Updated: Dec 3, 2019
A female passenger has been left feeling angered and frustrated after a Manchester private hire driver was allowed to continue working, despite being caught watching a football match whilst driving.
Paula Neal, a care worker in Manchester, ordered a car to come and pick her and a friend up from local private hire firm Club Cars.
On arrival, Paula jumped in the back seat of the Skoda Octavia and her friend sat upfront alongside the driver - a man named Terry.
Immediately Paula could hear the sounds of a football match coming from the vehicle - it was then she noticed Terry's phone mounted on the windscreen, which was playing a Manchester United match.
Paula and her friend both thought that the driver would switch off the game before starting the journey, but he didn't.
Speaking to Taxipoint, Paula said: "At this point I wasn't quite sure what to do, as I now had concerns about him fiddling with his phone to switch it off if I had asked him to do so while we were moving."
Paula said the fact that her driver was trying to watch the football as well as keeping his eyes on the road made her feel "very uneasy and unsafe" and even stressed that when she tried to talk to her friend, the driver turned the volume of the match up on his phone.
Paula used her phone to take pictures of the incident, which she then reported to the driver's operator.
A complaint was also put in writing to Club Cars and a report was given to the police.
Paula stressed that she felt the driver did not consider the safety of his passengers and other road users as more important than watching a football match whilst behind the wheel of a moving vehicle.
Paula's complaint to the police led to them contacting the city's licensing authority who then contacted both Club Cars and Paula.
In a corresponding email, a member of Manchester City Council confirmed that the police had been in touch and had reviewed the evidence.
After review, they came to the conclusion that the evidence was 'insufficient to support legal proceedings' and instead suggested a warning be issued to the driver from the licensing authority.
The licensing authority confirmed that they had spoken to the driver, who in his defence said that he was only watching the football between fares.
Paula believes her evidence clearly proves otherwise.
A warning letter was issued to the driver about his future conduct and responsibilities as a professional driver.
Paula stressed her disappointment with the outcome and said she "cannot believe he is still allowed to drive passengers" calling the whole incident "shocking".
She added: "I have told them [The council] that I do not think this is acceptable and they have now escalated my complaint to a senior member of staff."
Speaking of the local cab firm (Club Cars), Paula said: "I've been using them for a long time now and many of their drivers are very good, but I feel incidents like this can give them a bad name."
Paula says she is waiting for a response on her follow up complaint and hopes sufficient action is taken in assessing whether a driver watching TV whilst driving can still be considered a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
Image credit: Paula Neal