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Rogue Taxi Driver Fined £765

Knowledge free cabbie stuck in fiscal cul-de-sac

Written by . Published on January 30th 2013.

Rogue Taxi Driver Fined £765

THIS council press release provides an interesting follow-up to our article of 3 December, Taxi Legal Loophole: Clueless Cabbies, click here

A CAB driver has been fined £765 after being caught illegally plying for hire in Manchester.

Zameer Ahmed, whose hackney carriage licence was granted by Rossendale Borough Council, pleaded guilty to the offence at Manchester Magistrates Court on 11 January.

A loophole exists which enables hackney carriage drivers licensed in other authorities - with less stringent criteria for drivers and vehicles - to take pre-booked jobs for Manchester private hire companies.

Under current law, Ahmed is allowed to accept pre-booked journeys through private hire operators licensed by Manchester, despite the fact that his driving and vehicle licences were issued by Rossendale. 

Ahmed, 28, of Margaret Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, was working at the ASDA supermarket on Princess Road in Hulme when council officers spotted him accepting passengers for a journey which had not been pre-booked. 

Enquiries showed that Ahmed was working for a Manchester-based operator, but on this occasion, he accepted a fare that had not been pre-booked through that operator.

Ahmed was fined £250 and ordered to pay £500 costs, plus a £15 victim surcharge.

Executive member for the environment, Councillor Nigel Murphy, said: "Manchester has very high safety standards and our hackney carriage drivers are subject to thorough safety checks, as well as rigorous ‘knowledge’ tests.  Our officers will take action against those who break the law by coming into the city to work illegally.”

A loophole exists which enables hackney carriage drivers licensed in other authorities - with less stringent criteria for drivers and vehicles - to take pre-booked jobs for Manchester private hire companies.

Manchester's private hire vehicles must be easily recognisable by their white colour, must be less than seven years old and are regularly tested to meet high standards.  Manchester's licensed drivers also have to undergo language and knowledge tests.

In Manchester, only a handful of companies use 'out of town' drivers.  Manchester City Council's licensing department has written to operators asking them not to do this and many operators have contacted the authority saying they won't do so, as they believe this could drive down their standards and damage their reputations.

The Law Commission has undertaken a consultation aimed at updating the current legislation - some of which dates back to the 19th century.  Along with other authorities, Manchester has responded to this by making it clear this issue needs to be addressed.

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16 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

crisbyJanuary 30th 2013.

Is there any chance of a list being made available of the operators who only use local drivers? I think my local operator, Eastlands, does. And while I'm here please grant me the favour of expressing my wish that Manchester had a rule instructing black taxis to live up to their name. Thank you.

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2013.

Please can ManCon readers recommend taxi firms which have given them a good service so we can vote with our feet?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 30th 2013.

Try Radio Cars based in Ashton

crisbyFebruary 1st 2013.

Eastlands have never let me down.

DavidJanuary 30th 2013.

Does local drivers really mean you want non immigrant drivers?.I don't care where the drivers are from or where they are born and they can use modern communications to locate any destination.The idea of drivers having to have memorised a map of city is redundant.
I think it's time the black cab monopoly was smashed on picking up passengers,as long as they have the appropriate insurance then the private hire should be able to compete freely.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 30th 2013.

Not at all, but drivers should know the best route to get to places like the major hotels, stations, pubs, the universities etc. without needing to use a satnav.

It does seem to be a Manchester thing as, for example, Sheffield's cabbies are much more 'knowledgeable' and most if not all of them are from outside the UK. Immigration is a red herring.

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2013.

Radio Cars based on Whitworth Street. I've been using them for over six years and they're excellent. Friendly and polite telephone operators, friendly and polite drivers. They will happily take you on a route you suggest, or use their sat-navs if necessary. I've tried other city centre based operators in the past and have found their service to be lacking.

JoanJanuary 30th 2013.

David. That is not what ManCon means. The driver in the article was registered in Rossendale. It's clear from the article that this is what is meant by non-local; it's nothing to do with immigration. BTW I regularly use Streetcars and find them pretty good, as are the vast majority of black-cab drivers.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidJanuary 31st 2013.

I would like councils and the government to address the real problem which is that black cabs are hideously over priced.Only journalist,lawyers or those whose bosses can pick up their travel costs can afford them anymore.
That's why people get in private hire taxis illegally if they can Joan.But you just want to protect the interests of Manchester black cab drivers not the interests of the consumer.
I would like to see more competition if drivers from else where in Greater Manchester are prepared to charge less Thats great for us customers.
Of course you busy bodies at the council
Always want to control everything
and stop competition.

DavidJanuary 31st 2013.

Joan do you think a couple of young girls can afford the prices black cabs charge these days if they need to get a taxi from Manchester out to the suburbs or other towns.

AnonymousJanuary 30th 2013.

rossendale is basically a foreign country tho

JoanJanuary 31st 2013.

David. Only a tiny number of cars are operating illegally and they are, of course, the ones to avoid. Private hire cars when booked in advance are quite legal. Can young girls afford legal cabs or private hire? Well I’ve seen plenty of evidence that they can and do. I see plenty of young women using cabs in town. My friends’ daughters will always set money aside for their cab fare and have the phone numbers stored in their mobiles. The sixth-form students I’ve taught over the years have a very accurate knowledge of cab fares and how to get the best deals. If one week they don’t have the money for a cab fare from town they have a night out nearer home. Most young women are pretty canny when it comes to getting home safely. On another issue I’m surprised that you accuse me of wanting to protect black cabs exclusively. Your post is just underneath my post in which I praise Streetcars – a private hire firm!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
DavidJanuary 31st 2013.

I don't see why drivers who don't happen to live in Manchester and come under your thumb should be stopped from working in Manchester.
A black cab fare in my experience is typically double the price of a private hire fare.You don't seem to want to do anything about this,even though it hurts the low waged and young as they tend not to have their own transport.

DavidJanuary 31st 2013.

The distinction between black cabs and private hire should be abolished Joan don't you agree?.They should all be allowed to pick up anyone who wants their service.
Then the council could fire these non productive officers you have Joan and put the money towards something more useful.

Duke FameFebruary 1st 2013.

Spot of David,

JoanJanuary 31st 2013.

David. I’m speaking as an individual using personal experience, general knowledge, a quick Google to check, and a basic level of logic. I’m not speaking on behalf of the council. Licensing of taxis is largely governed by national legislation, as is clear in the article, and the distinction between black cabs and private hire operates around the country. The article and its predecessor referred to together make the case for not allowing out-of-town licensed drivers to operate in town as they haven’t demonstrated any knowledge of the area; this would require a change in national legislation.

When I get in any sort of taxi anywhere in the UK I want to know that the driver has met some minimum requirements to obtain a licence from the local authority. Council officers are engaged in that work. I doubt many people would want to get rid of those checks, particularly the parents of those young women you mentioned earlier.

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