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THE SCHOOL summer prom season is just around the corner and  the London Fire Brigade (LFB), Transport for London (TfL), Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) put on a public demonstration in the Covent Garden piazza to highlight the dangers of hiring illegal limousines.

PHC has reported on illegal stretch limo activity since 2003 but the clampdown by the authorities on the London luxury and novelty car hire market has stepped up a gear in the last 15 months with 19 operations since March 20

Fireman-with-cutting-tool

• Fireman with cutting tool

Roadside checks have been carried out on 358 vehicles, of which 27 were seized immediately and 232 given prohibitions, banning them from the public road.

A spokesman for TfL said: “The limousine featured in the Covent Garden ‘limo-chop’ was seized during a joint TfL, VOSA and MPS operation in June 2012 on The Mall.

“The vehicle was inspected and found to have major safety issues, including two serious brake defects, two serious steering defects and a loose passenger seat. It also did not have a Certificate of Initial Fitness, which is required on all UK operated passenger carrying vehicles with nine or more passengers.

“The limo was given an immediate roadworthiness prohibition notice and immobilised, prior to it being impounded once VOSA was satisfied that it was not being operated in accordance with PSV operator licence requirements.”

Firemen-with-victim-on-stretcher

• Firemen with victim on a stretcher

Actors from the Casualties Union were the only ‘passengers’ at risk during the Covent Garden demonstration but PHC has seen plenty of real life horror stories over the years (for example; exhaust fumes leaking into the passenger cabin) to know that the dangers of illegal stretch limos can be very real indeed.

PETER HENDY / TFL TRANSPORT COMMISSIONER
“The safety and security of all road users is our key priority and illegal limousines present a real threat and danger to the safety of people who hire them. Through working proactively with other agencies we have successfully cracked down on these unsafe vehicles, prohibiting more than 150 vehicles from using London’s roads.

“We will continue to work with the London Fire Brigade, VOSA and our policing partners to remove these often uninsured, unlicensed and unsafe vehicles from our streets. Our advice to people who hire limousines is simple; don’t put yourself and loved ones in danger. Use a legal licensed operator.”

Limo-firemen-in-vehicle

• Firemen in Limo

RON DOBSON / LONDON FIRE COMMISSIONER
“Our crews are called to around ten road traffic accidents every day which is why it’s vital to have regular opportunities to practice their rescue skills.

“The limousine was provided by VOSA and taken off the streets for failing to meet required safety standards. This demo was a great opportunity for the public to see our skills in action and hopefully it will make them think twice about hiring an illegal limo.”

HEATHER CRUIKSHANK / VOSA OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
“The majority of limousine operators are licensed and use their vehicles responsibly but there is a sizeable minority that do not operate in this way and the public must be alert to the risk.

“Only booking with licensed operators is the best way of mineralising the risks to themselves and other road users and helps to send a clear message to those you chose to try and trade unlawfully.”

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PHC Magazine

PHC Magazine