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Four licensing authorities pass private hire vehicle fitted with illegal unmarked part worn tyres

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Four licensing authorities in the North West have been exposed issuing licences for private hire vehicles fitted with illegal unmarked and unsafe part worn tyres.

The discovery raises bigger questions around passenger safety across the UK and just how thorough and safe the taxi compliance and licensing procedure is.

John Stone, owner of Stone Tyres and founder of the Independent Tyre Fitters Alliance, purchased a Skoda Octavia and fitted it with 4 illegal part worn tyres and submitted the vehicle to St Helens, Liverpool, Wirral and Sefton council-approved test centres for a taxi compliance test.

Each council’s approved test centre passed the vehicle as safe, despite part worn tyres dating from 1999, 2001 and 2003 being fitted on the taxi. One of the tyres was an illegal part worn winter tyre, imported from Germany some 10 years ago.

No tyres were marked as ‘Part Worn’, as they should be by law, next to the BS or ECE approval mark.

John Stone said: “This lack of care from our local councils is appalling and raises serious questions over taxi passenger safety in the North West and indeed across the United Kingdom.

“Part worn tyres are not safe, yet some councils are awarding licenses to vehicles running on illegal and potentially unsafe tyres – it is a disgrace and the licensing of vehicles running illegal part worn tyres needs to be stopped now.

“Full credit to St Helens council as when I approached them with my findings they took the issue with great seriousness and decided there and then that this wouldn’t be allowed to happen again. I’m pleased to say that on the back of this campaign St Helens MBC has already agreed to ban the use of part worn tyres on all licensed vehicles. They should be applauded for such a pragmatic and positive response, which ensures the safety of the public.”

There is now hope that other councils will follow the proactive lead set by St Helens and also only allow safe new tyres to be used on vehicles entrusted to transport the general public.

The Motor Vehicle Tyres (Safety) Regulations 1994 govern the sale of part-worn tyres, but these are rarely being adhered to, allowing unsafe and illegal tyres to flood the UK’s part worn tyre market. The National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) which represents national and independent tyre distributors across the UK, recently reiterated its call for an outright ban on part worn tyres due to safety concerns.

Stefan Hay, NTDA Chief Executive, said: “As we have advised the DfT on a number of occasions part worn tyres should not be fitted to vehicles, full stop.

“John has exposed a serious flaw in taxi licensing testing procedures in not one, but four, areas in the North West and we are extremely concerned that the practice is nationwide.

“The combined age of those four different makes of tyre was 67 years old, they had illegal repairs, different speed ratings and no part worn mark, this really is beyond belief! John is to be applauded for the incredible work he has done to expose this shocking situation, but it is appalling that it has taken his personal efforts to uncover such apathy towards passenger safety.”

Hay added: “Inspections carried out over several years into the sale of part worn tyres have shown serious safety breaches, including dangerous and unsafe repairs, exposed cords, bead damage and evidence of runflat damage. We call on these councils to review their procedures without delay.”


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