Saturday, October 28, 2017

Looks Like The Wheels Have Come Off Uber’s Operations On Another Continent

Uber now has massive concerns about the legality of its operations in South America. 

The chief executive of Uber Technologies Inc, Dara Khosrowshahi, will visit its operations in Brazil next week. 

The company told Reuters on Friday, that Brazil’s Congress nears a vote on legislation threatening Uber’s business model.

Khosrowshahi will visit Sao Paulo, Uber's biggest city by trips, and then onto Brasilia, the nation's capital, on Monday, according to a person familiar with the executive's plans.  

Canary Wharf Sales Worker Sacked After Bilking Taxis To His Home Near Brighton.

A serial fare dodger has been sacked from his job after it was discovered that he had failed to pay for taxis from London to the south coast. 

Jake Dean, 24, who worked in sales in Canary Wharf, told cabbies that he worked for JP Morgan before setting off to Peacehaven, to the east of Brighton. 

He admitted that he had racked up more than £600 in unpaid fares but said it was ‘just impulsive’. 

Dean hailed a cab outside Waterloo train station in February and told the driver that he would get the £256 cash en route when he was closer to home. He told drivers that his card would not work so would offer to make a bank transfer or deliver the money to their address. 

On one occasion he said he would sell a games console so that he could pay the driver back. 

However, he failed to do so and ended up facing magistrates in Brighton. 

He told them: ‘I take full responsibility and apologise to the taxi drivers, they just wanted to do their job. It was never malicious, it was just impulsive.’ 

The court heard of three other taxi fare dodging incidents between December 2016 and February this year, where Dean strung drivers along promising payments. 

He told the court: ‘I was working in sales in Canary Wharf. 
Due to the fraud, I have lost my position. These four mistakes were my own fault and I am very sorry for what I’ve done.’ 

He was ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £621.40 in compensation and costs

Source : Metro. 

Have TfL Shoot Themselves In The Foot (Again) ? With A Conflict Of Interest Over CC Clearance Interest Rate

In an announcement to a trade org, TfL have again overstepped the mark as they tell drivers that the 0% hand held credit card machine which MyTaxi drivers are using, are not authorised by TfL and its inferred that they are taking a dim view on this issue. 

How can TfL interfere with the way independent traders conduct their business expenses?

• Under the terms of our licensing as Taxi drivers, we have been forced to accept a Credit Card acceptance mandate, that's fact. 
• Under the terms of the condition of fitness of our vehicle, we at made to have a TfL authorised working machine in the rear passenger compartment, that's another fact. 

But I would suggest that as long as a card payment is undertaken and all conditions of our licence and that of our vehicle have been satisfied...TfL have no say in the service that we as a trader chose to use to conclude a payment transaction. 

The problem seems to have arisen over the point that the unit given to MyTaxi app users has a 0% transaction clearance charge, unlike the units authorised for rear fitting by TfL. 

It makes you wonder if TfL Board Member Ron Kalifa had anything to do with this new proclamation. 

Will TfL be insisting to uber, that all journeys (which are on account but paid for by Credit Card) have a transaction charge paid for by the driver ? ....of course they won't. 

Instead of meddling in the finances of hard working, tax paying Taxi drivers, shouldn't they concern themselves more by dealing with the 48 serious sexual attacks on passengers by uber drivers in the last 12 months, or the 13,000 uber drivers with fake criminal record checks, or the Uber drivers who presented fake medicals, or the mountain of road traffic accidents concerning Uber drivers !!!
Or do they have a conflict of interest with this company ?

Where do the New United Taxi Group stand on this issue ?
Will they be using the full weight of their legal teams to defend the right of their subscribers to use which ever system that suits their need best ?
Or will they just say (again) "it's a done deal, nothing we can do about it) ?

TfL are also telling drivers that if you do an App job which has a minimum price attached , and the customer complains, they will pursue the driver for charging more than the meter fare and not (repeat not) the App provider. 
Their advice is to offer the customer now we are expected by TfL to do cash back! 

