being told that they have to go to the nearest cab rank because that’s how it was in the days of the horse and cart?
Taxi Today doesn't mind leading from the front and this is one bylaw that must go. The byelaw is nothing more than hindrance to the Taxi trade and has no place in the 21st Century. Cabbies will always go where the work is and shun every Taxi rank that is non-productive. If a council places a Taxi rank where no one is ever likely to use it then you can't expect Taxi drivers to sit on it just because licensing officers and councillors say they have to?
We all know that councillors aren't the sharpest knives in the draw and trying to get a suitable cab rank out of them in most cases, is akin to banging your head against a brick wall.
In respect of Cherry Pickers as far as I'm concerned if they want to sit around waiting for a good job then more fool them because the percentage call of a good job coming their way is remote. This magazine is more concerned with those drivers who over charge punters under any circumstance? There is no evidence to suggest that a so called cherry picker is more likely to overcharge a customer than a driver who picks up off a Taxi rank. The law is quite clear and specific on overcharging and if you don't know what it is then you can take a trip over to Taxi Driver Online and read it for yourself . Perhaps the remedy for Cherry Pickers is in Liverpool's own hands, Liverpool say the reason they have Cherry pickers is down to the fact that punters cant find a taxi late at night. If that be the case then all Liverpool have to do is remove their restriction on the number of hackney carriages they license but perhaps that’s too simple for them?
'Pop up Potty' makes its debut on Stroud cab rank!
Report Date March 2 2007
The first all singing all dancing pop-up potty' was scheduled to make its debut close to a Stroud taxi rank in February.
The £45,000 urinal was due to be installed in King Street, Stroud Gloucestershire and is set to serve pissed up punters, cabbies and those gentiles who are not so prim and proper that they don’t mind peeing in a portable potty? The Potty rises in the evening and goes down in the day and has a facility of three stainless steel urinals. It rises by a remote control mechanism in the evening to service male nightclubbers congregating at the nearby Taxi rank.
Coun Nigel Cooper, Stroud District Council's cabinet member for environment, said men urinating in shop doorways was a nuisance through the country. "While it is an offence to urinate in public, it still happens," he said. "It is quite disgusting and very upsetting for businesses in the town who have to clean up the mess every weekend." Coun Cooper said previously the council had been unable to do anything to solve the problem. But he hoped now the "Urilift" would combat the nuisance.
Shopkeeper Karen Sands, whose clothing store is close to the Urilift site, said she was worried about it at first. "Initially I was a little concerned about it being right outside our shop display, but that really won't be an issue as it is underground during the day," said Ms Sands, manager of M and Co "We regularly have people urinating in our doorway and even through our letterbox, so this will be a welcome feature in addressing the problem." Ms Sands added: "Traders in Stroud have had to suffer for much too long. I look forward to not having to deal with the mess in the future."
The Portable Potty has its own water supply and waste pipe for hygienic purposes, with regular, automatic flushing. It is made by Calne based Heathmatic, whose spokesman Roger Berry said: "The Stroud installation is probably the nearest to our factory, which makes it likely to become our flagship demonstration site." Like many councils, Stroud has no 24 hours toilets in the town centre because of the vandal element but if the Urilift potty proves successful the council might consider installing the female version called, the Urigienic Potty.
If you are one of those Cabbies who work this particular Taxi rank and have experience the delights of the Portable Potty then Taxi Today would like to hear from you.
'Drug Running' Private hire driver caught with 'extra large' bag of Heroin!
Report date: March 2007
Theo Usherwood of The Nottingham Evening Post reported that taxi drivers are being warned they could be unwitting drugs couriers after a cabbie was jailed for smuggling £200,000 of heroin. Theo reported that that Nottingham Cars driver Jazbir Singh, 30, of Japonica Drive, Cinderhill, was jailed for six and a half years after being caught with 2kg of the drug. .
Rezwan Salid, 25, of Lismore Road, Radford, said he was ordered by drugs bosses to travel to Liverpool in Singh's taxi to collect it. But they were caught when police stopped the taxi between junctions 24 and 25 of the M1 on July 13 2006. Boots worker Salid, who was jailed for five and a half years, jumped out of the Toyota Avensis and threw the holdall laden with heroin over the motorway barrier.
When it was found soon afterwards, he burst into tears, claiming he only agreed to the job so he could pay-off £4,000 of debt to gangsters who he said put a gun in his mouth.
Although Singh never denied knowing about the drugs, Chief Inspector Colin Martin has warned cabbies to stay vigilant. He said: "If drivers are asked to carry a package from Nottingham to Liverpool or vice-versa they need to make some inquiries about what is in it. "If they have any concerns they have got to consider their own position. "If they are caught with a controlled substance they are most likely to go to prison. "Drivers need to ask more than just the cursory questions to find out what is in the package." He added: "It's almost linked to the story about dealers trying to encourage children to run drugs. "Dealers will try and distance themselves from the dirty work and they will pray on vulnerable people, whether they be a child, user or taxi driver."
After the case, prosecuting barrister Sarah Knight said: "From the drugs officers statements it seems clear that taxis are being used for distribution of drugs and that was so in this case." Salid and Singh, both dressed in shirt and tie stood emotionless as the sentences were read out at Nottingham Crown Court. But there were tears in the public gallery as Judge Michael Stokes passed his sentence. He said: "I am not interested in why you did it. "Had you not been caught I am in no doubt that it would have gone into circulation in this county and city and damaged numerous individuals."
The court heard the heroin had a purity rate of 42%. Officers also found £2,900 at Singh's home and £430 at Salid's property. Representing Singh, who admitted possession of a Class A drug with intent to supply, Robert Egbuna told the court: "He (Singh) has no previous convictions. His wife and brothers and members of his community are in court. "There's a real element of shame. A custodial sentence is going to be very hard for him to bear."
Michael Evans, representing Salid, who admitted the same offence, said: "When he was arrested he started crying. He told officers 'You don't understand, I am the victim.' He was crying that he was told he must go up to Liverpool and that he had a gun placed in his mouth. "At the time he was too scared to tell the police, although he should have done this beforehand."
'Reprimanded' for Aberdeen Cabby!
Report Date March 2007
A Grampian Police Taxi inspector has reprimanded an Aberdeen Cabbie who took a severely disabled gentleman Murray McLeod aged 63 and his elderly companion, Sheila Woolner on a ride to nowhere and back again. The Taxi driver who is alleged to work for Rainbow City Taxis picked up the pre booked fare from a local nursing home and was to take them to a pantomime show in the Village of Midmar some 15 miles west of the city. It transpires that the elderly gentleman and his companion were living their own real life pantomime when the Taxi driver uttered those immortal words "I am lost". Despite having clear typewritten instructions on how to reach the village hall, the driver apparently gave up and said he would have to turn round. It would appear the Aberdeen countryside proved too much of a knowledge test for this particular cabbie but his bemused passenger were far from pleased.
Players from the Imperial Rugby Club visited the spot where Mr Winstone was killed two years ago. They laid flowers and lit a candle in his memory.
Mr McLeod and his companion tried to negotiate the return fare of twenty pounds down to a more realistic figure of ten pounds, however the confused cabbie was having none of it and tried to throw them out at an isolated bus stop which is used but once a day. There is perhaps an irony to this tale because although the elderly couple were treated somewhat shabbily by the offending cabbie he did send the couple two tickets to see Cinderella at HM Theatre in Aberdeen as a gesture of goodwill. However I don't think he was booked to take them there?
Mounting debt forces 'Unemployed Cabby' to Jump off bridge.
Report Date March 2007
Andrew Pain of the Newcastle Evening Gazette tells of an unemployed cabbie who jumped of a bridge over the river Tees and drowned because of debts amounting to £50,000.
Because of his mounting debt Taxi driver Riku Shah, 29, of Westerdale Avenue, Stockton, had threatened to throw himself off a bridge on many occasions, Teesside Coroner's Court was told.
His wife Debbie described him as a "lovely, caring person." But on November 14 last year he had been watching television and DVDs at home with Debbie and their friend Matthew Eeles smoking cannabis. Later in the evening Mr Shah argued with his wife on two occasions before deciding to go for a walk. It was during this time that he sent a text message on his mobile phone to his Debbie While away he sent text messages to Debbie, which said, "he loved her and was sorry for everything he had done."
The court was told that Riku and Debbie met over the Internet in 2002. He moved from the London area to Stockton to be with her and her three children. They married in August 2003. The inquest heard Mr Shah did not tell his wife about his debts until after they had wed.
He was pulled out of the river by a Fire Brigade crew in the early hours of November 15 and taken to the University Hospital of North Tees where he was pronounced dead. The inquest was told Mr Shah could not swim. Stephen Steen, whose home overlooks the river, called emergency services after he heard shouting then saw someone in the water.
He said the person looked to be hanging onto supports on the underside of the bridge. Two men seen looking over the bridge at the time have never been traced. Detective Sergeant John Tapper, of Stockton CID, said Mr Shah's death was not being treated as suspicious.
Pathologist Dr Mustansir Nurbhai gave the cause of death as drowning. Teesside Coroner Michael Sheffield recorded an open verdict. He said: "How he got into the water is not known with any certainty. Mr Steen says he did seem to be hanging onto the bridge's supports." He added: "It is extremely unlikely anyone else was involved in this incident."
Plymouth license fees set for huge rise.
Rob Preece Plymouth Evening Herald reported that Taxi drivers in Plymouth could see their costs increase by as much as £2 a week when a hike in licence fees comes into effect, according to the city council .
Licensing boss Robin Carton told a council scrutiny panel in January that fees for hackney carriages and private hire vehicles would have to rise 'significantly' to plug a projected cash gap of more than £470,000 in the city's taxi account.
