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Sheffield CCTV In Cabs Dispute

Friday, February 15, 2013

GMB oppose Sheffield City Council Plan Mandatory CCTV in City's licensed taxis and cabs

The best way to improve driver and customer safety standards is to develop good practice through a workable policy that all parties agree with and have contributed to says GMB

GMB, the union for private hire cab drivers, has launched a campaign to fight against Sheffield City Council’s decision to move from a voluntary policy covering CCTV in private hire and black cabs to a mandatory policy. This decision was made on February 5th 2013.

As part of the campaign GMB plan the following steps:

  • Written to the Chief Licensing Officer and Head of Licensing, Stephen Lonnie, and put our case forward in defence of a voluntary model for CCTV in cars. We await a response but we have requested that an urgent meeting is now scheduled to consider our case appealing the decision to move to a mandatory policy. See copy of letter in notes to editors
  • If we cannot revisit this decision with the Council we will consider a legal challenge once we have received advice from our solicitors.
  • In any event we are also considering organising a large protest by both private hire and black cab drivers in Sheffield to show our dissatisfaction with this decision.

Peter Davies, GMB Regional officer said "We cannot accept that anyone will benefit from a policy that forces drivers to comply. The likelihood is that we’ll end up with a minimum set of standards at a maximum cost to drivers.

Surely the best way to improve driver and customer safety standards is to develop good practice through a workable policy that all interested parties agree with and have contributed to.

GMB encourage the use of CCTV but the Council are forcing a mandatory policy through that will result in a £500 system without any consultation with the drivers. This Council seems to be approaching this with a ‘we know best and you’ll do as you are told’ attitude. Well maybe they don’t and maybe we won’t."


Contact: Peter Davies 07501 228 313 or 0845 337 7777. GMB press Office 07921 289 880 or 07974 251 823

Notes to editors

Copy of GMB letter to Chief Licensing Officer and Head of Licensing, Stephen Lonnie,

Dear Steve,

I am in receipt of the report that was submitted to the licensing committee on February 5th 2013 and I would like to raise the following concerns on behalf of our private hire and taxi driver members:

1. We understand that the licensing board is made up of officers and 15 elected members but due to the severe weather on 5th February only 3 elected members, including the chair, were in attendance. It is also the case that I was unable to attend along with our reps and that was partly down to the severe weather and partly down to the fact that I did not receive advance notice of the meeting. It is the view of our members that given the massive financial impact that this decision is likely to have on their businesses more elected members should have attended and all representatives needed to have been present. We understand that 3 elected members may have been the minimum requirement but it was not appropriate in this case given the potential impact of a change to policy. For this reason we would request that another meeting is arranged where we can submit and discuss our concerns.

2. Paragraphs 3.4 and 3.8 refer to attacks on drivers and the public. The GMB are pursuing legal damages for the driver that the report refers to and we can see no reason as to why that particular case has been used to justify a change to a mandatory policy, this driver was attacked out-side of his vehicle. Further references to attacks on customers were used but again although in some cases CCTV may improve safety and deter crimes there is no evidence to prove that it could alter the behaviour of any violent criminal and that is what any attack from whoever to whoever should be considered as. Our view is that the Council, in partnership with drivers, their representatives and the Councils ULR programme should encourage the use of CCTV but that the advantages should be developed and designed into a system of good practice and good use. a mandatory policy will be greeted with great hostility and resistance and at best it will provide the public with a MINIMUM standard.

3. Paragraphs 7.1 to 7.5 deals with the case of SouthamptonCC v May Court Case Judgement. There is now a clear risk to the Council because we, and potentially other organisations that represent drivers must, on behalf of our members, consider a challenge to any decision to force them into installing CCTV. This judgement does nothing to discourage that, it does, in fact, encourage a challenge because it was the process that the claimant used to challenge Southampton CC that enabled the decision to be won on appeal, not the actual case of argument or point of law. Obviously we do not want to launch a legal challenge and please do not take this correspondence as any sort of threat but the Council has to consider this as a possible financial implication of this policy change.

I am not entirely sure what you can or cannot do to postpone this process but I hope that you and the Council can consider our request to revisit this policy decision and reschedule another Licensing Committee meeting.

Yours in anticipation,

Peter Davies

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