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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:54 pm 
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Due to the level of what we can only describe as wilful disruption by certain ex contributors to this site, we have had to hold back certain important documents which might well have adverse repercussions for the Taxi trade as a whole.

The document in question is the transcript of the North Western Traffic Commissioner namely Mrs Bell.

This Transcript sets out the reasons why Mrs Bell in a preliminary investigation found in favour of Excellent Connections Limited, Trading as Airportcarz and TaxiBus.

The Background to the dispute at Manchester Airport between the Airport Taxi trade and Airportcarz has a history dating back over two years. In that time there have been numerous fruitless attempts by the Airport Taxi trade to halt what they claim are activities incompatible with the PSV operator's licence currently held by Airportcarz Taxibus. The culmination of these events ended on Wednesday February 9th 2005 when the traffic Commissioner gave her reasons for not taking the complaint to a full public hearing.

The traffic commissioner, who has a duty to regulate the PSV and Bus industry does not have the power to make a legal judgement when there is no precedent set for such a judgement to be made. In other words she cannot make her own law. She has to abide by current law when giving judgement on any given case that may come before her. What you may find in this report is that she may have unwittingly misinterpreted the law. We are not going to advise you on which law she might have misinterpreted because that is not our remit. We shall leave that for others to decipher.

The solicitor acting for the Taxi trade Mr G Lewis started his association with the Manchester Taxi trade around 1990 when his services were used to privately prosecute drivers who illegally plied for hire on the streets of Manchester. He was young at the time and new nothing whatsoever about Taxi legislation however, history proves he managed to win more cases than he lost.

The private prosecutions went on for approximately two years or so, until they were curtailed through lack of finance. Since that time it is debatable how much experienced Mr Lewis has gained in the field of Taxi and PSV litigation. It is alluded to in the transcript, that Mr. Lewis might have been in way over his head when it came to interpreting PSV legislation. Perhaps that comment is a little harsh but not knowing the relevant laws when asked by the Commissioner to name the section of the law he was referring to, is hardly a good advertisement to his knowledge of the case in hand.

We shall leave you to Judge for yourself the rights and wrongs of this verdict.


The complete Transcript can be downloaded from the following TDO links.

http://www.taxi-driver.co.uk/airportcarz.pdf

http://www.taxi-driver.co.uk/airportcarz.doc

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER

For

THE NORTH WESTERN TRAFFIC AREA

Lancaster Magistrates Court

Wednesday 9th February 2005

PUBLIC HEARING

EXCELLENT CONNECTIONS LIMITED
TRADING AS AIRPORTCARZ AND TAXIBUS

Before:

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER
MRS BELL

Present:

Mrs Bell: The Traffic Commissioner
Mr. P Stagg: The Clerk to the Deputy Traffic Commissioner

Mr. Pelly: Representative of Operator
Mr. Lewis: Solicitor
Mr. E Burke: Vehicle Inspectorate
Mr. R Williams: Vehicle Inspectorate
Mr. C Brown: Vehicle Inspectorate
Mr. P Jackson: Manchester Taxi Drivers’ Association
Mr. J Thorley: Manchester Cab Committee
Mr. S Kenny: Manchester Cab Committee
Mr. G Simms: Manchester Cab Committee
Mr. A Muhamed: Manchester Cab Committee
Mr. Khan: Manchester Cab Committee
Ms P Corner: Manchester Cab Committee
Mr. B Longworth: Manchester Airport
Ms G Edbrooke: Manchester Airport



THE CLERK: The purpose of today’s hearing is to allow the Traffic Commissioner, Mrs Bell, to give a statement and reason in respect of the matter of Excellent Connections Limited, trading as Airportcarz and Taxibus. Present today are Mr Pelly, representing Excellent Connections Limited; Ed Burke, Rob Williams, Colin Brown, for the Vehicle Inspectorate; Peter Jackson from Manchester Taxi Drivers’ Association; John Thorley, Sean Kenny, George Sims, Ashrack Muhamed, Mr Khan and Pat Corner from the Manchester Cab Committee and Bob Longworth and Gail Edbrooke from Manchester Airport.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: It is awfully warm in here. If you want to take jackets or any items of clothing off, please feel free so to do. I am going to ask my Clerk to see if he could maybe find an Usher and see if they could control the heating. It is warm in here, is it not, or is it me?

A SPEAKER: I am fine.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: All right. It just seems to me to be, from the temperature of the retiring room, but let me know if it gets too warm. I just need to deal with some preliminary matters first of all. The position is that complaints have been made to me in my capacity as the Traffic Commissioner for the North West Traffic Area, with regard to the operation (and I use that in the widest possible sense) of vehicles through the entity of Excellent Connections Limited, which trades as Airportcarz and Taxibus. As a result of those allegations and complaints, I arranged for an independent investigation to be conducted by the local Inspectorate division of VOSA and I also wanted to have the full picture put to me with regard to the legislation, the allegations and the complaints that I received from third parties, which included the Manchester Cab Committee and I have also been, throughout all of these proceedings, assisted by two solicitors, Mr Pelly and Mr Lewis – Mr Pelly on behalf of the Operator and Mr Lewis on behalf of Burton Copeland Solicitors with regard to the Manchester Cab Committee.

I have decided, throughout these proceedings, that the only appropriate way forward is to deal with matters in open forum, so that there can be no misunderstanding regarding the way the investigation has proceeded, or with regard to the way that I have conducted that investigation, or with regard to the way that I have concluded the investigation.

