Saturday, February 07, 2015

Uber Get Out Of Jail Free Cards...Do They Come In BrownEnvelopes ? ...by Jim Thomas

Again we have seen TfL bend over backwards to facilitate a large Private Hire Operation. Taxi Leaks investigations have in the past highlighted woefully inadequate action from TfL when it comes to larger PH companies. 

We have shown in previous posts that TfL's 12 month protocol is often broken with regards to the time limit placed on operators when applying for Licence variation.

When we complained that a large PH company had not waited the required 12 month period and been issued with 18 satellite office licenses the day they registered as a new company, we were blatantly lied to on three occasions by the Director and deputy director of LTPH. When we showed evidence appertaining to the lies, we were then told, TfL do not have policy they have guidelines which they can interpret whatever way they like.

Taxi Leaks investigations also led to a complaint made that Uber were operating from unlicensed premises back in May last year. This should have resulted in Über's Licence being revoked, but TfL's answer was to give Uber six weeks to get their licence changed before a compliance check was actually made...clear bias from a licensing authority operating a free for all. 

It's time that a united Taxi Trade took legal action, but not against a few PH drivers, not against a few rouge operators, but against a licensing authority that has become totally unfit for purpose with top officers who are not fit to hold their office.

Just how much longer are we expected to accept TfL's maverick approach to PH licensing?

And now we have this report, published in Friday's edition of the Evening Standard :


 Uber given “limp lettuce” treatment over uninsured driver, say cabbies. 
News, February 6.

TRANSPORT for London was today accused of giving taxi app firm Uber a “limp lettuce” punishment for allowing a driver to operate without the correct insurance.

Black cab operators reacted with fury when it emerged TfL’s licensing action amounted to little more than a warning letter. They demanded that the American tech giant’s operating licence be revoked, but TfL has said its letter was a “proportionate” response.

Uber is already facing a court fight with black cab firms angry that the company’s drivers can undercut them by up to 50 per cent. Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “What should have happened is TfL should have revoked its licence.

“Sending a warning letter is like hitting someone with a limp lettuce. One of our concerns has always been that Uber’s system leaves customers open to travelling in uninsured cars.”
It was reported in board papers this week that TfL prosecuted a driver and Uber London for breaches of road traffic and private hire legislation. As a result Uber had to pay £7,500 and faced further action — which in the most extreme case could have been the revocation of its licence.

However, TfL confirmed today that it had instead opted to send a letter to Uber setting out the offence and changes that should be made.
Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s chief operating officer, said: “We took appropriate enforcement action against Uber London Ltd relating to the use of a vehicle without insurance. After careful consideration we have decided not to suspend or revoke its licence. 
( So much for the one hit and your out policy which has now become a toothless guideline)
 
We carefully considered the specific circumstances, which involved one driver only for a finite period, and the steps Uber London Ltd have taken since the time the offence was committed to ensure full compliance.”

Jo Bertram, general manager of Uber in the UK, told the Standard: 
“Safety is of paramount importance at Uber. We would like to stress that at no point was this driver uninsured, and there was no incident or accident to investigate.”

She said that since the incident last February Uber had overhauled its documentation management system and processes, adding:
“Uber London underwent TfL’s largest ever compliance investigation, which it passed with flying colours. All Uber drivers in the UK are fully licensed and insured to carry passengers.”



   One rule for us...but just guidelines for PH

This also facilitates a certain section of the public who are fraudulently licensing their vehicle as a PHV to avoid paying the congestion charge. 
A considerable annual saving, for the price of a PHV licence and two MoTs. 

TfL are aware of this problem but again like with many other enforcement issues, they refuse to tackle. 

    Source : Evening Standard 



Taxi war looms as Uber seeks to open in Portsmouth

CONTROVERSIAL taxi company Uber wants to open an office in Portsmouth – but cab drivers say they are fearful for the public’s safety. 


The mobile-based car service, which has been banned in several countries, has submitted documents requesting a licence to operate out of offices at 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour. 

City taxi drivers fear the Silicon Valley company, which operates in 54 countries, will undercut their business and put the public at risk as they believe it does not do strict enough background checks on its drivers. 

The app has caused controversy in several countries for raising its fares dramatically at times of crisis, putting customers in touch with unregulated drivers and there has even been an allegation of rape against one of its drivers. 

