A row broke out last month after Sadiq Khan announced new plans to crack down on pollution - but exempted black cabs from the £12.50 round-the-clock charge.
According to the Evening Standard, Uber said Londoners would be shocked that the Mayor had excluded black taxis from his ultra low emission zone as they are responsible for almost a fifth of nitrogen oxide fumes in central London.
The ULEZ, which is due to start on April 8, 2019, does however apply to police cars, ambulances and fire engines - forcing the capital’s emergency services to spend millions replacing their older vehicles.
As the Standard reported last month, more than 800 emergency vehicles will breach the new emission rules.
The ULEZ plans, which are now subject to further consultation, will cover the same central London area as the congestion charge but operate 24/7. Drivers who fail to pay the charge will be fined. The £12.50 charge is on top of the weekday £11.50 congestion charge.
Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London, said: “Londoners will, however, be astounded that the Mayor has exempted black cabs from measures which apply to everyone else. This is particularly surprising since TfL’s own figures show black taxis are responsible for 18 per cent of road transport nitrogen oxide emissions in central London.”
The Met has 736 vehicles that will not meet the new rules by 2019. The fire brigade has 52 and London Ambulance Service said it had 828 diesel vehicles that were not compliant but hoped to reduce this to 86 by 2020.
City Hall said black cabs were being exempted as they would be covered by separate licensing rules being introduced by TfL.
From next year, all new black cabs will have to be able to run with “zero emissions” or will not receive a licence. However it could take more than a decade for the already-licensed black cabs to be replaced.
Londoners reacted with dismay and puzzlement at the decision to exempt black cabs. They said the vehicles were among the worst offenders, with huge ranks of cabs belching diesel fumes as they sit idling outside train stations.
St Pancras and Paddington - where drivers queue illegally in Craven Road, despite a vast new rank having been built inside the station - are among the worst offenders.
Asked why black cabs were being exempted, the Mayor’s spokesman said: “As part of our bold plans to tackle air pollution, TfL are using the licensing powers they have to clean up London’s black cabs.
“From 2018, all new black cabs will have to be zero emission capable – plug in or hybrid vehicles. TfL is also providing £40 million in funding to help retire older black cabs more quickly.”
Petrol vehicles which fail to meet Euro 4 standards, and diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 standards, will have to pay. Cars, vans and motorbikes will be charged £12.50. Buses, coaches and HGVs will pay £100.
City Hall estimates that petrol cars more than 13 years old in 2019, and diesel cars more than four years old in 2019, will not meet the new standards.
Mr Khan is further proposing to extend the ULEZ across Greater London for heavy diesel vehicles, including buses, coaches and lorries, in 2020, and up to the North and South Circular roads for cars and vans in 2021. More than 150,000 Londoners are likely to be caught by the 2021 expansion. Although the exact rate for the “outer ring” has yet to be decided, it could be as low as £3 or £4 a day.
Taxi drivers staged a demonstration to highlight the abuse they often have to face.
The event outside Nelson Town Hall last month was led by Pendle Taxi Association (PTA) and was the first of its kind in the borough.
Over one weekend people were able to chat to drivers about what they do and the challenges they deal with.
It was organised after taxi association bosses said they disagreed with figures that suggested assaults on drivers in Lancashire had fallen from 140 to 104 during 2016.
Shaf Ahmed, chairman of PTA, said the event would be held annually as drivers need to be respected.
He told the Lancashire Telegraph: “The purpose of the day was to recognise the challenges the trade faces on a daily basis. I think it went quite well.
“It is in my view a respectable profession. The nighttime economy would not survive without the taxi trade as we are the only transport.
“We are members of the community working alongside the local authorities and assisting the police in managing people to and from their homes safely.
“We have to deal with a lot of abuse and criminal damage to our vehicles and most of this does go unreported. We did not agree with the figures that came out last year.
“We want our profession to be recognised and appreciated for the service we give to the local economy and we will be marking this day every year from now.”
The event was held in conjunction with other associations across the country including Dudley, Sheffield and Birmingham.
Last year taxi association bosses in East Lancashire said drivers were avoiding night shifts, especially at weekends, because they feared being attacked.
Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, leader of Pendle Council, said: “As council leader I support the taxi trade in the service they provide to the borough.
“We will work with them to tackle issues which affect both the trade and the public with safety of drivers and customers a priority.”
Mr Ahmed said: “We put a lot of effort into our jobs and we have to work at unsociable hours. We understand that public safety is key but we want to highlight driver safety.”
If you are caught speeding now you will face tougher penalties thanks to new rules. The fines are increasing after a consultation in 2016, where it was agreed that the previous guidelines do not reflect just how much harm and damage speeding can cause. A stricter fining system will be implemented to try to make drivers “think twice”, but how much will offenders have to fork out?
Currently if you are caught speeding, the minimum fine is £100 and three penalty points on your licence. And the maximum fine is £1,000, or £2,500 if you are caught on the motorway.
At the moment drivers face being fined 100 per cent of their weekly salary up to £2,500 but that is set to change. After April 24, the cap of £2,500 will remain, but offenders can be charged up to 175 per cent of their weekly income if they are caught speeding.
