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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:27 pm 
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Noticed this headline in the Stevenage Comet the other day:

New Stevenage safety campaign warns of 'attack risk' and 'rip-off fares' when using taxi touts

https://www.thecomet.net/motoring/steve ... -1-6460988


Which raised my curiosity immediately, because I suspected that the campaign would be more about *PHVs plying for hire* rather than *taxis touting*. Also, it seemed the type of campaign that would be launched before Christmas, rather than a few days after most people went back to work.

Anyway, the latter point was solved immediately (I think) because the council's press realease is dated 16 December 2019, so presumably the paper just didn't run the story until after the new year (when I say 'paper' I actually mean its website, of course, so maybe the actual newspaper ran the article last year, and it's only just been put up on the website).

The touting point is also resolved on reading the official press release, or at least partially so. While the Comet headlines with the word 'tout', and uses it a couple of other times in the article, the council uses it only once, and it's not emphasised in the same way as the Comet does: "Beware of touts who ply for business late at night around local clubs and pubs."

So to that degree the council's take is a bit better than how the Comet has rehashed it, but 'ply for business' is almost saying plying for hire, so is it that, or touting, or both? Maybe it doesn't matter, but since the article is supposed to explain things to the public, it seems to blur the distinction between touting and plying for hire.

And another major shortcoming is that the council uses the word 'taxi' to mean both HCs and PHVs. So not unusual, but doesn't really help clarify things. And that's why stuff like the bus lane signs can be a bit confusing, whey they state 'taxi' to mean HCs, but *councils* use 'taxi' to refer to both HCs and PHVs :roll:

But more generally, quite apart from the forgoing, what do the public atually take from stuff like this? Does it help them, or just cause further confusion? Perhaps it helps clarify things for some, but not for the vast majority, I suspect, and even that's ignoring the confusion with the likes of the touting/PHF distinction.

And another thing in this regard is that the council is also trying to draw a distinction between Stevenage-plated cars, and those (mostly Uber, presumably) which are plated elsewhere, but again I don't think the press release really makes the distinction clear.

Anyway, here's the council's actual press release:


Council launches taxi safety campaign

http://www.stevenage.gov.uk/news-and-ev ... es/224703/

16 Dec 2019

Stevenage Borough Council has launched an information campaign to make people aware of the benefits of choosing local licensed taxis.

The campaign, which will be highlighted by posters positioned in local pubs, clubs and other facilities that attract high taxi usage, centres on safety around some of the vehicles and drivers operating within Stevenage that are not locally-licensed.

All of the drivers and vehicles licensed by Stevenage Borough Council are regularly checked to make sure they are safe and legally compliant. The council carries out extensive checks on all of its drivers including criminal and medical checks to ensure that they are fit to be licensed drivers. All Stevenage licensed vehicles are regularly tested to ensure that they are safe and roadworthy.

Stevenage Borough Council Licensing is responsible for taxi licensing in the town but does not have authority over drivers or vehicles operating in Stevenage but licensed elsewhere. Although taxi operators from outside the district may not be doing anything illegal, they are beyond SBC’s control and passengers cannot ensure companies outside of the district undertake driver and vehicle checks to the same standards that Stevenage do.

The council is urging taxi users to take Stevenage licensed taxis instead of out of town cars which they cannot regulate.

To better inform passengers of the choices available to them the council has created some guidelines for customers.

    To get home safely you should always ensure that you are using a licensed vehicle with a licensed driver.

    There are two types of licensed taxis, Private Hire and Hackney Carriage. The difference is as follows...

    A Private Hire vehicle is sometimes also referred to as a "minicab" and some private hire vehicles are used for chauffeur or executive hire purposes. Private Hire vehicles cannot be hailed on the street or approached by foot on a taxi rank. They must be pre-booked through an operating company only. Stevenage licensed Private Hire vehicles display a green plate on the rear of the vehicle showing the Stevenage Borough Council logo, their licence number and the expiry date and green door signs on each side of the vehicle. Uber and other companies operate Private Hire Licensed vehicles and journeys should only be booked through their operators.