But the deputy leader of the Conservative group on Portsmouth City Council Luke Stubbs said that the council’s licensing committee will scrutinise the application if objections are received. 

He said: ‘As a council we cannot create barriers to entry for a business but there has already been a lot of controversy about Uber and its business model and we will look at it very carefully.’ 

Cllr Stubbs said that Uber will only be granted a licence if it meets the strict criteria that private hire drivers in the city already have to meet. 

Uber allows customers to hail a cab and agree a fare using a smartphone, letting the user see where their nearest cars are, who is driving and how much it is going to cost, which varies depending how busy it is and how long the journey is. 

It is planning a massive expansion in Europe and its CEO Travis Kalanick estimated that it could create 50,000 new jobs across the continent and take 400,000 cars off the road. 

It has faced a regulatory minefield across the world, but despite this, the US-based firm has several cities across the UK in its sights although it would not confirm that it was actively seeking to open in Portsmouth, just that it had made an initial application to the council. 

A spokesman said: ‘Uber’s ambition is to be everywhere – any progressive, forward-thinking city that has a need for safe, reliable and efficient transportation, we want to be there. 

‘We are always exploring our options in the UK. 

‘The technological revolution is already happening and a city like Portsmouth should not be left behind.’

Other authorities such as Fareham Borough Council and Southampton City Council confirmed they had not received an application from Uber. 

An Uber spokesman said this would mean that customers would not be able to use the app if they were in those areas but there was nothing stopping someone hailing an Uber taxi in Portsmouth and taking it to Fareham. 

Taxi drivers across the area have spoken of their upset at this potential new service coming to Portsmouth – despite Uber claiming that it would grow the market for private hire cars and not have a negative impact on it. 

Cab driver Steve Clark said: ‘In the UK, successive governments have been regulating taxis and private hire vehicles since 1847 primarily for public safety. 

‘As I understand it, Uber has been operating in other parts of the UK, and world, without complying with local licensing conditions. 

‘There are also reports of serious criminal allegations against Uber drivers.

‘We have a smart and well-respected fleet of taxis that provide an efficient and safe service to the general public. 

‘The entry of Uber will, in my opinion, expose our community and put 
vulnerable members of our society at risk.’ 

Bruce Hall, general manager of Aqua Cars in Portsmouth, said he was not worried about the Uber application. 

Mr Hall said: ‘There are lots of unanswered questions which cannot be answered until Uber is either issued a licence from the council or not.

‘Whatever happens we will still be an extremely competitive company trying to give the best service we can.’ 

To make a representation about Uber’s application write to Portsmouth City Council, Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2AL or e-mail licensing@portsmouthcc.gov.uk quoting reference 14/04643/PHOPS.

No date has yet been set for a decision to be made by the council.


   Source : Portsmouth News

Friday, February 06, 2015

TfL Change The Legislation To Make It Easier For Uber To Expand : London Taxi & Private Hire Notice 17 / 14

It has been rumoured for some time that UberX have been experiencing a Vehicle/Driver shortage owing to the fact that PHVs seeking a first time London licence have to be less than 5 years old. 

To facilitate the American Company which runs its business though a Dutch subsidiary, TfL have graciously agreed to amended the restrictions on the first time licensing of UberX Prius's, exempting them from the five year rule.



London Taxi & Private Hire Notice 17 / 14

Newly Licensed PHVs - Hybrid Vehicles
In order to reduce harmful emissions and tackle poor quality in London, new emissions requirements were introduced in 2012 for private hire vehicles (PHVs).

These were introduced as part of the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy and included a requirement that all newly licensed PHVs must be under five years old.

The requirements for newly licensed PHVs is now being updated and with effect from 1 January 2015, full electric and petrol hybrid vehicles which emit less than 110g/km CO2, as defined by the manufacturer, will be exempt from the five year rule. This is recognised that these particular
vehicle types have lower emissions of NOX, PM10 and CO2 than conventionally powered vehicles.

The minimum Euro 4 emissions standard and maximum ten year age limit still apply.

An eligible vehicle must be:
l Full electric or;
l Petrol parallel hybrid or;
l Petrol full series hybrid
In addition to the above, an eligible vehicle must fall within the full type ‘hybrid / electric’ and display CO2 emissions of less than 110g/km on the V5C registration document.
NSL Ltd, TfL’s licensing contractor, will use the V5C to verify the above requirements are met prior to licensing vehicles.

