Minibus and stretch limo drivers spared criminal checks


Tens of thousands of drivers of minibuses and stretch limousines are being allowed to get behind the wheel without facing criminal record checks, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

While taxi drivers, who are licensed by local authorities, do face scrutiny, the same rules are not applied to those with a licence to drive a Passenger Carrying Vehicle with nine passenger seats or more.

This would not apply to “people carriers” which normally have fewer seats, which means their drivers to face criminal record checks.

The anomaly means somebody who fails a CRB check to drive a minicab could still legally be hired to drive a minibus or stretch limousine.

While safeguards are in place to check drivers who are in regular contact with children and vulnerable people, they are not applied to all the 300,000 people who hold PCV licences.

Despite pressure from MPs, Norman Baker, the local transport minister, has said the Government has “no intention” of tightening the law.

In a letter to Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, he wrote that checks had to be “proportionate to the risk involved”.

He added: “We need to take into account how likely it is that people carrying out the role present a general risk to those, with whom they come into contact.

The stance puzzled Mr McDonald.

“I just don’t get it. They carry the same risk as other taxi drivers. Charities have to go through the most rigorous checks. It just doesn’t seem to make any sense.”

Steve McNamara general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association. “This is a strange scenario, which seems to have just evolved.

“While people who drive private hire vehicles get a licence from local authorities and are subject to an enhanced criminal check, those who drive minibuses don’t

“It is because they have lumped all buses together. While it may not be necessary if you are driving a number 6 bus down Oxford Street, you can’t say the same sort of thing about a minibus.

“Ian Huntley could be driving one of these things if he was not locked up.

“Would you want your teenage daughter getting into a stretch-limo after a night out? Of course you wouldn’t”

Source: The Telegraph

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Eco City lifts sales after rival London taxi supplier falters


Eco City Vehicles has benefited from the troubles of its rival taxi supplier, doubling its share of the licensed London market to 40 per cent and increasing its revenues by more than a third.

While the number of new cabs licensed in the capital last year was fairly static at about 1,400 – keeping the total number on London’s streets at around 22,000 – sales of Eco City’s customised six-seater Mercedes-Benz Vito van picked up strongly, as competitor Manganese Bronze went into administration.

Manganese, which until five years ago enjoyed a monopoly in manufacturing the totemic London taxi, was brought low last year by IT problems and defects in steering boxes, which forced it to recall 400 cabs. The company was bought out of administration by Geely, the Chinese carmaker, in February but has yet to regain the momentum lost last year.

Eco City, whose £40,000 six-seaters still achieve the 25ft turning circle required by London’s Public Carriage Office, also gained from the introduction of a 15-year age limit on London taxis.

This sales boost has brought the company to the verge of profitability, its chief executive suggested on Tuesday. Trevor Parker was brought in by Eco City’s founders in April “to take the company to the next level”.

On the down side, however, the London market is expected to open up further next year as Nissan prepares to launch its version of a London cab with a 25ft turning circle. Ahead of this, Mr Parker has launched a strategic review to look at diversifying into new cities and new business opportunities – such as servicing “blue-light” emergency vehicles.

Eco City reduced its pre-tax loss of £2.7m in 2011 to £1m in the year to December, and sold a Coventry property for £2m to help cut net debt from £3.1m to £1m. It also raised £1.75m of working capital during the year, with Nigel Wray, owner of the Saracens rugby club, boosting his stake to just over 17 per cent.

Excluding one-offs, Eco City earned £800,000 before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in 2012, against a loss of £900,000 the year before. Revenues in the year to December rose to £30.5m.

The Aim-quoted shares, which reached a peak above 8p in 2008, rose 3.6 per cent to close at 2.15p on Tuesday, valuing the group at just under £10m.


Rank updates for bank holiday weekend

Rank News

Victoria Park Saturday 25 May and Sunday 26 May 2013
Two new taxi ranks have been appointed in Victoria Park to serve events in the park.

