Burton taxi driver, Nabil Razzak, says he has been left out of pocket and lost customers after experiencing problems with parking at the town’s train station.
Last year, train operator Network Rail undertook a major revamp of the forecourt and Mr Razzak says he was told it would take five weeks. But it ended up taking for six months, which caused a huge loss of income as he had to stay away from the station.
Mr Razzak, who has been operating in Burton for nine years, pays £525 to East Midlands Railway, which runs the station, for a permit to operate there.
He said that drivers were told to park in Borough Road while the work was being carried out, but parking wardens warned them they faced fines if they continued to park there.
So they were moved onto the bridge outside the station at the bus stop, but there was only space for five vehicles our of the 29 drivers who have permits.
Mr Razzak, of Envoy Taxis, says he was given no compensation or refund for the loss of trade he experienced, but the price of the permits has been frozen for two years.
To make matters worse, lockdown has led to fewer trains with less people on them due to social distancing meaning that some drivers have had weeks when they have picked up little or no fares from passengers.
The 41-year-old said: "It has made us feel sour and angry. In some areas of the country, they've been refunded some of the money, but here they are not budging."
East Midlands Railway is responsible for the station at Burton and Network Rail for the forecourt project, which saw the taxi rank temporarily moved.
Debbie Fairweather, senior sponsor for Network Rail which is responsible for the forecourt project, said: "We understand the frustrations for taxi drivers using Burton-on-Trent station and we're sorry that work to develop an interchange outside the station took longer than planned.
"During this time, additional staff and signs in the station directed passengers to taxis. The work which will improve transport links for passengers, was completed in March."
An East Midlands Railway spokesman said: “We are assessing whether in certain circumstances we are able to provide rate relief in the short term and will inform taxi drivers as soon as possible."
Uber will be allowed to keep its license to operate in the UK because it shares information with the police on drivers, passengers and journeys, it has emerged.
A court has been told the ride hailing app shares 2,000 pieces of 'vital' information with senior officers in London alone.
This intelligence is reportedly used to tackle drug dealing, human trafficking and child sexual exploitation, as perpetrators have been known to use minicabs to aid these crimes in the past.
But the revelations, reported in The Times, have concerned drivers and passengers who are concerned about their privacy when using Uber's services.
It is the latest development in a long running battle for Uber to renew its operting licence in the UK after Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew the company's private hire vehicle (PHV) licence in November.
They claimed safety failures on the ride hailing app put passengers at risk, including allowing unauthorised drivers to work without adequate secruity checks.
The company was awarded a five-year licence in 2012, but in September 2017 TfL refused to renew it - and the ride hailing app had to go to court where a judge handed it a 15-month licence in June 2018.
It was then given a further two-month licence in September 2019, after which TfL rejected Uber's application for a new licence, citing 'several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk'.
Uber has made efforts to improve their service, including on document verification and governance.
Magistrates must decide whether Uber is a 'fit and proper' operator, and the company have been presenting their arguments as to why they should be granted a licence.
Yesterday the court heard Uber 'covered up' the scale of a flaw in its app allowing dismissed drivers to pick up passengers nearly 15,000 times.
Westminster Magistrates' Court previously heard Uber had a vulnerability in its systems which allowed unauthorised people to upload their photographs to legitimate driver accounts by manipulating GPS settings, enabling them to pick up passengers.
Some 14,788 trips were taken using bogus identities, but the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA) said Uber did not tell TfL the full scale of the problem in a report submitted in 2019.
The Times have seen a skeleton argument lodged at Westminster magistrates' court, in which Uber claims its support from police showed it fit the requirements for a new licence.
The paperwork suggests that the taxi app shares information and intelligence with multiple bodies, including the national counterterrorism policing network, the National Crime Agency, the slavery unit of The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and British Transport Police.
The UK is Uber's largest European market since it launched in London in 2012, with 45,000 drivers and 3.5 million people using the service in London.
Concerns have been expressed about this information sharing and the impact it has on the privacy of drivers.
James Farrar, general secretary of the App Drivers and Couriers Union, told The Times they were 'deeply concerned' about the 'police mass surveillance and intelligence gathering on the Uber platform'.