Typical of TfL though is, they've said nothing about certain CC equipment suppliers who have a miminum price per transaction fee, charging a higher rate to transactions below the minimum. Still I Suppose that was also part of the done deal. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Here We Go Again : More Designed Chaos As TfL Launch The Borough Junction Consultation.

TfL are proposing changes at the junction of Borough High Street with Marshalsea Road and Great Dover Street, in Southwark. 

The junction carries high volumes of traffic from Elephant and Castle and Bricklayers Arms towards London Bridge and Southwark Bridge. 

During the peak hours it can be heavily congested and this causes delays for the bus routes that use the junction, as well as for other road users. 

Borough Underground Station is located on the western corner of the junction, and there is high demand for pedestrian crossing points as a result. 

It has been the location of a high number of collisions, many of which involved pedestrians or cyclists.

TfL say they have looked closely at the issues and are now proposing a number of changes that are intended to make walking easier and safer and improve journey times, especially for the eight bus routes which pass through the junction.

To see what TfL are proposing, and have your say in this consultation, click link below 

Taxi Leaks Extra Bits :

Ever since the Greater London Authority Act 1999 gave us Transport For London, founded July 2000, our streets have become more and more over crowded.

Most of the extra congestion has been caused by TfL themselves with the escalation of Private hire licenses, dished out like sweets at an unprecedented rate. Currently there are over 125,000 PHV drivers, a bit different to what we were promised back in 1998. We were told back then "when Minicabs are licensed, touting would be their problem not ours and their numbers will half from 30,000 to around 15,000"..... Well that never happened!!!

Then along came Boris who thought it would be a great idea to keep the share holders happy and expand the number of on street buses. His decision to double London's bus fleet has lead to a massive over supply, that can't be met by the bus company garages, who in off peak hours, run mostly empty or out of service buses through central London, adding to the congestion and exhaust pollution. 

This bus driver in traffic, perhaps showing fatigue of one extra-curricular UBER shift too many. 

It's common knowledge that of late, bus crashes have risen dramatically. 
Also, no secret that bus drivers are 'moonlighting' with UBER, whoose RTA's are at epidemic levels.
What will it take for this blatant greed, that risks lives, to be reigned in?

Then came the nightmare of segregated bike lanes which have bought parts of London to a complete gridlock, day and night. 

Are the planners at TfL blind, do they not venture out onto the streets....can't they see what their loony systems have done to the capital !
Leon Daneils stood by the roadworks at the Elephant and Castle and said "we are creating a space people will want to come to....on,y if they have a day to waste and their own gass mask Leon. 

Then we were given another nightmare in the shape of the Bank Junction ban.

TfL have spent the last 15 years passing the buck, spinning the results, massaging statistics and blaming the wrong criminals.....when the perpetrators of the mess created are in house. 

Frankly these consultations are a waste of ratepayers money as TfL rarely take any notice of the result. 

Smart motorway revenue generation revealed

Smart motorways were originally sold to motorists as a more efficient way to use the roads. Their innovative technology and time saving insights were going to free up traffic flow and reduce air pollution. Apparently.

However, could it be that they are really just another means of raising revenue through driving fines?

The red X

There will soon be a £100 fine for anyone caught driving in a lane marked with a red X. The red X is used predominantly to indicate when the hard shoulder has been closed. Not only will defying the red X now garner drivers a £100 fine, it will also incur penalty points on their licence.

The fine announcement follows Highways England sending out 50,000 warning letters to drivers who had been caught using smart motorways wrongly. A third of those letters related to drivers who had driven in a lane with a red X displayed above it. If all those drivers had received fines, instead of just warning letters, a cool £1.6 million would have been raised. Clearly, someone in charge has been doing some sums.

Safety concerns

The RAC agrees that handing out these fines is the right thing to do. The organisation hopes that the implementation of the fine will deter people from driving in closed lanes, which is often dangerous due to a hazard.

Seeing motorists using these closed lanes also makes other drivers frustrated, which can be dangerous in itself. This is especially true when people are intentionally using the closed lane until the last minute so that they can then cut in and get ahead of other road users.

Education needed

The red X that indicates the closed lane is very clear. However, in the cases of other transgressions, it may be lack of education about smart motorways that is causing motorists to make errors. Many don’t realise they are doing anything wrong. 