Helen Chapman
General Manager
London Taxi & Private Hire
Notice 17 / 14

Myths And Rumour : Uber For Hire Signage Illegal...by Jim Thomas.

There is currently a rumour circulating that Uber are about to equip their vehicles with a pseudo for-hire light, which faces forward from the windscreen. 

          

This has already been trialled in Manchester where compliance officers were alerted to the situation and acted immediately (unlike their London counterparts). 

Manchester licensing unit supplied Uber with the relevant legislation and the company was forced to instructed drivers to remove the illuminated signs from their windscreens. 

These signs are now showing up on eBay, but remain contra to legislation. Probably someone's bought a job lot and trying to make a few bob.


If you see an Uber vehicle displaying an illuminated sign in blue, you should immediately report this to the police as it is a criminal offence to display a blue light in the windscreen. 

Blue lights are reserved for nine different emergency services.


If  however this signage is adapted to display a light other than blue, it should be reported to TfL compliance as PH are not allowed to advertise on front windscreen.


Below is a letter we received from our Manchester correspondent:  

Dear Mr xxxxx

I am now in a position to update you on the concerns you raised. I am aware that you have recently written to the Executive Member, Cllr Chappell to express concerns that this matter was not being dealt with, I can assure you that this was not the case.

Our initial enquiries into this matter were centred around identifying the device that was installed into private hire vehicles, examining the device and determining its purpose.  Uber were then informed of our views and compliance with relevant legislation was requested.  Uber have given instructions to all their drivers to remove the illuminated sign from their vehicles.  We are now monitoring the situation to ensure compliance.
 
Andy Scragg
Senior Compliance Officer
Planning, Building Control & Licensing
Licensing Unit
Growth & Neighbourhoods

Let's hope that TfL compliance handle this issue in the same way as Manchester compliance. And don't start with the..."I will have to ask some one cleverer than me" codswallop that we've come to expect from leon Daniels and Co.


NEWS FLASH: FINALLY SOME GOOD NEWS
City of London Corporation, finally see sense over Cycle lane causing massive congestion. Work begins over the week end to reintroduce two traffic lanes westbound on London Wall. 






Police Appeal Following Serious Injury Collision At The Strand

Police were called to The Strand, WC2, by the Australian High Commission, at 1233hrs on 3 February to reports of a pedestrian having been in collision with a route 87 bus. 

A 40-year-old woman was taken to a west London hospital with serious injuries. She remains in a critical condition. 

Officers from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit would like to hear from anyone who witnessed this incident. Callers can contact the incident room on 0208 547 5157 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

This from the Evening Standard:

A woman is fighting for her life after being hit by a bus in central London.


The pedestrian, thought to be aged in her 20s, suffered serious head injuries after the "horrific" collision with a double-decker on the Strand.

Police said the woman was treated by the London Ambulance Service and is in a life-threatening condition.

The bus driver stopped at the scene, at the junction with Arundel Street near Somerset House and there have been no arrests, a spokesman for the Met said.

A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: "We were called at 12.30 to reports of a road traffic collision on the Strand. We treated one pedestrian, a woman, for head injuries.

"She was taken to King's College Hospital as a priority." 

The incident happened just a few hundred yards from where a bus's roof >was ripped off after it hit overhanging trees on Monday.< (full report, click link)

Chauffeur Jon Wagstaff, who saw the aftermath, said: "She looked as if she was conscious but the neck brace was on. It's two in two days around this area; one with the tree and now this.

"It was horrific, you could see from how many people there were treating one person."

     Appeal Issued by Metropolitan Police : Article, Evening Standard.

Leicestershire Ex-Magistrate And Private Hire Operator, Jailed For Tax Fraud And Money Laundering

An ex-magistrate who ran two taxi companies in Loughborough has been jailed today for three and a half years for a £250,000 tax fraud and money laundering after a HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation.

Zaher Somani, 58, of Quorn, was the sole proprietor of two Loughborough Private Hire companies, trading as A1 and Charnwood Taxis, which operated 30 private hire vehicles. 

Somani’s wife Ashraf, 43, brother Pyarali, 61, sister-in-law Shabina, 50, and officer manager Darren Green, 44, were also sentenced for their part in the conspiracy.

HMRC investigators found that, between 2007 and 2011, Somani suppressed his true income on his Self Assessment tax returns. Family members helped conceal company earnings by using bank accounts and assets in Jersey, Canada, India, Turkey and Morocco. They shared the profits from the tax evasion, spending huge amounts on property, private schools for their children and gambling. 