    A Hackney Carriage or taxi can be hailed on the street or approached by foot at a taxi rank. The drivers, vehicles and company running them are required by law to be licensed to ensure public safety. Stevenage licensed Hackney Carriage vehicles display a yellow plate on the rear of the vehicle showing their licence number and the expiry date and the Stevenage Borough Council logo. Stevenage Hackney Carriage vehicles are also required to display a taxi sign on the roof of the vehicle.

    All taxi drivers licensed by Stevenage Borough Council, whether they are Hackney Carriage or Private Hire will display clearly visible badges that include their photograph, name, licence number and expiry date. These badges are yellow and green and must be produced on request by any customer, officer of the council or police officer.

    Beware of touts who ply for business late at night around local clubs and pubs. All will claim to offer the very best price and to look after you personally. They won’t. Some will not be properly licensed, may not have the correct insurance or will just rip you off with an inflated fare. As you are being lured into what is effectively a stranger’s car, there is also the risk of being mugged or attacked.

    Only use licensed taxis, and if you are unsure avoid using them.

    Book your taxi online, by phone, or in a mini-cab office, never through someone who approaches you on the street. Ask for the name of your driver when you book it too.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:33 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 16, 2012 5:33 am
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Stevenage Borough Council wrote:
Stevenage Borough Council Licensing is responsible for taxi licensing in the town but does not have authority over drivers or vehicles operating in Stevenage but licensed elsewhere. Although taxi operators from outside the district may not be doing anything illegal, they are beyond SBC’s control and passengers cannot ensure companies outside of the district undertake driver and vehicle checks to the same standards that Stevenage do.

The council is urging taxi users to take Stevenage licensed taxis instead of out of town cars which they cannot regulate.


Regulars readers on here will no doubt notice :roll: that the above was slightly contradicted by another piece from a few weeks earlier about a joint Stevenage/TfL enforcement operation. This is the official press release:

Taxis fall foul of spot checks

http://www.stevenage.gov.uk/news-and-ev ... es/223779/

29 Oct 2019

A spot check by Stevenage Borough Council licensing officers found a number of taxis failing basic standards checks, with Uber drivers among the worst offenders.

Stevenage Borough Council’s licensing officers teamed up with local parking enforcement officers and Transport for London’s taxi and private hire compliance officers in order to carry out the compliance checks.

On Friday 18 October, all taxis found working in Stevenage town centre, including Uber cabs were stopped and checked, in a continuing effort to ensure that all licensed drivers and vehicles are safe.

The safety of the public is the main concern for the Council, and making sure taxis comply with the law is an important part of this. The checks found that seven Stevenage licensed taxis had minor non-dangerous faults, all of which were corrected at the time or shortly afterwards.

Three Uber cabs were found to have faults, two of which were serious concerns and one was considered unfit to be a taxi. When this exercise was carried out in April, a similar result was found for Stevenage licensed taxis, but the standard of Uber cabs seems to have become worse.

Councillor Jackie Hollywell, portfolio holder for Communities, Community Safety and Equalities stated: “Most people are not aware of the different standards expected of taxis or taxi drivers licensed by different authorities, and that not all drivers or vehicles face the same safeguarding or safety checks. In Stevenage, all of our drivers and vehicles are checked, and meet the highest standards, and interventions like these targeting our taxis and those of Transport for London highlight the importance we place in making sure all of our residents are safe. Our licensing officers regularly inspect all of our taxis, and I would encourage people to use our cabs over those from other areas, especially if their standards do not match ours.”

Notes to editor

Taxi intervention occurred on the 18 October 2019 and included two officers from SBC Parking Enforcement, Licensing Enforcement and 2 officers from Transport for London Taxi and Private Hire Compliance Service.

    15 Stevenage licensed Hackney Carriage Vehicle drivers or vehicles were checked.

    Seven minor defects found,

      1 – no internal licence on display
      2 – copy of licence conditions not available
      1 – driver not wearing is licence badge & vehicle roof light not working
      2 – vehicles with roof lights not working
      1 – vehicle with 1 tyre near to legal minimum thread depth

    13 TfL Uber private hire cars checked

    Three defects found – one minor & two serious (one corrected during evening)

      1 – driver not wearing licence badge (minor)
      1 – driver without proof of valid insurance (major but corrected during evening)
      1 – vehicle unfit; to pass MOT before again permitted to be used (serious)


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