The Department for Transport is expected to release plans for the new smart motorway fees shortly. In the meantime, it has been suggested that drivers be given more information about how to use smart motorways in the correct way. This would mean fewer drivers ending up with unexpected fines.

Not only would this help people to avoid fines, but it would also make smart motorways safer to use. At present it seems that many drivers are unaware of the risks involved with not using them properly.
For example, many people are unsure of what they would do if their car was to break down at a point when there is no hard shoulder to pull onto. Without this knowledge, there’s much greater scope for a breakdown to result in a nasty accident.
(In case you were wondering, there are emergency bays spaced along smart motorways at regular intervals. These can be used in the event of a problem. Meanwhile, you are advised to always check your tyres, oil, fuel and water before making a journey, to reduce the risk of a breakdown.)

Unfair fines?

With so many drivers being unaware of exactly how they should be using a smart motorway, it could be said that it really isn’t fair to impose fines on people until they have been given far more education about the new way of using these particular roads.

The lack of effort in terms of educating drivers certainly points to an intention to use smart motorways for revenue generation. The move will add to the pressure on drivers already struggling with rising motoring costs. Clearly, using smart motorways incorrectly can result in dangerous situations. However, does that make it right to prioritise fining transgressors before sufficiently educating them?

A cynic might presume that information is being withheld in order to catch people out when they are unsure of how to drive on these new roads. Perhaps our smart motorways are simply offering a smart new way to make more money from the UK’s beleaguered car owners.

With this in mind, Highways England has been asked to provide motorists with a better education about smart motorways. Drivers need to know what they do, how they should be used, and what the different signs mean. They also need to know what not to do, so that they can avoid being fined!

Are you confident that you understand all the rules and regulations relating to smart motorways or will you be one of those who could be in line for a fine due to lack of knowledge? 
Let us know your views by leaving a comment. 

Source :

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Uber War Of Words Explodes As Council Boss Hits Back At 'Fake Outrage' Coventry Politicians.

A war of words has erupted between councillors in Coventry and Wolverhampton as the row over Uber licensing in the city reaches boiling point.

There is a long-running dispute with Coventry accusing their Midlands neighbours of exploiting a loophole in licensing regulations to allow Uber drivers with Wolverhampton licences to operate in the city. 

Wolverhampton Council has made £1.3m by giving out taxi licenses this year - with over 200 of these drivers operating out of Coventry.

There are concerns that the licensing of Uber cabs is affecting Coventry’s black cab trade - though many residents are in support of Uber’s presence in the city.

Today, a top Wolverhampton councillor hit back at “fake outrage” Coventry politicians and said that the authority was only interested in preserving its “long-standing cosy relationship” with the hackney carriage trade.

It came after Coventry councillor Damian Gannon accused Wolverhampton of handing out Uber licenses "like sweeties".

This is the staggering number of Wolverhampton taxi drivers exploiting loophole to work in Coventry

Wolverhampton City Council’s Cllr Alan Bolshaw, chairman of City of Wolverhampton Council’s licensing committee, said: “The attitude of some Coventry politicians towards the issue of private hire licensing is getting tiresome.

“I’m afraid my patience has run out with those who are cynically trying to drag the reputation of City of Wolverhampton Council through the mud to further their own agenda.

“I think it’s about time someone called out the motivation of these people who are hiding behind smoke and mirrors. The reality is that there is a long-standing cosy relationship between Coventry City Council and the hackney carriage trade and preserving this relationship is what this is really about.

“Of course the hackney carriage trade, which has been protected in Coventry for so long, doesn’t want competition. They are doing everything possible to try and stifle competition which is simply not on because it is the people of Coventry who suffer.”

      Councillor Alan Bolshaw

Thanks to a loophole, Uber cabs can pick up fares in Coventry despite not being licensed to operate in the city.

That means an accident could potentially leave passengers uninsured.

Black cab drivers in the city say Uber drivers undercut their prices and do not have the same standard of safety checks that they do.

But taxi users in the city say all they want are value fares and efficiency.

Cllr Bolshaw said Wolverhampton was doing nothing wrong in giving out licenses to drivers.