But he insisted that a new fee structure, now out for consultation, which proposes raising vehicle licence charges by almost 800 per cent, was a 'vision' yet to be finalised. Mr Carton, assistant head of Plymouth City Council's environmental regulation service, said fees would be monitored, and adjusted if necessary, every year.
He explained: "Some of the licence fees will go up significantly, but that probably represents about £2 or £3 a week for the driver. "We would obviously discuss with the trade the level of fees that they can charge," he said. "The consultation is designed to tease out those issues."
Councillors studied new figures showing that the city's hackney carriage and private hire reserve account is set to be in deficit by about £356,000 by April this year. Hefty legal expenses are the chief reason for the deficit, as the council has fought a number of court cases involving the taxi trade. Vehicle and drivers' licence fees have been kept at the current rate for six years because the account had previously accumulated a large surplus.
Mr Carton said: "In the last two or three years, on the hackney carriage side any credit that was there has been wiped out by the lack of increase in fees. On the private hire side, the credit was wiped out in the last two years because of extraordinary legal costs that were allocated to that account."
Mr Carton said the private hire figures would still be in credit had it not been for the council's legal expenses.
In 2005, the Herald revealed how the council had made a secret £120,000 payment to private hire firm Silverline following the authority's failed legal bid to shut it down. And the council was ordered to cough up hefty legal costs last February after Taxifast boss John Preece challenged the city's limit on black cabs in court.
Mr Preece made another appeal, again relating to a hackney carriage plate, in June last year.
Councillor Dafydd Williams, Labour Cabinet member for transport and environmental quality, said: "We have a deficit in the budget and we have to recover it from somewhere. "At the moment, council tax payers are subsidising the account. It's an extraordinary position because of the legal costs that have been racked up.
"Hopefully we won't have to be in the position where we have to take people to court and we can avoid racking up more costs, but I'm not 100 per cent optimistic of that," he added.
However, Councillor Steve Ricketts, Tory member for Drake Ward, said the council would be wrong to recoup the entire deficit through licence fees. He told Cllr Williams: "People pay council tax for public transport, and taxis are included in that. "You want to put extra burden on taxi drivers, which is going to encourage more people to get into their vehicles. "What message does that send out to the people of Plymouth?"
Oldham Council suspend three Licensed drivers.
Report date: Feb 2007
Oldham Councillors have suspended one hackney carriage driver and two private hire drivers as a punishment for causing an affray in Oldham Town centre. The 28 day suspensions were given follow their convictions for public order offences after an incident on Yorkshire Street, Oldham in March 2006..
Councillors issued the suspension as a punishment.
The suspended drivers are:
Asif Hussain 36 of Savoy Street, Oldham (Hackney Carriage Driver)
Waheed Khan 28 of Kersley Street, Oldham
Mohammed Ijaz Saleem 29 of Osbourne Road, Oldham
On behalf of Taxi Today magazine I spoke to Councillor Brownridge, Chairman of Oldham licensing committee. I asked him why his committee had suspended these three drivers considering they had already been punished by the courts? He said "the suspensions were issued because they were involved in fracas in Oldham." I then asked Councillor Brownridge if the 28-day suspensions was to protect the public or was it administered as a punishment? Councillor Brownridge got a little rattled at the pointed question and started to ramble on about the fact he is not only a councillor but also a lawyer. I told him I wasn't impressed and that he had a duty to inform the public why his committee took the actions they did and their objectives for making such a decision? So I asked him again did his committee suspend these drivers for 28 days to protect the public or did they suspend these drivers as a punishment?
His reply was? "BOTH".
There you have it, so if you happen to be one of these three gentlemen who are suspended then you know that after twenty eight days you will be deemed fit and proper and that you were also suspended as an additional punishment, to that administered by the court. JD
Hambleton has a change of heart on Taxi Tests!
Report Date Feb 2007
Councillors vote for watered-down version of taxi driver tests.
The Northern Echo informed us that on the 9th February Hambleton District Council's licensing committee agreed to introduce knowledge and taxi tests for new drivers only. The tests will be introduced from September 1 for new drivers and existing drivers who fall foul of any valid complaints made against their driving ability
Martyn Richards, the authority's legal services head, told the meeting that he believes both tests would improve safety and efficiency for passengers. But councillors said it would not be right to make existing drivers prove their abilities.
Coun John Coulson, who opposed both tests, said: "We are in such a position that this authority has stopped funding its tourist information centres. "We are cutting money out here and money out there, and here we are trying to introduce another Big Brother."
The proposals will be voted on by the full council.
'Melton Race Case Drivers' Reach Compromise!
Report date: February 2007
The book has finally been closed on the racial abuse case we reported in the last two issue of Taxi Today. The Two Melton Drivers have reached a compromise with the council which sensibly avoids court action. Complaints of racial abuse and harassment were made against the two drivers but they strongly denied those charges and an investigation by the police found there were no grounds for prosecution. Brian Roland of the National Private hire association assisted the two drivers in reaching this compromise but there is a sting in the tail.
Melton Borough Council revoked their licences after it said it had investigated and substantiated the claims against them. The two drivers, Robert Croft, 45, a father-of-three, of Long Clawson, and 52-year-old father-of-five Lee Franklin, of Melton, appealed the decision and were scheduled to appear at Melton Magistrates' Court on February 6. The accusations included playing racist music and racially abusing an Asian man and woman.
The sting in the tail was announced by Council head of regulatory services, Jim Worley, who said: "I can confirm the issue of the revocation of the Hackney carriage/private hire drivers' licences has now been resolved. "The drivers have agreed to withdraw their appeal against the revocation of their licences in return for an alternative penalty that combines suspension, equalities training, a warning as to future conduct and a letter of apology.
Mr Worley added, "They are, along with all other drivers, expected to conform to a high standard of courtesy and behaviour and have been reminded of this."
Stockton reviewing current policies.
Report Date: March 2007
James Johnston of the Newcastle Evening Gazette reported that Stockton's Cab drivers are to be asked what they think of plans to introduce compulsory drug tests, dress codes and disability awareness training.
Officers at Stockton Council are reviewing policies following concerns from both customers and private hire and hackney carriage drivers. A report to the licensing committee states that "complaints have been received on occasions of drivers allegedly smoking or taking drugs while acting as private hire or hackney carriage drivers.
"In such cases the council has not been able to validate or dispute such an allegation other than to refer to their medical record." And at a meeting this week, committee members backed a proposal to carry out a full and open consultation with the local taxi trade and interested stakeholders.
It is expected that the initial consultation will take four weeks, although subsequent discussions could run into the autumn. Councillor Roy Rix told the meeting: "The report is extremely radical in some of its proposals and I've no doubt some people will welcome that. "But at this point in time they are only proposals and there does need to be some on-going discussion. If one brings these regulations in, there also needs to be time for the trade to adapt to them."
Cabbies also welcomed the move. Speaking after the meeting, Dave Walker, secretary of Stockton Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, said: "This consultation is long overdue and we do welcome a lot of what is in the report."
Glasgow TOA boss warns drivers using mobile phones!
Report date: March 2007
The GLASGOW Evening times is running a campaign to stop bad driving in the City of Glasgow. It has warned cabbies that they face a city-wide driving ban if they are caught blocking yellow box junctions or using mobile phones.
Adrian Higgins, chairman of Glasgow TOA is reported by the Times to have ordered a crackdown on taxi drivers using mobile phones and crowding yellow box junctions. The times says his call is being backed by Glasgow licensing department.
Apparently, the blitz on Cab drivers was triggered by a photograph in the Evening Times which showed a cabbie talking on his mobile phone while driving along a busy city centre street.
Adrian Higgins, chairman of Glasgow TOA, today said: "We will strip them of their driver's registration which means they can no longer drive for us." Such a move would still enable a cabbie to drive for a private hire firm, but licensing chiefs could enforce a Glasgow-wide ban.
Warnings of tough sanctions come as a direct result of the Evening Times "Get Glasgow Moving" campaign. The paper has highlighted the traffic chaos caused when vehicles block busy box junctions and we have shown the dangers posed to pedestrians and other road users by motorists who flout the law by using their mobiles while driving.
Mr Higgins added: "We're backing the Evening Times and are warning our drivers not to block box junctions or use their mobiles while driving. "We're taking this action as a direct result of one of our drivers being featured in the Evening Times. "Within 30 minutes of the paper hitting the streets the driver phoned me up to say it would never happen again and that he had bought himself a hands-free kit. "He decided to contact me because he knew he had done wrong and did not want me spending a lot of time trying to track him down. "He was very apologetic and assured me he had learned his lesson, but he was given a stern ticking off."
A spokeswoman for the city's licensing committee said any case highlighted by the police would be investigated. "The suspension of a driver's licence is an option if the circumstances warranted it, " she added.
Death driver's licence plea fails
Report Date: FEb 2007
A taxi driver who knocked down and killed travel agent Stephanie Hammill, who leapt out a car being driven by an abductor, has failed to get his licence back. Mohammed Ashiq was stripped of his licence last year after being found guilty of driving on without stopping to help the stricken 20-year-old. He was given an 18-month driving ban and ordered to carry out 200 hours' community service.
Stephanie was fleeing from a Mercedes car driven by Ioannis Revenikiotis, a Greek national, who last year was ordered to be detained under the Mental Health Act after he was found to have kidnapped her and caused her death. Stephanie was dragged 25 yards along Batley Road, Wakefield, underneath Mr Ashiq's Toyota Carina. Mr Ashiq, who is in his 50s and from Wakefield, applied for a Hackney carriage licence but this was rejected during a private hearing of Wakefield Council's regulatory and appeals committee. He has the right to appeal against this decision to magistrates within 21 days.
Black Country Cabbie stabbed by two Black men.
Report Date: Feb 2007
POLICE are appealing for information after a taxi driver was stabbed in Ashmore Park, Wolverhampton by two Black men.
