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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:17 pm 
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Hull City Council found guilty of bias in taxi driver training row

A watchdog has ruled Hull City Council was biased in the way it directed people applying for new taxi licences to just one training provider to obtain a necessary qualification.

Until changes were made earlier this year, the council's application pack for would-be taxi drivers only referred to one provider of a mandatory BTEC course.

It involved 150 hours of home revision based on a 175-page training document followed by a three-day classroom course.

In a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman, the Humber Taxi Association (HTA) claimed the council unfairly signposted applicants to North Humberside Motor Trades Group Training Association, a charity which provides apprenticeships to the authority's adult education department Hull Training.

In a new report, the Ombudsman said the council had shown show bias towards one of its own sub-contractors by failing to include details of an alternative independent accredited BTEC provider, Humberside Training Associates, which was set up in 2018 with the support of the HTA.

After receiving an initial complaint over the application pack, the watchdog said council agreed to include details of the alternative provider in a revised version.

However, the new pack still only named the same provider and gave contact details while stating: "The BTEC can be obtained through any accredited provider."

The Ombudsman said: "The council failed to take the action required. The revised pack stated any provider could be used but it still in effect, pointed applications to one training provider.

"It took until January 2020, after a complaint to the Ombudsman, for the council to properly address the issue."

The Ombudsman also ruled the council had failed to properly review or renew its contract with the charity after initially setting up and funding the BTEC course as a pilot scheme seven years earlier.

The report said this lack of oversight contradicted Hull Training's own written polices which requires sub-contracted contracts to be reviewed annually.

It said the council's response to complaints by the HTA about this and its links to the sub-contracting company were "not open and transparent".

In a judgement, the Ombudsman said: "The council should apologise to the (Humber Taxi) Association for the lack of transparency in its responses to their complaints and correspondence.

"It should also apologise for the delay in removing Training Provider Y (the Motor Trades Group) from the application pack."

As part of the decision, the council was also ordered to pay £250 to the taxi association to recognise the "time and trouble" it had gone to in pursuing the matter.

David Stuart, a director at Humberside Training Associates, said: "It is a pretty damning report and really shows how independent training providers in the area, including Humberside Training Associates, have suffered as a result of the council's actions.

"More pertinently to the people of Hull, the actions of the council have adversely affected the taxi trade in Hull with many taxi businesses going to the wall and potential drivers not being given a freedom of choice and encouragement to pursue taxiing as a career.

"The council blatantly disadvantaged us as it was clearly inappropriate for the licensing pack to refer to only one provider of the BTEC course, which just happened to be a sub-contractor of its own adult education department."

A city council spokesperson said: "The city council always endeavours to follow a fair approach when recruiting training providers and other outside contractors.

"This is a report from a ruling from June 2020. Since the ruling, the council has begun a full review of taxi driver training, including the knowledge test, and any future provider will be required to undertake a quality assurance process.

"Hull City Council always strives to make sure the city's drivers are trained in accordance with current guidance and are able to provide the high standard of service expected by the public, including drivers having a good working knowledge of the city and being able to communicate this to their passengers."

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2020 9:19 pm 
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A city council spokesperson said: "The city council always endeavours to follow a fair approach when recruiting training providers and other outside contractors.

"This is a report from a ruling from June 2020. Since the ruling, the council has begun a full review of taxi driver training, including the knowledge test, and any future provider will be required to undertake a quality assurance process.

"Hull City Council always strives to make sure the city's drivers are trained in accordance with current guidance and are able to provide the high standard of service expected by the public, including drivers having a good working knowledge of the city and being able to communicate this to their passengers."

This drives me mad.

All they needed to say was we are sorry, and we have now changed things.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:00 pm 
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David Stuart, a director at Humberside Training Associates, said: "It is a pretty damning report and really shows how independent training providers in the area, including Humberside Training Associates, have suffered as a result of the council's actions.

