December 29, 2009
Nobody likes the idea of Big Brother breathing down your neck. Let’s face it, who would? At the same time, the need for cab quality and paperwork to stand up to public scrutiny is hard to argue with, provided any concerns are dealt with in a measured way.
In addition to regular cab tests, unscheduled roadside checks appear to be on the up around the UK. Encouragingly results in recent quality-blitzes have proved positive in many instances, although others appear to have justified the case for such tests.
Exeter Measures Up
Cabbies in Exeter have been praised by licensing officers following a multi agency operation that took place at the city’s airport. Over 30 vehicles were checked from various taxi and private hire businesses. All bar one of the cabs were found to be lawfully run, with only a small breach of local conditions on two of the others. One vehicle from the East Devon area was found to be unlicensed.
East Devon Licensing officer Dougie Jackson, who led the multi-agency team, was very pleased with the standard of the vehicles and drivers that were checked at the airport.
Mr. Jackson commented: “It was good to see the high level of professionalism amongst the drivers. In carrying out this operation we had the full support of the airport authorities, who are keen to see that the airport is not brought into disrepute.”
Nine Down in Burnley and Padiham
BY contrast, nine taxis were taken off the road following an enforcement exercise carried out one Friday evening by Lancashire Police, Burnley Council and HM Revenue & Customs.
Of a total of 33 vehicles stopped, seven were found to have minor defects and nine had problems so serious the vehicles were immediately prohibited from using the roads.
Problems included leaking brake fluid, suspension wear and damage to seat belts.
Inspector Mark Baines, from Burnley Police, said: “I’m sure the vast majority of drivers and operators take their responsibilities very seriously and make sure their vehicles are maintained to the highest standards. In fact a good number of operators welcomed the checks. However, as this exercise has shown, there are some who have not been complying with the law and that is clearly cause for concern.”
Double Blitz hits Bristol
Not one but two major joint operations to crackdown on unlicensed and un-roadworthy taxi and private hire vehicles have been held in Bristol. The first, carried out in daytime at Temple Meads, saw 43 hackneys and 14 private hire vehicles checked. Nine licenses were suspended as a result, mainly due to safety related defects.
The second operation took place during the night. Twenty-one vehicles in total were tested, including three hackneys and 18 private hire vehicles. Of the total, two vehicles were subject to license suspension.
Councillor Gary Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety said: “We were pleased that in most cases the vehicles examined were in good condition, as no prior announcement of the checks had been made.
Newport under the Microscope
Taxis in Newport are the latest in Wales to be placed under the police microscope. Gwent police teamed up with representatives from the local authority licensing department, the Department for Work and Pensions, VOSA and HM Revenue and Customs to inspect the city’s taxis. 91 taxis were stopped by HM Revenue & Customs and checked for tax evasion. Happily, all cabbies passed this check.
VOSA, however, checked 24 taxis and nine were prohibited for vehicle defect offences.
In all, more than 100 taxis were checked with taxis performing well overall. 13 were issued with fixed penalty notices for various offences including speeding and not wearing a seatbelt. Nine drivers were reported for plying for hire in breach of their taxi license.
PC Andy Wiltshire, who co-ordinated the operation, said: “The vast majority of the taxi drivers in Newport operate to a high standard, prioritise passenger safety and adhere to legislation. Through pro-active operations such as this one we hope to improve taxi driving standards and reassure members of the public that the service offered to them is safe and legal.”