Sunday, March 31, 2013

LONDON’S POLLUTION SOLUTION ?

London Mayor Boris Johnson has previously suggested some ‘out of the box ‘ ideas for various projects.

In 2008 the Mayors research confirmed that there were 4267 deaths in London each year caused by pollution.

Since then various strategies including the Low Emission Zone, Dust Suppressants and a Taxi Age Limit, have been tried but have failed to reduce the pollution in the capital.

The latest ‘pollution solution’ is to implement the use of pollution masks, widely seen on the streets of other heavily polluted capital cities like Beijing.

A spokesman said ‘’ Recent strategies have not been successful and the health costs caused by pollution in London are significant. If we can’t stop the pollution then the next best thing is to stop people breathing it.’’

The masks may be distributed free on buses and at tube and train stations for commuters to wear.
It may also be compulsory for transport workers, including bus and taxi drivers to wear the masks.

A spokesman for the London Campaign for Clean Air said ‘’ It is positive that all options are being considered, but we need to make sure that plenty of masks are available and also that masks are provided to the most vulnerable, like the elderly or kids going to school.’’

Cabbies Against Boris have said ‘’ London Taxi Drivers are furious at the prospect of a rule which forces them to wear these masks. Why are taxi drivers being targeted and not delivery drivers or traffic wardens?’’

Any measures which stop people breathing the toxic pollution must be a step in the right direction.


Source: with thanks to Dave Davies.

Cabbie inventor of bridge game to raise Tower Bridge

A taxi driver who lived next to Tower Bridge for 37 years and invented a board game about the London landmark is to be given the chance to raise the bridge.

Jim Walker, 54, from Bexley, south-east London, was inspired to design the game Bridge Up as he drove over the famous crossing one day.

He has been driving over it for 17 years, 20 to 30 times a week he said.

He called it "an honour" to have permission to raise the bridge.

'So chuffed'

His daughter Connie, 10, who played the prototype game with him, will help him press the button to lift the bascules at 15:30 BST.

They will make way for Sailing Barge Will, used for private charters.

Mr Walker, who has three children, grew up on the nearby Dickens Estate and said being allowed by the Corporation of London to raise the bridge was an honour.

He said: "I'm so chuffed. It's something I've always said I'd love to do."

He was told few members of the public get the chance to operate the bridge.

He came up with the idea for the game about two years ago and it is sold in the Tower Bridge gift shop.

Players answer questions about the bridge to collect lettered tokens and the winner is the first to race back to their dock and complete the words 'Bridge Up'.

Mr Walker said he has many fond memories of Tower Bridge and even remembers being able to smell the scent of cinnamon and pepper which came from the buildings once used in the spice trade.

As well as driving over the bridge countless times, he marched over it in a demonstration with printers as part of the Wapping dispute in the 1980s.

The landmark itself was opened in 1894, stands 61 meters high and is crossed by almost 40,000 people everyday.

Source: BBC news, ITV news


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Big Setback For the Nissan Taxi in New York.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Taxi and Limousine Commission has reversed itself, again, on hybrid cabs.

According to new, proposed rules issued today, cabbies will still be able to drive hybrid taxis on New York City streets, even after the Taxi of Tomorrow, which runs on an old-fashioned combustion engine, hits the road this Halloween.

"We’ve heard from some taxi operators that they’d like a hybrid option until the Taxi of Tomorrow is available as a hybrid, and these proposed rules enable that, while ensuring that any hybrid taxi is spacious enough to comfortably accommodate passengers and luggage," said TLC commissioner David Yassky, in a statement.

In 2005, comptroller John Liu and Yassky, then councilmembers, introduced legislation requiring that the city approve hybrid vehicles for use as taxicabs.

They succeeded.

Two years later, Yassky joined Bloomberg on the "Today" show, where the mayor announced that, "We’re gonna have all of our cabs be hybrid."

