On my commute into Leeds I regularly observe taxis parking in the cycle lane, and sometimes on the pavement, outside the Tapas bar on Kirkstall Road in order that the passenger can use the cash machine (photo from 14th Feb this year). This obstructs my passage and means I have to move out into the carriageway - which is very busy and moving at speed. The cycle lane is mandatory and road marked with double-yellow lines. Parking on the pavement I believe to be illegal.
According to the Council's website (http://www.leeds.gov.uk/Business/Pages/Taxi-and-private-hire-licensing.aspx) they state that "...please contact us and we will carry out further investigations and refer the matter to the police, or other appropriate body, as applicable."
I sent the photo and complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org and recieved the response:
Thank you for your correspondence, which was received on 25 February 2013.
I would advise that this area is patrolled regularly by Civil Enforcement Officers and any vehicle observed to be parked in this manner will be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).
Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
I didn't feel this was good enough - I have never seen the area enforced and they are hardly going to get someone to sit and wait - and I wanted to know what they could/would do about this taxi:
Thanks Sarah. Can you advise what action has been taken against the specific taxi driver(s) identified in the the photo?
Infringements in this location are a regular occurrence. Taking this up with the taxi driver, and company (Amber) might be a more preventative strategy?
They duly responded:
Thank you for your email, which was received on 26 February 2013.
I would advise that Parking Services are not able to issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) retrospectively. The vehicles must be observed by a Civil Enforcement Officer (CEO) to be parked in contravention of the restriction.
I have noted your comments regarding contacting the driver/company, I would advise that this is not something that we would be able to do as vehicles are permitted to stop in this location for the purposes of setting down/picking up passengers. Therefore as we have no record of observations by an authorised officer, we are not able to challenge motorists or companies on this matter.
Well this felt like a brush off - they won't do anything. My response:
Thanks for this response, but I don't feel this issue is being adequately addressed.
This taxi is parked illegally. It is straddling the pavement. It is parked in a mandatory cycle lane and on the corner of a junction which is clearly dangerous.
Further, it was not setting down/picking up - it was parked whilst the passenger used the cash machine.
You have a photo that shows all this, as well as the company (AMBER) and registration plate (YR56LFB).
Whilst you may not be able to prosecute the driver based on this evidence, are you saying you cannot do *anything* by way of contacting the company and/or driver to make a complaint?
This issue is a regular occurance and I see it several times a week even in my momentary passing.
Taxis cannot be allowed to flout the law, Highway Code and behave irresponsibly without challenge.
I have cc'd in another email address [email@example.com] in the hope that perhaps you are not the correct person to be dealing with this complaint.
A rapid intial response from the Taxi & Private Hire Licensing contact:
Thank you for your email. I am sorry that you have cause for complaint about the licensed taxi and private hire trade in Leeds.
Complaints about poor customer service are referred to Private Hire Operators and/ or Taxi associations to investigate and resolve the problem, which they do on a large number of occasions, and also take disciplinary action.
Where the complaint is about clear dishonesty, abusive, discriminatory or inappropriate behaviour, or where a crime is alleged, Leeds City Council will record and deal with that complaint.
Based on the information you have provided, I have now referred your complaint to our Enforcement Team for further investigation. An Enforcement Officer will contact you directly in due course.
Service Development Officer
Taxi & Private Hire Licensing
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 2143366
Well, this email resulted in something much better:
I would like to inform you that I have reviewed you complaint and have investigated this matter in accordance with our procedures.
As a result of your complaint, I made an appointment for the driver / owner of the vehicle to attend an investigation meeting.
The driver was interviewed regarding his conduct and behaviour.
The driver of any Private Hire vehicle has a responsibility and duty of care, to ensure the safety of all passengers being transported and also to other road users.
Drivers must also act in a civil and orderly manner at all times.
The conditions attached to the grant of his Private Hire drivers licence, in relation to his conduct and behaviour, were reiterated.
I have also addressed this complaint and subject matter with the Private Hire Operator which he is assigned to.
As a result of your complaint, the driver has been issued with a Verbal Warning as well as a further copy of the Conditions and other information on the Road Traffic Legislations (THE HIGHWAY CODE).
The subject detail and other related correspondence in respect of this driver / vehicle, will be retained on the drivers record, under the terms and conditions of the Document Retention Policy for the Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Office.
This may be considered again, if any further incidents of this nature occur, whereupon it may result in suspension or revocation of his driver's licence.
Finally, please be assured that the safety / well being of the public and passengers in licensed vehicles, is a priority of Leeds City Council.
Therefore, I thank you for bringing this matter to our attention and I hope that this bring this matter to a satisfactory resolution.
Taxi & Private Hire Licensing
Leeds City Council
Tel: 0113 214 3358
So, it appears Leeds City Council *does* take dangerous taxis seriously - if you email the right people.
I'll update the 'What to do if' details in relation to taxi issues accordingly. And the message to us cyclists is clear - if we observe taxis behaving badly, we need to speak up!