"More pertinently to the people of Hull, the actions of the council have adversely affected the taxi trade in Hull with many taxi businesses going to the wall and potential drivers not being given a freedom of choice and encouragement to pursue taxiing as a career.

"The council blatantly disadvantaged us as it was clearly inappropriate for the licensing pack to refer to only one provider of the BTEC course, which just happened to be a sub-contractor of its own adult education department."

Not entirely clear how what the council did 'sent taxi businesses to the wall' and how potential drivers weren't encouraged to pursue taxiing as a career.

Unless, of course, he means that thier own course was easier to 'pass' than the course that the council was steering applicants towards. Which certainly ties in with the earlier discussion here about the course effectively being an assessment rather than a qualifcation as such, therefore effectively impossible to fail.

And isn't the Humberside Training Associates that complained to the ombudsman an offshoot of or closely related to the Humber Taxi Association, which was the rebranded Humber Private Hire Association :?:

Which makes a mockery of the complainer's point about the council being unfair to 'indepedent' providers of the qualification. Huge conflict of interest if it's in their interests to get as many drivers through the course as possible.

Which is why in turn I don't think organisations like this should be allowed to adminster such courses in the first place [-(


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:28 am 
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Two years ago, Magnus Murray wrote:
“Anybody who wants a career change, and those affected by the adverse effects of Brexit can come in and speak to us because it can be a stopgap for people until they get employment elsewhere."

When he said that in 2019 I assumed he was anti-Brexit, but seems he was actually pro-Brexit, and as a consequence is standing for the council as an independent candidate.

So presumably his point back then about Brexit's 'adverse effects' was not a principled stand against Brexit but rather a recruiting tool. Who'd have expected that? It's an ill wind... :-o


Meet the Brexit-inspired Hull taxi driver standing to be a councillor

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hu ... xi-5326841

Image
Image: Hull Daily Mail

Outspoken Magnus Murray says he would be available to the public 24 hours a day

A Hull taxi driver has said he was inspired to stand as an independent candidate in next month's local council elections because he felt politicians had "ignored" voters on Brexit.

Magnus Murray, probably best known for his role as secretary of the Hull-based Humber Taxi Association, is standing in Marfleet ward in east Hull.

The taxi driver said his entry into the local elections field followed his "keen interest" in politics, particularly in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum which saw voters side with leaving the EU.

Mr Murray is among the handful of independent candidates are hoping to make a breakthrough in Hull's council elections next month.

At the moment, all 57 seats on the authority are occupied by representatives from the main political parties. Unlike the East Riding where there is long-standing tradition of independent councillors, Hull has seen relatively few in recent years.

In the past, those who did end up as independents at the Guildhall were usually previously members of one of the main parties, having walked away for one reason or another.

Without having the resources of an organised party machine behind them, it's often hard for independent to make an impact during an election campaign, particularly when it comes to delivering leaflets.

Nonetheless, several are still trying to make a name for themselves this year by standing on their own platform.

Mr Murray said he felt politicians had become too "remote" from voters, adding he wanted to be more in touch with and available to them.

He said: "I've always had a keen interest in politics and I've now reached the stage in my life when I can devote more time to it.

"What really inspired me to get more involved was Brexit and what happened afterwards when certain parts of the political establishment actively attempted to ignore what the majority of people voted for, including the three Labour MPs in Hull.

"At the time, I applauded Labour MPs like Caroline Flint in Don Valley because she stood up for her constituents and supported Brexit because they had voted for it.

"She was prepared to put her neck on the line and, ultimately, probably lost her seat in the 2019 general election because she stuck to her principles.

"If I get elected, that's what I will bring to the job of being a councillor. I believe that when you are elected by the people you should represent the people, not carry on doing what you like for various ulterior motives.

"Over the years I've voted for Labour and the Conservatives, a classic floating voter if you like. I'm not at one political extreme or another, probably dead centre for most of my life and I suspect most people are.

"What I believe in is politicians being available 24 hours a day and that's what I would be, not just having a surgery once a month. Things have got too remote, too distant from the average person and I want to change that."

