An Around Midnight Publication ©2012-2014.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dover Street Wine Bar Closed After 35 Years, Sold To Novikov For £1m.

Well-known West End bar Dover Street Restaurant and Bar has closed after being sold to a Russian restaurant chain.

The site has reportedly been bought by chain group Novikov, for a lease of more than £1m, according to the London Evening Standard. It is not yet known when or if the group plans to open the site.

The London newspaper reported that a notice on the wine bar door stated: “It is with deep regret that Dover Street Restaurant and Bar has officially closed, following the passing of its owner in July…thank you for your custom…and for all the great times that we have shared together in this very special place.”

The wine bar has been in operation for over 35 years, and often attracted celebrity clientele. It also regularly played live music.

Uber, not as cheap as some may think, new survey shows,

London is the fifth most expensive city to travel around, according to research by online transport platform Go Euro.

The company ranked 60 of the world’s major cities based on the cost of their urban transit options including public transport, taxis and peer-to-peer platform Uber.

London’s average cost for a public transport ticket was £4.68 for a single journey while a 10-kilometre taxi ride cost £17.91 and a similar length journey using Uber was £20.78. So, people standing by Taxi ranks and using their phones to call up an Uber car, are paying more in most cases than if they just jumped into the Taxi on point.

Only Stockholm, Zurich, Gothenburg and Rotterdam were more expensive for similar journeys, while Manchester ranked as the 18th most expensive for urban transit. 

Public transport cost £2.58 per ride in Manchester while taxi and Uber journeys were £12.94 and £12.61 respectively. Again not such a great saving while standing about, watching vacant Taxis drive by while waiting for an Uber car to locate you with their sat-nav.

The top 10 cheapest cities were dominated by Asian hubs with New Delhi, Mumbai, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City taking the top five spots.

Anti Piracy Campaigner Branson Sinks Small Fortune Into Pirate Car Ride Share Jim Thomas

After seeing the failure of his North America investment in Hailo and still wanting to be involved in the people transportation business, Sir Richard Branson, has invested a small fortune in a San Francisco based ride-sharing service "Sidecar". 

Sidecar has announced the $15m funding injection will help them roll-out of the service nationwide. The ride share service allegedly allows users of a smartphone application to share car journeys.

Technology website ZDNet has reported Branson as saying: 
“Technology has turned transportation on its head, it’s fundamentally changing the way we get around. We don’t need to own cars; services like Sidecar can get us around town. Sidecar is developing an everyday travel solution that sits side-by-side with public transit.”

While Branson has been seen to be a massive anti-piracy campaigner in the music business, most people in the Taxi industry would consider sidecar to be no more than a pirate car service. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

City Hall Tories call for midnight traffic light switch off.

London’s transport bosses and local councils have been urged to switch traffic lights off over night to help cut journey times and reduce pollution caused by car emissions.

Conservatives on the London Assembly suggest the move would cut vehicle emissions by ending cars sitting with engines idling at red lights and reduce delays by 2,251 hours every day.

They also claim drivers would see time and fuel savings worth £40m by 2020

The recommendation is contained in a new report published by the group today which calls on Transport for London and the capital’s local boroughs to pilot the proposal during daytime off-peak hours.

TfL is also urged to regularly review traffic lights on roads it controls “to see if any are redundant.”

Richard Tracey AM said: “Every year Londoners waste over 170 million hours sitting in traffic, costing London’s economy £4bn. Many of these journeys in our city are unavoidable.

“But rather than hurting motorists with ridiculous charges and taxes, we should look at innovative ways to cut congestion and make traffic flow more smoothly.

“Turning off traffic lights at night, like they do in parts of Europe and North America, is one measure which would boost the economy and help the environment.”

Editorial comment:
I have been an advocate of turning off certain traffic signals at night for many years. That was until TfL started to fill the night streets with untrained, unprofessional drivers, who spend most of their time looking at the screens on their smart phones or sat-navs, rather than looking where they are going. Drivers with scant regard to any road signage let alone traffic lights.

While there are many junctions that could be better managed and some would even benefit by having the lights removed, personally I believe it would be irresponsible and dangerous of TfL and the local councils to turn off all the signals at night regardless. 

  Martin Hoscik MayorWatch URL:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Minicab driver jailed for ‘appalling’ sex assault on passenger.

A pervert minicab driver who carried out an “appalling” sexual assault on a passenger has been jailed for six years.

David James still maintains he was innocent of the terrifying attack on the vulnerable woman in the back of his minicab in the early hours.

Recorder Simon Taylor QC told the 72-year-old great grandfather that drivers were in a position of great trust.

“You breached that trust in the most foul way by taking advantage of this young woman – of her being alone and in drink,” he said.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that the harm will be lasting to some degree. There are also elements of degradation and humiliation.”