He said: “Surely Coventry councillors should be welcoming the fact that 240 jobs have been created in their city due to the private hire licences we’ve issued?

“It is galling to hear the fake outrage voiced by certain individuals in Coventry who know full well that we are doing nothing wrong here in Wolverhampton. All we are doing is following the law which allows taxi drivers and operators to choose where they get their licence.

“Frankly, this smacks of sour grapes. Coventry know that our systems and processes are modern, efficient and far superior to their own. This is why drivers choose to come to us. People are trying to make out that our standards are lower than Coventry’s, but this is absolute nonsense.

He added “Nobody is fooled into thinking that the Coventry opposition is about safety – this is about protectionism and perpetuating the status quo to the detriment of customers.

“You only have to look at the comments left by residents on the Coventry Telegraph website to see that they welcome competition and want that choice. 

“I hear people talk about the supposed ‘gold standard’ of black cabs in Coventry. If that were true, people would have nothing to worry about from increased consumer choice and competition. The bottom line is that the time has come for those who are peddling myths and playing dirty tricks to be honest about their motivations and stop using City of Wolverhampton Council as a scapegoat."

Coventry taxi drivers and council members including cabinet member for city services Cllr Jayne Innes launch a campaign for safe professional taxis outside Council House
Talks between Cllr Jayne Innes, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for city services and Cllr Bolshaw two weeks ago seemed to have yielded a positive outcome, with talks of improved communication between the two mooted.

But any good feeling appears long gone, with Coventry councillor Damian Gannon accusing Wolverhampton of "handing taxi licenses out like sweeties".

He said Wolverhampton did not "give a damn about how it makes the taxi trade unaccountable to Coventry residents".

     Cllr Damian Gannon

Cllr Gannon said: "Ideally, the taxi trade should be accountable to Coventry residents so if you drive a taxi in Coventry you should be accountable in Coventry.

"At the moment Wolverhampton are exploiting a gap in the licensing regulations to make as much money as they can and that is just plain wrong. Treating taxi licensing as a cash-cow undermines local democracy, it undermines public safety and it undermines the ability of taxi drivers to make a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

“But we also need to accept that the trade has changed and companies like Uber are not going to go away. We need a better way to ensure that they can operate in a manner that delivers an accountability, public safety and fair wages. Council’s should not be pitched against each other in a race to the bottom of licensing regulations.

“At the moment Wolverhampton City Council are undermining local democracy, public safety and worker’s rights and it is not good enough.

"It's time they treated taxi licensing as less of a cash cow and took its duties and obligations much, much, more seriously as a result, I have written to the Minister for Licensing and Metro Mayor to ask them to put pressure on the council to stop this race to the bottom.

"This is a regional problem, it needs a regional solution and the regional mayor Andy Street should step-in and resolve it.”

PLANS to limit the colour of cars which can be used as taxis in Barrow, will "force cabbies out of work", say drivers

'It's like forcing every shop in town to paint their frontage the same colour'

Barrow hackney taxis will be brought in line with Carlisle where the vehicles are white. Taxi driver Wayne Casey from Carlisle.

Barrow Borough Council's licensing department has launched a consultation to adopt a new regulatory policy which will apply to all 365 hackney carriage and private hire drivers currently licensed.

The new policy includes imposing restrictions on the colour of vehicles allowed as hackney taxis and banning any vehicle which is older than seven years for all drivers.

The proposed changes state the exterior colour of all 157 hackney carriages must be white, except for the London type black cab; which can be either white or black. Private hire vehicles must be any colour, other than white.

All drivers are self-employed which means any expenses incurred have to come from their own pockets. 

Bob Mullen from the Furness Taxi Trade Association said the stress and cost would add to the "already unhealthy lifestyle that we are forced to lead". 

Mr Mullen, a taxi driver of 14 years, said more than 150 hackney cars would be forced to adhere to the 'white-only' rule. 

The reason given is to distinguish between hackney and private hire vehicles but as has been pointed out by the trade time and time again at trade liaison meetings all that needs to be done is to remove roof signs from private hire vehicles, then if the vehicle has a roof sign it’s a licensed hackney taxi," he said. 