The target date for the transformation of the taxi fleet to all-hybrid vehicles was 2012.

Then an industry group representing wealthy taxi medallion owners put the kibosh on that initiative, when it argued successfully in court that only the federal government could institute fuel efficiency standards.

But even if the city could not mandate an all-hybrid taxi fleet, many medallion owners, recognizing the cost-saving benefits of fuel efficiency, moved in that direction on their own.

By September of last year, 6,500 cabs, or 49 percent of the city's fleet, were hybrid.

The Bloomberg administration, however, was at the same time charting a course away from the hybrid taxis it had once championed.

Last year, the city's taxi commission approved the Taxi of Tomorrow program, which starting on Halloween, will require that medallions owners buy only specially deisgned, Nissan NV200s for use as taxis.

Those NV200s have a lot going for them, as far as passenger and driver amenities are concerned, but they run on combustion engines, not hybrid ones.

Following a lawsuit by the Greater New York Taxi Association challenging the Taxi of Tomorrow program for, among other things, its omission of hybrid vehicles, the city is again changing course.

According to the proposed rules released today, medallion owners will now be able to choose between either an NV200 or a TLC-approved hybrid vehicle.

But only until Nissan comes up with a hybrid NV200 version of its own.

A hearing on the proposed rules will be held on May 16.

The rules, it should be noted, will also reduce the number of hybrid vehicle models for use as taxis, which Greater New York Taxi Association executive director Ethan Gerber said means that "virtually no hybrid models qualify."

"This is just a cynical and last ditch effort to bypass our law suit," Gerber emailed me. "It is not a serious proposal."

A Court Case Has Collapsed in Aylesbury Between AVDC and a Minicab Company.

A court case in which AVDC were trying to prosecute a minicab company has collapsed.

AVDC claimed that Call-a-Cab Limited were running minicabs even though they didn't have a licence to.

The company said they weren't a cab company, they were just an intermediary who spoke to customers and then tried to get them minicabs - depite the company's number being on the side of private hire vehicles.

Aylesbury Magistrates' Court was told that council officers had pre-booked journeys via a telephone number advertised by Call a Cab Ltd on its website, its cards and the doors of private hire vehicles. There was no contact between an officer and anyone, other than from Call a Cab Ltd, from the time a call was made until the vehicle arrived to collect them.

The magistrate has dismissed the case though because he wasn't convinced that AVDC had sent out the right paperwork when they took over licensing duty in 1989.

The case didn't actually rule on whether Call a Cab Ltd had been operating without a licence, and the council say they will appeal.

Councillor Judy Brandis, Chairman of the AVDC Licensing Committee, said:

"The council is very disappointed with this result and will be lodging an appeal. We firmly believe that the private hire controls were properly adopted in 1989. I must stress that the court's decision does not affect the council's ability to continue to enforce private hire controls in the interests of public safety and the public interest generally."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Mini cab driver jailed for fatal collision In Bloomsbury in 2011

A mini cab driver who hit and killed a motorcyclist after he drove through a red light in Bloomsbury in 2011 has been jailed.

Mr Muhibur Rahman, aged 51, (DOB 19/09/1959) of Malcolmson House, Aylesford Street, SW1 appeared on bail at Blackfriars Crown Court On Monday 11th March 2013 where he was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for causing the death of 52-year-old Mr Anthony McKeith by careless driving on 15th July 2011.

Rahman, who had pleaded guilty to the offence at the beginning of a scheduled trial at the court on 15 January, was also disqualified from driving for three years and will also be required to take an extended re-test.

The sentencing follows an investigation by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service's Road Death Investigation Unit (RDIU) for north-west London.

On 15 July 2011 police were called at approx. 21:15hrs to reports of a collision between a Yamaha motorcycle and a Toyota Previa in Tavistock Square, at the junction with Bedford Way WC1.

The motorcyclist - Mr Anthony McKeith, aged 52, of Huddlestone Road, London, E7 - received serious head injuries and was taken to the Royal London Hospital, but died in the early hours of the next day.