I know and I am conscious, Mr Pelly, that your clients have had, in the past, some adverse comments with regard to the number of enquiries that your clients have had to face. I have made it clear throughout that this is not an Inquiry. This is really a pre-Inquiry to see whether matters need to proceed thus far.

I have now heard all the representations that I need to. I have considered the matter most carefully. I am not known for my speed in issuing either decisions or reasons for those decisions where I do not do it on the day of the hearing and the reason for that is because where matters are complex, or where there are detailed evidential considerations, I like to look at matters fully and consider them in the cool of the office and of the retiring room, rather than in the heat of the Public Inquiry room.

Having conducted all of that exercise, what I propose to do today is to set out publicly the legislation that I have considered and to set out publicly the reasons that I have taken into account and my decision with regard to whether or not to call the Operator to a Public Inquiry. I have also looked at the position regarding the drivers. In doing so, I have considered particularly Section 1(1)(a) of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, which defines a public service vehicle. For those that cannot recite it chapter and verse, sub paragraph (a):

“A PSV is either (a) adapted to carrying more than eight for hire and reward or (b) if less than eight, it carries passengers for hire and reward at separate fares, in a passenger carrying business”

I have also considered Section 38 of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, which we all know defines a Hackney Carriage and I have looked at the wheeled carriage standing and plying for hire. I have considered carefully Section 167 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which sets out that:

“It is an offence in a public place to ply for hire, punishable by level four on the standard scale in a Magistrates Court”

However (and this is the important point), I have also considered the defence that is available under Section 167 that:

“It is a defence to a plying for hire allegation if that plying hire is conducted by a PSV Operator Licence holder in an Operator Licensed vehicle”

I do not mind saying that this case has made me look, in detail, at the relevant provisions of the legislation and I have learned with regard to the legislation (and we are always learning and we need to look carefully at the legislation), particularly the defence that is afforded in Section 167.

I have also considered carefully Section 265 of the Transport Act 2000, which amends Section 79 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981, which makes the new provisions with regard to Section 79(1)(a), with regard to small buses for hiring with drivers to carry passengers not at separate fairs and what they says with regard to PSVs and also local Acts regulating the use of private hire vehicles for hire with a driver to carry passengers. I have not considered sub section (2) because that applies to London, but I have considered sub section (3) which states that:

“The previous provision do not apply if the vehicle is used in a passenger carrying business with a small amount of large buses”

That took me back to where I started - a circular exercise, to Section 1(1)(a) and (b) of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981. I see Mr Pelly smiling. No doubt, when he did the exercise, he hopefully got to the same conclusion. He is nodding.


I must say that as a Traffic Commissioner regulating the PSV industry and looking at how I can work with my colleagues who regulate other areas of public transport, that the PSV legislation is not only far from clear, but it is extremely difficult, in my view, to easily find what is meant, to easily find what is covered and to look at the matter with clarity. I am also conscious that there have been great developments recently with regard to the provision of public transport and I can only state as a Commissioner that it is my wish and must be the wish of all of those that work within the public transport industry, that that legislation is made as clear as possible to ensure that matters such as this do not arise again in the future. I make it clear, for the avoidance of doubt that those matters that I have just referred to are not meant, in any way, to be critical, but show the real difficulties that arise when trying to interpret and read the legislation.

As a result of all of those matters and as a result of looking at the legislation, I have also looked particularly at the evidence that has been supplied to me in this matter. That evidence is in two parts. There is the evidence from what I shall loosely describe as the Manchester Cab Committee evidence and I am not going to, for the sake of brevity, go through the names of the witnesses with regard to each of those particular pieces of evidence, suffice to say that they are in my briefing papers and they have been considered by me carefully. However, by way of example just to show that I have considered them as evidence from Mr Mahmood, Mr Fallon, Mr Fuller, Mr Jones, Mr McCormack and Mr Thorley.

There is also the evidence from the Vehicle Inspectorate Division of VOSA and I know that they have taken a keen interest in these proceedings and I am grateful to them for their assistance, lest there be any sudden change in Traffic Commissioners’ interpretation of the legislation and I am particularly grateful to Mr Burke who, on the last occasion, volunteered to give me some further information and that was particularly helpful and I do urge VOSA to take a pro-active approach where they feel that it will assist the Commissioner.

It is clear from the documents that I have seen that the Manchester Cab Committee have felt throughout these proceedings that they have a genuine grievance as far as this Operator is concerned and I like to take an extremely robust approach where Operators are failing to comply with the legislation, such that they are jeopardising either road safety or fair competition. I regard the two as equally important to each other and it is clear that the Manchester Cab Committee witnesses and the Committee themselves feel that they have a genuine grievance. They may also feel that they were presented with something of a fait accompli with regard to the operation of Excellent Connections vehicles and that they were not consulted about that, but that is a matter out with my jurisdiction and that is a matter for the Cab Committee to take up with those that run operations at the Airport. In a way, I have been brought in at the tail end of that matter.

It is also clear that if certain provisions of the legislation were not applicable, that I would have great concerns about the conduct of some of the parties involved in this case and I make it clear, for the avoidance of doubt, that I have looked at each piece of evidence, taken account of the legislation and asked myself if there has been any transgression, either of the Operator Licensing legislation or of the criminal legislation.

Taking account of all matters, I have concluded that there is no evidence before me of any alleged breaches of the legislation that require me to call this Operator to attend a Public Inquiry. I repeat the comments I made earlier with regard to the lack of clarity with regard to the legislation and that can only act to the detriment of people that have to and want to provide a first class public transport system for those that use Manchester and, indeed, any other airport, whether that be taxis, buses, private hire vehicles, PSVs, whatever terminology we like to apply to them, or the hybrid of the two taxibuses and it is regrettable that there has not been that clarity with regard to the legislation.