"It’s like forcing every shop in town to paint the frontage the exact same colour. 
"Nearly every wheelchair accessible vehicle in the area is private hire and white which would not be allowed under the proposed rules. 

"Evidence can show that any other colour except white is very difficult to source and that these vehicles are very expensive, therefore these proposals would lead to either a vast price increase or a scarcity of wheelchair accessible vehicles. This is disability discrimination at its worst."

Responding to Mr Mullen's concerns, Cumbria County Councillor Sol Wielkopolski said the Conservatives would "scrap this insanely petty rule" if his party was in power on Barrow Borough Council. 

The chair of Barrow Conservatives said: "If Furness Conservatives are elected in Barrow we'd scrap this insanely petty rule and listen to taxi drivers."

If @FurnessCons are elected in Barrow Elections we’d scrap this insanely petty rule and listen to taxi drivers. ><

— Sol 🇬🇧 (@SolWpolski) October 26, 2017

The restriction on the age of a vehicle is being brought in to drive up standards. Around a third of current taxis in Barrow are believed to be older than seven years.

Mr Mullen said: "The age restriction would lead to a vast increase in expense both for the owner driver and the operators who rent out vehicles to drivers.

"We have already noticed a scarcity of new faces entering the trade and any of the operators will confirm that they are struggling to recruit new drivers."

Barrow Borough Council's licensing committee is expected to decide whether or not to adopt or amend the new policy in December or January.

Latest new restriction to hit Barrow taxi drivers

The proposed changes are the latest in a series of new restrictions and regulations being imposed on Barrow's taxi drivers.

Applicants for licences now need to undergo the test and existing drivers would need to take the exam when their licence is up for renewal. Failure to reach the pass mark would result in their licence being revoked.

Taxi drivers will have three attempts to take the test – if they fail the third test, they will be banned from resitting it for six months.

Last Christmas, a number of drivers were pulled up for decorating their cars with festive signs and ornaments.

Source :


Investigative work by Tom Kearney has revealed the selective use of statistics by Transport for London, and its planned campaign of burying uncomfortable data, in spite of boasting about its so-called “world-leading bus safety programme”.

Imperial College runs the International Bus Benchmarking Group which looks at various performance variables of the bus systems in 14 large world cities.

The figures expose the management priorities of TfL Bus Operation:

Tom explains:

So even though buses are getting slower and crashing more than buses in 10 out of 15 ‘world leading’ cities, London’s buses are the most profitable and most punctual.

The only way this data can live side-by-side, is if you run a Bus System that is purposely designed to kill and injure so that buses can be on time….and, more importantly, you can purposely hide that information from the public.

The scandal is that TfL management is trying to hide this damning data from the public body elected to scrutinise its operations. 

Tom again:

The London Assembly Transport Committee is conducting an Investigation of Bus Safety in London.  Unlike the 2013 London Assembly Bus Investigation led by Val Shawcross AM-now-Deputy-Mayor-for-Transport (which did not scrutinise TfL Bus Safety Performance at all), Bus Safety Performance is the precisely the focus of this current investigation. Since TfL has been a member of the IBBG since 2004 and, according to this helpful IBBG promotional video, it receives frequent reports for its members to help managers “defend their performance” (cf 5:49 in video), I think it is incumbent on TfL to release all the Reports it has received from the IBBG since 2004 to the Transport Committee so that the London Assembly can conduct a meaningful investigation.

Sooner or later, corporate manslaughter charges will be brought against TfL and people like Leon Daniels, Head of Surface Transport, unless this obscene charade is brought to an end.

Source : Vision Zero London 

Uber Finally Sees Decline in Riders.... No Demand, No Surge Price

 Uber Passenger books second ride after first driver knocks down a motorcyclist. Amazingly, there were 5 Taxis opposite on the Paddington feed all with their light on. 

For all of Uber’s screw-ups, individually, none of them ever seemed to hit their bottom-line for money making. The self-driving cars running red lights didn't do it. The internal sexual harassment scandals didn’t do it. The fare manipulation and price gouging schemes didn’t do it. The monumental amount of road traffic collisions didn't do it. Surprisingly the increase in rapes and sexual assaults didn't do it.