A post-mortem examination gave the cause of death was multiple injuries.

Rahman stopped at the scene but was not arrested at that time. After the initial investigation Rahman was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving on 22 September 2011 at Holborn Police Station. After interview Rahman was bailed pending further enquires.

Following over 12 months of investigation officers evidenced that Rahman had contravened a red traffic light at Tavistock Square WC1 causing the collision with Mr McKeith on his motorcycle that lead to his death, and charged him on 23 July 2012 with causing death by dangerous driving. Rahman was bailed to appear at Magistrates' Court the following month, 10 August 2012.

Rahman pleaded not guilty to this offence and a trial was set for 15 July 2013 but at the beginning of the trial he pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and the case was adjourned until 11 March when he was sentenced as above.

Detective Sergeant Chris Osborne, the senior investigation officer from the RDIU said:

"This is a tragic case for all involved. Vehicles jumping red lights have the potential to cause catastrophic collisions with other road users and devastate lives, as has happened to the McKeith family. The length of custodial sentence imposed to Mr Rahman should be a warning to all road users the seriousness and consequences of failing to stop at a red traffic signal."

Mr McKeith's sister Frances and wife Lynda released the following statement:

"Almost all of us who drive in London have benefited from the changes in traffic controls over the recent years, which have allowed traffic to run more smoothly and swiftly through our capital city. We must not forget however that these changes come at a cost, which some of us have had to pay because the changes in controls have not changed the behaviours of the majority of drivers. For us, the family and friends of Anthony (Tony) McKeith, we have paid the ultimate price - the loss of our husband, father, brother and friend. Tony was knocked down by a car which raced the lights and knocked him off his motorbike. He died the next day of his injuries. The driver was not a young man but an experienced road user who failed to take into account the changes in the timing of traffic light signals and it is this which killed Tony. There is now very little in the way of time-lag between the changing of the traffic lights at junctions. More now than ever Amber means stop, not stamp on the accelerator to get through before the lights change. Had the driver of the car in Tony's accident stopped, in recognition of the tiny margin for error now present, instead of trying to beat the lights, Tony would still be with us today. Instead, he is gone, killed needlessly, his wife left devastated and his little girl, just three months old when he died, growing up never knowing the wonderful man who was her father. She was two this weekend - and so like her dad.

"We, Tony's family and friends, want you to read this and remember it. Every time you come up to a set of changing lights, your decision at that point has the ability to take away a life. Do not let anyone else have to suffer what we have gone through. We will never recover from the consequences of that split second decision and it will remain with us throughout our lives. The man who knocked him off his motorbike is now serving a custodial sentence, his life and the life of his family will also never be the same again. Make sure that you never have to deal with any of this. Just stop."

Source Met Police

Thursday, March 28, 2013

2nd Taxi Trade Open Forum Announced:

Transport for London London Taxi and Private Hire
TPH Taxi Trade Open Forum Wednesday 24 April 2013


I am pleased to announce that the second forum for taxi drivers, proprietors and trade organisations will take place on Wednesday 24 April 2013 between 17:30 and 19:30 and the venue will be the Ground Floor Conference Room, Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NJ.

A panel consisting of key staff from TPH will be at the session and any taxi licensee or trade representative can attend to raise issues, questions and concerns they may have.
There will be space for approximately 50 attendees and attendance will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

To register your interest please email TPHTaxiForum@tfl.gov.uk quoting your name and badge number. If applicable, please let us know the name of the organisation you are representing. Attendance on behalf of an organisation is limited to 1 person only.

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday 24 April 2013.

John Mason


For previous Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph

New Centre Reservations At Swallow Street and Heddon Street:

Westminster council again have missed the perfect opportunity to deal with the serious problem of touting and illegally plying for hire in Regent Street.

