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Time to resurrect ‘crucial’ pedicab law to protect central London from ‘menace’ operators, council warns

Nuisance pedicab operators will continue to wreak havoc in London’s West End without new legislation to tackle them, a council has warned.

The Pedicab industry in central London has been blighted by complaints of blasting out loud music , ripping off customers and swerving dangerously through packed pedestrian areas.

On Saturday night, the Standard joined Westminster Council’s enforcement officers and the police as they targeted the “menace” operators.

Over the course of the operation, eight pedicab operators were caught blasting out music past 9pm contravening the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

Under the current legislation, council officers can only refer pedicab operators to court for playing loud music between 9pm to 8am in the morning and all eight will now face court dates where fines will be established.

Despite prior operations seeing fines of up tp £1,380, Westminster Council has warned it faces an uphill battle to eradicate the issue, which is damaging the West End’s reputation, without proper legislation which was shelved earlier this year.

Enforcement officers talk to pedicab operators (Evening Standard)
Enforcement officers talk to pedicab operators (Evening Standard)

“It would be crucial in terms of finding a long lasting solution,” said James Hayes from Westminster’s public protection and licensing team.

“We did find that when we weren’t focusing on them as we are now that the behaviour of the riders became worse.

“So if there was no enforcement to take place at all, we’d find that the behaviours that are causing the problems are likely to multiply.”

Going further, Mr Hayes warned the impact on central London’s reputation was “overwhelmingly not positive” adding: “Without the dedicated scheme, we’ll always be working against the riders who have got an incentive to try and push the boundaries.”

Across last year, the council prosecuted 68 riders and handed out £21,000 in fines.

While the vehicles blast out ear-splitting music throughout the night, they can also be a fire hazard with one sparking a huge blaze under London Bridge station last year.

Speaking to the Standard, Nickie Aikien, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, said pedicab operators are causing “major issues across” the West End, adding: “People getting on them are putting their lives at risk.”

Commenting on the rogue operators, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Public Protection and Licensing at Westminster Aicha Less said: “The message from our residents and businesses could not be clearer, unlicensed pedicabs are a constant menace and source of nuisance in Westminster.”

Before adding: “Until we have more powers, I urge visitors to Westminster to use safer forms of public transport when out late at night. Get the bus, tube, or a black cab, and get home safely.”