Five Harrogate cabs taken off the road in safety blitz

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Spot checks on taxi safety in Harrogate saw five cabs taken off the road immediately on Friday night - with one driver now to face a court appearance.

The checks - with police and council officers picking taxis at random - were set up to ensure passenger safety in the town and district.

A total of 21 cabs were checked between 7pm and 11pm, assessing brakes, lights, and to ensure that drivers were properly licensed.

“Members of the public have a right to expect that the taxis they use are safe and roadworthy and that the drivers are properly licensed,” said Traffic Sgt Andy Morton.

“While many taxi drivers do maintain their vehicles, I am disappointed by the number of vehicles which presented with defects, five of which were so serious they were taken off the road and had their taxi plates suspended.”

Officers worked with Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) on the operation.

In addition to the five taxis ordered off the road, another driver was given seven days to fix his car. Four were given advisory notices, two were handed fixed penalty notices, and one was reported to court.

“I give credit to those drivers who do maintain their vehicles correctly but sadly it appears that those who don’t, often know their vehicles have defects but drive anyway,” said TS Morton. “That isn’t acceptable and puts the lives of passengers at risk. We are already planning further operations of this type.”

Coun John Ennis, chairman of HBC licensing committee said: “I have been surprised at the condition of these vehicles, particularly when being used to transport members of the public.

“We will be carrying out further operations and I urge all taxi drivers to check their vehicles thoroughly before taking them out.”

There are around 450 taxis in Harrogate, including 148 Hackney carriages.

Gary Sadler-Simpson, chairman of Mainline Taxi’s Association, said they welcomed such checks as it meant that passengers could be confident their cabs were safe.

“These are necessary checks,” he said. “If everyone is doing their job correctly and is driving safe vehicles then there isn’t an issue. It’s as simple as that. We are transporting people - you can’t take chances.

“Our drivers have checks to do - brakes, lights - before every shift. If they aren’t doing that, they should be penalised.

“When people are caught breaking or flouting the law, action should be taken.”