That, everybody, is the decision that I have reached in this case. I have felt it better to express that openly today, rather than to issue written reasons for the decision, because I wanted to, in open forum, make the comments I did with regard to the sympathies that one may feel with the concerns of the Cab Committee - linked to the way in which the matter was dealt with by those that administer matters at Manchester Airport, linked to the Operator’s response and I would like to say that throughout these proceedings, the Operator has, through its solicitor, responded to me in a very positive manner. It has set its case out, it has not sought to hide anything from me or to exclude any evidence or information that I have requested and that must be for the good. However, that regrettably was not the case with regard to a recent incident that involved a Vehicle Examiner, Mr Brown and the position was that there was an incident (and I use the word incident advisedly) with regard to a vehicle that was operated by Excellent Connections Limited. The Vehicle Inspectorate Division of VOSA made what I can only conclude as being an absolutely reasonable and polite request for the provision of information. The response from the Operator was not as reasonable and polite as I would have expected and I wish to make it clear that although the Operator may have felt aggrieved at the attention it has received from the Vehicle Inspectorate Division of VOSA, that they were in fact doing their job and Excellent Connections Limited must accept that they must respond accordingly.

There is a concern with regard to that incident and I need to know from Mr Pelly what the current position is. I am referring to an incident on 20th October 2004, when there was a road traffic accident between a Ford Transit minibus operated by Airportcarz and Taxibus and a taxi driver driving a taxi based at Manchester Airport. Quite frankly and I make these additional comments advisedly, I am not surprised that there has been such an incident. I sit in the rather sanitised surroundings of a Magistrates Court or a Public Inquiry room, but what I am doing is regulating what is actually happening in the environs of the Airport and of the surrounding road network and when feelings run high, it can almost become inevitable that there will be a number of incidents. I have absolutely no jurisdiction over taxi drivers. That is a matter for those that regulate the taxi drivers who operate from there, but I do have a jurisdiction over those that hold a PSV drivers’ Licence and I make it clear, for the avoidance of doubt, that I do not expect any drivers employed by any PSV Operator, but in this case particularly Excellent Connections Limited, to allow their own private feelings or concerns about this ongoing matter to literally spill over to the detriment of public road safety. We can all feel aggrieved at matters, but we must learn to put those behind us when we drive our motor vehicles, whether it is a bus, a taxi, a taxibus, a car or a lorry and I want to take this opportunity with Mr Pelly to consider that matter further and to indicate that what I want to do today with Excellent Connections Limited drivers is to make my position clear and hopefully receive an undertaking from the Operator, through his solicitor, that he will make (i.e. Mr Pelly) will make my feelings known to each and every driver that holds a PSV Licence with regard to their conduct and that if there are any driver conduct issues, then they will be referred back to me, because the driver can only expect me to take a robust view.

I repeat that I do not regulate taxi drivers, but I hope that those that do will consider my comments carefully and ask themselves whether or not they wish to adopt a similar approach. In doing so, I remind myself that the driver conduct legislation is very widely drafted as far as the PSV industry is concerned and it relates to drivers who drive PSVs, not just as a driver of a vehicle but generally. I do not want to have to witness a road traffic accident that could have potentially fatal consequences as a result of a spat between two Operators, or as a result of a spat between one Operator of PSV vehicles and Operators of non PSV vehicles. I am sure that I make my position clear.

There is also a requirement in accordance with Section 20 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 for the appropriate authority to be notified in the event of details of a road traffic accident. It seems, to me, from my experience as a Commissioner, not just looking at this case but looking at the PSV industry generally, that sometimes not enough emphasis is given to this particular section. It is there for an extremely good reason. I am not going to set out the reasoning in detail, but it looks particularly at the road worthiness of vehicles and whether vehicles need to be recalled. It seems to me that a lot of Operators are not complying with Section 20 of the Public Passenger Vehicles Act 1981 where accidents have taken place. I take this opportunity to remind Excellent Connections Limited and also if any other parties are interested in this decision and the reasons thereof, that failure to report can be regarded as a matter that affects the Operator’s ability to hold a Licence, i.e. their repute.

I am sure that the decision that I have reached and the reasons thereto will be considered carefully. I am sure that Excellent Connections Limited will be satisfied with the decision. They will probably say well, they knew they were right all along. I am equally sure that the Manchester Cab Committee will be concerned at the decision and may want to look at the reasons for that and that is why I repeat that I have looked very carefully at each particular piece of the legislation.

For my part, the case will effectively be closed once the proceedings today have finished, but of course the matter still continues at Manchester Airport and I do hope that there is another way that this matter can be resolved. That is, however, out with my jurisdiction and now I need to speak to Mr Pelly. Mr Pelly, what is the position regarding the road traffic accident please?

MR. PELLY: So far as I am aware, it is in the hand of the insurers. I am not aware of any Police proceedings being taken against either party. From what you have said, it would seem that you have formed a preliminary view as to the blame for the accident.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Absolutely not, absolutely not—

MR. PELLY: I have to say—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: That is not my role at all Mr Pelly.

MR. PELLY: Indeed, but—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: You know as well as I do that before I had this job I was a practicing solicitor and—

MR. PELLY: Indeed Madam.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: —I have always learned to not make such findings unless one sits in a judicial capacity, having heard the evidence. I have not apportioned blame, I have not looked in detail at the facts. I simply refer you to Section 20 of the Act and I simply use the fact that there has been an accident as an illustration of the concerns that I have where feelings have run high and I am sorry if I did not make that part of it clear.

