Page last updated at 12:08 GMT, Wednesday, 8 October 2008 13:08 UK

Cross-legged cabbies face loo ban

David Finnegan
David Finnegan has been a taxi driver for 24 years (pic Northern Echo)

A Darlington taxi driver says he is prepared to go to jail rather than accept a 160-year-old law banning him from leaving his cab to spend a penny.

David Finnegan was threatened with disciplinary action by council staff after he used a public toilet while parked up at a town centre rank.

He was told he breached an 1847 law introduced for horse-drawn carriages.

Darlington Council said it had since reviewed the situation and decided to handle the matter informally.

Mr Finnegan, 62, who has been a cabbie for more than 20 years, said he was confronted by a council enforcement officer after he left his cab to walk 9ft to a public toilet in Darlington town centre.

He said: "This is ridiculous. It all has to do with horses and carts.

"According to this law I can never, ever leave my vehicle.

Enforcement action

"I have had a week of mental and physical torture after all this, I'm not joking.

"I was even told I could be made to sit in my cab if it was left unattended outside my house at any time of day or night."

The law in question is the Town Police Clauses Act 1847, which states "If the driver of any hackney carriage leave it in any street or at any place of public resort or entertainment, whether it be hired or not, without some one proper to take care of it, any constable may drive away such hackney carriage and deposit it."

In a statement, Darlington Council said: "When considering enforcement action, we assess each case on its merits and have regard to the quality of evidence and whether it is in the public interest to pursue the matter.

"In this case, taking this into account, we have decided to deal with this matter informally."

Taxis banned after police checks
22 Oct 07 |  Lancashire

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