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Dangerous taxis taken off Burnley roads in Christmas crackdown
6:00am Tuesday 17th December 2013 in News
A CHRISTMAS crackdown on unsafe taxis saw 26 taken off the road - almost 60 per cent of those stopped.
Police and council officers were shocked to discover faulty tyres, brakes and seatbelts during a spot-check on cabs in Burnley.
Of 45 faulty vehicles inspected, 26 were deemed to have at least two ‘major faults’ and three drivers were stripped of their licences.
Hackney carriage boss Charles Oakes backed the safety initiative but private hire spokesman Mohammed Arif said Burnley Council’s testing had gone ‘over-the-top’.
Licensing officer Peter Henderson warned drivers that there would be further operations targeting defective vehicles and those who pick fares up illegally.
Mr Oakes, chairman of the Hackney Carriage Association Ltd, which incorporates Burnley Hackney Carriage Association, called for more prosecutions against repeat offenders.
He said: “We support the council in the effort to educate drivers in the safe maintenance of their vehicles.
“They either have to be safe or get out of the job. The trade itself asked for more spot checks to deal with repeat offenders.
“Safety is a top priority but, realistically, we live in tight times and drivers have got to find a way of staying on top of their vehicles.
“If they come a cropper, they have to take responsibility.”
Of the 45 cars with faults, 38 were private hire cars and seven were hackney carriages. The 26 with at least two major faults included 23 private hire cars and three hackney carriages.
Mohammed Arif, chairman of Burnley Private Hire Association, claimed drivers in Burnley ‘do not face a level playing field’.
He said: “I’m not really happy with this. In Burnley, we’re not on a level playing field with other boroughs; the council is far too strict.
“Let me be clear: if it’s seriously unsafe, the vehicle shouldn’t be on the road. But what good is revoking a licence?
“Is it fair to deprive a man of his livelihood? The car can be taken to the garage and fixed.”
Since the operation, Burnley Council’s licensing committee has revoked the licences of two private hire operators and one hackney carriage driver. Two other drivers received warnings for using defective vehicles.
Burnley Council’s executive member with responsibility for taxis, Coun Howard Baker, said: ”The safety of hackney carriage and private hire drivers and passengers is our priority.
“There are some issues in relation to the proper maintenance of vehicles which we are addressing through our programme of targeted enforcement.
“I would like to reassure the public that the majority of drivers in this industry provide a valuable, safe service to their community and I would appeal to their customers to treat them with the respect they deserve.”
A Burnley Council spokesman added: “Those that had their licence suspended can appeal or apply for their licence back, but in that case their enforcement record would be taken into account.”
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