6 out of 10 have faults
Reporter: by marina berry
Date online: 06 March 2013
OLDHAM taxi firm operators will be targeted by licensing chiefs in a move to improve vehicle safety after spot checks found just four out of 10 met the required standards.
The move is part of a blitz on private hire and hackney cabs operating in Oldham, which also advocates a tightening up of procedures following Rossendale-licensed vehicles working in the borough.
Next Tuesday’s Licensing Committee will be urged to bring in measures which increase the responsibility for private hire operators to ensure vehicles carrying passengers on their behalf are safe.
Currently they are under no obligation to make sure the vehicles are mechanically fit for purpose, and Oldham’s licensing officers want to see a change to the star rating scheme to give operators some responsibility.
Operators are currently awarded no stars to four stars, and officers want to see three and four stars awarded only to operators who take steps to ensure that at least three out of four of their vehicle fleet passes the annual vehicle test first time.
But Amir Khan, owner of Failsworth taxi firm Skyline, which has three stars, said it would be virtually impossible to implement.
He said: “I can’t see how putting the onus on operators for the maintenance of vehicles would work.
“Each driver is self-employed and is responsible for their own vehicle.
“The council already tests older vehicles three times a year and newer ones twice a year. If vehicles are not adhering to the specific requirements then there should be more spot checks.
“That would act as a deterrent for drivers who would think twice before putting a vehicle which was not properly maintained onto the road.”
The catalyst for the crackdown was the result of two random vehicle checks carried out by the Greater Manchester Police road policing unit and Oldham Council’s MOT vehicle examiners.
The shocking results revealed a pass rate of 40 per cent for vehicles inspected on October 4, 2012, and a 43 per cent pass rate 11 days later.
A total of 25 vehicles were tested in the first check, 20 were private hire, of which 13 failed and eight licences were suspended.
Two of the five hackney carriages tested failed.
On October 15, 21 vehicles were tested, six of the 14 private hire vehicles failed and three licences were suspended.
Six out of seven hackney carriages failed and three licences were suspended.
Scheduled tests had a better pass rate, but there were still a surprising number of failures.
In seven out of 15 monthly tests dating from November 2011 to January 2013, the pass rate was below 60 per cent. The highest pass rate was in November, 2011, at 85 per cent, and only twice besides did it reach more than 70 per cent.
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