The seriousness of this problem has recently been exposed by the recent court case, where a young lady was shown to a waiting minicab by a clipboard Johnny. The minicab contained a driver and his friend who took the young lady to the Paddington area, where she was the victim of a double rape. No action has been taken by the Police, Local Council or LTPH to remove this threat to public safety. The touts are there every night. Wardens refuse to move on or issue tickets saying the touts and their passengers get too violent.

Westminster have just had the perfect opportunity to put a part time licensed taxi rank outside the archway for three taxis, fed from a reader rank in the middle of Regent Street.
They could not argue that this would interfere with traffic as this space is occupied every night by touts illegally plying for hire.

The same arrangement could have been implemented at Heddon Street which is also a touting hot spot from where young people have been seriously assaulted after being touted.


Two Mercedes Touting outside Swallow Street at 10:30pm, one actually parked in the bus lane.



Heddon Street: Westminster have even left a break in the centre reservation to facilitate the touts who wish to U-turn to access the illegal minicab rank.



This traffic enforcement camera is turned away as the touts appear. It's as if an arrangement has been made not to issue the touts with tickets. How many Taxis have received tickets for stopping in the box junction while touts get a free pass?

TfL poor performance: Bullet Points Part 2...By Jim Thomas

Top story on Taxi Leaks so far this year has been;
Exclusive: Fraud Scandal At LTPH.


I recently attended a trade meeting where I heard the full story of a member of staff employed by LTPH, working at Palestra, who was dismissed for accepting cash for licence renewals.

A respected member of the RMT, was told by the LTPH employee at Palestra:
"There's a problem with your form. You can either fill it out again, but you won't be able to work until your cheque clears, or you can come to Palestra, meet me down stairs, pay cash and I'll give you your renewal and you can have your cheque back."
The driver not wanting to lose down time on his Taxi, paid cash but smelt a rat. He asked LTPH's employee for a receipt, but the gentleman told him they didn't give receipts and that his bill was proof he had paid the fee. Not satisfied, he went immediately to TfL's fraud department at Windsor House and reported the sequence of events.

The police were called in and the member of LTPH staff was dismissed and subsequently arrested.

We've also heard unconfirmed reports from other drivers who claim to have fallen victim to this employee's scam. It is alleged as many as 50 drivers may be involved in this issue.

Taxi leaks posted an article containing this story, but Director of LTPH John Mason in an email to his legal team complained the post was misleading and instructed his legal team to take action against the blog to get the article removed. He also threatened to contact Google UK to have the blog taken down.

The articled claimed: Allegations of breaches in security at LTPH have been followed by an arrest at Palestra.

John Mason, in an email to his legal team claimed:
"No arrest has been made of any individual at Palestra, there has been no breach of security, there is an allegation of fraud and an individual has been dismissed from TfL and is subject to Police action.

In our opinion, for this employee to find victims, he had to breach security by accessing data kept by LTPH in order to commit the alleged fraud. Plus emails have been sent to trade orgs confirming the arrested.

The article went on to say "Just another story in a long line of allegations of corruption, fraud and malfeasance."

Mason went on to say:
None of this is true and they should put up or shut up when making such allegations in print. Surely this is slander?"
(Slander John?)

Well John we think the statement made is very true, so again we're putting up.
There have been allegations of corruption as PH test roundels were issued to cars that had not been inspected as required. We also understand that two officials from SGS have been arrested in connection with this matter. We have asked for all vehicles, that were dealt with by the two officials, to be re-inspected to protect public safety. LTPH hasn't commented on this request.

Allegations of fraud committed by the employee stealing renewal fees has been confirmed by LTPH by the RMT.

The allegation of malfeasance concerns the issuing of 18 new 5 year licenses variations to a PH company who had only been registered as a PH company for 2 days.

Taxi Leaks' editorial team are now in possession of a copy of the email sent to trade Orgs which categorically states that a member of staff was arrested by police and has also been dismissed from his position at Palestra.



