How Derby's 'unacceptably poor' taxis could be tackled in crackdown

This post first appeared on Derby Telegraph. Read the original article.

Rule changes intended to improve the state of Derby's "unacceptably poor" taxis have been revealed.

Cabs in the city will be checked more often under the new plans drawn up after the state of local private hire and hackney taxis was described as "unacceptably poor" by the city's top cop.

Chief Superintendent Jim Allen wrote to Derby City Council in November to say that, when police check if taxis in the city meet safety standards, there is a "much higher rate of failure" than in checks elsewhere in the county.

He said officers had concerns over the age of the fleet and the number of inspections carried out on vehicles.

One vehicle recently checked was so badly corroded he could push through the metal with a Biro and "see the road surface".

Pictured is corrosion in a taxi seat

Some of the corrosion on a taxi's seat

Now, plans put forward by a cross-party group of Derby city councillors, propose that all licensed vehicles should be tested twice a year, instead of once a year.

The group's plans also include introducing a requirement that new vehicle licences will only be granted for cabs less than five years old at the date of first registration with the DVLA.

And they proposed another requirement that, from 2020, renewal of vehicle licenses will only be granted to vehicles less than ten years old at first registration with the DVLA, subject to the application of an "exceptionality criteria".

A report, put before the city council's licensing committee, said the recommendations from the cross party group would be discussed at a council meeting on January 18.

The report said: "The proposal is for these measures to be introduced with effect from 1 April 2018. Before these changes can be introduced, consultation with the trade and public will need to be undertaken. Information will be made available on the your city your say pages of the council’s website. Once concluded, the outcome of the exercise will be reported to committee for further consideration, as appropriate. Approval is sought to commence this process."

In Mr Allen’s letter he said police officers worked with council officials on an inspection and described the results as “alarming”.

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It said that, out of 10 vehicles were checked, none were found to be fault-free and seven had serious defects resulting in suspension of their licences.

Issues included oil leaking onto the exhaust, an air bag warning light illuminated, a filthy rear seat and insecure rear seat base.

Mr Allen's letter also said officers reported that when the spot-checks were carried out "word of our activity soon got round and many operators simply didn't come out to work".

He added: "This is a worrying signal that they are well aware their vehicles are not up to scratch and would be removed from the road after inspection.”

He said a police expert had found some cars where corrosion had been covered with sealant. The expert said others had been found to be in an "appalling" condition.