4:00pm Thursday 10th January 2013
ALMOST half of all taxis stopped in snap inspections in Bolton last year were suspended from carrying passengers for breaking council rules.
Corroded brake pipes, oil leaks, bald tyres and broken lights were all among the faults discovered in spot checks carried out in operations run by Bolton Council, the police and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).
A total of 114 taxis — most of which were private hire cabs but which also included Hackney carriages — were stopped during 10 days of spot checks between May and December last year.
Of those, 49, including three Hackney carriages, were given suspension notices, which means a driver has seven days to fix any faults.
Until then, the vehicle cannot be used as a taxi, although it can still be used as a private vehicle.
If repairs are not complete after seven days, the vehicle’s plates have to be handed in to the council. If still not fixed after two months, the vehicle’s licence is revoked.
Council regulations say taxis should be kept clean, should be “mechanically sound” and should contain the correct identification.
Other failings identified included insecure radios and no fire extinguishers.
Fines were also issued by police for offences ranging from not wearing a seat belt, broken brake lights and illegal tyres.
Bolton Council said it is introducing tougher measures to tackle the problem.
Charles Oakes, chairman of the Bolton Hackney Drivers Association, said he supports the planned new measures. He said: “The figures are appalling. I’m not bothered about things like scratches, but I am if they’re failing on safety.
“All the trade representatives have said this has got to stop.”
Cllr Kevan Jones, the vice-chairman of the council’s licensing committee, said: “Although the figures presented could be used to paint a gloomy picture, my own experience is that the companies I used were offering a good, safe service.
“However, when I look through the list of defects, most of which should have been picked up on pre-duty checks, I have to ask questions, not only of the driver, but the operators too.”
A council spokesman said: “The council is about to implement a new framework for the testing of Hackney carriages and private hire vehicles, together with more robust measures for identifying and suspending vehicles with serious defects.”
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