Although he's standing in Marfleet, he actually lives in nearby Bilton.

"I've owned a couple of businesses in Marfleet for 20 years so that's why I decided to stand there.

"As well as my background in taxis, I'm also self-trained in civil litigation and have been involved in that for a long time.

"It interests me because it's about challenging things and putting things right for people, particularly in local government - not just in Hull but in other places like the East Riding and North Lincolnshire where I've also been involved in cases.

"I'm proud to say I've never lost a case yet." [...]


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:28 am 
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Funny too that in the articles about the BTEC etc he looked like a Mr Big in the trade, while now he's been reinvented more as a grasroots driver. Not sure whether that's the media's own portrayal, or whether he maybe thinks it's more of a vote winner if he looks more like a man of the people, or whatever :?

(The final few paragraphs of the article are about the other independent candidates, so left those bits out. But the main focus of the article is certainly on Mr Murray.)


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:19 pm 
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Do drivers still actually have mikes?

Dark ages.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2021 6:26 pm 
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Sussex wrote:
Do drivers still actually have mikes?

Thought that too, but on closer inspection it looks like a charger plugged into his mobile phone.

But, yes, all the offices here still use two-way radios, as far as I know :oops:


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:12 pm 
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I still use two way radios as well usually on talk through :wink: much more flexible

and yes it is a charger because you can see the red LED in the pic !

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2022 11:58 pm 
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Have given up trying to work out the hidden agendas with this lot. With the supposed driver shortage in Hull since the 1800s (or it feels like that), you'd think they'd welcome a course that costs £100 rather than £400 8-[


Plans to overhaul training for Hull taxi drivers put on hold

https://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/news/hu ... xi-6470172

Industry figures claimed it would not solve shortages and put customers' safety at risk

Proposals to overhaul training for Hull taxi drivers to get more of them into the sector have been put on hold.

Hull City Council's Licensing Committee heard the overhaul would see a new six part training course done in house, costing £100 compared to £400 for the current qualification.

The committee heard the new course was designed to encourage more people into the trade while addressing customer complaints about the behaviour and practices of some drivers.

But Bill Waddington, a solicitor speaking on behalf of the Humber Taxi Association, said firms were concerned it would lead to a drop in standards by offering diluted training.

Magnus Murray, a taxi driver and the Association's secretary, said the overhaul would not halt the exodus prompted by companies hiking their fare takings from 10 to 20 per cent.

It comes as councillors heard 14 complaints were recently lodged against Hull taxi drivers within a six week period and as many have taken other jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The accused some drivers of rudeness, inappropriate behaviour, bad driving and poor customer service. A report to the committee also stated there had been times when some drivers had failed to report convictions or cautions, a condition of their licence.

The committee heard it was leading to concerns over the safety of customers, particularly the elderly, vulnerable, disabled and women taking taxis at night.

Councillors heard the new in house course would launch in April 2022 and be done by Guildhall learning and development teams.

Any new drivers coming into the sector would be required to study over three classroom-based sessions while those already with a licence would be covered by their current qualification.

The proposed course would cover regulations, licensing conditions, equality and working with disabled customers, as well as health and safety and what to do in an emergency.

Speakers would also be invited to talk to applicants about specialist topics and those who pass would be given a certificate with support for trainees struggling with certain modules.

Councillors heard the cost of the current course, which Hull drivers have been required to do since 2013, could be creating barriers to people entering the trade.

The new course, if adopted, would be free for the first six months before the £100 fee is introduced.

Council officers said recent complaints could suggest the current qualification was no longer fit for purpose while the new one would be cheaper while maintaining standards.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Cheryl Payne said she recently took a taxi which had to stop twice to get directions, showing improvements were needed.

The councillor said: "These issues and incidents in the past few months begs the questions of whether the current qualification works.

"With the amount of people who speak to me about taxi drivers, it seems some have no standards at all, customers might not know where they're being taken or they might be taken on longer routes which are more expensive."

