Taxi Licensing News 20 August 2014

Illegal taxi driving practices continue in Bristol

In a recent report about Bristol’s rising taxi driving menace, the taxi drivers from Bristol have voiced their concerns of how outsider taxi drivers are damaging their reputation by claiming high fares and indulging in illegal practices. The Bristol taxi drivers say that private hire cabs involved in picking up street passengers without prior booking are putting themselves as well the passengers at a great risk. Another illegal practice that they conduct are over-charging, especially during the night runs, where the fares have gone as high as £100 on weekend nights from legal ‘Hackney Carriage’ and the private hire drivers, who are Bristol based only.

It is hard to make out if the cab belongs to Bristol or not, since these are not insured against anything, these cabs often over-charge because they do not use a taxi meter.

The taxi drivers said that they seek to urge the Council to address their apprehensions and take strict actions by cautiously and secretively tapping the illegal practices in certain prone areas for proof.

Though the Bristol City Council said that the current National Taxi Licensing Regulations allow only licensed Hackney Carriages to operate as private hire vehicles in another authority, clearly indicating that these should be pre-booked since it will be used as a private hire carriage.

This check can be enforced through spot checks and test purchasing operations, on busy weekend nights. But when reported, such incidents can only be forwarded by the local authorities to the licensing authorities for license issuing, without taking any further action. Though in rare situations incidents like; illegal hire plying is handled by severe actions like prosecution of the offenders.


Scunthorpe taxi drivers against the new licensing rules

In Scunthorpe, as part of their new Taxi licensing policies, the North Lincolnshire Council has suggested that taxi drivers could now receive 8 to 12 points on their Hackney license on refusal to take fare. This refusal has to be explained with “a reasonable excuse”, failing to do so might result in 12 points mark on their license, meaning that they could lose their licence.

John Fleming, the Chairman of Scunthorpe branch of National Taxi Association has said there was no consultation with them regarding the new impositions. In a recent meet, the Scunthorpe taxi drivers have cited their issues when they are being verbally and physically abused and not being paid because people flee without paying. Fleming said, “At a licensing committee meeting we were told that we had to take fares no matter what and if we refuse for any reason we will be prosecuted. What happens if I get someone in my taxi who is threatening? I’m worried about my safety. Where is the safety for the drivers?”

Though many drivers have mentioned how they are threatened for life, and as there are female cabbies in the town too, this puts them on a higher risk as there is no effective remedy available. The police consider such matters ‘civil’ and refuses to help.

The new rules have increased the pressure on the drivers, in an answer to which, a Council spokesperson explained, “The points system will only change how the Council can take action against taxi drivers.”

He further added how it is considered a criminal offence to refuse passengers with infectious diseases or ones carrying their pets.

Though the discretion is completely based on council’s actions, Councilor Keith Vickers showing his concern over the matter said though it seems difficult, but taxi drivers cannot refuse fare. The new set of rules comes after The Telegraph had recently revealed how drivers were refusing to take passengers because the journeys were short.


Taxi license renewal: Portsmouth Councilors carry out discussions

In a recent renewal of old taxi licensing rules, the Portsmouth City Council seems to be working on enforcing a new licensing regulation which will impose a restriction on issuing licenses to Hackney’s carriages that are more than 8 years older.

Though, in a report, the council officers have mentioned that they do not support the bid to renew the licenses. Apparently, these officers do not see any justification in waving the age-old policy which is already in place.

The discussion is expected to be chaired by Councilor Les Stevens, where all the members, will hold a meeting in the coming week and decide upon the license renewal policies for these carriages. If, they do decide to allow licensing for more than 8 year old carriages, will they be subjected to further inspections before the issuing of the license.


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