Cabs banned from Exeter roads in police blitz
FIVE taxis have been banned from the roads and almost 30 cabs were found to be unsafe following an operation by police.
The shocking results of police checks – which revealed some drivers operating without an identity badge – across Exeter and East Devon have been described as "frightening".
It comes as a city councillor and taxi drivers across Exeter have raised concerns about the regulation of cabbies in the city.
Polsloe councillor Yolonda Henson told the Echo she believes more should be done to regulate taxi drivers.
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"People have been telling me of their concerns over the taxis in Exeter for some time but to get proof is another thing," she said.
"These figures are more than shocking, they are frightening.
"I blame the council for being lax on this.
"I have said to the licensing department repeatedly that there are issues."
She added that an influx of foreign drivers to the city had left her concerned that some cabbies did not have sufficient knowledge of Exeter.
"People are walking on eggshells for fear of upsetting people," she said.
"But you can't be like that over the safety of the public.
"We have a duty to ensure anybody getting into a taxi is safe."
A manager at a city taxi firm, who did not wish to be named, said a number of cab drivers "disappeared" from Exeter when the council conducted an inspection.
"The last time the council did an inspection, half of the drivers in Exeter seemed to disappear," he said.
The two-day operation saw officers from Devon and Cornwall Police stop 50 taxis across Exeter, Exmouth and Honiton between Friday, February 1, and Saturday, February 2.
Also taking part in the operation were officers from HM Revenue and Customs, Immigration and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. Fewer than half the vehicles passed safety checks, with 27 vehicles committing offences ranging from defective lights to the driver not having an identity badge. Police said a number of the vehicles were committing more than one offences.
Those banned from use on the spot had defects including a defective tyre, loose battery or failing to carry a first aid kit and fire extinguisher.
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "For the police to put vehicles off the road immediately demonstrates how seriously we treat breaches of the regulations, but we will work hard to prevent the public being at risk.
"It is disappointing that fewer than half of the vehicles checked were free of any defects, and we would not rule out further checks in the future."
Robert Norley, assistant director for environment at Exeter City Council, said: "Every taxi driver has to pass a stringent knowledge test. This is a verbal test conducted by the licensing officer."