The attack happened at about 4.30am in the morning after the driver had picked up two men in Broad Street, in the city centre and took them to Perks Road, in Ashmore Park. One of the men, who was sitting in the back seat, grabbed the taxi driver and the other man, sitting in the passenger seat, threatened the man with a knife and demanded his nights takings. They made off with a quantity of cash.
The taxi driver, a 47-year-old Wolverhampton man, sustained a "stab wound" to his chest and to his leg. He is currently in a very serious but stable condition in hospital.
The offenders are described as two black men in their 20s, one man was possibly wearing jeans, a black jacket and a white baseball cap. The other offender was wearing dark clothing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 0845 113 5000
Previous News From January
Taxi Grandad Cleared of Touching up Lesbian!
Report Date: January 2007
South Wales Echo reports that a jury took just 20 minutes to clear a 64-year-old grandfather of sexually assaulting a young mother on her own doorstep.
Slightly built Brian Bethley - married for 40 years - endured the trial at Cardiff Crown Court yesterday after the 23-year-old falsely accused him of touching her breast and making lewd remarks.
The lesbian woman said it happened when Mr Bethley, a well-known taxi driver in the Bridgend area for 25 years and who also sold tobacco, called to see how much Golden Virginia her girlfriend wanted to buy.
She claimed to have been petrified and left distraught when he stepped inside her front door and propositioned her.
The devastated Grandad said he had never gone in and his son, Andrew Bethley, told the jury he had seen his dad calling at the house and he was gone no longer than two minutes. The complaint was made later while Mr Bethley senior was out shopping for his own elderly mother.
Andrew Bethley said: 'I was shocked, he was shocked, my mother was crying. 'Then I had to tell him the police were coming to see him.'
Dorothy Hood, a friend and neighbour on the Tudor Estate in Caerau, Maesteg, where the Bethleys live, told the court: 'He and his wife are good friends and the best neighbours.'
Mrs Hood had heard first about the complaint being made and warned Mrs Bethley. She said: 'I felt terrible but I thought it was better coming from me, not from the police knocking on the door.
'Carol was in a terrible state and he was just devastated.'
Richmond Taxi Drivers ask for fare rise
Report Date: January 2007
TAXI drivers in Richmondshire have asked for permission to increase fares. Richmond Taxi Association wants to increase the minimum charge, known as the flag-fall rate, from (GBP) 2.10 to (GBP) 2.25 in the daytime. Under proposals submitted to Richmondshire District Council, the night time flag-fall for standard vehicles would rise from (GBP) 2.80 to (GBP) 3, and for vehicles carrying five or more passengers from (GBP) 3.50 to (GBP) 3.75.
The association also wants the waiting time rate to increase from (GBP) 12 to (GBP) 18 an hour and the charge for cleaning soiled vehicles to go up from (GBP) 40 to (GBP) 60. The group has not applied to change the rates for distance travelled. The council will discuss the rises on Tuesday. If councillors agree to the increases, the new fares must be published for 14 days to give members of the public the chance to object. Councillors will also look at a rulebook for taxis and private hire owners and drivers at next week's meeting.
Taxi sex attack victim to be interviewed
Report date: January 2007
Detectives were planning an in-depth interview today with a woman who was sexually assaulted by a man claiming to be a cab driver in Oxford.
The 25-year-old victim has said she was picked up by a black cab driver off Cowley Road and driven to garages near Pennywell Drive, Cutteslowe, late on Friday night or early on Saturday.
Detectives said they will not know whether or not she was raped until they interview her. Det Insp Simon Morton, of Oxford CID said the interview was due to take place today. The area was searched by police after the alleged attack.
Shortly before Christmas revellers were warned not to climb into bogus taxis and Oxford's Nightsafe initiative launched a campaign to raise awareness of what a licensed cab or private hire vehicle should look like.
Mr Morton said strict legislation meant there were few problems with licensed vehicles. He added: "This doesn't raise its head very often because taxi drivers are licensed and registered. "Private hire vehicles are controlled and have strict rules governing their use. "The drivers are legitimate and normally trustworthy. "The black cabs are also strictly controlled and provide an excellent public service. "As with any part of the community there are always the occasional incidents that give cause for concern."
No Go Areas for Leeds Cabbies
Report Date: January 2007
Alison Bellamy reporting in the Evening Post writes POLICE chiefs and politicians are to hold a crisis meeting over the violent attacks on cab drivers in east Leeds.
Following the spate of attacks on private hire drivers, which has seen seven people arrested, some areas of Leeds, including parts of Gipton, have become "no go areas" for drivers. Gangs of yobs have been striking in the Seacroft and Gipton areas – in some instances surrounding vehicles, assaulting drivers and threatening them with knives – before stealing equipment and cash.
Gipton and Harehills councillor Javaid Akhtar has called for an urgent meeting to deal with the growing problem of violence against cabbies. The meeting today will be attended by officials from West Yorkshire Police Authority and Leeds City Council.
Coun Akhtar said: "Following the attacks in both Gipton and Seacroft this weekend, the need for greater safety measures for both taxi drivers and the public is more pressing than ever. "It seems that taxis are being deliberately targeted in East Leeds for desirable items such as mobile phones and satellite navigation systems. This problem does not only affect the driver of the cab, but any passenger who may be in the taxi when an attack takes place.
"We do not want to see parts of Leeds becoming no-go areas for taxis and private hire vehicles, and that goes for any other part of the city. That's why improved safety measures need to be put in place as soon as possible." Mini cab drivers have been contacting the YEP in droves to tell of their experiences at the hands of yobs. Private hire firm Roadrunners has banned drivers entering parts of Gipton. Operations manager Jody Hodgson said: "It is just not worth it with the current escalation of violence." 16 January 2007
Peterborough Taxi Drivers Consider Curfew
Following three vicious attacks on Taxi and Private Hire drivers in four days starting on Christmas Eve the drivers and companies are considering a midnight curfew. They know it will lead to hundreds if not thousands of New Year revellers facing been stranded after seeing in the New Year but they feel that no one earns from a hospital bed and it’s better to be safe and sound and able to work the rest of the time.
The first attack took place in the early hours of Xmas Eve when a driver was struck by a bottle when he was unavoidable caught up in a gang fight on the eastern edges of the City in Welland Road.
Later the same day just before midnight on Xmas eve in the Bretton area another driver Pervez Shahid had a 5inch knife held to his throat and robbed.
On Wednesday 27th a third driver was pulled out of his vehicle in Normanton and the vehicle driven off. Once again this attack was in the early hours.
The police have arrested 5 people in respect of the first incident on Welland Rd. A 24 year old man on suspicion of possessing a offensive weapon, another 24 year old and a 18 year old on suspicion of causing GBH, another 18 year old male on suspicion of affray and a 25 year women on suspicion of violent disorder.
Two youths aged 16 and 17 a 17-year-old girl and a 20 year old women have also been arrested on suspicion of robbery when the stolen vehicle from Normanton was found by police in Birchtree Avenue.
A police spokesman said “ all these crimes are being treated seriously by us and investigations ongoing.” They have asked for anyone with information on the attacks to contact them and in particular the knife robbery in Bretton.
Conviction of illegal cabbie fuels council
Report Date: January 2007
The Lancashire Telegraph reports that BURNLEY Council has vowed to crack down on rogue taxi drivers after a man was convicted of posing as a cabbie.
The moves comes after Peter Slinger, 52, of Snowden Street, Burnley, pleaded guilty to using an unlicensed vehicle and acting as a private hire driver and operator without having the appropriate permission from the council.
Slinger, who was said to have been operating a one-man private hire taxi service, was caught after he picked up a Burnley Council licensing officer in his unlicensed car. He did not have a licence from the authority to operate.
He was fined £390 and ordered to pay £125 costs by Reedley Magistrates Court. Slinger also had eight points put on his driving licence for having invalid insurance.
Coun Charles Bullas, executive member for community safety said: "In the interests of public safety, the council will continue to robustly enforce the legislation in respect of unlicensed operators, drivers and vehicles. Drivers of unlicensed vehicles are putting the safety of the public at serious risk.
"Legitimate, licensed, drivers and operators have to undergo regular, rigorous Criminal Records Bureau checks and medicals and their vehicles must be fully insured, MOT tested and relicensed every four or six months - dependent on their age.
"To be assured of their safety, the public needs to be confident that the journey they have booked will be carried out through a licensed operator, by a licensed driver, in a licensed vehicle."
People can use Hackney carriages, also known as black cabs, by hailing them down in the street or from a taxi rank.
Anyone wishing to use a private hire vehicle must phone up the firm before.
Habib Rehman, chairman of Burnley Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association said he was pleased the council was taking action against unlicensed cabbies.
He added: "It is very dangerous to get into unlicensed taxis. As the association we don't approve of this and are very much against this.
"I am pleased the council are sending people out and they will find people driving unlicensed taxis."
Gateshead Cabby's Gun Ordeal
Report Date: January 2007
Nick Whitten of the Evening Chronicle reports on a Gateshead Taxi driver's Gun Terror.
Driving his taxi around Tyneside used to be a labour of love for Paul Rudd but after a terrifying incident in which he was held up at gunpoint, the 26-year-old from Gateshead is struggling to get back behind the wheel.>
Paul, who has worked for Gateshead-based Dean Taxis for five years, was waiting for a fare in Balmoral Way, Felling, when a man approached wielding an imitation hand-gun. He grabbed the driver door handle, pointed the firearm at Paul's head and screamed at him. Working on pure instinct Paul ducked, slammed his foot on the accelerator and sped away. As he drove off the gunman smashed his side and rear window with the butt of the gun.
Michael Hartshorne, 21, of Gateshead, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court. He admitted charges of attempted robbery, possessing an imitation firearm and using the imitation firearm with intent to cause violence.
The case was adjourned until February 2 when Hartshorne will return for sentencing. The incident happened on October 11 and while it only lasted a couple of minutes, it has plagued Paul's mind since.
