Saturday, April 13, 2013

Canterbury taxi drivers 'may get tougher tests'

Complaints by passengers about Canterbury taxi drivers' language skills could see tougher English tests brought in.

Some drivers also need a sat-nav to find well-known destinations, passengers have told the city council.

The authority said it was currently rewriting its taxi policy.

Head of neighbourhood services Larissa Read said the main change, if the policy was adopted, would be to bring in a comprehensive testing process.

"At the moment we are still working on the draft policy, so we cannot go into the detail of what it may contain," she said.

"But the main change, if adopted, will involve a comprehensive testing process covering areas such as a working knowledge of English required to be a driver, reading, writing, numeracy and listening skills, routes throughout the district, the Highway Code, policy conditions, byelaws, vehicle maintenance and disability awareness."

'Drivers refusing fares'
The council was consulting the Canterbury and District Taxi Association throughout the process, she added.

She said the current policy covered safety, competency and quality of service.

Taxi driver Roger Clark said some drivers did not know where they were going and would refuse fares if they did not know the destination, leaving other drivers to take over.

John Darby, another driver, said better qualifications would protect both drivers and customers.

He said: "I think it would make a major difference to the public because the public will get what they pay for which is to get from A to B in the quickest [time] and [at the] cheapest price."

Source: BBC News Kent.

Private hire driver’s jail threat

A private hire driver has been given a suspended jail sentence after a court heard he drove after a fare dodger and clipped him on the pavement with his car.

Asim Iltaf had been distracted by other people trying to get into his vehicle when he pulled up outside the Old Griffin Head Inn at Gildersome, Leeds to drop the man off in January last year.

As he tried to explain the situation to them, his fare in the front passenger seat jumped out and jogged off without paying the £9.60 due.

Andrew Dallas representing Iltaf said his instinctive reaction was to follow and it was only for a few seconds before he caught him.

He said: “He had no intention of running him down, he had not thought it through at all. It was four seconds of driving at a maximum of 12.5mph.”

He added that the life of a private hire driver was not a happy one with drunken passengers and fare dodgers but Iltaf had been doing it successfully for 10 years.

Louise Reevell prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday that Iltaf had already started to brake when he caught the passenger, but had two wheels on the pavement which constituted the offence.

The passenger was later found to have a broken arm, but he had been drinking heavily and was seen on CCTV to fall over a short time later when he clambered over a wall and picnic tables so the arm injury could not be attributed to the incident with the car.

Iltaf, 37, of North Park Street, Dewsbury, admitted dangerous driving and was given a six months prison sentence suspended for 12 months with 150 hours unpaid work and £300 prosecution costs. He was also banned from driving for 15 months.

Judge Christopher Batty said in the 10 years Iltaf had been a private hire driver, his driving had never been criticised and employers had given him references.

The judge said: “I accept on this occasion you acted instinctively but what you did was drive on the pavement putting this man at a significant risk and that is a serious matter.”

He added that when he realised there might be a collision, Iltaf had sought to stop but could not do so in time.
The court was told Iltaf now has a job in a textile mill.

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