He added: 'With Uber's licence hanging by a thread, the rideshare giant is particularly vulnerable to undue pressure from police and regulatory authorities to compromise the personal data protection rights of their drivers, couriers and passengers.'
Uber have been contacted for a comment.
Ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc said it received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault related to its 1.3 billion rides in the United States last year, in a report aimed at ensuring drivers and the public it was serious about safety.
The figure - which averages eight a day - represents a 16 per cent fall in the rate of incidents from the previous year in the five most serious categories of sexual assault reported, Uber said on Thursday in its first biennial U.S. Safety Report.
The firm also said reports of assaults on passengers overlooked risks for drivers as riders accounted for roughly half of the accused.
The 84-page report comes almost two weeks after Uber said it would appeal the loss of its license to carry passengers in London over a 'pattern of failures' on safety and security.
Uber, which in the past has faced criticism over safety on its platform and has been repeatedly hit with lawsuits over driver misconduct, last year committed to releasing a safety report in a sign of a cultural turnaround under its new CEO.
The firm, which operates in 70 countries, said the report showed its commitment to transparency to improve accountability and safety industry-wide. It said it would use what it learned producing the report for its 'next steps' in other places.
'I suspect many people will be surprised at how rare these incidents are; others will understandably think they're still too common. Some people will appreciate how much we've done on safety; others will say we have more work to do. They will all be right,' tweeted Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi.
In the report, Uber said 99.9 per cent of its 2.3 billion U.S. trips in 2017 and 2018 ended without safety incidents.
It said it received 235 reports of 'non-consensual sexual penetration' last year and 280 of 'attempted non-consensual sexual penetration' - nearly all filed by women. The remaining assault reports included incidents of unwanted kissing or touching of body parts.
It also detailed 10 fatal physical assaults in 2017 and nine in 2018 - eight victims were riders, seven were drivers using Uber's app, and four were third parties such as bystanders.
At an event on Wednesday, Khosrowshahi said he prioritized improving Uber's culture and safety when assuming his role in 2017.
At the time, Uber was dealing with regulatory fallout and public backlash over its business practices, forcing former CEO and founder Travis Kalanick to step down.
'We had to change the culture internally and we simply got to do the right thing,' Khosrowshahi said, adding that Uber was not hiding anything by publishing internal information.
The report was released after Transport for London (TfL) revoked the cab-hailing app's right to work in London after finding that at least 14,000 trips were made with drivers who were different to the ones shown on the app.
A change in the company's systems allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their photographs to legitimate Uber driver accounts, the transport body said. At least one driver picking up fares had previously had their licence revoked.
The company has 21 days to mount an appeal and can continue to operate during that time. It will have to convince a court it is 'fit and proper' by the time of the appeal.
It was reported in June 2018 that more than 2,500 Uber drivers in London had been investigated for sexual assault, stalking and dangerous driving - however it was not clear which time frame this related to.
Rival Lyft Inc in a statement said it was committed to releasing its own safety report and sharing information on unsafe drivers. It did not state a release date for its report.
The report also detailed 10 fatal physical assaults in 2017 and nine in 2018 - eight victims were riders, seven were drivers using Uber's app, and four were third parties such as bystanders
Uber said it puts drivers through a vigorous background check before accepting them onto its platform. In its report, it said one million drivers failed to pass the screening test in 2017 and 2018 and more than 40,000 were removed from the app after extra screening layers.
Regulators have long said Uber's screening process was insufficient and inferior to those in place for taxi drivers, with several U.S. cities attempting to compel Uber to mandate fingerprinting of its drivers.
New York City is currently the only U.S. city where drivers have to provide fingerprints and undergo the same licensing requirements as regular taxi drivers.
The New York City Transport and Limousine Commission did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Uber's safety report. In the past, it said fingerprinting was the only way to ensure proper safety.
An Uber spokeswoman on Thursday said the firm's screening process was robust and rigorous, and was more reliable than the sometimes incomplete database for fingerprints.
TAXI DRIVERS across Wokingham are using foodbanks to sustain their families, which they say was caused by a lack of support from the council during the pandemic.
In June, members of the Wokingham Borough Hackney Drivers Association called for the borough council to take a more lenient approach with licence fees.
