THERE is good news for Reading residents and visitors this coming winter, with Reading’s hackney carriage taxis now fit for purpose following an intense round of spot checks.
The spot checks took place over three days starting on 20th September at Prospect Park in Tilehurst, as part of a joint initiative between Thames Valley Police and members of the Council’s licensing team.
The spot check team inspected 205 hackney carriage taxis to make sure the meters were charging the correct fare to customers and complied with the terms of their licences. The checks also identified any mechanical safety issues and accessed the overall condition of vehicles.
Out of the 205 taxis checked, 101 passed without issue, 97 were identified as having advisory issues and were flagged for re-inspection within 28 days. Only 7 were suspended for having more serious issues, with a period of 28 days for a retest or MOT.
Failures ranged from bodywork issues and dents, rust or cracks to bumper grills, to issues with lights, fire extinguishers, ramps and straps. A total of 34 taxis were identified as having meters running too fast or slow, or displaying an incorrect time.
A total of 226 hackney taxis were invited to attend. The 21 that did not present themselves have now received pre-suspension warning notices, although most have now contacted the team to book a check.
Councillor Paul Gittings, Reading’s Lead Member for Consumer Services, said: “These regular checks on Hackney Carriages act as a reminder to operators they need to ensure their vehicles are well maintained and adhere to the conditions of their licences.
“They also give passengers some reassurance that the vehicles they travel in are checked to make sure they are safe and in good condition.”
In a separate crack downs on unlicensed taxi drivers, the Council has recently seen two successful prosecutions at Reading Magistrates Court on 23rd September.
Mr Abdul Jabber, of Byron Road, Early, pleaded guilty to plying for hire without a driver or vehicle licence. Mr Jabber was ordered to pay £370.
Mr Tajinder S Dhaliwal, of Wheble Drive, Woodley, was successfully convicted and ordered to pay £642 for operating without a current Private Hire Operator licence in Reading on 13th January 2016.
A joint operation by licensing and Thames Valley Police officers caught Dhaliwal, 53, plying for hire in Reading on 13th January 2016 and caught Jabber, 49, playing for hire at Reading Station on 9th March 2016.
Cllr Paul Gittings, added: “These drivers have paid a heavy price because they broke the law. Picking up fares on the street without the correct licence is a serious offence, and I hope this sends out a clear warning to others who may consider doing so that we will catch them.”