13:01 Wednesday 26 February 2014

Uttoxeter taxi checks find more than half with safety issues


TAXIS were subjected to a series of safety tests to make sure they were in fully working order, and five out of the eight checked were found to have safety issues.

The joint initiative saw representatives from East Staffordshire Borough Council (ESBC), the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Staffordshire Police joined forces to perform spot checks on taxi services in Uttoxeter as well as on vehicles used by members of the public.

The spot checks, which took place at Angus Mackinnon in Derby Road, are carried out a number of times a year to ensure taxis are meeting legal requirements.

Matthew Pickering, enforcement officer for ESBC, said: “We pull taxis off the road for random spot checks to ensure the safety of the vehicles, to check everything is licensed correctly and to check that the fuel used is legal.

“We don’t inform taxi companies in advance as the results may not reflect an accurate picture.

“On these evenings we go out to get as many cars as we can to make the necessary safety tests.

“It takes approximately 20-25 minutes for the authorities to carry out the full checks on each taxi pulled in.

“It was found on Friday that of the eight taxis checked, there were no significant issues from the borough council’s standpoint.

“One vehicle was found without non-smoking stickers, but otherwise all vehicles and drivers were identifiable with vehicle plates, panels and personal badges which are the main things we look for.

“We also look for the correct insurance documents showing the vehicles are licensed for taxi use, first aid kits and fire exits.

“All taxis licensed must be non-smoking vehicles under the Public Health Act.

“In the past we have seen mixed results.

“The police go out in two vehicles including in one unmarked vehicle

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency found of the eight taxis checked three had no issues but five had issues which needed to be addressed within a week.

The government-run agency handed out two advisory notices for one broken exhaust bracket and one broken front side light.

They also gave three delayed prohibitions ranging from two to seven days for broken rear springs, wheel and axel issues.

Three members of the public also had their vehicles checked on the night, with two 4x4s having no issues and one ‘boy-racer’ type vehicle given immediate prohibition for its main headlight.

All 11 vehicles were dip-tested for illicit fuel by HMRC but no positive samples of red diesel or kerosene were found.

Lee Stamps, of HMRC said: “We check for red fuel and kerosene which are illegal but cheap fuels.

“Anyone can buy kerosene for heating fuel, but some use it in cars as a cheaper alternative to petrol.

“Red diesel is used for tractors and agricultural vehicles.

“It’s illegal to use it in cars.”

Staffordshire Police found no issues with drivers or vehicles.

A spokesman for Staffordshire Police said: “We carry out the checks a couple of times a year.

“Criteria police are looking for are working lights, and making sure drivers and passengers are wearing seatbelts and are not using mobile phones.

“We also do regular checks on normal vehicles.

“It’s not just taxis.”

Further information on keeping vehicles in a road-worthy condition is available at www.gov.uk

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