MR. PELLY: What you said, Madam, came over to me as though there was a feeling that the driver, the Excellent Connections driver, was in some way at fault because you were mentioning questions of conduct etc.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes.

MR. PELLY: All I can say is that on the information at my disposal, so far as the driver is concerned and so far as the independent evidence that he has gathered such as it is, would suggest and it would be his case that the accident was caused entirely as a result of the deliberate act of the other party and was not contributed to by himself. Madam, so far as Section 20 is concerned, I think you are right to say that within the industry, there is considerable doubt as to what matters should be reported to you. On one interpretation of the Section, which refers to damage, it would seem that every single accident that involves a PSV vehicle should be reported. Certainly throughout the industry, it would be my experience that road traffic accidents are not routinely reported to the Traffic Commissioners and certainly, if Excellent Connections had felt a need to report it they certainly would have done. I did not become aware of it until your letter, by which time of course the accident was, to some extent, stale in terms of time, but I will certainly pass on the concern that you have expressed to them and ensure that all accidents involving any damage are reported, although you may have quite a few reports I suspect.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: You see, there is a recent case where there was such an incident involving an Operator I think, in fact, in the Manchester area and as a result of that, a very large number of vehicles were re-called for alternations to be made to the mechanics of the vehicle and it is there for a very good reason that piece of legislation.

MR. PELLY: The Section says: “… owned by him of any failure or damage of a nature calculated to affect the safety of occupants”.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes.

MR. PELLY: One would have thought that if the Section wished accidents to be reported, it would have been very easy to have put in: “… any accident, damage or failure”.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: I have simply referred to and I wanted to highlight the requirement under Section 20. I am not seeking to add to it but I am seeking to remind Operators of the need to put that in their standard operating procedures and make sure that they comply.

MR. PELLY: If you take the view that damage means any damage, accidental or otherwise, then that would be one interpretation of the Section. All I say is that there is, in my submission, a perfectly reasonable explanation that any failure or damage of a nature, because it is damage of nature calculated to affect the safety of the occupants of the public service vehicle.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes.

MR. PELLY: Now, I would say, why go to the trouble of putting all those words in if accident is what was required? After all, the whole of the road traffic legislation speaks of the need to report accidents and to exchange particulars and there is no mention in that section of that word and it may be, for that reason there is wide scale misunderstanding throughout the entire industry. You would know how many accidents get reported to you.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: A substantial number of accidents are reported, or incidents. I hesitate to use the word accident actually. They are often crashes or incidents.

MR. PELLY: Yes.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: I am simply flagging up the requirement.

MR. PELLY: Yes. I shall ensure that the client certainly knows of that Madam.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: All right. Can I speak to you now generally about driver conduct and I repeat, Mr Pelly, that I not seeking, in any way, to apportion blame as far as the incident is concerned. I also want to speak to you with regard to what the position is as a result of Mr Brown’s investigations. Now, there is an ongoing matter, is there not, or some ongoing correspondence with regard to Mr Brown’s—

MR. PELLY: I was again unaware of the response from the Company to Mr Brown’s letter relating to the driver’s Driving Licence, but there is an ongoing discussion. In fact, I was discussing informally this morning with the members of the VOSA Vehicle Inspectorate, the position relating to driver’s Licences.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: My view is that that matter should be dealt with between you and VOSA and that the outcome should be reported to me and at that stage, once the outcome is apparent, I can then decide if there is any need to take action.

MR. PELLY: It would appear (and I say it would appear because there was an article in one of the magazines) that your colleague in Scotland accepts my interpretation of the meaning of the regulation.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: With regard to?

MR. PELLY: To the entitlement to drive passenger vehicles with eight seats or less.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: You see, I think that is a matter for the Courts to determine first of all.

MR. PELLY: Magistrates or a High Court; I would agree.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes, first of all.

MR. PELLY: Yes.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Once that procedure has been exhausted, I am more than happy to look at it. I do not generally regard myself as bound by Magistrates Courts but do regard myself as bound by the High Court or indeed the Court of Appeal. That is my view.

MR. PELLY: I think the gentleman from VOSA here this morning accepts that if one reads the word of the statutory instrument, I must be right, but if one took a literal interpretation of the statute, they would feel that they might have an argument and that is, really, I think all the difference between us.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: So is the matter ongoing through the solicitors?

MR. PELLY: It is not Madam, no. I can, of course, have further discussions or further discussions with lawyers advising VOSA, but all I can say is that in all the years that they have been operating, no prosecution has ever been brought.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: But is Mr Brown considering prosecution?

MR. PELLY: That would be a matter I think for Mr Brown.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: I do not know whether he has discussed that with you. Mr Brown, would you just come forward please? You will have to come and sit next to Mr Pelly for a moment to pick up the microphone. There you are; there is a witness box. Well done. Mr Brown, what is the position? Is this investigation ongoing with regard to the matter last year?

MR. BROWN: Ma’am, I am dealing with this incident that happened last year on the motorways. The Police Officer, Greater Manchester Police, PC Hilditch was handling it.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes.

MR. BROWN: He is the enforcement body, Greater Manchester Police, that is handling the affair of the incident. He will decide which driver is at fault, whether it be Excellent Connections driver or it be the other driver, or even may be both drivers. That is for him to decide.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: All right.

MR. BROWN: As far as the driving Licence issue goes, I have pointed out to PC Hilditch that we do have an issue with the driving Licence held by the driver of Excellent Connections.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: All right.