SO WHY THE ATTEMPT TO COVER THIS UP?


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Finding A Taxi To Rent Has Just Become Easier.

Over the last 15 months, the implementation of the Mayor's 15 year age limit, has seen over 4,500 older vehicles removed from the streets. This has put a tremendous strain on drivers wishing to hire a vehicle, especially part timers who only want to do a few shifts a week.

To ease the strain, a handy new website has been put together that puts drivers in touch with owner drivers and fleet owners with Taxis for rental.

Hire a cab right at your doorstep
www.RentMycab.co.uk introduces a new and unique way to rent a cab: The Cab Club

If you are looking to rent a cab, you could be renting your neighbour's cab, rather than one from a cab garage miles away. If you own a cab and work regular shifts , become a member of our Cab Club and make money from your cab being rented to other members of our Licensed Taxi community!

Feedback can be left to promote and further the trust between Cabbies

RentMyCab.co.uk is a new and innovative service for all London Cabbies. They harness the power of the Internet and use it to match owner drivers and renters.

Designed by a Cabbie for Cabbies, RentMyCab understand the needs of the Licensed Taxi trade.

As Licensed Taxi Drivers we are all individual small businesses, but share a mutual respect and affiliation that comes with completing the 'knowledge'. Drivers have many different work patterns, days, nights and weekends, part-time and full time. Some drivers even 'commute' from abroad every couple of weeks.

The more drivers that register, the bigger the list becomes, the easier it will be to find a vehicle that suits you.

Fleet cabs will also available on our site

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Star Letter

Last year I was the victim of robbery. After dropping 5 passengers to New Malden high st, 4 of them decided to run away whilst one simply walked away with an untouchable grin. Angered by this attitude, I took the liberty of following the latter guy whilst on the phone to the police. Being new to taxi driving, I'd received lots of advice regarding this situation from fellow drivers:

"Take it on the chin and forget about it"

"Just get back to the rank and make sure you don't lose any more money"

"It's part of the job, nothing can be done about it"

Not one driver, however, had ever advised me to ring the people of whom 3.5 billion pounds a year of taxpayers money is spent; the police service (RIP the police force, may you never be forgotten.) It is only today that I realised why this is the case.

After a one hour wait, the police eventually turn up and apprehend the gentleman (yes, i'm being ironic, he was anything but). At this point I inform the police that I had overheard them boasting of a mugging they had performed back in Epsom, and the police suddenly decide to take the case a little more serious. He is then arrested for evading paying the taxi fare and assault with intent to rob.

"Brilliant," I think to myself, "justice has been served and all Conservative promises about fighting back against crime have come true." I should have realised my mistake at the time, using the name of a political party and the word promise in the same sentence rarely has anything but negative connotations.

13 months later, having heard nothing about the case again, I request a call back. 4 hours later I receive a voicemail from CID, informing me that several months ago the defendant pleaded guilty to evading a £25 fare in court, and had been ordered to pay me a total of 24 pence compensation. Having decided that the original taxi fare, the 4 hours spent giving a statement plus an upcoming witness appearance regarding the assault in Epsom was only worth 24 pence, they hadn't even had the decency to tell me about it.

So there you have it, the British criminal justice system in all it's glory:

The police have an easily solved crime to add to their statistics

The offender gets a £25 taxi ride for 24 pence

The taxi driver gets 24 pence for losing a Saturday night's work

And that just about sums up British government for the last two decades. If you abide by the law, work hard, pay your taxes and do the decent thing, you always lose...


Thanks for reading

Mark.

Below: Epsom taxi driver Mark Salter was awarded just 24p compensation for helping to catch the man who walked off without paying his cab fare

Monday, March 25, 2013

TfL poor performance: Bullet Points Part 1...By Jim Thomas

CASE 1.


In 2012 the old Rides 2 Private Hire company went into liquidation under the directorship of 45 year old Vijay Khakhria. The Company traded from a registered company address in Wood Green.