Maybe it was a combination of all of the above, but something finally did it. According to CNet, Uber has experienced its first-ever decline in ridership, according to business travel expense accounting firm Certify.

“Whether it’s a reaction to the latest headlines or the introduction of new features like tipping, the power of consumer choice has become a major factor in travel and entertainment expense spending,” Certify CEO told CNet in a statement.

Certify only tracks business travel, by monitoring expenses and receipts. Uber’s not obliged to disclose their general ridership numbers across the board because they’re not yet a public company. But the business travel community is beginning to buck Uber, according to Certify data.

San Francisco, the birthplace of Uber the rideshare company has seen its largest decline with an eight percent loss of its business riders. The city may be home to massive corporations, but that doesn’t mean the residents have to be its pawns.

              Taxi App team at Olympia yesterday 

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

TfL, Not A Fit And Proper Licensing Authority Part 3. The Production Of Fake Medical Certificates ?

Last month, I had to have a medical, inline with the terms and conditions, of my TfL Taxi driver licence.

Both myself and my doctor are of the opinion that because of the way driver medical procedures are currently set up, TfL have made it extremely easy for anyone (of a mind), to produce a fake medical certificate. 

At present, medical application forms are sent out to drivers, who then take the form to the doctor to be completed at the surgery. On completion, the form is given back to the applicant, who then has to provide an envelope and a stamp. 
It is then up to the applicant to post the form back to TfL.

It is extremely easy to produce a copy of the form, which the doctor will then fill in and return to the driver. 
The applicant could then transfer the information to the original form, changing details to insure a pass.

It is also extremely easy to stop this abuse.

All it would take to stop this abuse, is for a stamped return envelope to be sent out with the medical form. That way the doctor could fill in the form and post back to TfL without the need to return the paperwork back to the applicant. 

It would cost very little (under £1 per application) to produce a stamped addressed return envelope and even if TfL were to decide not to cover the cost, a small amount could be added to the licence fee. The safety of the public should transcend such a small amount. 

My doctor said he would be more than happy with this procedure, as it would stop future fraudulent abuse.

A simple idea to say the least, but then the best ideas are normally just simply common sense. 

Blast from the past. 
We all read the expose' below in the Sun (also carried by other national publications) in October last year. But since the article hit the headlines, like everything Uber/TfL related, the scandal soon became a wall of silence. 

ROGUE GPs are coining it from minicab and Uber drivers by lying on vital forms about their fitness to carry passengers.

Three doctors caught by The Sun were happy to sell a faked medical all-clear — required to get an official cab licence.

• Have these two doctors 'Dr Ashraful Haque Mirza and Dr Abdi Issa Creek' been struck off ?
• A third doctor in Barking was also I'm,I acted but unnamed in the article.
• Have the drivers who paid for fake medicals had their licenses revoked ?

The Sun's investigation from August 2016:

Are 13,000 Uber drivers, without proper DBS certificates, currently picking up members of the public?

Last month, it came to light that over 13,000 Uber drivers have been licensed by TfL after presenting fake criminal record check DBS certificates. 
Helen Chapman took it upon herself last month, to defend these drivers at a meeting with Taxi trade orgs, saying (in her opinion) all drivers would subsequently pass a proper enhanced TfL certified DBS. 
As a result, all 13,000 were given 28 days to re-present. 

Helen also appears to be quite happy with the fact that 13,000 drivers without adequate checks have been picking up members of the public since January. TfL actually said nothing about this scandal, until the story was given to the Sunday Times by the LCDC.

When asked why Taxi drivers (caught up in a backlog of licence applications renewals) weren't being allowed to carry on working, Helen Chapman said she wouldn't be able to live with herself should a Taxi driver without a certified DBS commit an offence, while waiting for the enhanced criminal record check to go through.

We wonder what suddenly changed her attitude when it came to 13,000 Uber drivers without proper DBS clearance? 

Taxi Leaks would suggest that any member of the public who has been a victim of an attack by one of the drivers without a proper DBS, should sue TfL, who have admitted they knew about this and chose to say nothing for 10 months.