MR. BROWN: He informs me he will be reporting this to the CPS and he will be handling that, or the CPS will be handling that, but whether it goes to a prosecution Ma’am, on the driving Licence issue, is out of our hands at the moment.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: That is very helpful Mr Brown. I am very grateful, to you, thank you. You see, it was worth you coming Mr Brown.

MR. BROWN: Thank you Ma’am. Shall I sit down?

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: You do not want to ask him anything do you?

MR. PELLY: No.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Thank you. Actually Mr Brown, what I am going to ask you to do is to promise to let my office know the outcome of the proceedings.

MR. BROWN: Yes, Ma’am.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: So you will have a reason to chase PC Hilditch. Likewise Mr Pelly, I am going to ask your client to notify me of the outcome of those proceedings.

MR. PELLY: Yes Madam.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: That can simply be done in the normal course of events. Once I know the outcome of that, I can decide if anything is necessary, but I do want to speak to you about these two matters. One is the Licensing of drivers and the other is the driver conduct issues. With regard to the Licensing of drivers, I am sure you know the position, Mr Pelly, as well as I do that the Company must make sure that it takes all proper steps to ensure that the drivers have all the necessary and correct Licences for the vehicles and if they do not, that is a matter capable of affecting their repute. With regard to driver conduct, I hope you will take the comments which I made in the spirit in which they were given, which was to talk generally about the long standing situation. I have asked for my comments with regard to driver conduct to be fed back and to be given to those drivers that hold PSV Licences. Do you know how many drivers hold PSV Licences for your client?

MR. PELLY: I cannot tell you that at this point. I am sorry Madam.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: No need to apologise. What I am going to ask Mr Pelly is that the Operator, through you, gives an undertaking or statement of intent – I am not terribly fussy which it is – that the Company will notify all PSV Licence holders personally of the position with regard to driver conduct, with regard to the comments that I have made with regard to driver conduct and the steps that they will take if driver conduct falls below an acceptable standard.

MR. PELLY: I will ensure that that is carried out Madam.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: And that I am sent copies of the information that is provided to the drivers, together with a signature for each driver to show that they have been made aware of the contents. What do you think is a reasonable timescale for that; 28 days?

MR. PELLY: I would like to request a copy of the transcript from this morning Madam and depending on that, so that there is no misunderstanding, 14 days after that.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: That seems reasonable. I know that the time it takes to get the transcripts varies. Are you happy to have an in-house transcript?

MR. PELLY: Yes.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: We will say 14 days after the submission of the transcript.

MR. PELLY: Thank you.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: So, for the avoidance of doubt, I will just make a note of that. If you want to sit down and make a note Mr Pelly, I have no difficulty. So it is an undertaking that the Operator will notify each PSV driver of the Traffic Commissioner’s comments regarding driver conduct generally, the need for compliance and the likely consequences of failure, both by the Operator and the Traffic Commissioner. Are you happy with that Mr Pelly?

MR. PELLY: I am Madam. I would only ask that your comments—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: What are the likely consequences, no?

MR. PELLY: I would only ask that your comments also are passed to those who have the same function as you do in respect of the taxi drivers.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Well, you will remember that I have already made that comment.

MR. PELLY: Yes.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Of course, I have—

MR. PELLY: But I do not know how we can… The conduit of communication of your concern because if peace is to break out, it has to be a two way street.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes, absolutely. Mr Thorley has been very helpful to me in these proceedings and I will speak to Mr Thorley. I have made it clear that I do not have jurisdiction over the taxi drivers, but I have said that it may be that those that do regulate the taxi drivers may want to have a similar procedure. Mr Thorley, are you able to assist me?

MR. THORLEY: Yes.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Who would be the relevant person to write to with regard to the comments I have made for driver conduct?

MR. THORLEY: The head of the Statutory Services is based at Manchester Town Hall and is Mr Andrew Schalon.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Andrew…?

MR. THORLEY: Schalon.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Do you know how you spell it?

MR. THORLEY: Sorry?

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Do you know how you spell it?

A SPEAKER: S-C-H-A-L-O-N.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: All right and his title is Head of… ?

A SPEAKER: Statutory Services.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Strategy Services?

A SPEAKER: Statutory and Administrative Services.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Statutory and Administrative Services and he is based where?

MR. THORLEY: Manchester Town Hall.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Town Hall. Thank you Mr Thorley, I knew you would be very helpful, thank you. So I have dealt with the Licence position. I have made it clear that your client needs to have proper steps in place to make sure that all drivers have the necessary Licences and that it is a repute matter if they do not. I have dealt with the position regarding the accident or incident, however we wish to describe it. Mr Brown is going to let me know of the position. If you do that through Mr Auckland, Mr Brown. Mr Pelly also is going to let me know of the outcome. If you do that in writing to me, Mr Pelly, I would be grateful. The undertaking with regard to the driver conduct issues and I will arrange for a letter to be sent to Mr Andrew Schalon, setting out the position regarding to driver conduct. I think that that deals with all matters that are before me today. I have again referred to Section 20 and the need for all Operators, not just this Operator, to ensure compliance with that particular piece of legislation. I have made the comments I need to with regard to the lack of clarity in the legislation and also the way in which the matter has been considered and dealt with by those that operate at Manchester Airport. I think that deals with all matters. Anything arising Mr Pelly or Mr Thorley?

MR. LEWIS: I would just simply ask for a point of clarification in relation to the legislation itself. You may not be the person to ask Ma’am, but certainly there are certain issues that are still not clear from the point of view of the taxi drivers at all.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: All right and what are those issues?

