An Around Midnight Publication ©2012-2014. The truth needs to be free and we want to liberate it.

The views expressed on this blog may not be those of any trade Org or Union.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ice Bucket challenge, Magical Taxi Tour.

I've been nominated by my friend and fellow Taxi driver, Paul Morgan, to do an Ice Bucket challenge. 

I have decided to take the opportunity to raise awareness and perhaps some funds, towards the magnificent Magical Taxi Tour. Not wanting to take anything away from the ALS charity, I will also make a donation to them.

Magical Taxi Tour
Although they have managed to exceed their target for this year, it's a dynamic ongoing event. All donations recieved will help secure this wonderful experience for many others to enjoy on future trips. 

I also get to nominate three others to take on the ice bucket challenge: 
After much deliberation I have decided to nominate fellow Taxi drivers, Mark White, Glen Alutto and Steve Brown (The Parrot).

More about the Magical Taxi Tour:  
Follow on FaceBook, The Children's Magical Tour for Seriously ill children, as they head to Paris Disneyland via P&O Ferries from Dover in a fleet of London Taxis.

This year once again the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers, have organised the three-day trip of a lifetime to Disneyland Paris for children with life threatening diseases. 

A convoy of over 100 London taxis, will be escorted by Police from both London and Paris, London Ambulance Service and AA also assist throughout the trip. 

Putting "Kids in Cabs" is the mission and this annual event is only possible with your continued help and support, along with sponsors who generously donate towards the £1250 per taxi necessary to meet the expense, such as Hotel, fuel, food, admission charges etc. 

As a result of your donations, this tour has brought moments of great joy and happiness to many unfortunate families. Some of the children who went on the last trip won't be going this time. We are filled with sadness that some of these children have died, but with your help we are determined to keep on giving even more children this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Please consider working an extra hour over this bank holiday weekend, for the children.

If you would like to donate just click the link below

< Just click on this link >

Also, you can watch the short clip below.

TfL And Met Turning Blind Eye Over Pedicab Offences. Too Costly To Enforce? Jim Thomas.

Freedom of information searches have shown that the main reason TfL and the Met have not been pursuing legality when it comes to pedicabs, is the matter of cost. Apparently, the do nothing/costs nothing option, is their current choice.

Over the last year many motorised Pedicabs have appeared. Easy to spot by the way the rider doesn't peddle. The police say they are hard to find, (true I suppose if you walked about with your eyes closed).

We have managed to find where these unlicensed motorised vehicle are stored, recharged and hire out, something the Met has been unable or hasn't bothered to do.

Below is an excerpt forwarded to the Law Commission by The Met Police:
Safety problems partly derive from the fact that there are no set standards for the construction and use of the pedicab and no set standards for the vetting of operators or riders to check they are suitable. 

Many pedicabs fail to have working brakes, lighting or seat belts and the high turnover of employees limits the long-term effects of enforcement.

Common unlawful behaviour includes contravention of one-way streets; riding on the footway; blocking the pavement; parking in bus lanes or on pedestrian crossings, and disobeying red lights.

Blocking of bus lanes is particularly problematic, resulting in delays and disruption to planned bus services through what are generally already busy parts of the town centres in which they operate. Obstruction is also a major issue.

TfL have also provided a number of statistics relating to criminal offences and pedicabs in London, where they are perceived to pose a particular problem. 

Statistics from the TfL report include:

Serious sexual assaults by pedicab drivers;
From April 2009 to January 2014, 7 sexual offences have been attributed to pedicabs drivers. (They kept that one quiet!)

A number of thefts and robberies have reportedly been perpetrated by drivers;

There were more than 650 incidents reported in 2013 alone, and twenty personal injury collisions were recorded over the three year period to March 2013.

But...Nothing about the illegal use of motorised rickshaw bikes. Why? 

Surely Public Safety Should Come Before Cost?

There are substantial enforcement costs:
From 2010 to January 2014, TfL funded or part funded over 160 operations against pedicabs, at the cost of almost £65,000, resulting in 389 arrests being made by the Metropolitan Police. That's just 3.74 arrests a week, at a cost of £167 per arrest.