He had to see a specialist and will no longer work after dark again. This has severely reduced his wages, and as a result he is now looking for a new job. He said: "I will never work nights again. I have had many nightmares ever since. To be honest I am looking at changing my career.
"It was a terrifying experience. You do not realise how bad something like that could be until it happens to you." After Paul had got away from the gunman he pulled up and called the police who came quickly to the scene. Paul was explaining what had happened, when as luck would have it the gunman walked into the same road. The police gave chase and arrested the man.
Paul's experience is another in a spate of attacks on taxi drivers, which has led to a campaign to have CCTV, fitted in cabs. The Northeast's cabbies are launching a bid to have CCTV installed in every one of the region's 5,000 taxis to increase security for drivers and passengers alike.
CCTV, which costs around £600 a system, is already installed in the region's buses and Metro system. Chris Chandler, regional chairman of the National Taxi Association, said: "I would estimate there are hundreds of verbal assaults a week against taxi drivers, particularly racial abuse.
Thornaby Taxi Firm May Lose License After Drivers Attack Punters
Report Date: January 2007
Court report The Northern Echo
A TAXI firm could lose its operating licence after its drivers carried out a vigilante attack on customers who were disputing the cost of a fare.
Teesside Crown Court heard that six drivers from Royal Taxis in Thornaby arrived in cabs to take part in the incident in Thornaby at 4am on September 3, 2005.
A 19-year-old man, who had just left another taxi with two friends, was kicked and punched, leaving him with a broken rib and a punctured lung.
Judge Guy Whitburn said that the Crown Prosecution Service must decide whether to take action over the firm's operator's licence, and the licence of one driver who admitted taking part in the attack. Tim Bubb, prosecuting, said that three friends called a taxi after an all-day drinking session.
They claimed they were told that the fare would be nine pounds but the driver, Mahfooz Hussain, then demanded thirteen pounds. The men had left the vehicle when six other Royal taxis arrived and they were attacked.
Hussain alleged that he was attacked by the passengers while he drove.
Robin Denny, in mitigation, said he was punched on the head from behind, someone grabbed the handbrake and also squirted with a substance like paint.
Judge Whitburn said: "Frankly, that sort of behaviour, particularly by Royal Taxis, ought to be brought to the attention of the licensing authorities. "Vigilante behaviour by taxi drivers cannot be tolerated any more than violence on taxi drivers.
"Clearly those in the taxi had had a considerable amount to drink, but what happened when they were set upon cannot be tolerated."
Hussain, 36, of Edwards Street, Stockton, was given a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, 200 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay (GBP) 250 prosecution costs after he pleaded guilty to actual bodily harm assault.
Newark and Sherwood want your input!
Newark and Sherwood District Council want views on what would improve taxi services as part of its review of taxi regulations.
A spokesman said: "We are especially interested in your comments on the proposal to make all Hackney Carriages purpose-built and adapted to carry wheelchairs. "We would also be interested in your views on how all licensed vehicles could be made more environmentally friendly."
Views should be sent to the Licensing Section, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Kelham Hall, Newark on Trent, Notts, NG23 5QX by January 31.
Bus that picks you up from your door just like a cab
Report Date: January 2007
Mark Tallentire of the Northern Echo reports that North-East commuters could enjoy the convenience of taking a taxi for the price of taking a bus, two transport experts have claimed.
Steve Day and Cameron Gordon say that within five years, County Durham could see timetables drawn up by passengers, buses that collect you from the front door and public transport "at the cost of taking a bus with the convenience of taking a taxi".
The pair are the men behind Du-it (Durham Integrated Transport), a consortium seeking to overhaul public transport in the region, which has received the backing of some of the biggest players in the industry.
Mr Day and Mr Gordon want to create a "demand-responsive service", which they say could mean passengers designing timetables to suit them, and buses collecting from homes, cafes or places of work. The key to the plans is each community having its own transport hotline.
"If you wanted to go somewhere, you would call a local number and speak to someone with local knowledge about all the transport options available, " Mr Day said.
The Social Exclusion Minister, Hillary Armstrong, is one of several County Durham MPs supporting Du-it, and its ideas have also been welcomed by the Government Office for the Northeast.
As well as improving bus services, Du-it wants people to share cars more. Under its plans, a driver who gives details of their regular journeys would be offered contributions for giving lifts to others.
"We think people want to drive less to help the environment but it also makes economic sense, because the driver could give lifts and so recover the full cost of making the journey, " Mr Day said.
"We want to provide people with a viable alternative to the car. At the moment, there isn't one. Taxis are too expensive to use regularly and buses aren't considered desirable so we're left with the car.
"We're suggesting we can provide a transport service at the cost of taking a bus with the convenience of taking a taxi."
Mr Day, a former rural partnership officer in Teesdale and Wear Valley, and Mr Gordon, chairman of the County Durham Strategic Partnership group for strong, healthy and safe communities, are in talks with local government, the NHS and transport companies.
Their project is supported by academic research from Newcastle University's transport operations research group. They hope to begin a pilot scheme in County Durham later this year.
Feuding taxi drivers pick-up 10 point fine
Report Date: January 2007
The Bexhill Observer reports that two cabbies involved in a street scuffle have fallen foul of Rother's new disciplinary rules.
Each has been handed a 10-point penalty by a licensing committee panel. A third driver has also had a 10-point penalty following a complaint about his attitude to the council's licensing officer.
Taxi and private hire licensing panel members councillors Keith Bridger, Chris Starnes and Bob White met in camera with Cllr Starnes in the chair. They heard a confidential report from director of services Tony Leonard about a dispute between the two drivers.
The Rother minute of the hearing says: "The report gave details of a dispute that had arisen between the two drivers which had resulted in physical violence. "In light of this incident the panel were asked to determine whether the drivers remained fit and proper persons to continue to hold a Hackney Carriage Drivers Licence.
"Letters in support of the Taxi Company had been circulated to the members of the panel. "The council's legal representative advised the panel on the matters, which should be taken into account in determining these cases, and the options open to them.
"The panel heard evidence from the head of environmental health, the drivers and one of the driver's legal representatives, who were in attendance. "The panel proceeded to hear the case.
"Members considered the evidence and agreed that action should be considered against both the drivers. "The panel agreed in accordance with the council's penalty points scheme that 10 points should be added to both drivers' Hackney Carriage Driver's Licences.
"These points would remain on the drivers' Licences for a year commencing from the December 21, 2006. Should a driver receive additional points in the next year and accumulate 12 points then the driver would be required to appear before the taxi licensing panel for consideration as to whether the driver's licence should be revoked."
Cross Dressing Postman and Cabbies, Targeted by Yorkshire yobs.
Report Date: January 2007
Nishika Patel of the Yorkshire reports on A cross-dressing postman who hid hundreds of parcels at his home in order to avoid stone-throwing yobs who made not only his life a misery but also many cab drivers.
Michael Pearson, 43, who admitted hoarding 234 packages and dumping 29 in a supermarket car park, was hounded by teenage gangs on his rounds in Cleckheaton
After the sentencing at Dewsbury Magistrates Court, Pearson, who calls himself Michelle when he dresses as a woman, spoke yesterday of how louts used to shout: "Are you a man or are you a woman?"
He said Fire fighters; "Taxi Drivers" and all postmen were targeted and abused on the rough Fieldhead estate, where buses will not even venture.
And although Pearson tried to hide his alter ego from his workmates, it appears the young thugs noticed he had shiny long hair and nicely shaped eyebrows, so they abused him for it.
The court heard the trusted postman had tried to shorten his round to "reduce the risk of confrontation with the youths". He attended court wearing a dress; high heels and matching pink lipstick and nail varnish.
Suspicious officials searched his home in September after spotting him peeling address labels off packaging in a pub car park and dumping the parcels in a bin at a Tesco supermarket.
Daniel Metcalf, for Pearson, told magistrates that most of the letters were junk mail and circulars. Pearson admitted delaying 264 postal packages and criminal damage at an earlier hearing. The father-of-one, who now does odd jobs after being forced to resign, has said he is sorry for harming Royal Mail and regrets having done it.
Pearson, who lives with his wife, Amanda, 41, and son Jamie, six, was given a four-month suspended jail term and ordered to carry out 150 hours' unpaid work. He must also pay £300 towards the cost of the Royal Mail investigation.
From his home in Cleckheaton he said: "I really wish I hadn't done this to Royal Mail; they are a good company and were always good to me. "I am so sorry for what I have done and for blackening their name. "I did not do anything maliciously. My life was being made hell and I could not cope with it. I believe the attacks made me slide into a kind of depression."
Pearson said he had always felt different and started wearing his mother's underwear from the young age of four. He has been openly wearing women's clothes for eight years now, but his wife has only known about his cross-dressing for three years.
Mrs Pearson is still finding it difficult with the fact that he is on the NHS waiting list for a sex change but for the moment she remains by his side. His son laughs at him and calls him "ladyman".
Pearson said: "I am glad Jamie finds it funny. I encourage him to talk about it - I feel it's important we have a healthy approach to my transexuality." Pearson had always tried to keep it from the workplace and dressed in the standard Royal Mail unisex uniform of trousers and jacket. But as he struggled with his secret he became more of a recluse at work.
He said: "It was hard at work, I found it hard to relate to the guys without them knowing what I was going through. But my secret is out now, so now people will know what it was like for me."
After the court hearing a Royal Mail spokesman said: "We have a zero tolerance approach to any dishonesty and that stance is shared by the overwhelming majority of postmen and women, who are honest and hardworking and who do all they can to protect the mail and deliver it safely.
"We will always seek to prosecute the tiny minority of people who abuse their position of trust."
Roof Sign Nicked
Report Date: January 2007 Newquay.
Police in Newquay are appealing for information after a roof-mounted taxi sign was stolen from a car parked in Cliff Road. It was stolen between 10.40pm and 11pm on December 27 but only reported to police later. Call the police on 08452 777444 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, quoting crime reference GN/07/41.