Stuart Taylor, Assistant Director, Criminal Investigation, HMRC, said: 

“Zaher Somani was a serving magistrate at the time of these offences; a man supposed to uphold the law. Instead, he was stealing from the taxpayer.

“This man and his family lived well beyond their legitimate means, until HMRC uncovered their extensive tax evasion, associated money laundering and benefit fraud. 

“HMRC investigators work to identify tax evasion by individuals and businesses who think they can live and operate outside the law. Somani and his family failed to pay their full taxes at the expense of honest taxpayers. If you know of anyone who is evading their taxes, you can tell HMRC via the Tax Evasion Hotline on 0800 788 887.” 

Somani’s false declaration of his family income was so low that his wife claimed Tax Credits. During the same period he gambled millions at casinos, and bought a property portfolio at home and abroad. 

Sentencing, His Honour Judge J Sampson said: 

“Zaher Somani lied to the bitter end and has been shamed and disgraced. The offending spanned many years while sitting as a magistrate, pretending to be a man of integrity and honesty. The hypocrisy could not have been greater.”

The defendants were all sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court today. Confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 will now begin to recover the money they stole.


      Issued by HM Revenue & Customs Press Office




Thursday, February 05, 2015

CAL and LTDA Invite The Mayor To Commit To An ‘Eight Point Transformation Package".... By Jim Thomas.

It appears CAL and The LTDA propose to scrap the turning circle and saddle us with a Taxi capable of a daily range of just 40 miles. 

Again, someone from outside the licensed Taxi trade is calling for measures that will greatly affect us financially. CAL has clear a agenda against the use of fossil fuel, but seem to have little knowledge of the technology they propose the Mayor should inflict on Taxi drivers. 

Below is a blog post published by Clean Air for London. In the post, point no1 and no2 state: 

Require electric or plug-in petrol electric hybrids with a minimum daily range of 40 miles for all newly licensed taxis and PHVs by no later than 1 January 2018.

 Could you make a living driving just 40 miles a day?

Point no3 asks for 500 rapid charger stations. 

So, if CAL and the LTDA's proposals were to be accepted and implemented, eventually, we could see a situation where we would have approx 125,000-150,000 Taxis and PHVs vehicles looking to spend 30-40 minutes at a time using 500 charging points.

Has anyone done the maths:

500 charging points offering at best 48 slots of 30 minutes, that 24,000 slots...what about the other 100,000 vehicles?

Even if you were lucky enough to find space on a charging post, a rapid recharge offers just another 32 mile radius.

For this to work would need at least 3,000 rapid charging points and would also mean excluding civilian electric vehicles some left on these plots all day.

Point no7 would even see the system used by the new MetroCab as unsuitable, before it's even been launched.

Electric vehicles are a strong possibility for the future, but the technology isn't in place yet. Why should the Taxi trade be made to adopt vehicles which are totally unsuitable and at present are not even available? Has Simon Birkett not read the report on the electric Taxi experiment in Osaka?

Surely a better idea would be to make all the buses electric. Just look at the drop in dangerous emissions when there's a bus strike. 

No mention whatsoever to widely introduce conversion to LPG. There is also no mention of Sweden's clean deisel, or  Nissans new engine which runs on a mixture of clean diesel and LPG returning reductions of CO2, NO2, NOx and Particle Matter by 83%.

Why is it essential that Taxis be made Guinea Pigs in the trialling of so far untested technology which could prove too expensive for many drivers. 

But a question that should be asked is why the LTDA have chosen to back a package that could be just another nail in the trades coffin ?

 When Jenny Jones said the GALTransport Committee was in favour of dropping the turning circle from the conditions of fitness, Steve McNamara was at pains to point out the attributes of the continued inclusion of this requirement. 

So what happened to make him do a complete Uturn?

.....

Please read the post below and use the comment section to discuss the proposals below from CAL and LTDA.

CAL BLOG POS:

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) and Clean Air in London (CAL) invite the Mayor to commit to an ‘Eight point transformation package’ for the taxi and private hire industry in London for the benefit of current and future generations of Londoners.

