Saturday, April 27, 2013

Taxi Proprietor Takes Council to The Ombudsman over Taxi Vehicle Test Results.

We've all been there, take the cab in for its annual inspection....and wallop, a stop note.
Leaky steering box, brake cylinder, smoke test etc.

Take it back to the garage and the mechanic is scratching his head saying there is nothing wrong. He then wipes over with a cloth and says "just take it back and try again".
As if by magic, it now passes with flying colours.

We all take this as just another part of a Cabbies lot, but a certain taxi proprietor in Brentwood decided he'd had enough of the jumped up little jobsworths at his council's inspection centre, he decided to take his case to the local government ombudsman after a decade of, in his opinion bad service.

A TAXI firm boss is to receive £1,000 compensation from Brentwood Borough Council after the authority was rapped by the local government watchdog for poor record-keeping.

Graham Dinning, the managing director at Treble Twenty Cars and Couriers, got the Local Government Ombudsman involved after he became concerned about the safety checks the council was carrying out on his taxis.

Mr Dinning, 54, asked the ombudsman to investigate the council's emissions testing and brake calibration policy.

The investigation concluded that the council's mechanics only did a visual emissions test, which is not up to the standard of an MOT test – the level the authority said it would provide.

The watchdog's report also found that the council did not have any records to show that its brake-testing machine had been calibrated before 2010.

Mr Dinning said: "We have pursued this complaint to the ombudsman for public safety reasons.

"As a responsible taxi company, Treble Twenty pride ourselves in ensuring that, where possible, our cars are fully roadworthy and any defects are repaired immediately when they are brought to our notice.

"However, like all other taxi operators, we also rely on the six-monthly safety checks by the council to ensure our vehicles are in the best possible condition.

"I was horrified to find out that the council had failed to carry out their safety checks correctly over such a long period.

"If the council had found out that we had not carried out our safety checks correctly, it would have been screaming that we were putting passengers' lives in danger and would have justifiably taken our licences off us."

Mr Dinning, who lives in South Weald, added: "The council should not only be apologising to the trade for its failures, but to the public of Brentwood as a whole because it is them who may have been put at risk by the failure of the council to test vehicles correctly.

"The council systematically charged the trade for elements of the vehicle test that were either not carried out, or which were of such poor quality that they were meaningless, and they should refund the costs of the tests to the trade.

"If you went anywhere else and paid for a service that you did not receive then you would be entitled to your money back, but it appears that this does not happen when it's Brentwood Borough Council.

"It's one rule for them and one rule for us."

The ombudsman has instructed the council to pay £1,000 to Treble Twenty Cars and Couriers to compensate the firm for its "time and trouble".

The firm will be giving this money to the BBC's Children in Need Charity Appeal.

A council spokesman said: "Public safety is the council's primary concern.

"The ombudsman was satisfied that the brake-testing equipment was calibrated and so brake testing had been valid and in line with legal requirements.

"Emissions testing has been carried out over a number of years, although this is not a mandatory part of the licensing process. In 2010 we introduced improved emissions testing equipment though even with previous methods, public safety was not compromised.

"All minimum safety requirements have been met at all times.

"We are confident in the current high standards of all our testing and record-keeping."

Source: Brentwood Gazette
Apr 27th, 2013

For the full report and verdict of the Local Government Ombudsman click here

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