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Third of Bradford minicabs and taxis fail random safety checks
6:00am Monday 28th October 2013 in News
Nearly a third of cabs in Bradford are failing random vehicle checks, the Telegraph & Argus can reveal today.
Bradford Council introduced the random inspections, where drivers are given 24 hours notice before tests, on March 4 this year.
Since then, 180 private hire and Hackney carriage vehicles have been tested, but 55 of those failed.
The Council said it took the new testing system “very seriously” and warned that it would do everything it could to ensure vehicles carrying passengers were free from defects which could compromise passenger safety.
When asked about the failure rate, a key representative of Bradford’s private hire industry said many drivers were failing on “minor points” that did not affect passenger safety.
Khurram Shahzad, co-owner of Manchester Road Taxis, and the chairman of the Bradford Private Hire Liaison Service, said that drivers were failing things such as lightbulbs needing replacing and minor bodywork issues.
He said: “We are really pleased to work with the Council, but a number of cars have been failing on minor issues. But those issues don’t affect passenger safety. But I am relieved that we are working with the Council on this.”
However, Shabbir Master, a committee member of the Hackney Carriage Members Association, said he believed the failures were not minor, but were for things like bald tyres and major MOT failures.
“We have been told that the breakdown of checks shows that only 15 per cent of failures can be down to Hackney carriages,” he said.
“The thing is 90 per cent of Hackney carriages are three to four years old because we were told in 2008 we had to convert our total fleet into wheelchair accessible vehicles.
“Because of that we spent over £2.5 million on our vehicles.
“I think the public in general need safer transport. Bradford Council is doing its best to make sure there are safe cars in the street.”
Random testing began seven months ago, after the process was agreed last year by the Council in conjunction with drivers and operators.
About 30 have failed to attend and did not contact the licensing authority. Out of the 180 given just 24 hours notification of the testing, 40 asked to change their appointment at the last minute, and that request was agreed.
Some vehicles failed the testing on minor points, with drivers given ten days to fix any problems before retesting, but no vehicles were taken off the road for being dangerous.
Carol Stos, Bradford Council’s fleet and licensing manager, said: “Random inspections on taxi and private hire vehicle safety were brought in with the full agreement of drivers and operators.
“The new system allowed a reduction in the number of routine vehicle inspections without compromising the safety of the public.
“Bradford Council has a responsibility for the safety of the travelling public and we have to do everything we can to ensure that the vehicles carrying passengers under our licensing conditions are free from any defects which could compromise their welfare.
“We take testing very seriously and in general the level of routine pass is consistently improving. The random aspect ensures that the standard of vehicles is maintained all year round.
“This ensures the people of Bradford can have confidence in the standard of vehicles being used.”
But one private hire driver who was called in for a random test on his vehicle has expressed his frustration at what he saw as a lack of flexibility in the system.
Wahid Saleem, 45, of Girlington, received a call on Tuesday, October 8, from Council officers to inform him his vehicle spot check was due the following day. But his niece had died the day before of leukemia and he was attending her funeral in Manchester on the Wednesday.
But Mr Saleem said when he informed officers at the Shearbridge Depot, where the testing is done, they told him they would suspend his operating licence until the check was carried out, despite the reason for the delay.
He finally had the check on the Thursday which he passed, but he said the Council’s lack of compassion had upset him greatly.
“I feel disgusted. Where is the compassion for other people?,” he said. “Deaths can happen at any time and I am absolutely appalled at the way I have been treated.
“I got the phone call from the Council saying they wanted to check my car and I told them they couldn’t.
“I went to explain but the enforcement officer suspended my vehicle to use as a taxi because I couldn’t attend this random check.”
Carol Stos, Bradford Council’s Fleet and Licensing Manager, said: “It would not be appropriate for Bradford Council to comment on individual cases but if any driver feels they have been treated unfairly or without compassion they should contact the taxi service and there will be a thorough investigation.
“If people cannot attend the checks, they can be re-arranged to suit individual circumstances."