The ‘Eight point transformation package’ needed from the Mayor of London:

  1. Require electric or plug-in petrol electric hybrids with a minimum daily range of 40 miles for all newly licensed taxis by no later than 1 January 2018. Consider tyre and brake wear standards.
  1. Require electric or plug-in petrol electric hybrids with a minimum daily range of 40 miles for all newly licensed private hire vehicles (PHVs) with immediate effect (because many such vehicles are available to purchase today). Consider tyre and brake wear standards.
  1. Establish a network of 500 rapid charge points in Greater London by no later than 1 January 2018 for the sole use of taxis with a geographic focus on inner London and air pollution hotspots to encourage visits to them. These must offer at least an 80% charge within 30-40 minutes at modest or no cost to drivers i.e. not two hours.  If this number proves more than necessary for the taxi industry after 12 or 24 months some might then be made available to the general public.
  1. Scrap the 15 year and proposed 10 year age limit requirements on newly licensed taxis with immediate effect.
  1. Scrap the 25 foot turning circle requirement from the ‘Conditions of fitness’ for taxis with immediate effect. Keep the accessibility requirement and other Public Carriage Office requirements.  Confirm that no state aid hurdles restrict funding below.
  1. Establish a fund totalling £150 million offering with immediate effect one-off financial grants of the greater of £10,000 or 100% of the VAT due on the purchase price of a new taxi that meets the requirements above for each of first 15,000 fully compliant taxis purchased. This would be on top of the £5,000 government grant already available for electric vehicles (irrespective of the number of taxi providers).
  1. Undertake never to allow geo-fencing near air pollution monitors, which are used to warn people of smog episodes and report legal breaches, whereby taxis or PHV’s would switch from fossil fuel tailpipe emissions to electric mode near those locations.
  1. Deliver new Vehicle Excise Duty bands and Benefits-in-kind taxation, if necessary initially just for new and used taxis and PHVs, based on the total sum of real world tailpipe emissions (grams per kilometre) of carbon dioxide (CO2), fine particles (PM5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). These changes should be tax neutral overall.  Exhaust emissions must be independently certified.

The ‘Eight point transformation package’ is not an a la carte menu from which the Mayor can pick and choose.  The LTDA and CAL have agreed this list as a ‘total package’.

Quotes

Steve Mcnamara, General Secretary of the Licenced Taxi Drivers Association, said:

“London taxi drivers want to be able to purchase and drive, clean modern taxis. With the right incentives and by working with the trade Boris has the opportunity to ensure that London is the first city in the world to have a taxi fleet comprised exclusively of Zero Emission Capable vehicles.”

Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said:

“After nearly seven years as Mayor, Boris Johnson can no longer blame others for the state of the taxi industry and the 30% of particle emissions he estimates it produces in central London.

“Few people outside the taxi industry realise that the Mayor’s strict Public Carriage Office requirements determine which vehicle(s) a taxi driver can buy and/or drive to do his or her job.  Today, this means drivers must buy one of two large, relatively unaffordable diesel vehicles to compete against Private Hire Vehicles purchased at a fraction of that cost.  The Mayor should turn an onerous obligation into a mechanism for transformation.

“Clean Air in London and the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association are therefore inviting the Mayor the deliver an ‘Eight point transformation package’ for the benefit of current and future generations of Londoners.  The package would:

  1. guarantee service to customers;
  2. limit cost to customers;
  3. minimise environmental impacts;
  4. ensure the financial sustainability of industry participants; and
  5. manage industry change.

“We urge the Mayor to accept this package and put it in place before he leaves office.  Candidates in the 2016 Mayor election must commit to keep and build on it.

“The ‘Eight point transformation package’ is deliverable, financially realistic and good for customers, taxi and PHV drivers and public health.”



Wednesday, February 04, 2015

TfL Board approves final plans for Mayor’s “Crossrail for Bikes”


PN-037

February 2015

London’s streets will become safer and more accessible for cyclists as the Transport for London (TfL) Board today (4 February) approved plans for the construction of four new cycle superhighways (East-West, North-South, CS1 and the inner section of CS5) and upgrades to the four existing cycle superhighway routes (CS2, CS3, CS7 and CS8) as part of the Mayor’s Cycling Vision.

The schemes, which will cost around £160m to deliver between now and the end of 2016, will help treble the number of cycle journeys made over the next 10 years and transform London’s streets and spaces to places where cyclists feel they belong and are safe.

