York taxi firm under threat if owner found to be ‘unfit to hold a licence’

Photograph: Nathan Mullet / Unsplash
10 Nov 2020 @ 7.50 am
| News

A York taxi firm could be run off the road if councillors find its owner to be ‘unfit to hold an operator’s licence’.

York Cars is operated by Mohammed Iqbal. A report to the licensing & regulatory committee asks members to consider revoking his licence.

It alleges the following conduct by Mr Iqbal:

  • Enabling drivers (licensed by another authority) that the council would not consider ‘fit and proper’ to work as private hire drivers in York
  • Blaming the council for its stance over Uber for the position, ‘when this is not the case’
  • Operating ‘690 Taxis’ and ‘Street Cars’ in York without an operator’s licence
  • False or misleading customer testimonials.

The report states: “All of the above may give rise to concerns with regards to Mr Iqbal’s honesty and integrity, going to the heart of the ‘protection of the public’ consideration which is the reason for licensing private hire operators.

“In turn, this may give members a reasonable cause to believe that Mr Iqbal is not ‘fit and proper’ to hold a private hire operator’s licence.”

More than 150 drivers

York Cars on Blossom Street. Photograph © Google Street View

Mr Iqbal has been licensed by the York council as a private hire operator since 20 October 2016.

His current licence was issued in April 2019 following a change of name from ‘York and Ebor Cars’ to ‘York Cars’. Council records show that there are 154 drivers and 134 vehicles licensed to work on behalf of York Cars.

The licence is due to expire on 19 October 2021.

According to the report York Cars is licensed by Wolverhampton City Council rather than York.

This is a lawful practice. But the report says:

  • Mr Iqbal obtained an operator’s licence in Wolverhampton with no intention of undertaking journeys there.

    This was designed to circumvent York’s local licensing controls and recruit those drivers who were unable to pass our safeguarding and knowledge test.

    Mr Iqbal’s operation sent (even sponsored) new applicants for driver licences, who they knew did not to have the requisite knowledge to pass the York tests, to Wolverhampton to obtain a licence, on the grounds that they would drive in York regardless.

It also says he ran taxi services under two other trading names ‘690 Taxis’ and ‘Street Cars’ in York without an operator’s licence, and published ‘false or misleading customer testimonials’.

The council has also received complaints about Wolverhampton-licensed vehicles operating in York, many from other taxi drivers.

Complaints included:

  • reversing on a dual carriageway
  • parking in a disabled bay at York Racecourse
  • running a red light.

Councillors will consider the report at a meeting on 17 November at 5.30pm.

Their options are:

  1. Revoke the licence
  2. Suspend the licence
  3. Take no further action.

In a statement, York Cars told YorkMix: “It’s business as usual at York Cars.

“We believe we have followed and adhered to all legislations.

“We are prepared to follow this through to the end and thank our customers, drivers and staff for their support.”

You can watch the meeting live on the City of York Council YouTube page.