Coventry Taxi Plate stolen
Report Date: January 2007
A HACKNEY plate was stolen from a taxi parked in Hamilton Terrace, Leamington.
The number 141 plate, which was issued by Warwick District Council allows the vehicle to carry six passengers and expires at the end of June 2007.
Hertsmere set for 12% fare increase this month.
Report Date: January 2007 Borehamwood Times
Hertsmere Borough Council, which sets the tariffs for the eight black cabs operating in the area, agreed the steep rise because the fares have been frozen for three years. The change means the borough will have the fifth most expensive fares in the country.
But Councillor Leon Reefe, a London taxi driver and member of the council's licensing committee said the rise was long overdue. He said: "Unfortunately the number of taxis in Hertsmere has dwindled because drivers can't make it pay. "The cost of fuel in the past three years has gone up astronomically."
Hackney carriage drivers wrote to the council to complain that Hertsmere was one of only seven boroughs in the country not to have had a fare increase since September 2003. Passengers currently pay £2 for the first 400 metres travelled and 20p for each additional 180m. From February 1, passengers will pay £2.20 for the first 321m and 20p for every 165m after that.
Phil Andrews, the council's principal licensing officer, said taxi drivers had wanted to bring the borough's fares to the same level as cabs in London. But he added: "Hertsmere is a district of Hertfordshire and we do border very closely to metropolitan districts but we don't suffer the traffic problems that they do in London."
It sounds Disgraceful but was the Principle right?
Before anyone condemns Arun district council for prosecuting a pensioner perhaps we should look at the implications behind their actions? What if the Pensioner had been a young man in his twenties who went around posting flyers through letterboxes advertising the same service for a fee of six pounds, would we not raise our eyebrows? We Probably would raise our eyebrows if the six pounds charge was for the carrying of "passengers" and "their dogs" but how far must the line be drawn before such a service is deemed to have breached hire and reward legislation. This ruling has the added ingredient of charitable status but nevertheless the implications are there for all to see.
The story issued by the press association is as follows.
Judge condemns council's 'disgraceful' pet ambulance prosecution
A judge today condemned as "disgraceful" a local council's decision to pursue a 72-year-old to the High Court over the pet ambulance service he provided for other elderly people.
The judge said Derrick Spooner, of Bewley Road, Angmering, West Sussex, donated all the proceeds to charity.
But Arun District Council prosecuted him, saying that he should have obtained a private hire vehicle licence to ferry pets between their owners' homes and local vets in the back of his estate car.
Council officials argued he needed a licence because the pets' owners occasionally accompanied them.
Worthing magistrates threw out the council's case in July last year.
But the council decided to challenge the magistrates' decision at the High Court in London, running up a total legal costs bill unofficially estimated at £10,000.
Today Lord Justice Thomas, sitting with Mrs Justice Dobbs, condemned the council's decision to appeal to the High Court as a "quite extraordinary way to spend public money".
The judge told the council's barrister Kris Berlevy: "Here is your authority prosecuting a 72-year-old man, who was helping other elderly people take their pets to the vet.
"It should never have been brought in the first place, and to pursue it against a 72-year-old man in this court is disgraceful."
After retiring in 1999, Mr Spooner adapted his estate car to include a cage to hold animals. The vehicle was registered as an ambulance with the DVLA and was comprehensively insured. He ran into trouble with the local authority after distributing leaflets advertising the service, charging £6 a time to transport pets to and from local vets.
The charge was made to cover the costs of running the car, with an excess of around 20% to 25% which he donated in charity collection boxes at the last surgery he visited each day. In January 2004, council officers warned him he would have to apply for a private hire vehicle licence.
He stopped providing the service but restarted it the following December intending to transport pets only. He admitted taking their owners in 5% of cases. These mostly involved emergency situations, or when the owners were required by the vet.
He was prosecuted, but Worthing magistrates found he did not need a private hire vehicle licence and was not guilty of any offence as carrying passengers was not the "purpose" of his pet service.
Today Lord Justice Thomas agreed with the magistrates, saying: "It seems to me that the magistrates were entitled to find that the purpose was not the carriage of passengers, but the carriage of pets.
"It seems to me that the important finding was the fact that no additional charge was made for the carriage of the passengers and that the passengers were only carried in an emergency or when the vet required attendance."
MUM'S FURY AS PAEDO IRISH CABBY GETS JUST 8 MONTHS AFTER GUILTY PLEA
Report Date: January 2007
Sarah Jellema of the Mirror reports the mother of a six-year-old girl indecently assaulted by a family friend told yesterday of her anger at the paedophile's lenient sentence.
The mum - who cannot be named to protect the identity of her daughter spoke to the Daily Mirror about the lighter sentence the sick offender received as a result of his guilty plea.
Taxi driver Matthew John Nixon was jailed for eight months on Tuesday after admitting the assault which took place on New Year's night 2005.
But the 57-year-old, of Forest Park, Derry, walked free from the city's Magistrates Court after being granted bail to await an appeal of the sentence. The mum said: "As far as I'm concerned if someone pleads guilty there's no doubt that they did the crime and therefore should receive the maximum sentence possible. This man abused my child and got eight months and once he goes to prison he could be out in four - that's nothing.
"Even now he's out on the streets when I think he is still a threat. I just hope my little girl doesn't happen to bump into him. She's terrified."
The girl, who is now eight, is receiving counselling. Father of seven and grandfather of six Nixon, who is now on the Sex Offenders' Register, was granted bail on the condition he has no unsupervised contact with children.
Aberdeen Taxi drivers push for night-clubs curfew
Report date: January 2007
Ross Reid of the Aberdeen Press and Journal reports that Taxi drivers in Aberdeen are calling on the city council to install a night-club curfew to reduce street violence.
Aberdeen Taxi Group believes stopping customers entering clubs by up to an hour before closing time could cut the amount of late-night crime in the city.
The group's chairman, Russell McLeod, said shortening entry time would limit the number of people pouring into the city centre at the same time. Mr Russell said he is not against the 3am opening hours, but thinks it would be a good idea that clubs ban people from entering 45 to 60 minutes before closure.
In a report submitted to Aberdeen City Council's licensing board, which is due to discuss the matter today, Mr McLeod said: "One of the main problems in the city centre at weekends is the sheer volume of people who all converge on to Union Street at 3am - up to 20,000 is the police estimate.
"This is a problem that is mirrored in every other city in the UK."
He said that to stagger the crowds, or take "some pressure off" at closing time, some cities had introduced curfews and the group believed this might "have a benefit in trying to move revellers more quickly".
He said the board felt that between 45 to 60 minutes before a club closed, entry should be banned. He added that it could encourage people to join taxi queues earlier, reducing the busy 3am rush.
Mr McLeod said other cities, including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee, have successfully tried similar schemes. Although he conceded "club owners may be reluctant to buy into this idea", he has urged councillors to consider the move.
Crisis meeting to be held over spate of attacks on Leeds cab drivers
Report date: January 2007
Yorkshire Evening Post reported POLICE chiefs and politicians are to hold a crisis meeting over the violent attacks on cab drivers in east Leeds. Following the spate of attacks on private hire drivers, which has seen seven people arrested, some areas of Leeds, including parts of Gipton, have become "no go areas" for drivers.
Gangs of yobs have been striking in the Seacroft and Gipton areas - in some instances surrounding vehicles, assaulting drivers and threatening them with knives - before stealing equipment and cash. Gipton and Harehills councillor Javaid Akhtar has called for an urgent meeting to deal with the growing problem of violence against cabbies. The meeting today will be attended by officials from West Yorkshire Police Authority and Leeds City Council.
Coun Akhtar said: "Following the attacks in both Gipton and Seacroft this weekend, the need for greater safety measures for both taxi drivers and the public is more pressing than ever.
"It seems that taxis are being deliberately targeted in East Leeds for desirable items such as mobile phones and satellite navigation systems. This problem does not only affect the driver of the cab, but any passenger who may be in the taxi when an attack takes place.
"We do not want to see parts of Leeds becoming no-go areas for taxis and private hire vehicles, and that goes for any other part of the city. That's why improved safety measures need to be put in place as soon as possible."
Mini cab drivers have been contacting the YEP in droves to tell of their experiences at the hands of yobs. Private hire firm Roadrunners have banned drivers entering parts of Gipton. Operations manager Jody Hodgson said: "It is just not worth it with the current escalation of violence."
One-armed cabbie drops his appeal
January 9, 2007 Tuesday
Gloucestershire Echo reports that a One-armed cabbie has dropped an appeal against his conviction for assaulting a private hire driver at Cheltenham Racecourse.
Nicholas Tustin, 43, of Pendil Close, Cheltenham and fellow driver Dean Partridge, of Arle Road, Cheltenham, were found guilty of common assault by Cheltenham magistrates and ordered to pay a total of £1,200 costs and compensation.
Both men intended to appeal against their convictions. Partridge dropped his and now Tustin has done the same. The attack followed a long-standing turf war between private hire and Hackney carriage drivers in Cheltenham dating back six years.
Cheltenham magistrates heard the assaults were committed after Tustin and Partridge left Cheltenham Racecourse with friends on October 26, 2005.
The pair were furious when they saw two private hire drivers parked in a spot reserved for Hackney drivers outside the course's south entrance.
Private hire driver Luke Bennett protested his case and a fight broke out. As he tried to film the attack on his mobile phone Mr Bennett was punched by Partridge and punched and kicked by Tustin.
James Tucker, representing Tustin, withdrew his appeal at Gloucester Crown Court before Judge Jamie Tabor QC.
He said the appeal had been based on prosecution evidence that Tustin punched out with his right arm, even though Tustin doesn't have a right arm.