Another question that should be asked:
Are Uber currently paying a licence fee to TfLTPH whilst appeal going through? 
Or operating for free, courtesy of TfL?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

TFL Not Fit And Proper, Part 2 : TfL Licence Uber Driver Banned By Bath Council

A taxi driver who was banned from holding a taxi licence in Bath is back working as an Uber driver in the city.

Bath and North East Somerset Council refused to renew Ariel Neamt’s licence in 2013 on the grounds he was not a “fit and proper” person to hold one.

The licensing authority made the decision after Mr Neamt was arrested and received a police caution for large-scale illegal money lending.

But Mr Neamt returned to Bath as an Uber driver earlier this year having gained a licence to operate a private-hire vehicle from London’s licensing authority, Transport for London. 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : A question to Helen Chapman. What happened to "uber driver have the same enhanced criminal records checks as Taxi drivers???

There is no law preventing Uber drivers licensed in one authority from operating in a different licensing authority area.

B&NES Council’s licensing sub-committee refused to renew Mr Neamt’s combined hackney carriage/private-hire licence based on evidence from the National Illegal Money Lending Team.

B&NES licensing team found Mr Neamt was not a "fit and proper" person to hold a combined hackney carriage/private-hire licence 

Officers had discovered £9,980 stashed at an address and “a vast amount of documentary evidence pointing towards large scale illegal money lending”, minutes from the committee meeting showed.

The National Illegal Money Lending Team concluded Mr Neamt was “lending to fellow drivers and extorting money from them”, according to the minutes.

The licensing committee also heard that police had been in touch “on many occasions” about Mr Neamt’s taxis since he became a licensee in 2007.

Mr Neamt had accrued 15 penalty points on his driving license for operating without an MOT and failing to provide the identity of a driver.

Drivers of his taxi vehicles had also “collided with other road users” without providing any insurance details on a number of occasions.

The licensing committee concluded Mr Neamt had “failed to live up to his responsibilities as a licensee and had put the public at risk in doing so”.

“Members heard nothing to persuade them that a member of their family or a loved one would be safe in a taxi owned or driven by” him, the minutes showed.

Although he was cautioned rather than prosecuted by police because of his “previous good character”, the committee rejected the licence application.

“An extremely dim view has been taken of his illegal money lending operation which had connotations of a loan shark and organised criminal activity calling into disrepute the good name of the taxi trade in Bath and North East Somerset,” they said.

Mr Neamt said he did not realise he needed a consumer credit licence for money-lending activities

Mr Neamt told the Bath Chronicle he was not a “loan shark” but a taxi operator who had tried to sell his fleet of cars so he could return to Romania after his father was diagnosed with cancer.

He said his drivers had been paying him in instalments and he had not realised he needed a “consumer credit licence” to sell goods in this way.

He could not attend the licensing committee meeting to “fight” for his licence because he was in Romania, he said.

On returning to the UK last year, he gained his private-hire vehicle (PHV) licence in London and signed up with Uber but returned to Bath because he “didn’t like working in London”, he said.

He said it was more difficult and less profitable to work as an Uber driver in London.

A spokesman for TfL said it granted PHV licences following advanced criminal background checks.

Uber has blocked Mr Neamt from using its app while it investigates (which is more than TfL have done)

A spokeswoman for Uber said: "We have notified Transport for London who licensed the driver and have blocked the driver from using the app while we investigate.

TfL banned Uber from operating in London last month on grounds of "public safety and security implications".Uber has appealed the decision.

Bath MP Wera Hobhouse has called on the Government to re-introduce a law that made it illegal for private-hire drivers to operate in a licensing authority area other than the one they were licensed in.

Ms Hobhouse said: “I was shocked to learn that a driver who had his licence revoked by the B&NES Licensing Authority, for not being a fit and proper person to work as a Hackney/Private Hire driver, is back working here having got an Uber licence from TFL in London.

“I am concerned that the cross-border rule change (by David Cameron’s government) means that Bath is now being swamped by drivers who have been licensed in other towns and cities, and I think we need to get that reversed.”

Source : Bath Cronicle