Taxi drivers in Merseyside are calling for new laws after spotting a private hire car with what appear to be fake paper plates carrying customers out of Liverpool.
A Hackney driver took pictures of the car heading out of the city and through the Queensway Tunnel towards Birkenhead recently.
The National Taxi Drivers Association says the car in the picture ( below ) is “clearly using fake white plates” instead of the correct Private Hire plates as well as a fake aerial set.
This image appears to show a private hire driver with white paper/card where a license plate should be.
The association also claims that one of its members then flagged the car down and asked the driver to produce his private hire badge - only to be shown a bus pass.
The association is now calling for a “major shake-up” to the way the private hire industry is regulated and policed in the region and has called for local leaders to take on the new findings of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis.
Kevin Lawrence is the chair of the National Taxi Driver Association in Liverpool and said the picture in question shows the scale of the problem with private hire standards in the region.
This private hire car chose to park up in a disabled bay
He said: “The picture clearly shows a car showing a white paper or cardboard plate instead of a private plate and a fake aerial set.
“When he was stopped on the other side of the tunnel by a Hackney driver and asked to produce his badge he showed him a bus pass.
“Pictures like this prove these standards are not being upheld and that it isn’t possible to do so without a new ruling being drafted in - this shows that fake cars are working here.”
Mr Lawrence said he also ran the license plates of the car in question and found that it did not have a valid MOT certificate.
What is being proposed?
Private hire drivers parked on the pavement.
The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Taxis has produced a new report on the future of the taxi trade, following a three month investigation led by Labour MP Wes Streeting.
The report calls on the Government to give mayors or combined authorities the power to cap the number of private hire vehicles on the streets, to stop what is known as cross-border hiring and to set out a “robust set of minimum licensing standards” for taxis and private hire vehicles.
The report makes a number of recommendations, including:
-Calling on the government to grant regional leaders the power to cap the number of private hire numbers.
-Creating a statutory definition of cross border hiring whereby a journey must ‘begin or end in the licensing authority where the license was issued.
-Consult on statutory guidance for taxi and private hire licensing and set out a robust set of minimum standards for all licensing authorities.
-Call on Government to create a legally enforceable statutory definition of plying for hire
Problems in our region
An investigation earlier this year found that while many private hire drivers in Liverpool are acting correctly, there are a good number who are breaking the law.
We found many examples of drivers parked illegally, taking up disabled and bus bays.
But the biggest problem seemed to be private hire drivers regularly “plying for hire”, meaning waiting on the road or even in taxi ranks to pick up passengers off the street who haven’t booked them.
This is a particular problem for Liverpool as drivers are getting licenses elsewhere, many getting licensed in London by TfL and then heading to the city centre to pick up fares.
Its something the city council is trying to crack down on.
Chair of licensing Cllr Christine Banks said: “Most of the 2,163 private hire drivers in our city do obey the law, but we have a specific issue in Liverpool with drivers coming in from neighbouring boroughs to ply for trade illegally because of our vibrant night time economy.
“We already run regular operations and issue fines, warnings and prosecutions to hundreds of drivers every year but could do more if we were able to use some of the taxi licensing fees paid to other areas to boost it.”
There has previously been talk of a city-region wide licence which could cover all six boroughs and allow leaders to pinpoint hot spots and take action.
The findings of the APPG would appear to back this idea up as a way forward.
Mr Lawrence agrees, he said: “We must regulate what we have at the present and ensure that public safety is paramount - we need to drive standards forward.”
“We need to cap what we already have and build a team capable of enforcement for all boroughs in the combined authority.”
Source : Liverpool Echo