Scant hope of naming firms using defective cabs

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More defective taxis and private hire vehicles have been taken off Northampton’s roads – but there seems little prospect of the firms being named and shamed.

The latest round of surprise safety checks saw 11 private hire vehicles and one Hackney cab either taken off the road or ordered to fix faults.

But Northampton Borough Council has been advised by its lawyers that it cannot name the firms involved, for fears of leaving itself open to litigation.

During Friday’s spot checks, seven cars were taken off the road for failing to meet safety standards, with offences including serious mechanical faults, dangerous tyres and problems with lights.

Another five were issued with delayed prohibitions, giving them four days to rectify the faults.

As well as spot checks, licensed vehicles must pass two scheduled safety tests a year. Vehicles can be taken off the road for something as minor as not having a full set of spare bulbs onboard.

Councillor Christopher Malpas (Con, Billing), chairman of the licensing committee, explained the reasons why the firms were not named.

He said: “A private hire vehicle driver is self-employed. The operator does not employ them, they just work for them for a commission.

“Because they have been taken off the road for a misdemeanour, we don’t name and shame them, as we leave ourselves open to litigation. If we have owner-operators we can name them. It is a minefield.”

On the test, he said: “It just proves that the equivalent of two MOT tests a year is necessary. But I think most of the drivers are law-abiding. This keeps them on their toes. By putting it in the press, it is not about scaring the public, we just want them to realise we are doing it.”

The Chron was unable to contact anyone from the Private Hire Association for comment.