Director Summary

Vijay Khakhria has 8 current or previous company director or secretary appointments.

Short name - Vijay Khakhria
Director ID : 915247021
Year of Birth: 1968

Address

Xxxx xxxxxxxx
St Aubin's High St
St Brelade
Jersey
Channel Islands
JE3 8BZ



Company Summary

Company Name Company Status
ENIGMA INDUSTRIAL SECURITY LIMITED Active (Director Resigned 05/03/2010)
RIDE 2 LTD In Liquidation
RIDE 2 LTD In Liquidation
FABRIC 591 LTD In Liquidation (Director Resigned 05/03/2010)
MATTER LONDON LIMITED Dissolved (Director Resigned 05/03/2010)
BERONFLEET LIMITED Dissolved (Director Resigned 05/03/2010)
FABRIC 592 LIMITED Dissolved (Director Resigned 27/01/2006)
AWELL LTD Dissolved (Director Resigned 22/02/2005)


So basically, the Ride 2 Ltd company is in liquidation:

*****************************************************************


CASE 2.



In 2012 a new company RD2.com was registered under the directorship of 76 year old Vrajlal Karsandas Khakhria. The company trades from an address in St John Street EC1

Director Summary

Vrajlal Karsandas Khakhria has 6 current or previous company director or secretary appointments.

Short name - Vrajlal Khakhria
Director ID : 903232524
Year of Birth: 1937

Address

xxxxx
St John Street
London
England
EC1V 4PW



Company Summary

Company Name Company Status
RD2.COM LTD Active
RSSB SOUTHALL LIMITED Active (Company Secretary Resigned 23/10/1998)
RSSB SOUTHALL LIMITED Active (Director Resigned 23/10/1998)
BETTAPRINT LIMITED Dissolved
TIMETELL LIMITED Dissolved
TIMETELL LIMITED Dissolved

So, basically, this is a new company. As a new company, it is subject to the rules as laid down by TfLTPH.
*****************************************************************


09/07/2012, the first company Rides 2 were issued 19 new satellite office licenses even though they are in liquidation.

09/07/2012, the second company RD2.com were issued with 18 new satellite office licenses even though the company only first register as a company, 2 days previous to the issue of the new licenses.


After making queries to TfLTPH, deputy director Helen Chapman confirmed by email on 05/10/2012:
"You are correct that it is now our policy that operators must have been licensed as a standard operator for at least one year before we will consider a variation to operate from a late night venue."

She then went on to justify the issue of new licenses to the new company by stating:
In this specific case the company name had changed but the director had been associated with the same business for a considerable period longer than a year.

This second statement from Ms Chapman is wrong. While we can see the surname name of the directors of both companies are the same, they have different first names(s), home addresses, different dates of birth, different director IDs and appear on close inspection to be two different people. This matter hasn't been investigated fully!

Director of LTPH John Mason in an email to his legal dept dated 01/03/2013 stated:
"This is misleading and was a transfer of licenses from one company to a new one"

Surely if the licenses were just a transfer they would have already existed and would have been dated prior to the formation of the new company. The Licenses, all new, run for a full term of 5 years and were issued just 2 days after the registration of the company. Also, in his email, Director Mason admits this is a "new company".
If I sold my car with nine months left on the road fund license, the RFL Tax disc automatically transfers to the new owner (unless I return for a refund). The DVLA do not issue a new license for a full term of a year.

I have made a number of complaints regarding this issue to TfLTPH and only ever received one reply, that from Helen Chapman, which was received personally by myself. John Mason's email was sent to his legal team and I was sarcastically copied in. After sending the email, Mason had a change of mind and twice tried to reclaim the mail, which failed.