At the time, Muhammed Arshad, who chaired the Association, said: “Rather than giving us some relief, the council is forcing us to pay for non-urgent courses, while we are out of a job and not making any money. If we don’t, we’d face license suspensions.”
Now, Mr Arshad has stepped down from the Association and has decided to permanently end his taxi career in Wokingham.
“I’ve had enough,” he said. “We’ve tried to find a solution but the council has offered no support at all.
“They made us take online courses during lockdown, which can cost £20 to £50. We’re not working and they’re pushing people to the limit.”
Mr Arshad added: “I know many drivers who are the only breadwinners, and they’re now looking to foodbanks and Universal Credit for help.”
He said the closure of taxi ranks on Broad Street worsened the situation.
“They closed all the ranks and didn’t have any arrangements in place for us when they installed the barriers,” he said. “Now Uber has taken over completely.”
He said that although trade should be picking up, Uber has moved some of its London drivers into the area and local taxis are losing out.
“I can’t do any business in Wokingham, I might make £20 or £30 a day — last year a good day would be £100 to £150.
“We just can’t cover the running costs.”
Instead of ferrying people, Mr Arshad said many drivers have turned to delivery work instead.
“People are working for Deliveroo and Amazon. At the moment I’m doing food deliveries — there are not many jobs available.”
Cllr Rachel Burgess, Labour councillor for Norreys, sits on the Licencing and Appeals Committee within Wokingham Borough Council (WBC).
She said: “It is not surprising that Wokingham’s taxi drivers feel let down by WBC. For too long there has been a dearth of genuine engagement from the council on the many challenges facing our drivers.
“It is clear that WBC has failed to take appropriate action to support taxi drivers after their income plummeted during lockdown.
“And their earnings are still significantly suppressed today due to the lack of major public events and social gatherings.”
Cllr Burgess added: “While the council could have been considering the relaxation of payment deadlines, suspending training and other charges, extending the permitted age limits of vehicles and more, in reality the WBC Licensing Committee has not even met once to discuss these options.
“Three of the last four Licensing Committee meetings have been postponed or cancelled. To add insult to injury the Licensing Committee in July was cancelled due to lack of business. Is this any way to treat our taxi drivers who are in desperate need of support?
“Even before Covid-19 took hold, actions that were agreed with the trade almost a year ago by WBC have not been completed, or even begun to be reviewed.
“This lack of engagement is unacceptable, especially at a time when many taxi drivers being forced into poverty, and are even having to abandon their careers after many years in the business.”
Cllr Christopher Bowring, chairman of the Licensing and Appeals Committee at Wokingham Borough Council wrote to Wokingham.Today on Thursday, August 20 to say the committee would consider mitigating action.
He wrote: “The whole regime of licensing fees will be discussed at the next meeting of the Licensing and Appeals Committee in September (30).
“As a matter of course, we will be discussing fees for 2021-22, but we will also be looking back at how fees are currently affecting taxi drivers and others due to the pandemic. We will see if there is any mitigation we can offer.”
Speaking to Wokingham.Today, he said: “We have every sympathy with the plight facing our borough’s taxi drivers. Their income has clearly been greatly reduced by the pandemic, along with many other local businesses.
“We recognise removing the taxi ranks in Broad Street in Wokingham wasn’t helpful for drivers, but we had to follow government guidance to create additional pedestrian space to make it safe for them to return to the town centre.
“Cllr Pauline Jorgensen, our executive member for highways and transport, announced last night at Full Council that the Covid-19 barriers at the northern side of Broad Street will be removed this weekend – restoring the taxi rank.
“This wasn’t as straightforward as it seems because it had to also be agreed with the town council and business representatives.
“But this is welcoming news for the drivers and we’re writing to them to formally let them know.”
He added: “I’m surprised Mr Arshad and Cllr Burgess feel Licensing hasn’t been supporting the drivers. Only last week we had a productive Taxi Liaison Group meeting, which Cllr Burgess attended.
“All drivers were invited to participate, but unfortunately only two were available.
“Nonetheless, we received eloquent testimony from one driver and all his requests and previously received comments will be discussed in public at the Licensing and Appeals Committee next month.”