He said in the prosecution papers that some other element of physical contact was alleged against Tustin and he decided not to pursue the appeal.
South Shields Cabbies shout for more security!
South Shields cabbies are shouting at their local council for better security inside vehicles such as CCTV but the rest of the country including Taxi Today, Taxi Driver Online, the NTA, T&G and every other Taxi related publication is "SCREAMING" at local Councillors and Government Ministers for immediate action.
Last month Taxi Driver Online reported on the South Shields Taxi driver robbed of his nights takings by one Richard Spottiswood. Spottiswood was prosecuted and found guilty of the offence of Robbery at Newcastle Crown Court and jailed for four years in January.
Local Taxi Firm boss Dave Kennedy is now backing national calls inline with the whole of the UK Taxi trade including Taxi Driver Online and Taxi Today in asking elected councillors and Government ministers to make Taxi driver security their main priority. Spottiswood was identified through CCTV footage from a camera in the taxi firm's office and it is this type of equipment that we believe should be made available to all hackney carriage and Private hire drivers regardless of who pays?
Dave Kennedy, manager of Bede Taxis in Sheldon Street, Jarrow, believes putting cameras in cabs could help prevent similar attacks and deter fare dodgers. He said: "The cameras would be welcomed by the drivers. "We have got CCTV in our office and it has helped us to catch a lot of runners by giving footage to the police." Spottiswood's victim, a taxi driver of six years, has also backed the calls for CCTV, originally made by cabbies in Newcastle.
He said: "I would back cameras being put into taxis all the way. "I think it would put a lot of people off from not paying their fares knowing they are on camera. "It would also make drivers feel a lot safer." CCTV is already installed on buses and the Metro, but the cost could be a barrier to installing cameras in taxis. Drivers estimate it will cost about £500 per car. A spokesman for South Tyneside Council, which licenses vehicles, said: "The council imposes a number of conditions on licensed vehicles to ensure they are safe for taxi drivers, passengers and other road users.
JD of Taxi Driver Online was informed by the Information commissioners office that at the moment registration for fixed cameras is not necessary and that a decision on the matter will be made within two or three months.
This means that for the time being there is no requirement to display details of phone numbers or contact details where the data can be obtained. It is advisable to install notification stating that CCTV is in operation. Should registration be mandatory then notices and contact details will also be mandatory. The current registration fee is £35 per year.
"Taxi Driver Online advises all hackney carriage and private hire drivers to contact the Information Commissioner's Office on (0162) 554 5700 before installing and using fixed CCTV equipment."
Watford Junction welcomes back Hackney's.
Report Date: Jan 2007
The Watford Observer reported that after nearly three years of protests, blockades and arrests, hackney carriages have returned to the forecourt at Watford Junction train station. Train operator Silverlink's decision to re-open the rank to the hackneys means commuters will once again be able to catch cabs right outside the station's doors free from legal ambiguity.
Three years ago Silverlink negotiated an exclusive contract with private hire firm AA United, kicking the hackneys off the forecourt.
Travellers were left having to catch a private hire cab via a complicated ticket system.
The decision to exclude the hackneys in 2004 provoked a series of demonstrations at the station by drivers, which included blockading the forecourt on a number of occasions.
The AA contract has now expired and a gate system has been installed at the station so any driver with a hackney licence who pays the appropriate fee can gain access and ply for hire.
Silverlink's retail manager, Hugh Jennings, said: "We were very happy with AA, who had provided private hire services at the stations for two years.
"With their contract coming to an end we took the opportunity to see whether there was any way we could improve the services offered at the station.
"With the deregulation of these services in Watford many more taxis have become available and we saw an opportunity here for our customers.
"Very positive discussions with the WHCDA resulted in an agreement about rental, quality of vehicles and code of conduct, and I am delighted to welcome them back onto the forecourt."
Purbeck Tuc Tuc's
The licensing of two Tuc Tuc vehicles in Purbeck as hackney carriages might come as a surprise to most people but it has been on the cards for some considerable time. Purbeck will alter their conditions of vehicle license in order to accommodate these vehicles so they can sit on Taxi ranks and ply for hire. The committee agreed the proposals at a licensing panel meeting on 18th January.
This council decision does not mean Purbeck will license any old type of Tuc Tuc, Purbeck licensing department informed me that each application will be judged on its merits.
Both police and journalists are not normally known for their accuracy in distinguishing between private hire and hackney carriage drivers or their vehicles, however you would think they might know the difference between a 12 or 15 seater minibus and a Taxi? Sadly that is not the case in Trafford because they confused us all by reporting the minibus and driver involved in a rape incident in Partington as being licensed as a Taxi. I am glad I stuck by my instincts and discovered the truth in this matter but I now call on both Trafford and Manchester licensing departments to get the details from Trafford CID of the owner of this minibus and the Private hire firm it is attached. I think the activity of this vehicle and the way it is or was being operated needs further investigation.
Hackney's Return to Watford Junction
Do you recall the Battle of Watford Junction, where Silverlink took on the might of the T&G? If you aren't familiar with the event then you might be oblivious to the fact that Silverlink won the battle but not before suffering a few bruises along the way.
I've heard it said that one Battle does not necessarily win a war and perhaps that assumption is correct because after three years of exclusion from the station Taxi rank Silverlink has capitulated and allowed Hackney carriages to once again ply for hire on the station forecourt. There is a long history to this saga, which I'm sure many are familiar with and each side in my opinion has to shoulder a share of the blame for the closure of the station rank. Hopefully the war is now over and both sides can enjoy a long and lasting meaningful dialogue for the foreseeable future.
SLOUGH TAXI DRIVERS DEMAND MORE RANKS
ANGRY taxi drivers went on strike to demand more ranks and a chance to compete for customers. New Hackney carriage drivers claim they are losing 90 per cent of business because they cannot compete for fares at Slough Train Station.
The 16 drivers also feel they are being failed by Slough Borough Council who has not provided more Hackney carriage ranks after the deregulation of licences in 2005.
Younis Rashid is one of the drivers who went on strike on Wednesday in Slough High Street. He said: “We all invested in new vehicles and took all the exams, but we are being prevented from offering a good service to the people of the town.
“We thought we would be able to pick up fares from anywhere, but we are stuck outside Marks and Spencer getting £4 fares and being squeezed out of business.” First Great Western has given the contract to operate from the station to the Hackney Carriage Federation, which cannot afford to invite new members to join.
Secretary of the Hackney Carriage Federation, Som Shinh, blames the council
He said: “They deregulated the number of licenses without creating more ranks. At the time they said there was a need for drivers, but there is not the work.”
The new Hackney carriage drivers can compete for passengers outside Marks and Spencer, The Grove, back of the Observatory and Queensmere and outside Slough Library at weekends. The drivers chose to sign up for the licence because unlike private hire drivers they can be flagged down and they do not need to wait at their office for a call out.
Cllr Mohammed Aziz joined the protesters to discuss their concerns and now hopes to organise a meeting between all parities.
A spokeswoman for Slough Borough Council said: “The taxi rank at Slough Railway Station is subject to a private contract between First Group and the Slough Hackney Carriage Federation. It is on private property and the council has no power to intervene. “The council is aware of the lack of other hackney carriage stands and we have already undertaken a study, the results of which recommended more taxi ranks across the borough.
“We are hoping to put these in place as soon as possible which we hope will reduce some of the concerns of the new taxi drivers and help provide a better service for the people of Slough.”
A spokeswoman for First Great Western added: “All stations have a specific contract with a taxi organisation to make sure that are customers are safely able to complete their onward journey and arrive at their destination.”
Knowledge demand for Malvern taxi drivers
TAXI drivers in the Malvern Hills district should once more be required to pass a test on their knowledge of local geography.
The test was abolished towards the end of 2005 because it was time-consuming to administer and considered to add little value. However, since that decision was taken, there has been an increase of over 40 drivers, many based in Worcester and working in Malvern.
"Although no direct complaints have been received, instances of prolonging journeys due to lack of local knowledge have been highlighted," said Ivor Humphrey, MHDC's head of customer and environmental services. He said that at a meeting of the Open Taxi Forum local dribers asked for the knowledge test to be reintroduced. And at Tuesday's meeting of the council's executive committee, members are being recommended to approve its reintroduction.
They are also being asked to approve the introduction of disability training for taxi drivers. If it is approved, drivers will have to attend a disability awareness-training workshop as one of the conditions of getting their license.
Black cab fare rise 'unfair'
Report Date: Jan 2007
BLACK cab drivers have been told their proposals for new fare increases are unfair.
Council bosses rejected calls from the Bury Hackney Carriage Association (BHCA) to extend the late night tariff to cover the whole weekend, including the daytime on Saturdays.
This would force shoppers to fork out a minimum of £3.30 for a one mile journey, excluding waiting times, as opposed to the existing minimum charge of £2.70 for the same distance.
However, Hackney Carriages Farebay Ltd, based in Bury town centre, objected to the increased weekend tariff and has even called for the current fare tariff in force between 11pm on Saturday to 6am on Monday to be reduced to the lower tariff, citing an increase in demand from passengers during the day on Sundays.
The BHCA, which represents 98 of the borough's 120 self-employed black cab drivers, and Farebay were united in proposals to see the existing fares tariff for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve working increased from £3 for the first half a mile journey to £4 with the remainder of the distance charged at 20p per 80 yards compared with the current 10p per 50 yards.
At a special meeting of Bury Council's licensing and safety panel last week, councillors rejected the application for variations to the hackney carriage fare table saying some of the proposed fare increase were too high.
Mr Charles Oakes, chairman of the BHCA, said the high fare increases were designed to bring Bury in line with surrounding boroughs, including Manchester and Bolton He said: "The fares charged in Bury are well below the national average and a lot less than those charged by our colleagues in Bolton and Manchester. Unfortunately, we would need a big leap to bring the fares in line with neighbouring authorities and then future increases would be more reasonable."