We would assume TfL's compliance or cab enforcement are not involved in this, as their record on illegal plying for hire and satellite office touting by minicabs is significantly below this.

As for the Metropolitan Police Service, the cost of a targeted operation to deal with pedicabs is currently approximately £1,500 each. 

Processing a case is highly time consuming: 
Initial arrest and process takes approximately 4-6 hours to the Metropolitan Police Service. 

Significant time is spent dealing with the criminal justice system and the administration for the restoration of the seized pedicabs.

So The Met and TfL both know what's going on, they just don't know what to do about it.

Cost Benefit Analysis And Summation By Law Commission
(You couldn't make this up)
This impact assessment identifies both monetised and non-monetised impacts of intervention, with the aim of understanding the overall impact on society and the wider environment. The costs and benefits of each option are measured against the “do nothing” option. 

Impact assessments place a strong emphasis on valuing the costs and benefits in monetary terms (including estimating the value of goods and services that are not traded). 

However there are important aspects that cannot sensibly be monetised. These might include impacts on equality, either positive or negative, or enhanced (or diminished) public confidence.

The impact assessment process requires that we make an assessment of the quantifiable costs and benefits even when there is insufficient material on which to base those calculations. 

Where possible we have spoken to practitioners to inform our view of the likely aspects to be affected by the change in policy and have used this as the basis for our calculations. Where it has not been possible to obtain a rough indication of numbers in this way we have had to make a realistic estimate. 

In such cases, we have taken a conservative approach and have tended to use figures that we considered likely to under-estimate benefits and over-estimate costs

So where they have been unable to acquire true facts and figures....they've made them up.

Editorial Conclusion:
Stand by to recieve a recommendation from the Law Commission to licence Rickshaw (Pedicab) vehicles. 
TfL would probably issue temporary permits to the riders as well, as a way of raising revenue.

It's already been alleged that Westminster Council have Traffic Management Orders (TMOs) in place to implement ranks for these bikes, with an eye on selling permits to riders as soon as the recommendations are approved. 

So, Licensed Taxi Rank approval = couple of years
Licence Variation for satellite office = just a few weeks
Pedicab Rank = just a few days.

    Source: Taxi and private hire services IA No: LAWCOM0033
       With special thanks our Manchurian correspondent.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Greater Manchester Police Stop Taxis, picking up from a taxi rank???

Watch what happened when a licence Taxi Driver try's to pick up from an illegal private hire rank after Manchester Council had erected a  "Taxi rank" sign. 

Sanctioned by Manchester City Council
Condoned by Greater Manchester Police
They try to prevent lawful licensed taxis from picking up at the rank

    With Thanks to Lucy G

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Award Mr George 'Johnny' Johnson (Dambusters) a I'mSpartacus

George 'Johnnny' Johnson served his country during the 2nd World War in Bomber Command as bomb aimer. In 1943, he joined the new elite 617 Squadron, now commonly known as the 'Dambusters'. 

George 'Johnny' Johnson is now the last surviving member of the Dambusters squadron who participated in that operation.

Air crews in Bomber Command were expected to complete 30 operations, mainly at night and very few ever achieved this, usually making the ultimate sacrifice with their life. 

George 'Johnny' Johnson continued to complete a further 20 operations with 617 Squadron, the required amount for a second tour of duty.

In recognition for services and contribution to his country by displaying unconditional courage and gallantry in the face of the enemy and an inspiration to all of his fellow countryman, we call upon Government and all politicians to unite and support the nomination of Mr Johnson in becoming a Knight.

'Dangerous' east London Minicab tout jailed for a year

A minicab tout, who drove along the pavement and at dangerous speeds to escape police, has sentenced to a year in prison.

Mohammed Bilal Hadji, 43, of Newham Way, Newham, was caught illegally trying to pick up customers by an undercover officer in Shaftesbury Avenue.

When asked to exit his car, he locked the doors, mounted the curb and drove 40 metres along the pavement, nearly hitting members of the public and the police.

He then drove over 60 miles per hour in a 20mph zone, through four red lights and in the wrong direction down a one-way street.

