Southampton City Council is being urged not to ban Eastleigh taxis and private hire vehicles from bus lanes in the city.
According to the Daily Echo, taxis and private hire vehicles licensed outside of Southampton could be allowed to access bus lanes in the city only from 7am to 9.30am and from 4am to 6.30pm on weekdays and only if the vehicle was first registered on or after January 2006 if petrol and September 2015 if diesel.
A consultation on the proposals recently closed but some traders are calling for Eastleigh taxis and private vehicles to be allowed to use bus lanes in the city at all times.
It comes as Southampton and Eastleigh share some licensing services.
Stephen Lucas, hackney representative in Eastleigh, said drivers have been upgrading their vehicles over the past years to help reduce carbon emissions. This started after 2017 when taxi drivers in Southampton and Eastleigh were given a £250,000 grant to help them “go-green”.
But Mr Lucas said: “Now it looks like we are going to be excluded from the bus lanes. It doesn't make sense. They have not said how any of that policy would improve pollution levels.”
Traders claim the current proposals would increase traffic and journey times.
Kevin May, owner of Eastleigh-based K&K Hire Ltd, said he has a contract with the city council to drive children with special educational needs to school.
He said: “That will make the school run even longer. We have invested heavily to put electric cars on the roads and now they are just saying we are not supposed to use bus lanes.”
Ian Hall, chairman of Southampton Hackney and Private Hire Association, backed his colleagues.
Paul Holmes, MP for Eastleigh, said the policy is “badly thought out” and he has raised concerns with the city council. Cllr David Airey – cabinet member for transport in Eastleigh, said he hopes electric and Euro 6 standard vehicles licensed outside Southampton could be given access to the bus lanes at all times.
Southampton City Council said it worked with Eastleigh Borough Council for several years “sharing licensing services” and to secure grant funding.But it said there is no formal Clean Air Partnership between the two councils.
In a statement the city council added: “Specific licensing standards are set by the individual licensing authority and that remains the case with Eastleigh and Southampton. We have introduced stricter standards on emission to address poor air quality, such requirements have not been introduced in neighbouring authorities.
"The current proposals aim to limit access to our bus lanes in order to encourage outside taxis to be cleaner. Offering any dispensation to Eastleigh vehicles would undermine the effectiveness of our stricter licensing conditions and would be unfair on other neighbouring authorities.
"We believe these plans are delivering tangible improvements in local air quality with the minimum impact on operators and customer fares.”
Leicester City Council has abandoned an attempt to cut its annual multi-million pound spending on taxi journeys in the face of opposition from cab firms.
The Leicester Mercury reports that the authority pays out around £10 million each year on taxi trips, mostly transporting young people with special educational needs to school and back.
Officials have spent around a year negotiating with taxi firms about a new deal that would have seen the £7.5 million cost of home to school transport, for around 1,000 children, reduced by £1 million. However the council says that taxi firms agreed to undertake new contracts, but now refuse to do the runs for the pricing offered - forcing it to extend the old deals for another year.
The council’s strategic director of social care and education, Martin Samuels, said: “The £7.5 million that is spent on home to school transport is something like two-thirds to three-quarters of the total amount of non-ringfenced funding that the council has to support education.That’s why it is really important we make sure we are making the best use of this.”
Mr Samuels said the council found it had been paying around 10 per cent more for journeys than other similar authorities. He said the council had agreed a fixed price for each school-run route made up of a flat-rate fee for any journey and a per-mile rate, and a number of taxi firms bid for, and were awarded, contracts under it.
However, when the council came to provide routes to the winning bidders they said they were not content with the rates offered and that they would not do them, he said.
He insisted there had been complete clarity with the taxi firms about the deal on offer when they agreed to it, but added: “At a very late stage the operators said this did not work for them."
The dispute began in late-November and meant the council was unable to start the new contracts as hoped in the New Year, so the existing contract was extended until half-term to try to resolve the dispute.
Mr Samuels added: “It has become clear that is not possible and we are not able to reach agreement and therefore we have concluded we need to, very regrettably, abandon the process. We are looking at going back to the drawing board to see what the various options are that could be used.”
He said this could involve ‘travel training’ for children and providing extra support for families so taxis might not be needed.
He said the hope was that contracts with taxi firms could be agreed for those children who cannot travel any other way by summer term next year.