But Mr Waddington said drivers feared the new course could leave customers at greater risk if it does not keep up standards.

He said: "A number of factors are causing driver shortages, not just the pandemic itself but the fact that Hull's two remaining major firms have imposed rate increases for drivers.

"The current qualification has been used around the country for 20 years, it's delivered by instructors with degrees, it's entirely fit for purpose."

Mr Murray said shortages were being caused because drivers were not willing to work for less.

He said: "The new course isn't going to solve the problem, public protection will be put at risk."

The Licensing Committee has agreed to put the plans on hold and is set to hold a further meeting with council Transport Portfolio Holder Cllr Dean Kirk.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 10, 2022 11:59 pm 
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Hull City Council's Licensing Committee heard the overhaul would see a new six part training course done in house, costing £100 compared to £400 for the current qualification.

This probably explains the whole lot, particularly the words 'in house', and the fact that the cost of the new course would be £100 rather than £400.

So no more £400-a-pop dripping roast to teach newbie drivers, to er, daydream out of the window :roll:


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2022 4:06 pm 
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I can't really see how any amount of money gobbling Training would be able to transform an inherently unhelpful surly slob into a polite and well mannered helpful person....you are either a people person or your not and nor ever will be.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2022 8:38 pm 
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It comes as councillors heard 14 complaints were recently lodged against Hull taxi drivers within a six week period and as many have taken other jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The accused some drivers of rudeness, inappropriate behaviour, bad driving and poor customer service. A report to the committee also stated there had been times when some drivers had failed to report convictions or cautions, a condition of their licence.

And no doubt these drivers have undertaken the £400 course at some time.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:47 pm 
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Yes, and more striking was perhaps the councillor whose driver had to stop twice to ask directions :roll:

But that indicates the nub of the whole thing - instead of concentrating on the basics like knowledge tests, which drivers have to actually put some effort into and pass, it's easier to produce sheafs of paper, tick boxes and just get drivers to turn up and sit there, and the process is a huge dripping roast for some as well.

And to that degree I agree with Bloodnock - maybe better to concentrate on the basics rather than stuff that can't really be taught, not to mention stuff like slavery awareness training, etc :roll:


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:48 pm 
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But here's a comment left on the HDM website, obviously from a big cheese in the trade. And, obviously, one who thinks a new slimmed down in-house council process would bring more drivers into the trade, underlining that he's maybe not one of those benefitting from the dripping roast attaching to administering the course. And interesting comments about the demand thing too:

David Smith, corporate and customer service, Hull Cars, wrote:
Poor taxi provision on the run up to Christmas was purely down to high demand and a shortage of drivers. Looking at our figures and estimating our competition's numbers, nearly 500,000 trips were done in December by Hull private hire companies. 14 complaints lodged with licensing over 6 weeks, whilst none would be ideal, is not a bad reflection on the standard of the profession in my opinion. I am responsible for all complaints received at Hull Cars. This year saw the lowest proportion of complaints I have seen in the 20+ years I have been in the trade.

Although post Christmas, demand has fallen to more manageable levels, if there is a recovery of the economy, which looks more and more likely, demand will again increase to the point where we cannot offer taxis to a high percentage of our customers. Many are wanting to resume their social lives or get back in to work.

In this respect I think the council may have been short-sighted in their assessment of the situation and not going with their attractive training package attracting more drivers.

Surely any recovery of hospitality locally will rely on getting customers to and from the venues. Recently I have had enquiries from several pub owners asking if they can have a dedicated service, where taxis will just wait outside their premises for their customers only. They are willing to pay the taxis waiting times just to make sure that their customers can be guaranteed to get home, This is not a service we have the resources for at this time, but it does demonstrate the frustration already being shown by pubs and clubs.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2022 10:50 pm 
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But this is actually the comment I was looking for, which I meant to post last night, but forgot. Who'd have expected this:

Quote:
Has anyone tried to get a public hire licence? I know some councilors had public hire licences although they never taxied, public hire licences are not given out to minions.


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