MR. LEWIS: The first is, simply, the status of the hybrid vehicle.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: What do you mean when you say the hybrid vehicle?

MR. LEWIS: I mean the vehicle which has eight seats, but which has an extra seat for the taking of a disabled passenger; the minibuses effectively. I understand from your decision that you are coming to the conclusion that that’s a public service vehicle, but that would be open to interpretation as I understand it and there’s be no deciding case on the issue.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Of course, I am only here to regulate the industry.

MR. LEWIS: Yes.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: This is why VOSA have taken a key interest in the proceedings. There have been, as far as I am aware, no prosecutions that have been brought either by VOSA or by the Police.

MR. LEWIS: Or privately.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Or privately for the—

MR. LEWIS: The potential offence of somebody driving without a Licence for that vehicle.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Exactly.

MR. LEWIS: Yes.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: That, as I see it, is what is important.

MR. LEWIS: Yes because effectively, what you would do is action complaints or convictions which have already resulted, as it were, rather than be involved at the investigative stage. As I say, because there is no deciding issue, then it may well be that our remedy will lie elsewhere and whether we rely on the earlier incident, or whether we rely on other matters which may still yet to be to come, will be a matter for us. In relation to the plying for hire issue and obviously I see the defence, but of course that is dependent upon the earlier issue of what is a public service vehicle.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: The circular argument where I started and where I finished.

MR. LEWIS: Yes, absolutely, but of course, we have to have a decision in relation to the one before we can action the other.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes, but my finding is that it—

MR. LEWIS: Yes, but the question would still be in relation to the insurance cover that may or may not be held for that type of conduct, in that that would be a specific type of hiring that would be undertaken, a kerbside hiring effectively and whether or not there would be adequate insurance cover for that type of action. Now, that is something which, again, I suspect that is something which you cannot investigate, but something which maybe will have to come as a result of other cases yet to be brought.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: But is that not a matter for the Operator?

MR. LEWIS: Well it is but obviously… It is a matter for the Operator, but it is crucially important if there were to be an accident.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Well, there has been an accident.

MR. LEWIS: Yes, well there may, yet, be others and as I say—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: I hope not as a result of the conduct of both parties and as a result of the general operation on the road but—

MR. LEWIS: Yes, yes.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: —as I understand it, there has been no suggestion to me, by any third party, apart from the Manchester Cab Committee that the Operator is running around with vehicles that are not insured.

MR. LEWIS: Or may not be insured for that type of hiring.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: But when the Licence is granted, I do so on the basis that I am entitled to accept that the undertakings that are implicit will be complied with. It is actually in the legislation is it not?

MR. LEWIS: Effectively, it works the other way around in the sense that if a conviction were brought in relation to no insurance, then obviously that would be something which you could take account of. Yes, I see the point and I see the way in which we are going to have to go. The only other two points were brief things and I do not know whether you can answer us or not, but that was in relation to the use of the word taxi. We are seeking guidance really because there appears to be different routes that people are taking in relation to whether or not the word taxi can be used in that context. Mr Pelly may well be able to assist us, but it is just whether or not you can (inaudible) in relation to that.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: What is your view Mr Pelly, on whether they can use the word taxi? Where does the word taxi come from?

MR. PELLY: The mists of time, I think.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes.

MR. PELLY: The only legislation in relation to taxis is that you cannot display on the roof of a vehicle the word taxi or any letters including the word taxi, unless it is for Hackney Carriage.

MR. LEWIS: Correct.

MR. PELLY: In the public’s mind, a small PSV, a private hire vehicle and the Hackney Carriage are very often all referred to as taxis.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Thank you Mr Pelly. My comments earlier were meant to and I hope they will, I hesitate to use the word alert the Department, because I think the Department of Transport is very aware of these sorts of issues and it may be that the legislation has not kept pace with the change in the types and modes of transport. I note that the Government, for example, starts to use the word taxibus, but of course there is a certain legislative problem with regard to that. That is not my function in any way to become involved in that but simply to highlight to the Department where there have been concerns as the result of the lack of clarity in the legislation and that is really one of the reasons I have wanted to air this publicly and I see you nodding.

MR. LEWIS: Yes.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: There is a great concern that the legislation is not clear and that lack of clarity is spilling over into the arena of those that—

MR. LEWIS: And the difficulty of course is that—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: —try to use them and operate them quite legitimately.

MR. LEWIS: The difficulty of course is that without there being convictions for you to be able to rest those matters on, effectively your powers are really very limited and as I say, our remedy may well lie elsewhere.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes, but please also remember that if I had concluded, as a result of the evidence before me even without a prosecution, that Excellent Connections was falling foul of the legislation, I would have—

MR. LEWIS: Yes, yes.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: I would have called to Public Inquiry and I say that in terms of making findings as a preliminary matter—

MR. LEWIS: The difficulty is, of course, without there being a definitive answer in relation to what is and what isn’t a PSV, it’s difficult for you to come to that conclusion. It is categorically anyway. The final matter was the issue of touting and the issue of advertising, if I can put it that way because it does go on within the Airport—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Plying for hire?

MR. LEWIS: Not plying for hire. The actual calling for business, effectively, which again is legislation which covers, but again, I suspect it is—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Which piece of legislation are you referring me to?

MR. LEWIS: Off the top of my head I can’t remember Ma’am, but it is the legislation that covers touting.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Mr Pelly, do you have a view?

MR. PELLY: I think you have dealt with it. The Acts deal with plying for hire. Touting is just another word for that and plying for hire is permitted. Since we are in a public forum and it may be that my friend does not have the same degree—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: He has just been given something. Thank you.

