Roads policing officers pulled over and checked twenty-six taxis in the centre of Bath just before the New Year rush to make sure they were fit to carry passengers in safety.
The police also carried out checks on thirty-one taxis in Taunton.
They were joined by officials from the licensing councils and other public agencies (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Department of Work and Pensions and HM Revenues and Customs) to make checks on both the cars and drivers.
Three taxis in Bath were immediately taken off the road and given notices.
Two of the notices were ordered by Bath & North East Somerset Council, and the third was ordered by VOSA.
The first related to a taxi having a loose battery in the engine compartment. The driver had this fault fixed by the afternoon of 29th December and the taxi was safely back on the road the same day.
The second case related to a taxi having lost its front taxi licence plate, no fire extinguisher on board and no spare light bulbs. The driver had rectified all the faults by the afternoon of 29th December and the taxi was safely back on the road the same day.
The prohibition notice ordered by VOSA related to a taxi on which both offside tyre treads were below legal limit – the driver returned within two hours with four new tyres and was safely back on the road the same day.
Cllr David Dixon, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “We are pleased with the working relationship that we have with the Police and VOSA.
“However I am very concerned as to the number of faults found. I will be speaking to our Licensing team as to how we can step up these checks – these conditions are in place to ensure public safety so all breaches are very serious indeed.”
Cllr Manda Rigby, Chair of the Council’s Licensing Committee, added: “The Council continues to work closely with the taxi trade in Bath and North East Somerset to ensure that drivers are aware of their responsibilities to provide a safe service to the public.
“We welcome the positive and prompt action taken by the taxi drivers in addressing the issues on the same day they were identified, as public safety is our number one concern.”
PC Paul Baker from the Specialist Operations Unit said: “This operation was very successful, and I was particularly encouraged by the improvement shown in the road worthiness of Taunton’s taxis in comparison with checks made last year.
“To have 31 taxis stopped and none to be prohibited appears to show that enforcement checks are having a positive result.
“The public should feel reassured that standard of Taunton’s taxis have improved considerably over the last 12 months or so and be reassured that targeted checks will continue.
“I am aware that a vast majority of taxi operators and drivers are very supportive of our checks, and some are even wanting more.
“We are aware which vehicles haven’t been checked recently and aware which vehicles were in a sad state of repair during previous checks.
“It was disappointing that three Bath taxis were immediately prohibited due to safety issues amounting to almost one in nine of those stopped.
“For us to have to take that level of action should be totally unnecessary, and as a reassurance to the public we will carry out further checks with our partner agencies and help make our local cabs some of the safest in the country.”