That means a budgeted saving of £1 million will not be achieved this year.
The council says the dispute has not led to any children being unable to get to school.
Mr Samuels added: “The feedback from the taxi companies is that when we placed the routes they realised the figures that had been agreed would not work for them.
One cab firm boss said: “This is a real mess. The taxi companies believe the council hasn’t been clear but they are also holding the council to ransom by not doing what they agreed to.”
A taxi driver is to stand trial later this year charged with mowing down and murdering an amateur footballer.
STV News reports that Derek McClinton is accused of killing Craig Kearney in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire on March 5, 2017.
Prosecutors claim McClinton hit the 24 year-old with his car, knocked him to the ground before driving over his head and body.
It is alleged the 49-year-old then failed to get medical help and left Craig lying injured on the road in the dark.
Craig – who had played for AFC Bonnyholm in Glasgow’s Pollok – later died.
McClinton, also of East Kilbride, faces a separate charge of then attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The includes a claim he did “continue in the course of (his) employment as a private hire taxi driver” in the car afterwards.
This is said to have allowed “video footage” taken by a device in the vehicle to be erased.
The charge also states McClinton did wash the car in “an attempt to destroy evidence”.
McClinton – represented at the time by QC Donald Findlay – originally pled not guilty at a hearing at the High Court in Glasgow in February 2020.
A planned trial for October last year was postponed due to the pandemic.
McClinton had then been due to face trial this week, but the Crown Office confirmed on Monday, March 1, it has now been re-arranged for July.
A cabbie who made racist and intimidating remarks to a passenger before threatening to throw her out of his car has lost his licence.
According to the Birmingham Mail, the unnamed man’s disqualification came after Sandwell's licensing committee said his behaviour showed he wasn’t ‘a fit and proper person’ to hold a dual private hire and Hackney Carriage permit.
Minutes of its November meeting show the passenger had alleged the driver had been intimidating and made racial comments during a pre-booked journey.
She also claimed at one point he said he threatened to drop her off in an area she didn’t know.
Refusing to continue, he returned the woman to her home address despite being advised by his taxi base to continue to his destination.
Appearing at the review meeting the driver, who was referred to as Mr ‘ P’, admitted he’d made racist comments but said they were about passengers in general and were not aimed at the woman.
He explained he’d been waiting for the passenger for five minutes who he claimed displayed inappropriate behaviour, including unsuitable language and encouraged him to break the speed limit during the journey.
Revoking his permit, councillors said they saw no reasons to ignore established guidelines and said he was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence in Sandwell.
They added, as a professional driver for over 10 years, he had: “Displayed discriminatory behaviour towards a passenger and his interview with a Taxi Licensing Enforcement officer corresponded with the passenger’s witness statement.”
Mr ‘P’ was advised of his right to appeal to a magistrates court.
A woman who bit a private hire driver twice in a racist attack has been spared jail after she claimed to have PTSD.
Metro reports that Rebekha D’Stephano, 43, said she was suffering from the effects of her puppy being mauled to death by another dog when she attacked Jahangir Alam and called him a ‘P**i b*****d’ in a row over a fare.
She also punched him, and smashed his windscreen and rear-view mirror as she refused to pay when he dropped her off at her home in Swinton, near Salford, shortly after midnight on February 16 last year.
When police arrived, D’Stephano, who had been out drinking with friends, was having an argument with a different cabbie about her son.
She was told she faced a jail sentence for racially aggravated criminal damage and ABH. However, she told the court that she was receiving counselling for the attack on her dog.
Prosecutor Mr Zak Azim said D’Stephano had seven previous offences including a similar assault and criminal damage offence in 2009.
Defending her, lawyer Elizabeth Ridgeway said: ‘Her last offence was 10 years ago so it is clear she can keep her life in order when things are going well and there are times where she struggles to deal with life.
"She accepts what she has done and would like to apologise. She accepts she has crossed the custodial threshold and is not coping."
D’Stephano was sentenced to 26 weeks jail suspended for 12 months and she was also ordered to pay £700 compensation to the taxi driver.
Chairman of the bench Julian Fisher told her: "This is a serious case where you caused injuries to the victim and stopped the taxi driver from working. We are going to impose a suspended sentence, but you could have gone down for this."