Mr Oakes said the proposal for extending the weekend tariff to include Saturdays has now been withdrawn and talks are ongoing with the council to resolve the matter.
Woman racially abused taxi driver
A DRUNKEN woman racially abused an Asian taxi driver as tried to drive her to Breightmet, a court was told.
Bolton magistrates heard that Tara Griffiths, who was carrying a bottle of cider, got into the front passenger seat of his car when he collected her from a house in Longfield Road, Morris Green. She refused to give Farook Ahmed a destination address and swore at and racially abused him as he drove.
At one point, she began kicking the dashboard and tried to grab hold of the steering wheel and gear lever.
Mr Ahmed eventually sought help from officers in a police car at Bolton Retail Park and she was arrested.
Griffiths, aged 25, of Lenham Gardens, Breightmet continued screaming and swearing, kicking the inside of a police van and punched a civilian detention officer in the back when put into a police cell. Griffiths, who has previous convictions, mainly for disorderly conduct, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated harassment and assault.
Describing Griffiths' behaviour as despicable, Leigh Morgan, defending, said: "She has a very severe problem with alcohol and it seems to have spiralled out of control."
Griffiths was given a community order for 24 months with supervision and ordered to attend the women's Think First alcohol programme. She was also ordered to pay £43 costs.
Taxi licences set for three-year renewal cycle
Report Date: January 2007
This is what Taxi Driver Online calls a sensible decision. There is no unearthly need to issue licenses on an annual basis. All that is required is an annual statutory declaration and regular CRB checks.
Evening Courier Halifax reports that TAXI drivers in Calderdale will only have to apply for a licence every three years.
A meeting of Calderdale Council's Licensing Committee reviewed the application process and decided that cabbies would apply every three years, rather than annually as at present.
New drivers will be able to apply for a one-year licence for their first three years in the business before moving on to the three-year system.
This will bring licence renewal into line with Criminal Records Bureau checks, which are completed every three years.
The committee rejected a proposal to give drivers the choice of either a one-year or three-year licence.
Bryan Smith (Lab, Ovenden) said: "Our understanding is that the majority of taxi drivers do support the three-year licence for the future."
And David Ginley (Con, Warley) supported the change, saying: "I think three year licences seem perfectly reasonable in view of the staff cost savings and inconvenience to the driver."
The cost to drivers will remain the same, with a one-year licence costing £81 and a three-year costing £243.
The licensing department would review the process after 12 months and any savings would be passed on to the drivers.
Martin Peel (Con, Sowerby Bridge) expressed concern about the up-front costs to new drivers. He said: "I have driven private hire taxis years ago and the financial constraints on the drivers are extreme, what with fuel costs, the radio, medical and criminal checks.
"These people really should not be penalised more than they already are."
There are 765 private hire drivers and 151 hackney carriage drivers in Calderdale
Taxicab will take anti-drugs message onto the streets
Report date: January 2007
A report from the Liverpool Daily Post states that A TAXI driver is being used by Merseyside Police in their latest bid to crack down on drugs in Wirral.
The borough's police have bought up advertising on the side of the taxi, which will be spreading the anti-drugs message day and night for the next 12 months.
Adverts are also running on buses, billboards, and phone boxes throughout the borough. They are highlighting the success of the multi-agency award-winning operation that targets drug dealing and crimes connected to it.
The adverts will also advise members of the public how to take a stand against those dealing drugs in their area by providing anonymous information to Crimestoppers.
Officers have been working with Wirral Drug and Alcohol Action Team (DAAT), recently named Merseyside Police "Team of the Year" by Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe.
Inspector Ian Shaw thanked those who had helped officers, and said information from the public has been vital to the operation's success. He said: "We want to continue to send out the strong message that if you're dealing drugs, then we will target and arrest you."
"People do have a choice. They can live next door to drug dealers who have a constant stream of people knocking on their door for their latest supplies.
"Or, if they don't want their children or grandchildren growing up in this sort of environment, they can make a stand."
Taxi firm's parking fury
Essex Chronicle reports that a Town's taxi firm says new parking rules proposed for the street where it is based are going to damage its business.
Knight's Taxis in Witham fears its cars are going to be unable to wait outside its office when a proposed 'residents only' parking rule comes into force.
The firm has operated in Witham for more than 20 years and has 17 cars. For years it has allowed its taxi drivers to stop temporarily outside the office in Guithavon Street while they are not out on jobs.
But now Essex County Council is set to bring in a rule allowing only residents of the street to park there - and the taxis will have nowhere to go.
A county council spokeswoman said the new parking rules were only a proposal at present, and there would be public consultation before they were introduced.
She said the firm had been offered a lay-by near its offices for parking, but had turned it down.
Cabbie 'refused a wheelchair fare'
Report date: January 2007
MATT FLEMING of the evening Herald Reports that a hackney cab driver in Plymouth could have his licence revoked for allegedly refusing to pick up disabled passengers - on 'at least three occasions'.
John Tregea, who has held a Plymouth City Council black cab licence since before 1996, has been called before the council's licensing committee accused of refusing to pick up wheelchair users.
Mr Tregea has been summoned after the council received a complaint from a member of the public on November 27, last year.
The complaint alleged that Mr Tregea - and 'others' - had refused to take a wheelchair bound passenger to their destination.
But yesterday, a Hackney cab source claimed that Mr Tregea 'has a bad back' and was unable to get the wheelchair user in his taxi.
A licensing report released prior to the case said that on November 26, 2006, at the Hackney Carriage stand in Old Town Street, 'a woman approached the first taxi with her mother, who was in a wheelchair'.
The report said: "The first taxi driver attempted to take the wheelchair and four other passengers in the group - which included a toddler in a pushchair - but had to refuse the fare as his taxi was not licensed to take this amount of passengers.
"Mr Tregea was second in the rank and allegedly told the complainant that he did not take wheelchairs, thereby refusing to take a fare from the rank without good reason. This was witnessed by the driver in a taxi, fourth in the line, and was confirmed in a letter sent by that driver to the licensing office on November 29, 2006."
The report said that Mr Tregea's taxi is licensed to carry five passengers - and is wheelchair accessible. It added that the council sent a letter to all the drivers in the incident, asking them for explanations, and replies were received from all but Mr Tregea.
The report said: "Previous to this incident, on June 28, 2006, another wheelchair-bound passenger was refused to be driven by Mr Tregea. Again the incident was on the Hackney Carriage stand in Old Town Street. The same vehicle was involved and the complainant stated in a letter that they were waved away by the driver."
A letter was sent from the licensing office on June 29, warning Mr Tregea - and outlining four key facts: The vehicle was wheelchair accessible, it was on a Hackney Carriage stand, available for hire; the driver was Mr Tregea and he had refused to carry a wheelchair user. Mr Tregea does not hold a medical exemption from carrying wheelchairs.
The report said that 'as far back as November 9, 1996, a complaint was lodged against Mr Tregea for a similar matter. He was interviewed on December 17, 1996, with regard to this matter, and said in his statement that he did not remember the incident, and made no comment to the questions'.
The council can 'suspend, revoke or refuse to renew' a taxi driver's licence. Mr Tregea, whose licence expires in July 2009, has been invited to appear before the council's licensing committee at the Council House on January 23.
He is accused of refusing to take a wheelchair passenger 'without reasonable excuse'.
BOSSES AGREE RETHINK OVER CONTROVERSIAL TAXI DRIVER TEST
Report date: January 18, 2007
The Northern Echo reports that Hambleton District council bosses have agreed to review the introduction of an advanced driving test after cabbies said it would not improve safety.
Sixty-three taxi drivers packed into North-Allerton Football Club on Tuesday night to discuss Hambleton District Council's new licensing policy.
It was approved in November and requires existing drivers to pass a taxi assessment test from the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) before their licences are renewed at the end of July. New drivers have to pass it by January 31.
Cabbies said the new test would reduce the number of drivers and affect school and social services contracts.
One taxi firm owner said that four of his drivers had handed their notice in rather than go through the test, which costs about (GBP) 60.
North-Allerton taxi driver John Hyde said: "It is not that most of us think we would have a problem with passing it, it is that we do not think we should have to pay a fee to prove that we are competent to be doing what we have been doing for the last ten or 15 years."
Drivers said they had not been consulted about the test because it was added to the council's draft policy after they were informed about potential changes.
Martyn Richards, the council's head of legal services, gave a presentation to the meeting. He said: "I accept consultation on the DSA test has not been ideal."
He said the policy will now go back to the council's licensing committee on February 9 for members to consider the latest representations by taxi drivers. The policy will then go before full council on Tuesday, February 27.
Mr Richards said he still believed the advanced test was a good idea. He said: "I make no apology for this because the council's primary concern in licensing taxis is the safety and comfort of customers. It is not necessarily to look after the interests of the taxi drivers. We actually think that any competent taxi driver should be able to pass."
But Tony Lemmon, the owner of Brompton Taxis, said the test was unlikely to improve safety.
He said: "North-Allerton taxi rank is in a busy area. You have got people walking out in front of cars and pulling out in front of you, but there have been no accidents.
"If that is not safe driving, I do not know what is."
Swansea Cabbie had no licence
A Taxi driver operated a cab without insurance or a private hire licence, Swansea magistrates have heard.
Carl Michael, of Llangwm, Penplas, admitted carrying out the two offences on September 22. He was ordered to pay £250 in fines and costs, and had eight penalty points attached to his licence.
Edinburgh at War.
For some considerable time and from varying elements of the local spectrum there has been constant opposition to Edinburgh City council's policy of restricting hackney carriage operator licenses. Edinburgh council restricts these types of licenses to 1260 because councillors believe this number is adequate for the needs of their 450.000 citizens and the numerous visitors who enjoy the Scottish Capitols fine facilities in respect of business, Tourism and Entertainment?