The new taxi ranks are at:
– Old Ford Road, the rank is on the northern side of Old Ford Road and in the parking bays to the west of Grove Road . There will be signage at the head of the rank which will be in the 7th parking bay behind the car club bays (i.e. the 9th bay from the Crown Gate West park entrance/Grove Road) – access will be via Sewardstone Road


– Royal West Gate, opposite The Royal Inn on the Park pub – access will be via Lauriston Road


The dates when the ranks will operate will be agreed with Tower Hamlets and this will only be during certain events in Victoria Park. The ranks will initially operate on a trial basis and will be closely monitored to determine if they are successful and can be used for future events.

Saturday 25 May 2013
The first event in the park is the Field Day festival on Saturday 25 May, for this event only the Royal West Gate taxi rank will operate. The rank will be operational from 21:00 and the event is due to finish at 23:00. The rank in Old Ford Road will not operate so drivers should not try to use this as they will not be allowed past the road closures.

Sunday 26 May 2013
The second event is the As One in the Park festival on Sunday 26 May, for this event both the Royal West Gate and the Old Ford Road ranks will be operational from 21:00. This event is due to finish at 22:30 and there is expected to be a high demand for taxis.

When operational the taxi ranks will be marshalled and drivers must follow the instructions of the marshals. There will be road closures in place but stewards will allow taxis to access the ranks.

These ranks are initially being appointed as ‘normal’ taxi ranks and not as island ranks – this means that only All London taxi drivers can use them. Officers from TfL will be monitoring both taxi ranks during the first two events to determine how well these are being served and if there are any problems.

As the ranks are initially operating on a trial basis it is vital that drivers do not do anything that causes a disturbance to residents or jeopardises the ranks being appointed on a permanent basis.

We Are FSTVL – Saturday 25 May 2013

On Saturday 25 May 2013 We Are FSTVL takes place at Damyns Hall Aerodrome, Aveley Road, Upminster, Essex, RM14 2TN.
The festival is between 11:00am and 02:30am and will be attended by 15,000 people.

The estimated schedule for the event is as follows:
– From 10:00 Saturday 25 May – people begin to arrive at Upminster Station for the festival
– 10:00-15:00 – the taxi rank at Upminster Station will be marshalled
– 11:00 – the festival opens
– From 21:00 – people begin leave the festival
– 02:00 – festival bars close
– 02:30 – festival ends
– 04:00 – expected time the site will be clear

At the festival site there will be a designated drop-off area plus a taxi rank and this will be marshalled from 10:00 on Saturday morning until the festival ends on Sunday morning. The drop-off area and taxi rank will be accessible from Warwick Lane.

At the end of the festival there are a number of after parties at different clubs and so it is expected that people will want use taxis to get from the festival to one of the parties.

The festival organisers have been asking people how they intend to get home from the festival and 48% have indicated that they intend to use a taxi. Taxis will be an essential form of transport for people going to and from the event, so we hope that the local drivers plus All London drivers will use the station taxi rank and the taxi rank on the festival site.

Attached is the information prepared by the organisers for taxi drivers and more information about the event can be found on the We Are FVSTL website


Nissan Taxi Setback


The LCDC have heard from a very reliable source today, that the new nissan taxi that we was hoping to be launched this year in London will not becoming out until Spring 2014. This looks like another setback for drivers who were eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Nissan Taxi.

This is on the back of the problems that Nissan are having in New York where the NV200 is due to be launched without being wheelchair accessible. Disabled groups have been outraged that the taxi of tomorrow for new yorkers will not be wheelchair accesiable.Taxi industry groups, drivers, and passengers all seem to have one problem or another with the Taxi of Tomorrow, but the issue of accessibility seems to be driving a wedge between all three. Whether or not the groups find a fair compromise could change the cabs we see here in the city.

Danny Delany says he doesn’t take cabs often, but it’s not because he doesn’t want to. Delany says he’s waited more than an hour to flag down a cab.

