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Bristol taxi boss goes to court

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Bristol taxi boss goes to court

Post by Admin on Thu 29 Jan 2009 - 18:22

Bristol taxi boss goes to court

A taxi boss has taken his fight against a council ban on using all eight passenger seats in his 23,000 minibus back to court.

Paul White, from Yate, bought the Renault Traffic vehicle on the understanding that South Gloucestershire Council's hackney carriage licensing officials would licence it for eight passengers.

But after buying the vehicle officials said he would only be allowed to carry seven paying customers – even though the authority had already given a similar vehicle a licence to carry eight.

Officials said the middle front seat of the taxi was five centimetres too close to the front dashboard – making it too cramped for passenger comfort.

They also said a cabbie using the gearstick could inadvertently touch a passenger's leg when changing gear, which would not be appropriate.

Mr White said he bought the vehicle when he saw it advertised in a taxi trade magazine as an eight-seater.

Yesterday's hearing at Bristol Crown Court was the fourth in Mr White's battle to win his vehicle a plate for eight people.

His first challenge to South Gloucestershire Council's licensing decision came early last year, when North Avon Magistrates referred the decision up to Bristol Crown Court.

There he won his case and was awarded 10,000 in costs.

But the council still refused to licence the Renault as an eight-seater and Mr White took the case to North Avon Magistrates Court again, but lost.

He is now appealing again and is hoping Judge Jamie Tabor will overturn the ruling by the licensing authority

Sales representative John Bockhoefer, from Jubilee Automotives, told Bristol Crown Court he sold the Renault Traffic to Mr White as an eight-seater.

He said he telephoned the licensing authority, with Mr White alongside him, to get an assurance that it would license the Renault for eight passengers before Mr White agreed to the sale.

He said: "If I sell a vehicle I always contact the licensing authority to make sure it would be fit for purpose. If not the vehicle would not be right for Mr White."

He told the court other Renault taxis had been plated by Bristol, North Somerset, Nuneaton and Shrewsbury licensing authorities.

Paul Chapman, former chairman of South Gloucestershire Taxi Association, said a similar Renault had been plated for eight passengers to a Hanham taxi firm.

He said: "Paul White's vehicle is identical in all measurements to the other vehicle. But the council's measurements were different. They didn't know what they were doing."

South Gloucestershire Council is standing by its decision.

The council will say that despite a European vehicle type approval to carry eight passengers, that does not count for hackney carriage rules because every local authority has different rules.

The case continues.

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