James, of Sturdee Avenue, Gillingham, denied assault by penetration but was convicted last month.
Maidstone Crown Court heard James was working for a Chatham minicab firm when he drove the woman, 25, and three friends home from a nightclub in November last year.

She was the last to be dropped off in the early hours. As she took the change from her fare the father-of-three he kissed her, thrusting his tongue in her mouth.
She dropped her purse in the footwell and then found James had joined her in the back.

She tried to escape but James kissed her again and put his hand down her top. He then lifted her dress, pulled down her tights and assaulted her.

The victim told of being left in a “sobbing heap” and said she afterwards repeatedly showered and scrubbed herself because she felt so unclean.
James claimed the woman was “up for it” and twice snogged him. He insisted nothing else happened.

He said: “I was a bit surprised getting a kiss from a young girl. I thought: ‘Happy birthday.”

Asked if he sexually assaulted the woman, he replied: “No, definitely not. I am a bit old for that.”
Recorder Taylor said he had given anxious consideration to imposing an extended sentence for public protection.

But he added: “Although your attitude to women, and in particular to the victim, is appalling and gives rise to real concern to a risk of reoffending, I don’t think you meet the criteria for an extended sentence within the Act.”

A sexual offences prevention order was made and James’ name will appear on the sex offenders’ register for life.


From A Legal Perspective: Solicitor Ted Mercer's View On The Uber App.

I shall be upfront about my preferences in this area.  I like London Black Cabs.  
A number of times they have saved my bacon in delivering me to some unknown destination in the Metropolitan area that I would never have found by myself in time for whatever meeting or Court hearing I have had.  
Moreover, although some of them can be a trifle surly from time to time, the majority of cab drivers I have consistently found are helpful, pleasant and often an unexpected fountain of knowledge.  
This blog, however, is prompted by not taxis I suppose but by the Uber App and a service which enables you to hail a car by app and then have the price of the journey calculated by the distance from the point of pick up to the point of drop off.
What I am about to comment is actually prompted by the Chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee suggesting that the Uber App is in someway anticompetitive.
The starting post for my examination of the law as it relates to the Uber App is however to look at the situation from a different perspective.  
It’s a wonder Transport for London (“TFL”) may consider that it does not need to licence Hackney Carriages but that, as they say, is not the point.  
The point that TFL needs to consider is that whether in so acting, not whether it is doing what it is required to do by the general law, but whether or not in terms of Competition Law it is actually discriminating against Hackney Carriage drivers.
Why should they have made to go through “The Knowledge” and maintain their cars in a certain way and keep to the, one might say, relatively archaic rules relating to London cabs, most of it dating from the 19th Century and governed by a set of 1934 Regulations.
The fact is that when it comes to controlling who effectively applies for hire on City streets the person in control of the market is TFL.  
That is because they have a public duty in respect of both transport generally and of public safety in respect of certain forms of transport and in respect of enforcing the law.  
It is, with respect, not good enough to want to argue that new, particularly internet borne, forms of competition should not be subject to unnecessary regulation but rather why should you subject existing forms of competition (i.e. taxis) to regulation?
Nobody should take this as a plea that Hackney Carriages are no longer regulated in respect of their ability to publically apply for hire.  I am actually specifically not arguing that it is unnecessary to licence Black Cabs.  I think they are a wonderful feature of London life and personally I would very much not like to see competition drive them out of the business.  
When it comes to a legal analysis of the situation that they face themselves over Uber and the app the position I think they need to adopt is to argue how they are discriminated against.
TFL needs to be faced with a scenario where there is a free-for-all as being the only way to go forward, not one group that can do what they like and one group that is subject to a form of regulation which even in Dickensian times was probably regarded as onerous.
What TFL has to acknowledge is that it is the person who controls and is the dominant player in the market.  It controls competition and having that dominance it needs to use it in a way which does not lead to discrimination.
Now TFL is probably then going to try and utilise the unappetising argument and say that it is an excuse to abuse a dominant position by exercising discrimination to have to comply with UK Legislation.  Compliance with UK legislation is a Competition Law “get out of jail free card”.
I do not think, however, you need to be a genius to move to a position where Hackney Carriage Legislation in fact needs to be struck down as being incompatible with EU law on competition.  
If push comes to shove, maybe that is what the taxi drivers might just do but I would suggest that it would be a brave Mayor of London and, in terms of “Yes Minister”, a politically courageous Mayor of London who would abandon the Hackney Carriage legislation.  
I think Londoners, and indeed visitors to London, rather like Black Cabs manned by people who, in the majority of cases, indeed the vast majority of cases, seem to know where they are going.
The result of the Uber App question may be that all regulation of cabs disappears.  One wonders, in an existential sense, if that is a place any Mayor wants to go.