MR. LEWIS: Yes, thank you.

MR. PELLY: —of experience in matters of road transport as perhaps you and I but with respect, there is not the slightest doubt or difficulty and there is no need for a case to decide what a public service vehicle. It is set out in words of no more than two or three syllables, in ordinary English, in Section 1 and you have been through that and there is not the slightest doubt.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes.

MR. PELLY: Now a PSV, which again seems to have escaped my friend, there is an overlap between a PSV and a private hire vehicle and the same vehicle could be—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Both.

MR. PELLY: —either and—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes.

MR. PELLY: —since my friend has seen fit in this public forum to raise the question of insurance, can I just say on behalf of the Company that their insurance unquestionably and undoubtedly covers them for the operations which they carry out, which are for hire and reward and it matters not whether the vehicle is a private hire vehicle or a PSV vehicle, they are unquestionably covered and no-one has ever suggested otherwise, either in these proceedings or in any other proceedings and I know if they were here, they would take the most serious issue to that red herring being raised in this forum this morning.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: I think you will remember, Mr Pelly, that I said that there had never been any evidence put to me that the Operator was operating with insurance. You were going to show me some legislation Mr Lewis?

MR. LEWIS: Not as such; obviously the legislation we have already referred to. The point that we were making, I fully understanding, obviously, the definition section. There is not a problem in relation to that at all. It is purely and simply the fact that when you come to the Licensing of these vehicles and certainly whether or not the drivers of those vehicles have the correct Licensing requirements, it is certainly not the clearest of issues at all and I think it would be wrong for anybody to try and say the law here is simple to interpret and has the utmost of clarity. What I take from what you have said is that these are unclear issues. They are yet to be litigated on and it may well be that litigation, either in the Magistrates Court and then eventually, perhaps, on appeal to other Courts, might clarify this as to the way in which we always go forward with legislation in this country. Acts are set down and when there are disputes over that that leads to Court cases and eventually to a precedent which can be followed and certainly, what we would take from the this, you are not able to move forward with where we want to go, we are going to have to seek our remedy elsewhere. So that is all we can take from that. In relation to the insurance issue, the only reason I say that is because there are different types of insurance for different types of hirings. Yes, we would do not, for one second, say that we are able to display evidence of that situation. It would not be a red herring. It is purely and simply that each type of hiring usually requires a different type of insurance. It is nothing more and nothing less than that.


THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: All right. I do not intend to pursue that matter further. I have made it clear what the position is as far as the Operator is concerned. I have made it clear what the position is regarding the representations are concerned. I think the PSV definition is there within the legislation and there is no misunderstanding as far as that part is concerned, but there are certainly other areas that need to be looked at. I do not think I can usefully add anything. Yes, Mr Thorley?

MR. THORLEY: I would just like to say a few words to you and this is the end of the matter in regard to the Traffic Commissioner. I did raise the matter at the third hearing, which was the last one, regarding touting and regarding—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Yes, plying for hire.

MR. THORLEY: —and regarding the PSVs for driving the buses and it was made clear that VOSA now consider that the eight seats with the wheelchair is a big bus and requires a PSV and at that time, Mr Pelly brought up the fact that you need to inform the DVLA because they think eight seats is permissible. So, what I would like to know, is there going to be any movement on that? The other thing is, touting, I did say to you last time that touting that I see for bus Operators is when I was taking a London bus tour and the driver was saying: “Any more people to go on this bus, it is leaving now” and my colleague reminded me, Mr Connor, at Manchester United Football ground on the special bus services in to Manchester, the driver says: “This bus is leaving now, non-stop to Manchester City Centre”. That, we feel, is touting. We have a representative of Greater Manchester Police here for Manchester Airport today. He, when there is any trouble between the touting and driving Licences, said: “We are waiting to know what happens from the Traffic Commissioner’s (inaudible) as we informed my division of the same thing”. So, after coming here today and listening, I have got to go back and furnish my 500 drivers at Manchester Airport, who we have kept in very good order during the whole of this scene—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: I am sure, I am sure.

MR. THORLEY: —considering they feel—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: They feel aggrieved.

MR. THORLEY: Aggrieved, very aggrieved.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: I understand that.

MR. THORLEY: And the Police, on their part… We are controlled all the time by 1847 Act, 1976 Act, 1985 Act and we cannot tout for business. It is quite clear. Now then, what I understand now in your summing up is, we are no further on as regard touting or whether the drivers need to have a PSV Licence for these buses. With the Police being here today, they are waiting for someone to make a decision and me as a normal type taxi proprietor of 40 years, are very confused and I have got to try and—

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: Who is here from the Police Mr Thorley?

MR. JONES: I am PC Jones Ma’am.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: All right. I have not got your details. Are you under cover? (laughter)

MR. THORLEY: So I was just wondering whether you could throw any light on to help keep the peace at Manchester Airport. Mr Brown and the other people, we want to keep the peace. We are all there to earn a living.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: I understand that.

MR. THORLEY: I want to know what to convey to my members. I also want to know when, GMP at the Airport get in to operation if there is any kinds of skirmishes, where we stand to defend my drivers. It is a very… I think it is a bad thing that MIA or whoever brought this ought, it should have been private hire which they had before, but that is for them, it is another field. As we go from here, it is open to new doors and I was just wondering what your opinion is on what I have just said to you.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: You put your hand up.

MR. BULLMAN: Yes, Ma’am, I am Constable Bullman from Greater Manchester Police. I am currently a Community Beat Officer at the Airport in the West Cargo Area, but I am an ex Traffic Officer of 13 years at Stretford.

