Council to shut illegal taxi office in town centre

Wigan taxi driver Eddie Earley
Wigan taxi driver Eddie Earley

Wigan Council has insisted it is working to shut down a taxi firm’s building being used illegally following criticism from black cab drivers.

The local authority has faced criticism from the hackney industry over Crusader Cabs which is defying a crown court order and operating from an office opposite Wallgate station.

It’s unbelievable because everybody else has to abide by the rules

Eddie Earley

The latest person to hit out at the private hire firm is RMT union rep Eddie Earley, who is demanding action is taken to get the building shut down.

Crusader Cabs boss Hossein Ghorbani recently lost an appeal at Bolton Crown Court which he lodged challenging a guilty verdict for breaching a stop notice given by the borough’s magistrates.

However, the legal process is still ongoing with a further appeal against the fine of £1,000 he received set to be heard on November 23.

Hackney cab driver Mr Earley, 61, said: “I cannot understand why Wigan Council has not proceeded with the judgement the crown court has given.

“The court told him to shut it and yet it’s still open as a taxi office every weekend.

“On Friday and Saturday nights people are going in there and being taken home.

“He doesn’t seem to care and is just flouting the law.

“It’s unbelievable because everybody else has to abide by the rules.

“There are also problems with cars waiting near that office and parking all down the street in what is supposed to be a no-parking zone.

“The zebra crossing is there and someone is going to get seriously hurt one night.”

Wigan Council had to take the step of launching a private prosecution against Ghorbani, from Aspull, after its attempts to close the building due to the lack of planning permission for its use had no effect.

The town hall responded to the mounting anger about Crusader’s continued use of the venue by stressing it was working as hard as possible to make the firm obey the law.

Karl Battersby, director of economy and environment, said: “Mr Ghorbani has continually ignored council advice with regards to his use of the building on Wallgate and we feel his conviction could have been avoided had he co-operated with us from the start and the enforcement and stop notices had been complied with.

“Planning permission is required for the use of the building as a private hire office and we would urge Mr Ghorbani to cease the use of the premises for this purpose.

“The public can be reassured we are doing all we can to close this premises down and are looking at what further legal action we can take.”