The current minimum fine of £100 and three points will still remain the same.
Fines are divided into three bands – A, B and C, which correspond to how serious the speeding offence is.
Drivers caught at speeds up to 10 mph over the limit are classed as band A, with band B fares relating to offences where motorists were clocked at 11-21 mph over the limit.
The most serious category of offence is band C, which applies to drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 21 mph. These band C offenders face fines between 125 and 175 per cent of their weekly wage, which could see the wealthiest motorists slapped with penalties close to the £2,500 limit.
They could still also be banned from driving for up to 56 days or get six points on their licence.
Meanwhile, band B offenders can expect fines between 75 and 125 per cent of their weekly wage, and band A offenders could be slapped with fines equalling 25-75 per cent of their weekly wage.
The move to hike fines comes after Green Flag warned that the number of speeding offences has risen by 44 per cent over the last five years.
District judge Richard Williams, a sentencing council member, said: “The magistrates’ courts deal with the vast majority of offenders in England and Wales, so it is essential that the guidelines they use are up to date and help ensure that sentences are applied consistently and effectively.
“We have listened to the views of magistrates, criminal justice professionals and others with an interest in particular offence types in developing these guidelines.
“We are grateful to all those who responded to the consultation and helped shape the final versions that will be used in courts.”
First time speeders can avoid the increased fines if they take a speed awareness course, although this option does not apply to repeat offenders.
Initial fines could be adjusted based on the court’s discretion based on the conditions in the case.
Some variables such as the weather conditions, timing of the offence and population density of the area could affect the total fine.
A taxi driver was left horrified after finding the body of a man in Grimsby while on his way to a job. Rod Braithwaite, 47, immediately rang for help when he saw the man on Wednesday, March 29, at around 4.30am - then carried on with his shift.
The Links Taxis driver said he had since woken up a few times because of his shock over the incident, and believes he will never forget what he has seen.
“I used to work for an undertaker, but I have never seen anything like this,” he told the Grimsby Telegraph. “It’s a shock to me. I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was just kids playing Guy Fawkes or something like that. It wasn’t until I shone my torch that I saw what it was.”
He added: “The police arrived very quickly. An officer was there within two or three minutes.”
Remarkably, the Grimsby man said he carried on with his shift after the discovery. “The shift finished at 6am, but I did a few more jobs,” he said. “I was thinking about it and it was on my mind. I will never forget it.”
He is grateful that the discovery was made, though - because it means that someone else such as a woman walking to work early in the morning did not have to come across it.
“If anyone had gone up the walkway there on the ramp, they would have seen him,” he said.
Police are investigating the incident. A spokesman for Humberside Police said: “While he is yet to be formally identified, he is believed to be a local man aged in his fifties. His death is not being treated as suspicious at this time and a file is being prepared for the coroner. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”
A national database of licensed taxi drivers should be introduced to make it easier to spot those with a criminal past, according to a re-view into child sex exploitation.
Issues with taxi drivers had been highlighted in a number of similar cases around the country, the report found. In total, 14 recommendations were made.
Figures recently showed that hundreds of taxi drivers had been granted licences, despite declaring criminal convictions.
The independent review said it was “clear that taxi drivers picked young people up from schools and children’s homes and some drivers were directly involved in the abuse of the young people.”
It found that complaints about drivers were not always taken to licensing officers, and that licensing authorities were not told if a taxi driver had been arrested unless the driver revealed their occupation.
Several recommendations were made to address issues around taxi drivers, including the introduction of a national central database of all licensed drivers, indicating whether any had been subject to any regulatory sanctions.
Another recommendation suggested that Buckinghamshire’s four district councils and county council should improve the way they shared information with police, “by considering a special point of contact within Thames Valley Police for taxi-related issues”.
Bucks County Council said the report found “good practice and strong partnership working in place to tackle sexual exploitation”, as well as areas for further improvement.
The county’s safeguarding children board, which commissioned the review, wanted to ensure the “full spectrum of historic cases was examined back to 1998”, its chair said.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said any driver with a criminal conviction should not be al-lowed to transport members of the public. “The problem is that councils set their own licensing standards and in some areas these are woefully inadequate - putting the public at risk,” he added.
“[We] would support a national database of taxi and private hire vehicle drivers. However, we believe that the government should go further by establishing a clear set of robust minimum licensing standards, applicable across all licensing authorities, that includes a mandatory enhanced DBS check.”
Mmmm... Mr McNamara, you took the words right out of our mouth. The National Association has been banging on for two decades about how the Home Office should come out with new guidelines on criminal offences and our industry; their last bulletin dates from 1992. Setting up a national driver database is a sound concept, but is totally toothless without unified national parameters as to “fit and proper” – and recognition of the fact that there are currently 374 different sets of “fit and proper” criteria for each of the 374 licensing authorities in the UK. If they were all the same, and those who committed any sort of sex crime or threat to life were banned altogether, there would be no question as to who should or should not be licensed.- Ed.