Cabbies given penalty points warning

TAXI drivers in Colchester are to face penalty points if they are caught parking illegally, smoking in their cabs or playing their music too loud.

Elliot Furniss

TAXI drivers in Colchester are to face penalty points if they are caught parking illegally, smoking in their cabs or playing their music too loud.

The offences are among a number that are set to be included in Colchester Borough Council's penalty points scheme for hackney carriage and private hire drivers.

The proposal to add 15 new offences to the scheme, launched in 2006, will be heard by the council's licensing committee at a meeting next Wednesday.

Although the offences are already outlined as licence conditions for the town's taxi drivers, adding them to the penalty point scheme is set to help the council investigate and sanction for breaches.

In his report to the committee, council officer Simon Harvey said: “(The penalty scheme) has given the licensing authority and its enforcement officers a far greater degree of flexibility and transparency when investigating complaints and/or breaches of licence conditions and in administrating appropriate sanctions.

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“Prior to the introduction of the scheme the licensing authority could only suspend or revoke a licence or issue a warning letter.

“It has become apparent in the course of the enforcement officers' work in relation to hackney carriage/private hire drivers/operators that the offences need to be added to the scheme to be able to administer appropriate proportionate and transparent sanctions.”

Other offences set to be included in the scheme include drinking or eating in a cab while it is moving, displaying an advert in a taxi and failing to deal with lost property in an appropriate manner.

Also set to be added to the penalty point scheme are offences of failing to maintain a vehicle properly, leaving one on a taxi rank unattended “without reasonable excuse” and failing to meet appointments without sufficient good cause.

Don Rhodes, chairman of the Colchester Hackney Carriage Association, said the changes were nothing for drivers to worry about as “99.9% of them” were happy to “toe the line” and abide by the licence conditions.

He said: “They are incorporating some of the licence conditions to which a penalty point system didn't apply - they just didn't have the system in place for some terms and conditions.

“If it doesn't relate to the penalty points system they don't know what to do to you (in the event of a breach).”