Taxi drivers fear a vendetta war could be sparked by new Fenland District Council penalty point system

Mark Holland, of Dart Taxis.

Mark Holland, of Dart Taxis. - Credit: Archant

Taxi wars could break out in the Fens with a new set of rules and penalty point system that opens the door for drivers to “dob” each other into trouble in local vendettas, it is being warned.

The new regulations from Fenland District Council involve a 12 penalty point limit before enforcement action is taken, but nobody knows the complete set of issues that points can be given for - because there is no official list.

As part of the changes, cars over five years old must undergo a compliance test, yet nobody knows what they must comply with - but they fear that things like a crisp packet on the back seat left by a customer or an interior light out, could kick them off the road until the compliance officer has approved the car is fit for purpose.

Additionally, all drivers must complete a safeguarding course, but many claim they have already done it, but never received certificates because they were lost by the county council.

Mark Holland, of Dart Taxis, said: “It is all putting obstacles in our way. The worst is the points system, vendettas will be rife.

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“Drivers will be watching their backs for people reporting them. Tit for tat.”

Points could be given for things like drivers who drop off in a taxi rank or drivers who leave their car in the back of the rank queue while they grab a coffee then return, he said.

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“A huge problem is that in Wisbech there is an official taxi drop off point but in March there isn’t one,” Mark said.

“So we could all start getting points for dropping off a customer, for example outside Heron Foods, but officially we are not allowed to do that because it is a rank and not a drop off zone.

“But there are no drop off zones in the Broad Street area. When we ask for one the council ignores us.”

Drivers have asked if they can complete an online safeguarding course, as drivers do in the Norfolk area, but again they say the council has ignored their request.

An FDC spokesman said: “ Fenland District Council is seeking to reinforce taxi regulations which were made policy in 2016 following public consultation.

“We have given members of the taxi and private hire trade plenty of time to adjust to these regulations, and are now seeking to ensure that all parts of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire policy are fully adhered to by April 1, 2018.

“With regards to safeguarding awareness, we, like many Licensing Authorities, now require all drivers to undertake such training to help tackle child and adult exploitation and human trafficking.

“We have a duty to assist the trade and the public in tackling these issues, and to protect those who are vulnerable and/or being exploited.

“Safeguarding training will help drivers recognise when people may be at risk and identify those who commit such crimes.

“New drivers will be advised how to book on to a course. Existing drivers who have already completed such a course are being asked to provide details so we can ensure everyone is fully trained.

“With regards to taxi rank signage, Cambridgeshire County Council highways team is looking into a request for signage in March and drivers will be updated in due course.”

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