PHC TAKES A LOOK AT THE STORIES THAT HAVE MADE THE HEADLINES OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES. THIS MONTH IN FEBRUARY 2016.
CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK DELAY – London private hire driver Zarakh Khaan was forced to sell his house after he tried to renew his TfL licence and was left hanging on for months because of a backlog of cases that had built up at the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS). Mr Khaan applied in June 2015 but by February 2016 he was still waiting for the DBS to complete a criminal record check.
He told PHC: “I am basically going through hell. I have lost my house because I couldn’t afford to pay the mortgage and the situation is now just a complete and utter shambles.”
NO MORE PHV CONGESTION EXEMPTION? – London mayor Boris Johnson announced that he wanted to strip the capital’s private hire industry of its exemption from the Congestion Charge.
Mr Johnson said: “The increase in the number of private hire vehicles (PHVs) has raised the levels of pollution and must be addressed.”
A spokesman for the mayor said: “In discussions with Central Government, the mayor has pushed for legislation to enable Transport for London (TfL) to restrict the overall number of private hire drivers and vehicles.
“TfL estimates that the number of private hire vehicles circulating within the Central London Congestion Charge Zone has increased by over 50 per cent in the last two years.
“The mayor believes that more must be done to address the congestion and air quality impact of increasing numbers of PHVs, which outnumber taxis in Central London during the day.
“The mayor has asked TfL to investigate the impact and feasibility of removing the exemption for private hire vehicles in Central London to tackle the rise in pollution and reduce congestion.”
PRIVATE HIRE REGULATIONS REVIEW – After much speculation and comment, Transport for London (TfL) published its proposals to,“Take the capital’s private hire trade forward into the 21st century.”
TfL approved measures included: no more PHV satellite offices in clubs, restaurants etc / new operator fees to, “better reflect operator licence costs based on company size” and private hire drivers to be required to, “demonstrate a certain standard of English”.
TfL proposals that were rejected, included: private hire drivers only able to work for a single operator at any one time and operators having to wait five minutes after a booking to despatch a vehicle.
Commenting on the proposals, a TfL spokesman said: “These proposals will enhance the standards of safety and customer service in light of the new technology and rising number of private hire vehicles in London.”
Chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association, Steve Wright, said: “The LPHCA welcomes the announcement of proposals from TfL for modernising and enhancing London’s private hire industry.”
CABBIE CLEARED OF HATTON GARDEN RAID – A licensed London taxi driver was cleared at Woolwich Crown Court of any involvement in the 2014 Easter Weekend jewellery heist at a safe deposit company in the Hatton Garden gem district.
Jon Harbinson (42), of Essex, had been accused of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property. The hackney cabbie was also accused of helping his uncle and co-accused William Lincoln (60) to look after a number of bags connected to the raid.
Prosecution counsel Philip Stott claimed that a piece of paper from a taxi receipt book had been found in a true-life crime memoir in which a gang had used a similar method to that of the safe deposit raid. But, Mr Harbinger said he had, “No knowledge of what happened in Hatton Garden.”
LONDON RICKSHAW RIDER SENTENCED TO PRISON – A pedicab rider was sentenced to 24 weeks in jail after he breached a Criminal Behaviour Order to not use a rickshaw in Westminster.
Juris Briedis (21) was caught twice within a week and inspector Guy Ellwood of the Met Police’s Oxford Street team, said: “This should send a clear message to those riders who engage in disruptive, criminal and anti-social activity, that they will face significant consequences.”
DANIELS GRILLED BY LBC – TfL director of surface transport Leon Daniels was quizzed by LBC Radio presenter Eddie Nastor on why the licensing authority was: “Giving away too many private hire licences”.
Mr Daniels replied: “The law says very clearly that I have to grant a licence to anybody who is qualified under the private hire application criteria.
“Whether there are too many private hire vehicles on the streets of London or not, the law does not allow me to refuse a licence application. I do not have a choice, but what is ‘too many’ anyway?
“There are now 93,000 private hire licences in London, up from 57,000 five years ago. But, they are not all out there at the same time. What private hire is succeeding in and particularly at those times of the day and night in outlying London areas, is working in places where there hasn’t traditionally been a taxi service available.
“This in turn has led to an increase in personal mobility for all sorts of people, who would probably say that there are not too many PHVs.”
TAXI LICENCE VERDICT – A cabbie from Epping was found guilty of working as a hackney carriage driver after his licence had run out. Robert Wilkinson (50) of Chigwell was fined £150 and ordered to pay costs of £677 by magistrates after he admitted to plying for hire outside Club 195 without an appropriate licence.
Epping Forest councillor Gary Waller said: “We will not tolerate unlicensed taxi drivers. The safety of our residents is paramount.”
TRISTAR WIN AWARD – Tristar Worldwide won a trophy for ‘Best Ground Transportation Company’ at the 2016 Buying Business Travel Awards on Park Lane.
Director of global business at Tristar Antony Withers, said: “This award reinforces our credibility as a global chauffeur service provider.”