THE TRAFFIC COMMISSIONER: That is very helpful thank you. I was not aware that you were here. I do not intend, Mr Thorley, to set out my opinions. When I had the interview for the job I was told you do not give your opinion, that is not what you are paid to do, but I understand the reason why you have asked for them. The answer I shall give you is not really what you want to hear, but what I have to say to you is that I have looked at this case on the basis of the information in my briefing papers of which you are aware, Copeland are aware and Mr Pelly is aware and on the basis of that evidence, I have reached the conclusions I have, taking account of the legislation and the facts. It is not my role to police the operations at Manchester Airport and the gentleman sitting next to you is nodding. That is why I made the comments that as far as I am concerned, subject to the position regarding the undertaking and the Section 20 matter and Mr Brown’s investigation, my role in this is finished. However, I am extremely conscious that operations will still continue for the drivers of the taxis, for the drivers of the Excellent Connections vehicles, for the Police who have to go there and for those that administer the Airport. Really, it is over to you lot to sort it out. What I am saying is that if the matters are not sorted out and they spill over in to driver conduct or Operator conduct issues, then I will take a robust view. I will not tolerate those that I regulate jeopardising road safety or fair competition. Mr Pelly knows that and most Operators in the North West Traffic Area hopefully do know by now, but I am afraid that I have done my part and it really needs to be sorted out by others and I am glad that there are so many people here today in this delightful city of Lancaster. I know it is not terribly close to Manchester, but I needed to deal with it in an open forum and I hope that people will take the opportunity to try to resolve these so that the passenger public are benefiting rather than not benefiting. That is all I am going to say on the matter and I will now retire. Thank you very much.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2005 10:54 pm 
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I think the verdict is wrong, but I know jack poo about PSVs.

But what I do know is that if I wanted someone to represent the Manchester cab trade, I would get someone who knew the 'Touting Laws' back to front. :shock:

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 2:06 am 
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Sussex wrote:
I think the verdict is wrong, but I know jack poo about PSVs.

But what I do know is that if I wanted someone to represent the Manchester cab trade, I would get someone who knew the 'Touting Laws' back to front. :shock:


The penny drops at the end of the hearing when he finally realises the case will have to go to court. Two years wasted and a few grand light, is all they have to show for their efforts. Now they have no alternative but to go to court, all this could have been avoided if they had expert advice from day one.

Maybe its time to give Kearns ring.

Regards

JD


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 7:36 am 
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JD wrote:
The penny drops at the end of the hearing when he finally realises the case will have to go to court. Two years wasted and a few grand light, is all they have to show for their efforts. Now they have no alternative but to go to court, all this could have been avoided if they had expert advice from day one.

It happens more times than not, the one eyed trade hear legal views, and and only take in the parts that say they could win.

Then the trade press print all the good stuff, but ignore the negative stuff. This being a prime example. :sad:

Before the hearing we hear they are going to do this that and the other, after it nothing. Same as the Wirral case, same as the T&G KO ing OFT.

Same old lies, same old deadwood running the trade. :-k

Best bit is when they ask for PH to come back and resue the situation. You couldn't make it up. :D

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2005 8:58 pm 
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Andy,
I think that I am the only one that has written updates about this farce from day one.
If you can point out where in my posts I have been anything other than pessimistic, because having read and reread anything that was pertinent, my underlying theme was that there was very little that could be done. From memory I think I said that we should have been fighting skirmishes instead of trying for a knockout blow. So where exactly were the lies? certainly not from me.
I think the reference to PH might be out of context, I think they mean that if this firm were operating under PH legislation, everybody would perhaps know the rules and regulations.
Your other posting about Mansfield, in the week that your target lost his father does you no credit. Perhaps the delete button should be used.
Anyway sorry to finish on a sour note but this will be my last posting, and I would like to leave my spellchecker to Mr Gull. Together with my thanks for inadvertently opening up a can of worms.
Ged

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 8:05 am 
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gedmay wrote:
I think the reference to PH might be out of context, I think they mean that if this firm were operating under PH legislation, everybody would perhaps know the rules and regulations.

I don't think so, the cab trade at Manchester Airport tried every trick in the book to boot out PH when Mr Crouch appeared. I suspect they were jubilant when he left.

And then Airportcarz took there place. :shock:

What's that about he who has the last laugh? :-k

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2005 4:49 pm 
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Hmmm. So, a vehicle constructed or adapted to carry more than eight passengers is a large PSV. But, if one of the nine seats is a wheelchair, and the wheelchair is not in the vehicle, it then becomes a small PSV?

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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 10:21 am 
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What exactly, is the offence being committed?

Is it: Driving a large PSV without a licence?
Or, Running a small PSV outside the scope of section 265?
Or, running an unlicensed vehicle that should be licensed under PH or Hack legislation?

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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2005 4:42 pm 
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Andy7 wrote:
Or, running an unlicensed vehicle that should be licensed under PH or Hack legislation?

I think it could well be that. :?

To some they are operating as a PH without the required licenses. :sad:

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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2005 11:49 am 
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Then if that is the case, the DoT will not prosecute, as it is beyond their remit, and the Public Enquiry in Manchester was a totally pointless exercise. It is for the Council to prosecute isnt it - and what prizes for guessing which way they jump.

Mind you, it does kinda make a case for all of us to be licensed by DoT rather than Councils. A consistent National Standard eh?

Oh gosh!!! Am I sounding like Nidge and the Angel with their National Cab Act?

(Andy has just gone and shot himself)

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