North Lanarkshire’s two largest political parties have now been drawn into the row over school taxi contracts.
As previously reported in PHTM, taxi operators had heavily criticised North Lanarkshire Council for only paying them 20 per cent on the contract rather than the agreed 75 per cent.
North Lanarkshire SNP’s education spokesperson Agnes Magowan said: “According to the Scottish Government schools are hopefully starting up fully on August 11. If taxi companies have gone out of business will there be enough service to cover all the home to school contracts?
“It is not only numbers I am concerned about. Youngsters with additional support needs often build up a relationship with their taxi operator who becomes skilled in supporting the particular needs of the child and their parents or carers. I would be extremely worried if we lost this expertise.
“I would urge both the council and the Labour administration to review this arbitrary decision immediately and provide this workforce with a fair and balanced settlement in line with the previously confirmed 75 per cent.
“I hope the council will ensure that taxi companies have enough funds to remain in business to honour their contracts from August 11 or this will be an additional challenge.”
A Labour Group spokesperson said: “It’s worrying to see that the SNP is seeking to overturn contractual decisions of the council. This goes against established best practice on how elected members should conduct themselves.
“Taxi drivers should be accessing the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme which allows them to continue to operate at the same time.
“Our outstanding council staff are working round the clock to support all workers in North Lanarkshire and the SNP should concentrate their time on supporting our staff as best they can.”
A council spokesperson added: “We are currently planning for schools returning as normal, which will include a detailed assessment of transport needs. We will soon be providing updated contract information to transport providers once we have confirmation of guidance in relation to social distancing and health and safety matters on school transport.”
A 25-year-old man has been charged following the death of private hire driver Gurmit Singh Matharu in a crash in the Hyson Green area of Nottingham.
Mr Matharu, 54 died in the crash which happened in Radford Road, near the Asda supermarket, on the morning of Saturday 4 July, resulting in the area being cordoned off for hours to facilitate an investigation.
Aiden King–Eeson, 25, from Birmingham, has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, aggravated vehicle taking and driving without a licence or insurance. He is set to appear at Nottingham Crown Court on Thursday 6 August.
Detective Sergeant Adam Cooper, who is investigating the incident, said: “This was a serious incident with tragic consequences.”
PHTM would like to extend our condolences to the family, friends and work colleagues of Mr Matharu.
Taxi and private hire drivers, cleaners, retail assistants and others working in ‘high-contact’ professions, where they come close to a lot of different people every day, are taking part in a government trial to evaluate the effectiveness of asymptomatic testing for coronavirus.
Department of Health chiefs announced the swabbing scheme today, stating that the launch will start tomorrow Friday 10 July. Firms taking part in the trial include taxi firm Addison Lee, BT, services firm Mitie and pharmacy giant Boots.
Each of the four businesses will receive thousands of tests for staff around the country, either home-swabbing kits which will be posted, or mobile testing sites which will be set-up in offices.
The trial has been initiated with the intention of trying to catch the virus early among people who are most likely to get infected, and then to stop them passing it on.
Local authorities in Bradford, Newham, Brent and Oldham - areas with high transmission rates - will also select groups of people they deem to be high-risk for asymptomatic testing and will book tests for people at walk-in sites.
Those who test positive will need to self-isolate and results will be shared with the NHS Test and Trace programme so contacts can be traced.
It comes as a damning investigation claimed officials ‘buffed’ the coronavirus testing system and the numbers were a ‘total mess’ that didn’t add up.
A woman has been seriously injured after falling out of a taxi into a busy road on the afternoon of Saturday 4 July.
When she fell from the vehicle into East Meadway, Kitts Green, members of the public reportedly attempted to help her at the scene just before 5.20pm. The emergency services then arrived and cordoned off part of the road with police tape.
Two ambulances and several police cars were pictured blocking the street as concerned witnesses looked on.
The woman was found to be in a serious condition and trauma care was administered by medics in the street before she was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for emergency care.
The exact circumstances around the incident are not known, but West Midlands Police said it did not appear 'suspicious' and no arrests have been made.
States of Guernsey has reviewed representations from the taxi industry and has agreed to provide financial support for taxi until the end of September.
The trade continues to be heavily impacted by the lack of visitors to the island as a result of ongoing border controls.
Through the payroll co-funding scheme, those who demonstrate their business is being impacted can apply for 80% or 100% of the minimum wage for employees (or for themselves if they are self-employed), which is a continuation of the rules that applied up until June.
Policy & Resources vice-president Lyndon Trott said: “We know there are some taxi and private car drivers who are very reliant on trade from both inbound and outbound holidaymakers as well as business travellers.
“We’re already supporting other sectors that depend on visitors, including accommodation providers, restaurants, retail and others, and it’s appropriate that taxi drivers receive the same support.”