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PostPosted: Thu Jun 02, 2005 8:44 am 
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The vast majority of taxis spot-checked in Oldham in the past year failed their MOT. Of 230 Hackney carriage and private-hire vehicles tested, 170 were found to have defects.

And while some were back on the road the next day, others had to be taken out of service with problems ranging from brake defects to four bald tyres.

Of 140 checked between September and March, 52 were found to have major faults. The 75 per cent failure figure was greeted with a mixture of surprise and unease by taxi-users on the streets of Oldham yesterday.

Bing Findlater (40), from Royton, said: “It isn’t good. They should be checking more often. When you jump in a taxi you expect them to be to a standard better than your own car.”

Valerie Corner (52), from Werneth, commented: “They have got to be 101 per cent safe because they aren’t cheap. The Government needs to clamp down.”

Diane Murphy (38), from Fitton Hill, uses taxis every day. She said: “They found the same thing when they did checks on buses I seem to remember. I always put my seat belt on when I get in a cab.”

Oldham Council’s principal licensing officer, John Garforth, admitted the figures were a concern but insisted that the borough’s taxi fleet was generally safe. “People shouldn’t be worrying about the quality of the vehicles they are getting into,” he said. “Random spot checks, which council officers carry out with the police and government vehicle inspectors, are mounted in addition to mandatory safety tests every six months.

“Some companies have their own systems on top of that, but there are individual drivers who don’t look after vehicles as much as others do, which is why these spot-checks are in place. “This is about trying to maintain public confidence.”

There are 85 Hackney cabs — those permitted to pick-up on the street — and about 700 private-hire vehicles registered in Oldham. The spot-check figures were part of a licensing committee report outlining what the council’s licensing service has achieved in the past year. This includes taking over responsibility for liquor licensing from magistrates and processing 3,500 licences — including 304 for new private-hire vehicles — and three sex shop renewals.

Licensing officers have begun using a new rapid response vehicle on safety spotchecks and surveillance. Part of their work is now spent monitoring Oldham town centre on Friday and Saturday nights.

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