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New policy would prevent drivers asking for a soiling charge unless it’s agreed prior to the journey after a private hire driver locked a student in his vehicle following vomiting claims

25 Mar 2019

 

A private hire driver in East Renfrewshire, locked a student in his car before abandoning her at a petrol station after a row over a soiling charge.

The private hire driver claimed that one of the students friends vomited in his vehicle.

The incident occurred as a group of female students were returning to Newton Mearns after a night out in Glasgow.

When the girl, who disputed the claim, didn’t have £40 on her to pay, she was locked in the vehicle and driven to a nearby petrol station.

Fearing for her safety, she sought safety in the shop until the driver left, leaving her to walk home alone.

The incident was revealed in a report to councillors yesterday as the girl’s parents called for private hire rules on soiling charges to change.

As reported in the Barrhead News, licensing chiefs were set to rule on any law changes or possible action against the driver but yesterday’s meeting was adjourned after late witness submissions were received.

The mother of the girl said: “This is an extremely important situation. What happened to our daughter is a very serious matter for all females in East Renfrewshire.

“This took place in August. Six months down the road, there may be vulnerable females in East Renfrewshire.”

A report says the driver waited for only one passenger to remain in his vehicle before demanding the soiling fee. The report said he reacted in an “unpleasant manner” after a passenger was allegedly sick.

The council’s chief officer for legal and procurement, Gerry Mahon, who penned the report, said: “According to the parents of the passenger, their daughter was placed in a state of fear and alarm by the actions of this driver.

“The driver took the passenger to a nearby petrol station to demand she obtained money from the ATM. The passenger sought safety in the petrol station shop and the driver eventually drove off without payment but leaving the young female passenger to walk home.”

The parents of the girl have disputed parts of the report submitted to councillors and have said they will be sending their version of events to the council ahead of the next licensing meeting.

CCTV footage from the petrol station was viewed by council officers to corroborate the incident, while the driver admitted it in interview, however, he insisted the soiling did occur.

The report said that “No further bookings were taken on that particular night which may corroborate that".

The driver could be called to a meeting to rule whether he is a fit and proper person to drive a private hire car, but as of now he has been warned about his actions. 

The new policy would prevent drivers asking for a soiling charge unless it’s agreed prior to the journey.

If soiling occurs, payment can be requested but drivers would have to allow passengers to make a payment at a later date.

Drivers would be unable to prevent passengers leaving the vehicle or driving them to an ATM, unless the passenger agreed. 

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