New crackdown on repeat offenders to be investigated after spot checks reveal taxi safety problems

Twenty per cent of taxis and private hire cars checked during a town centre operation in Barnsley were taken out of service because of faults uncovered by council inspectors, the authority has revealed.

Shortbrook School
Shortbrook School

Councillors have also been told that ten per cent of cars used to transport children to Springwell School in the town were also issued with immediate suspension notices following a similar operation.

Barnsley Council’s General Licensing Regulatory Board were given the details in an update of recent activity by inspectors who work to ensure the town’s fleet of cabs is kept in a roadworthy condition.

The most recent operation took place earlier this month, when 20 vehicles were inspected in the town centre by licensing enforcement officers, resulting in six being issued with immediate suspension notices.

Faults included illegal tyres, lights not working and failed windscreen washer.

The other 14 vehicles were complaint, but written warnings were issued to drivers for falsifying their daily check, not carrying a daily check book and failing to complete the check.

A report submitted to councillors stated: “Vehicle non-compliance is not just an issue officers are concerned with during the undertaking of each and every enforcement operation; it is one that continues to be at the forefront of every vehicle examiners mind whilst undertaking an MOT test.

“Defective vehicles are not acceptable and cannot be excused, coupled with failing to complete basic vehicle inspection sheets, an inspection sheet that not only the trade requested to complete but a tool that ensures the very safety of a licensed vehicle, is not acceptable.”

Similar checks were conducted at Springwell School, where drivers are contracted to carry children to and from the site every day, with 29 vehicles checked.

Of those, 26 were compliant but three were issued with immediate suspension notices for problems with lights not working and a flat front tyre.

Councillors were told the failure rates were detected at “an unacceptable level” and that it was down to operators, vehicle proprietors and drivers “to accept responsibility for their failures and make a change.

“Failure to do so, will only continue to put the safety of the public at risk when using a hackney carriage or private hire vehicle in Barnsley. After all, the principal consideration here must be one of public safety.”

However, councillors were told the driver with a flat tyre experienced a puncture at the point of the inspection.

Board chairman Coun Charlie Wraith was present and told colleagues: “It is the only time we have suspended someone and I have felt sorry for them.”

Licensing officers are now to look at whether it is possible to detect repeat offenders from the inspections, which are carried out on a monthly basis, so they could be put before a licensing panel to explain their behaviour.

Coun Phillip Lofts had suggested introducing a system of putting responsibility for the condition of vehicles and completing vehicle check documents onto operators, rather than drivers, to avoid the licensing board having to “micro manage” every driver individually.