The issue of quantity controls is to be played out in the Scottish Court of Session in Edinburgh next month when the City council appeals the 2006 decision of Sheriff Principal Bowen to refuse them an extension of time beyond the statutory six months to determine three license applications.
Edinburgh council is also appealing a fourth identical application denied by Sheriff Horsburgh and a fifth applicant has agreed to have his case sisted on the outcome of these appeals. In total five applications are to be determined and no matter what the verdict might be, a precedent is likely to be set in determining this type of application based on section 3.1 of the Civic Government Scotland act 1982.
In addition to these appeals Mr Jim Taylor a respected Edinburgh Taxi driver has submitted an application for a Taxi operators license knowing full well that his application is likely to be refused based on nothing more than Edinburgh City councils stated desire to restrict licenses.
Mr Taylor believes the outcome of his application has already been decided even though the law implies that every application should be judged on its own merits and that those empowered to make such decisions to grant licenses should not fetter their discretion by blindly adhering to council policy?
Mr Taylor is resigned to the fact that his application is doomed to failure but he is also aware that such a refusal carries with it a right of appeal. Mr Taylor has told Taxi Driver Online that "councillors will refuse his application" on the grounds that there is no unmet demand for Taxis in the area of Edinburgh? If Mr Taylor's assessment of Edinburgh City councillors is correct, then he is suggesting they have already fettered their discretion by only considering their own policy and disregarding the merit of his own application?
Mr Taylor is confident in his prediction of what Edinburgh councillors will say and I must admit, on the evidence before me, I 'm inclined to agree? However we have to look beyond their reasoning and examine the evidence of why councillors think there is no unmet demand for the services of additional Taxis?
In July 2005 Jacobs consulting completed a market research survey into Taxi demand commissioned by Edinburgh City council in February 2005. By virtue of Coyle v Glasgow City council and Dundee Taxi cab co ltd v Dundee City council; Scottish law dictates that a licensing authority must be in possession of evidence of demand when an application under section 10.3 of the Civic Government Scotland act falls to be considered. In addition, when applying a policy that reflects the need for a fixed number of licenses, which was derived from an historical survey carried out some 20 months previous, did not amount to a "recent assessment" or a "checking" of the position in respect of the current demand for Taxis?
In Dundee it was stated that "the committee had accordingly failed to apply their minds to the question of unmet demand at the time of considering the application and there was no proper basis on which they could be satisfied that there was no significant unmet demand at that stage."
We therefore consider the facts of what we assume will be the backbone of Mr Taylor's refusal?
To refuse Mr Taylor's application Edinburgh city council will rely on an historical survey some 20 months old, that being the same age as the survey relied upon by Dundee city council. Likewise Edinburgh council, according to their committee minutes has not measured demand since July 2005, therefore under the ruling in both Coyle and Dundee, they will fall foul of the independent evidence required to refuse Mr Taylor's application. We therefore have a scenario which is identical to that of Dundee but as we already know the court of session has given its ruling on what a council must do in order to refuse an applicant under section 10.3 of the 1982 act.
Mr Taylor believes Edinburgh City council is up the Swanee without a paddle and he could well be right?
Mr Taylor goes on to say that the Jacobs survey undertaken for Edinburgh City council was amateurish and incompetent. He has compiled evidence, which he believes will prove ex Jacobs consultant Mr Ian Millership's assessment of the evidence obtained by virtue of video camera and telephone interview is grossly inaccurate and at best guess work?
He states that practically all the survey evidence was obtained by way of video camera and that assessment on the ground was practically non existent. He goes on to say that Mr Millership made no investigation in respect of the then £40,000 license plate scarcity value and that he grossly under estimated the volume of work generated by Taxi Radio companies. Mr Taylor says that on investigation many of the Hotel staff contacted to determine demand were no more than casual labour and that Jacobs made a conscious decision not to assess the street hailing market?
Mr Taylor points to the fact that Jacobs submitted the second lowest Tender which amounted to some £25,000 and that by coincidence Ian Millership is on record as telling the National Taxi association at their 2005 AGM when he volunteered the question. "How do you obtain a good Survey of Unmet Demand"? "Well I am afraid most of the time it does go on price." Considering the highest tender was £160,050 and Jacobs submitted the second lowest tender at £25,000 can we assume that under Mr Millership's prognosis Edinburgh City council has got what they paid for?
Jacobs Consultancy who is reported to have changed its name 4 times in 6 years is noted for getting things wrong. It was Jacobs who misinformed Liverpool city council in respect of their 2005 survey that "Sefton council have court backing for a five yearly review". The Liverpool survey report was prepared by KIERON BRIDGES reviewed by IAN MILLERSHIP and approved by MIKE LAMPKIN. If Liverpool is anything to go by it would appear that all three are unfamiliar with the legal background surrounding market research surveys because no court in the land has ever given a council special dispensation to conduct a review every five years. In fact outside of Scotland the time frame of a survey has never been determined or ruled upon in an English or Welsh court of law?
Edinburgh tendering process by cost.
TRi/Fauber Maunsell £160,050. Points 39
Colin Buchanan and Partners £126,488. Points 49.5
Halcrow £33,552. Points 57
Jacobs Consultancy £25,000. Points 60
Transportation Planning (Int) Ltd £24,850. Points 59.5
July 2005 Final approval of Edinburgh Survey Document control sheet, signing off.
Prepared by IAN MILLERSHIP
Reviewed by IAN MILLERSHIP
Approved by ALAN NICHOLS
Ian Millership is without doubt a true Gentleman but Taxi Driver Online would like to think that people employed by companies such as Jacobs are competent. We would also like to think that Jacobs assessment in respect of "Sefton council having special dispensation to review Taxi numbers every five years" was an over sight on the part of those compiling the information? However, when you consider the way surveys are conducted and in the light of the TPI fiasco in Plymouth, then we have to treat all surveys and the ability of so called consultants with a degree of scepticism? It might be an oversight for one person to get their facts wrong but when all three get their facts wrong, then we really do need to question the accuracy and legitimacy of surveys?
Mr Taylor is fortunate to have the backing of Councillor Iain Whyte Leader of Edinburgh Conservative councillors. The following letter from Mr Whyte to the Edinburgh Evening news is in support of Mr Taylor's application and his point of view in respect of the need for change in the way Edinburgh council administer their Taxi licensing policy. A recent Scottish press article in respect of Mr Taylor follows the letter of Councillor Whyte.
Conservative Councillor Iain Whyte writes, that JIM TAYLOR is spot on in calling for an end to the Labour council's artificial cap on taxi numbers in Edinburgh.
The number of taxi plates is based on nothing more than guesswork when it should be determined by market demand.
That is why there are never enough taxis around late at night at the weekends. It also means there can be problems for tourists and business people finding a taxi, and this works against efforts to make Edinburgh a welcoming destination.
I have moved a motion in council calling for the cap to be lifted. Regulation of taxi quality should remain but there should be no restriction on the numbers of taxis that can trade. I can't think of any other trade where there is a restriction of this type. For example, while there are quality standards that butchers have to uphold there is no artificial limit set by the council preventing others competing with them?
It is a great pity that all the warm words from some Labour and Lib Dem councillors about making Edinburgh more welcoming aren't backed up by action on this issue. Only the Conservatives propose the action Jim Taylor suggests to make Edinburgh's taxi trade more responsive to its customers and end the dubious "trade" in taxi plates.
Cllr Iain Whyte, leader of the Conservative Group, Edinburgh City Council. End.
Mr J Taylor writes that "FORMER" council leader "Donald Anderson" often informs us Edinburgh's economy is "burgeoning". Rightly, the city needs a transport infrastructure to match and the council's five-year transport strategy aims to deliver this. Curiously, the council's plan omits taxis, although they form a significant part of the travelling public's choice mix.
Council-owned Lothian Buses' expansion of its night bus service will be welcomed, particularly by those who experience difficulty hailing a taxi during peak periods. However, why does this taxi shortage exist?
Click to learn more...
In my 13 years driving taxis, fleet numbers have risen from 1030 to 1260 (static for four years) - private hire from around 100 to nearly 900.
While private hire soared by over 800 per cent, taxis increased only 20 per cent because of the council's policy to deliberately restrict them.
The council has refused numerous licence applications, spending tens of thousands of pounds of our money in legal fees defending its policy. With inexhaustible public funds it knows the prohibitive legal cost deters opposition.
Although claiming no significant unmet demand for taxis, the council is spending £582 million on trams to meet passenger demand and spent over £300,000 launching a taxi-bus service to the airport. These compete directly with taxis.
They are set against the backdrop of an expanding local economy, increased traffic through rail stations and the airport (recently opened to taxis), more hotel beds with higher occupancy rates from expanding tourism, and the introduction of marshals at taxi ranks to manage queues at peak periods because of an excess demand the council tells us doesn't exist.
The council's unreasonable restriction policy has driven licence plate "values" to over £50,000. Although legislation does not permit licences to be transferred, this is circumvented through the council's own policy of "incorporation".
Rentals for drivers who can't afford to "buy in" to secure their employment have risen to around £350 per week, their employment status no more secure than casual labour. With three drivers for every owner, the real prospect of unemployment discourages drivers from speaking out through fear of being ostracised.
However, granted their own licence, drivers could operate a brand new, fully funded, single-shifted taxi for as little as £190 per week - a huge saving, less hours at the wheel, more hours worked during peak periods and improved service for the public.
Isn't it time for change, for modernisation in line with the London model - no quantity restriction of taxis but with quality controls like "the knowledge"?
How is it acceptable, in a free market economy, for the council to compete against the taxi trade it also regulates and restricts? Doesn't this conflict of interest work against the interests of both taxi drivers and fare-paying passengers, who simply want access to taxis when they need them?
Isn't the council's policy to restrict taxi numbers and stifle competition unreasonable, unjustifiable, unsustainable and morally bankrupt? End.
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