A TAXI driver has said he is outraged a traffic warden placed a fixed penalty notice on his cab while it was legally parked at a Blackburn town centre rank.
Yakub Sidat said the parking officer walked off after refusing to check his licence plate, which would have proved his vehicle had the right to be waiting at the rank.
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The incident, which was caught on video, has sparked claims the council is ‘persecuting’ the owners of hackney carriages, with drivers leaders calling for an investigation into how council staff treat the trade.
They claim the loss of the Blackburn Railway Station rank has left many struggling to make a living even before traffic wardens start issuing spurious penalties which are often cancelled.
Mohammed Mangera, vice-chairman of the Blackburn with Darwen Hackney Carriage Association, said 20 such fine notices had been issued at the Church Street and Upper Church Street ranks in the last four weeks, of which 16 had later cancelled.
Mr Sidat, 25, said: “I was parked perfectly legally on the Upper Church Street rank behind Debenhams. It has four places and I was the third taxi.
“I saw a warden place a penalty notice on my windscreen. When I went up to him, I asked what it was for.
“He pointed to an advert for the company I work for on the door and said I was a private hire vehicle illegally on a taxi rank.
“I asked him to look at the hackney carriage licence plate on the back of my vehicle, but he refused and walked off.
“This is just unfair. We are struggling to make a living. I shall appeal it.
“I can’t afford a £35 fine for something I have not done. Luckily, I filmed it all on my mobile phone.
“They don’t do the same for cars and vans parked on cab ranks. I’ve got pictures to prove it.”
Fellow driver Irfan Khan said: “It is dreadful.
“There are one or two wardens who are always slapping notices on taxis on the two Church Street ranks without any reason.
“It’s a turning area and if we pause for a second, they leap out from where they are hiding and give us a fine. They are ganging up on taxi drivers.”
Mr Mangera said: “They have issued 20 penalty notices to taxi drivers on the two Church Street ranks in the last four week.
“They have had to cancel 16 and another driver is fighting his in the courts.
“The traffic wardens are persecuting us.
“With all the disruption in the town centre because of the Cathedral Quarter and the loss of the railway station rank, drivers are really struggling to make a living and survive.
“Yakub’s case is typical. The council needs to investigate this and ensure the rules are enforced fairly.
“They don’t seem to put the notices on other vehicles parked on the cab ranks.”
Charles Oakes, who chairs the Bolton-based Hackney Carriage Association Ltd which represents some Blackburn drivers, said: “Blackburn with Darwen council is persecuting the borough’s taxi drivers.
“The civil enforcement officers are over-zealous. They have discretion but never use and it there are some that just place notices on cabs.
“I have helped overturn a lot of these penalties that simply are not justified.
“The council need to investigate what these officers are doing and make sure the way they do their job is fair and reasonable.”
A council spokesman said he would not comment on the number of tickets given out and cancelled over the last month. In connection to Mr Sidat’s case he added: “As with all fixed penalty notices the complainant has the right to appeal the penalty within 28 days of the fine being issued.”