Taxi driver to pay £1,404 for illegally plying for trade

A taxi driver who was found to have illegally plied for trade in York has been ordered to pay a total £1,404 and was given six points on his driving licence.

In August 2017 as part of a joint enforcement operation, City of York Council officers and North Yorkshire Police were carrying out routine checks of taxis and private hire vehicles in York city centre. Sohail Ahmed (aged 45 of Wensleydale Road, Bradford) was stopped on Holgate Road, while driving a Hackney carriage licensed by Rossendale Borough Council.

Uber and out

….or not as the case may now be in York!

The council decided last night that – because of data protection issues and complaint  levels – Uber’s York private hire license would not be renewed.

Whether it will make much difference remains to be seen.

The committee heard that the vast majority of Uber drivers in the City do not live in York anyway.

The company has a right to appeal.

Whatever people views might be about this particular company, many customers these days clearly do want to use an “App” to summon private hire vehicles. Knowing in advance the likely cost of a journey, and when the vehicle is likely will arrive, are viewed as advantages. Automatic billing is another plus point as is the opportunity for drivers and passengers to record their views on the quality of their journey experience. .

There seems to be a window of opportunity for an enterprising local company to set up a service using one of the rival IT platforms. Hopefully this would guarantee at least some “tech savvy” local drivers would have the opportunity to benefit from any growth in demand for private hire cars in York.

Currently the City has around 800 licensed private hire and taxi drivers. Of these, 10 locally registered Uber drivers.


UBER York private hire license up for renewal

A meeting taking place on 12th December will determine whether to renew Ubers operating license in York.

Uber London recently lost a similar license  on the grounds that they are not a ‘fit and proper’ person to hold
a licence.

Over the last year the Authority has received 155 complaints relating to Uber vehicles/drivers. There were also 141 complaints about non Uber vehicles/drivers.

Uber driver complaints

A majority of the complaints about Uber related to matters such as alleged plying for hire,to many out of town vehicles operating in York, dangerous driving, smoking in vehicles and fares charged.

The majority of Uber drivers were from Bradford and Leeds.

Only 4 of the Uber complaints related to York registered vehicles/drivers

If the license application were refused, Uber drivers licensed in other local authority areas would still be able to operate in York.

Council officials say there is no obvious justification for not renewing the Uber York licence


Taxi safety shock following checks in York

Another series of checks on taxis and private hire vehicles in York has been carried out in a multi-agency operation involving council and police officers, to ensure the vehicles are providing a safe service to passengers.

Officers from partners including City of York Council, North Yorkshire Police and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) supported the operations. Bradford and Calderdale councils were also involved as they represent some of the neighbouring authorities which licence taxis and which can legally operate in the region.

The operations ran throughout the evenings and into the mornings of Friday 13 October and Friday 3 November. Over the two operations, a total of 44 private hire vehicles and hackney carriages which were operating in the city that evening were stopped and checked.

All vehicles underwent full mechanical examinations for defects by the DVSA at the council’s MOT test centre at Hazel Court or at the roadside. Checks were also made to ensure that the drivers were properly licensed, insured and that the vehicles they were driving were safe to carry customers on the roads.

As a result, seven vehicles were ordered off the road by the DVSA due to the faults found including:

  • a defective tyre (sidewall bulging/casing separated)
  • a tyre with less than the minimum tread requirement
  • defective or inoperative headlights or brake lights
  • a serious fuel leak.

Another seven vehicles were found to have faults and the drivers were given three days to fix them and get MOT approval. The variety of mechanical defects included:

  • defective
  • engine oil
  • split drive shaft cover
  • defective seat belt
  • anti roll bars inoperative

A further eight drivers were advised to repair minor vehicle defects and several others were also warned by taxi enforcement officers about breaches of taxi licensing rules.

In addition, eight private hire vehicles were suspended from working due to mechanical defects and other breaches of taxi and private hire licensing rules.

A pizza delivery vehicle was also seized by police for having no insurance.

“Anyone with concerns about the conduct of drivers or the condition of their vehicles should email so we can investigate.”

Inspector Andy Godfrey, of York City Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have continued to conduct joint operations with City of York Council in an effort to improve safety for taxi customers.

“Members of the public who use taxis and private hires in York can be reassured that once again, the majority of vehicles are safe and in good order.

“Our most recent operation, however, has identified some issues and I would remind all taxi drivers that it is their responsibility to ensure their vehicle is in good order, and free of defects before they use it, regardless of if it is a company vehicle.

“We will continue to carry out similar operations in the near future to ensure that standards are being maintained.”


Crackdown on cross border private hire car operators in York

TaxiPrivateThe York Council is joining forces with neighbouring authorities in West Yorkshire in an attempt to root out rogue private hire vehicle operators.

Licensing standards in different authorities vary. It has been alleged that some companies exploit these differences to operate with minimal standards.

Currently York Council officers have no powers to conduct any enforcement activity on taxis or private hire drivers or vehicles not licensed by the authority. Operators may choose to be licensed by authorities with less rigorous licensing standards and simply transfer bookings from the York district to that operating base. There may be significant difficulties in verifying whether a pre booking was in place, when investigating plying for hire concerns.

A report to a Council committee details the objectives of having a common policy across York and West Yorkshire

  • Safeguarding- child sexual exploitation – human trafficking – a common minimum training standard for the trade.
  • Driver application process – improved common minimum standards
  • English comprehension – common minimum standards for new applicants, it would only apply to existing licence holders where there was an identified need, with the focus being on training and development within an agreeable timeframe.
  • Convictions Policy and Convictions Criteria – standard criteria be adopted.
  • Decision making-scheme of delegation – all local authorities introduce a scheme of delegation to Officers for decision making.
  • Private Hire Operator Conditions – a common standard across the Combined Authority.
  • Private Hire Vehicle Conditions – all West Yorkshire and York licensed vehicles have similar recognisable door livery which deforms when removed.
  • Common Byelaws – Hackney Carriages – a common standard across the Combined Authority.
  • Authorised Officer status – Licensing and Enforcement Officers able to carry out inspection and suspension powers on a vehicle licensed by any Combined Authority, through the scheme of delegation of powers being coordinated across all the authorities to enable more efficient enforcement action.

While steps to safeguard the public interest will be welcomed in the City, the current proposals do not appear address cross border issues concerning vehicles from other parts of North Yorkshire or Teesside.

York Council set to adopt new taxi licensing policies

Users expecting fares to go down in wake of fuel cost reduction
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The York Council is expected to produce a new licensing code for taxi and private hire operations when it meets on 8th February. The proposed regulations include little that is new and will be subject to a consultation period.

Private hire licences will be available for 5 years and some “cross border “working will be allowed.

Compulsory training on child sex exploitation is also being introduced.

Most passengers will be looking with anticipation at the new fares stricture due to be introduced in April.

Fare levels are worked out using an index agreed by the taxi trade several years ago.  A Freedom of information request at this time last year revealed that there should be a small reduction in fare levels, but this was never introduced.

Sustained low fuel cost levels over the last 12 months should mean a more significant reduction is due this year.

NB The same meeting will consider an application to renew a sex establishment license at 53 Micklegate (Mansion club)