This is the shocking moment an angry taxi driver threw his passenger to the ground by speeding away as he climbed out of the cab after a row over face masks.
Jay Henry, who lives in Hackney, east London, had ordered a Bolt taxi to drive him to his mother's house in Stanford Hill, north London, at around 11am on September 4.
But the 36-year-old, who works as a painter and decorator, claims he was left unable to work for weeks after suffering an injured back and foot as a result of the impact.
In the CCTV footage, the blue Toyota Pruis can be seen cruising down a residential road before swerving toward the pavement and coming to an abrupt stop.
The passenger in the back seat begins to open his door as the driver appears to turn around and speak to him.
Mr Henry continues to clamber out and places just one foot on the ground before suddenly the driver of the car speeds away.
He falls to the floor before looking over his shoulder in exasperation.
He manages to get back to his feet and walks steadily down the street in the same direction that the car drove off in.
Mr Henry then takes a moment to compose himself and rearranges his satchel before making a call.
Mr Henry said that the the driver had become upset when he arrived because he had forgotten his face mask and had to run back inside to collect it.
He claims that after setting off the driver became more erratic, dangerously overtaking a learner driver and jumping red lights.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed they are investigating an allegation of assault against the cab driver who was working for the Bolt ride-hailing app at the time.
Speaking after the incident, Mr Henry said: 'I ordered a cab, but I forgot my mask and had to go back upstairs to get it. I ran back down, put it on and he [the driver] started saying "you think I'm your slave".
'I said "just drive, I've got my mask now, let's go". Then he said "you think you're my boss".
'I said "please just drive the car, we're going to be late, I didn't say anything like that".
'When he started driving he was going like an absolute madman, he jumped two red lights. He overtook a learner doing a test or a lesson. The way he overtook them was ridiculous.
'I said to him "you don't like your job, maybe get a new one". And I said "maybe clean your car, you might feel better". This Bolt was filthy.'
He added: 'I opened the door to get out and I heard him mumble the word "slave" again. As I opened the door to climb out, I had one foot half out and he sped off with me hanging out the car.
'The door was still open as he flew off, I fell heavily on my back and my foot bent under me. My trainer ripped in half from falling to the floor.
'My back is still playing up, my big toe is still bad. I've not been back to work since because it hurts too much.
'I should have gone to hospital at the time but I didn't think I should, I didn't want to waste their time, and because of coronavirus.'
Scotland Yard said officers are investigating an allegation of assault and that so far no arrests have been made.
A spokesman for the police said: 'An allegation of assault was reported to police shortly after 11.00am on Friday, September 4.
'It was reported that a man was injured after he was dragged along the ground a short distance, when a private hire vehicle he had been travelling in, drove away as he was exiting the vehicle in Lockhurst Street, E5.
'There have been no arrests. Enquiries continue.'
Bolt have been contacted for a comment.
Three people have been arrested on suspicion of drugs offences, after police intercepted a taxi near Skipton on Wednesday 16 September. Officers from North Yorkshire Police’s Operation Expedite team were on patrol in the Cross Hills area of Skipton around 11.45am, when they stopped a taxi which was suspected of being involved in the supply of drugs.
Two men, aged 25 and 20, were arrested from the taxi on suspicion of class A drugs offences. A third man, aged 52, was arrested in Skipton later the same day in connection with the incident. As a result of the arrests and subsequent searches, about 30 wraps of suspected heroin, cash, numerous phones, digital scales, deal bags and debt lists were recovered by police. The three men have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.
North Yorkshire Police’s Expedite teams focus on those involved in drug dealing, particularly ‘county lines’ – dealers travelling from outside of North Yorkshire to pedal drugs in towns, often exploiting vulnerable and young people and forcing them to sell their drugs for them. BE AWARE that taxis and PHVs may be utilised for this kind of crime.Your information is vital in helping detect and prevent this kind of activity.
To find out more about how you can help and what to look out for, visit http://northyorkshire.police.uk/.../county-lines-drug.../. Anyone who has any information about drug dealing in their area is urged to contact North Yorkshire Police on 101. If you prefer not to speak to the police and remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.