The Cycle Superhighway programme is essential for improving conditions for the hundreds of thousands of people who are already cycling daily in London, as well as help encourage more people to take to two wheels. The new routes, which in total cross nine boroughs, will further help cycling become an integral part of London’s transport network so that anyone can jump on a bike to get to work, to the shops or to discover London. Work to deliver these schemes will now begin within the next month. 

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “We know that Londoners want these routes and that they want them to be delivered to the high standard I promised, as quickly as possible. I will keep that promise and spades will begin hitting the ground next month. Thanks to the skill of TfL’s engineers and traffic managers, we have made changes which keep the cycle track and junctions segregated, while taking out much less of the route’s motor traffic capacity. I now look forward to the transformation that these planned routes will bring – not just for people who cycle now, but for the thousands of new cyclists they will attract.”

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “Cycling is clearly now a major transport option in London, with over 170,000 bike journeys now made across central London every single day. These schemes will revolutionise cycling in the capital and further demonstrate how London is leading the way in making its roads safe for all road users. There will, naturally, be some disruption due to these works but we have some of the world’s leading highway and traffic engineers, traffic models and modellers working tirelessly to ensure that this is kept to a minimum.”

Chris Boardman, British Cycling’s policy advisor, said: “This is a fantastic day for Londoners as well as the many million people who visit the capital every year.

“This vision for large-scale, properly segregated cycle ways will make cycling a more attractive transport option, creating a more pleasant, healthy and sustainable London for everyone. The move brings the capital one step closer to creating a true cycling culture to rival cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam. But most importantly of all, it will set a standard for the rest of the country.”

Now that the TfL Board has approved the plans, a wide programme of communication and traffic management will be carried out to ensure that these works can be delivered with minimum disruption to London’s roads. This includes further investment in sophisticated traffic signal technology, which allows better management of traffic depending on differing conditions at any given time. TfL will also work with businesses along the route to help manage deliveries in the best possible way, providing advice to enable them to move away from deliveries during the busiest times and help reduce unnecessary congestion across London.

The TfL Board Paper can be downloaded here: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publications-and-reports/board-papers .

Ends

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Sex offender checks on Taxi and Private Hire drivers hampered by new restrictions, councils warn

LGA PRESS RELEASE 3 FEBRUARY 2015

Vital efforts to protect children from criminals hiding behind their position as taxi drivers to commit sex offences are being hampered by new restrictions on crucial background checks, councils warn.

The Local Government Association said police forces across the country are no longer providing information to councils on criminal investigations involving prospective taxi drivers because of a dispute between the Home Office and police on whether it is lawful.

Some councils have also been told by the Disclosure and Barring Service that they can no longer check whether a prospective taxi driver has been barred from working with children or vulnerable adults unless they work on a school transport contract.

It comes as government's plans to extend the duration of taxi licences from one to three years will return to Parliament today as part of the Deregulation Bill.

The LGA is warning that forcing councils to issue longer licences without access to vital intelligence on applicants could put children and vulnerable people at greater risk of becoming victims of sex crimes, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and trafficking from organised gangs.

It is calling for the clauses in the Deregulation Bill to be deleted and a comprehensive reform of taxi and private hire vehicle licensing undertaken, based on the Law Commission's report last year.

The LGA also demands a guarantee from the Department of Transport and the Home Office that access to this vital information will be immediately returned and maintained in the future, without risk of it being removed again.

Cllr Ann Lucas OBE, Chair of the LGA's Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: "Extending the length of taxi licences without ensuring councils can keep carrying out robust checks risks putting children and vulnerable people at risk.

"Recent child sex abuse cases in Rotherham and Rochdale are a stark reminder of the vulnerability of some passengers.

"CSE is a terrible crime with destructive and far reaching consequences for victims, their families, and society and councils are determined that nothing like this can be allowed to happen again. That is why we are extremely alarmed at actually being given less access to information about who is applying for a taxi licence.

"Taxi drivers routinely work with vulnerable adults and children as part of their daily work, regardless of whether they have a school contract or not. It is imperative that councils can keep checking applicants against barred lists and be able to find out if they are under criminal investigation.

"The consequence could be councils unknowingly granting licences to people investigated for sexual offences and only finding out three years later when the driver renews the licence and has the conviction flagged up.

"As we know, the consequences for someone entering a taxi where the driver has not been adequately vetted by the council can be devastating. We should not be doing anything that increases the chances of that happening


    Source : Local Gov UK. With Thanks http://www.acnedriver.blogspot.co.uk