He managed to escape from police but officers traced the vehicle from its registration to Hadji's east London address.

When officers arrived Hadji tried to escape but was restrained.

He was arrested for touting, having no insurance and dangerous driving. He pleaded not guilty to the touting and insurance charges but was found guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court and sent to prison last week.

Acting Chief Superintendent Robert Revill, roads and transport policing command said: "This was an excellent result which has seen an extremely dangerous man who posed a serious risk to the public taken off the streets for a long time.

"He has received a robust judicial outcome, time in jail and a hefty fine for his offences. When he is released he will also have lost his vehicle."

Hadji was also disqualified from driving for 33 months driving disqualification and told he would need to retake his test before he gets behind the wheel again.


Editorial Comment:
The law is too lenient with this type of offence.
This tout mounted the pavement, drove at high speed, through red lights, down a one way street in the wrong direction, in a bid to evaded capture. He could have easily killed pedestrians or other road users.

This offence should carry a minimum of 5 years in prison and banned for life from driving. No one should be allowed back on the road after showing this scale of blatant disregard to others safety.

I have changed the title and part of the article, as the media still have trouble differentiating between a Taxi and a Minicab.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Manchester City Council Make Mess Of Licence Payments Refunds...From Taxi Leaks Manchurian Correspondent

Manchester City Council, rebate on Taxi fee's from funds in Taxi reserve account.

M.C.C. Have overcharged the Taxi/ PH trade on the yearly fees charged.

After an Audit of the year 2012 the external Auditor, Grant Thornton recommended that M.C.C should make refunds.

M.C.C have finally agreed to do this after a threat of Legal Action from the trade. M.C.C intend to do this by giving a rebate of fees charged for the following year from Oct 14 to Oct 15.

But they have done this in a totally unfair and probably unlawful way.

1. New Private hire vehicles get a rebate of £36.
2.  Renewal PH vehicles only get a rebate of only £24. 

A renewal, by its title, means it is someone who has paid a previous fee into the fund.

A new vehicle applicant has not yet paid anything. Yet it gets a larger rebate. How can that be fair. ?
2. Driver renewals.
  An existing driver receives a rebate of £57
  A new applicant gets a rebate of £112 
  New driver's also get a reduction on training and test fee's
  How can somebody who has never been licensed receive a rebate when they have not contributed to any fund ?
3. PH Operators.
  New PH operators get the same rebate as operators who renew. Those that renew have recently overpaid funds.

New Operators have yet to pay anything, how can they get a rebate. ?

M.C.C issued 5434 Drivers licenses in the year ended 2012.
A drivers working life can span 45 years, from the age of 25 to 70 years old.
Dividing 45 into 5434 means on average 120 driver's retire each year. That means an average of 360 driver's have retired in the 3 years this surplus was accrued. 

The proposal to give rebates or refunds over the forthcoming year will give those driver's no opportunity to recover their overpayments.

To exacerbate the injustice of this, many of the recently retired have had to do this on medical grounds. That section of driver are rarely prepared for retirement and many live in penury. The funds available are rightfully theirs, not new applicants.

I would respectfully suggest that M.C.C reviews these unjust proposals.

Editorial Comment:
The United Taxi Group who, between them are alleged to represent over a third of the London Taxi Trade, did nothing when Taxi drivers were overcharged by TfL. The discrepancy took place when NSL took over from SGS. 

Surely the drivers are not responsible for TfL management's financial cockups.
Any shortfall should have been made up from bonuses paid to top bosses

The UTG, ever fearful of being excluded from an engagement policy, took as gospel TfL's excuse for the overcharge. Director of TPH John Mason said they had to make the higher charge for vehicle licences because, SGS had given up the contract early and although the new system under NSL was half the price of SGS, they had already budgeted for the year to the end of that financial period.

Also because the ranks budget wasn't used it would be halved for the following year.where did this money disappear to?

TfL should not be making a profit from drivers, as all money from licence fees is supposedly ring-fenced 
The UTG need to call in auditors and find out exactly where our supples is goining. 

Was it used to pay to bosses massive bonuses for 2012-2013?