Unlicensed taxis spark safety fears

By Connie Osborne Friday 14 December 2012 Updated: 17/12 10:05

A GROUP of taxi drivers have launched a campaign warning of the dangers of using unlicensed taxis after blasting the council for failing to deal with the problem.

Representatives from Mr Taxi, Charlie's Cars, A2B Taxis and V N Private hire decided to voice their concerns after witnessing several unlicensed cars operating in the borough over the last five months.

The group has called on Redditch Borough Council to stop the illegal use of the vehicles, saying they fear for the public's safety, particularly over the Christmas and New Year period.

Neil Brown, of Mr Taxi, told the Standard they felt they were fobbed off when they complained to council officials.

"We’ve all seen these cars operating illegally around Redditch for many months now but no action seems to be taken against the drivers," he said.

"The cars are not licensed as either taxi or private hire vehicles which means they are not being tested for maintenance issues twice-yearly as our cars are, so they could have dangerous defects which the public wouldn’t be aware of by just getting in the cars.

"They also cannot possibly be insured for carrying passengers. So if an unsuspecting passenger was to be injured - or worse - whilst being carried in one of these vehicles there would be no insurance to provide compensation for injury or loss of earnings."

All legally licensed taxis have to carry insurance by law and have green or red licences in the front and rear of the car. Vehicles are inspected by the council every six months and legitimate firms also have to pay the council around £260 per vehicle per year to operate in the area.

Mr Brown advised passengers to always check the licence was visible before getting in to the car and ensure the driver was wearing a taxi or private hire driver's licence on a cord around his neck.

A spokeswoman for Redditch Borough Council said they were working with police to resolve the issue.

"We urge residents to check taxis before getting in them. If in doubt, get out."

A spokeswoman for West Mercia Police added an investigation was ongoing to identify illegal drivers.

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