And it’s no wonder why: just 2%, — or about 230 — of the city’s cabs are wheelchair accessible. For the 170,000 New Yorkers in wheelchairs, that can make find one difficult. Even if they find a cab, there’s no guarantee it won’t already be occupied by an able-bodied person. Delany, like many other New Yorkers in wheelchairs, thought the Taxi of Tomorrow would make life a little easier. “It doesn’t make sense that anything “of tomorrow” wouldn’t be accessible,” he said.

But right now, there’s no guarantee that that will be the case. Making the new Nissan Taxi accessible is not required by law and doing so would cost owners about $14,000.Taxi Safety Commission Director David Pollack says there just aren’t enough wheelchair fares each day to justify the cost. “For 56 fares a day you’re going to transfer and retrofit 13,000 yellow taxicabs to accessible vehicles? It’s beyond logic,” he said.

But right now City Council is considering a bill to do just that. If it’s approved all 13,000 yellow cabs in New York would be affected. Driver Rob Sheridan has been driving a cab for 16 years. He says he’s surprised that accessibility wasn’t already part of the agreement with Nissan.

“If you’re going to give an exclusive deal to one company to make The taxi of tomorrow then at the very least you got to make it wheelchair accessible,” Sheridan said. It’s not just people with wheelchairs, people with injuries and the elderly would also have an easier time getting into and out of accessible cabs. Delany says it’s not like making more cabs accessible wpuld reduce the fleet for able bodied passengers. “Everyone could use an accessible cab,” he said.

Delany says he has seen able bodied people using the accessible cabs plenty of times in the past making it even more difficult for him to find a cab. But one thing he says has helped: a dispatch service app called Wow Taxi. With it Delany says he can request a disabled cab which usually arrives within 15-20 minutes.


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All Taxis/ PH will be able to pick up fares from September


A major change to how taxis operate in Northern Ireland will come into force in September.

At present only public hire taxis are allowed to pick up passengers on the street
A major change to how taxis operate in Northern Ireland will come into force in September.

From then, private-hire taxis will no longer have to be pre-booked and, like public-hire black cabs, will be allowed to pick passengers up off the street.

The change was due to come into force in April, but was delayed to allow the taxi industry to prepare for the move.

Environment Minister Alex Attwood said the change would provide the public with “more choice”.

He said the introduction of a single-tier licensing system is designed to make it easier for the consumer to tell if the vehicle is a legal taxi and to give the customer greater choice as to the type of taxi they wish to use.

Its intrduction will also allow drivers from outside Belfast to come into the city centre and work, increasing the supply of taxis in the city centre at peak times, particularly at weekends.

“I remain fully committed to providing a safe, fair and fit-for-purpose taxi industry in Northern Ireland. Single-tier licensing is a significant step which will help achieve this goal,” he said.

“Having the ability to obtain any taxi without pre-booking will help to provide the public with more choice. It will also give those in the taxi industry more opportunities for business in these difficult economic times.”

Mr Attwood said he was also temporarily de-regulating taxi meters and fares for Belfast public hire taxis to bring them into line with the rest of the taxi industry.

‘Competitive market’

“This will establish a level and fair playing field as Belfast public hire taxis will be able to charge competitive rates to consumers and will not have to adhere to taxi fares set by law.

“I am also looking at a package of measures to enable public hire to develop and enhance their business opportunities, consistent with the taxis legislation.

“I believe this will help to create a competitive market and will bring about benefits for operators, drivers and passengers alike.”

At present, only Belfast public-hire taxis are required by law to have meters installed.

Not all private-hire taxis in Northern Ireland have meters.

The department of environment said it will introduce a maximum fare structure for all taxis operating in Northern Ireland in 2014.

This will include the requirement that all taxis must have an approved taxi meter and receipt machine installed.

Within Belfast only wheelchair accessible vehicles will be permitted to stand at taxi ranks.

Source: BBC NI