*****************************************************************


In summation:
A new company has been issued with 18 new licenses just 2 days after first registering as a new company contra to TfLTPH rules. Also a company that is in liquidation has been issued with 19 new licenses. Director of LTPH (at the time of issue) John Mason says, This is misleading and was a transfer of licenses from one company to a new one!
As the licenses were issued as new, we would contend that this is not just a transfer of licenses but the issuing of new licenses, to a brand new company.

Question: Why have LTPH issued 19 new licenses to a company that went into Liquidation in 2012, running a full term of 5 years, from July 2012 to July 2017?
Question: If this company is no longer trading, why are these licenses still showing on the LTPH Private Hire check site?
Question: Why did LTPH issue 18 new licenses to a brand new company with a new name, new registered address, new company director, just 2 days after the formation of this new company, in contravention to TfLTPH's own rules which state: A PH company must be trading for a minimum of one year before new satellite office variations can be issued?

THIS MATTER IS MISLEADING IN MANY WAY AND NEEDS TO BE FULLY AUDITED BY THE GLA.
We should then be given a full explanation of exactly what has occurred in this case.
We are entitled to the truth. The sums do not add up on this one.


Source:
http://company-director-check.co.uk/director/903232524

http://company-director-check.co.uk/director/917046143

http://company-director-check.co.uk/director/915247021

http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/vijay-khakhria/4b/69/a07

https://www.duedil.com/director/915247021/vijay-khakhria


http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/businessandpartners/taxisandprivatehire/ph/licensing/default.asp?formname=ops&mode=operators&borough=any&company=RD2.com&licenceID=&search=Search





Kids Used By Council To Spy On Minicabs and Taxis In Sex-Scandal Crackdown


The teenagers are looking for ‘inappropriate behaviour,’ as part of a crackdown by Rochdale council after the conviction of nine men last year for offences such as rape and sexual activity with a child

Teenagers are being asked to spy on PH minicab and Taxi drivers in Rochdale in a bid to avoid a repeat of the child sex ring scandal.
Rochdale sex gang Clockwise from top left: Abdul Rauf, Abdul Aziz, Girl E, Mohammed Amin, Abdul Qayyum, Adil Khan, Mohammed Sajid, Hamid Safi, Kabeer Hassan

The young ‘mystery shoppers’ are being asked by council officials to take minicab and Taxi rides – in a bid to root out ‘inappropriate behaviour’ by potential sex abuser private hire drivers. It is part of a crackdown by Rochdale council on PH minicab, Taxi drivers and takeaway workers in the town following the conviction of nine men last year for offences including rape and sexual activity with a child.
Two of the nine men convicted of exploiting girls as young as 13 – often plying them with drink and drugs before passing them round for sex – were Private Hire drivers, while another two worked in a takeaway.

It is understood that licensing officials have been recruiting the teenagers from outside Rochdale – in a bid to ensure there are no recriminations for their participation in the scheme.
The council stresses that the checks are not aimed at ‘entrapping’ cabbies but are to ensure they are complying with their licences – for example by displaying their badges clearly.
Similar checks using teenagers are carried out at off-licences and newsagents that sell cigarettes to combat sales to under-age children.

But the youngsters are also being asked to listen out for any ‘inappropriate behaviour or language’ used by Cabbies and take-away workers – who could have their licences taken away and be reported to the police if they show predatory behaviour.
The intelligence-gathering youngsters will pass on any concerns to the licensing authority who will work with the police on any further action.

A report into failings at Rochdale council’s children’s department – whose chief executive has already resigned – is expected shortly after Easter.

The town hall says that many improvements have already been put in place – and that they are even giving advice to other councils about keeping kids safe.
Town halls including Oxford – where a child sex ring was exposed last year – are believed to be among those to have sought guidance.

Rochdale council leader Colin Lambert said: “All aspects of the safety of adults and children will be explored within the borough and that includes ensuring the safety of those who use private hire or licensed taxis, food outlets or other premises.

“Where we have evidence of inappropriate behaviour we will act on it. And it is essential that badges are displayed at all times – there is no excuse.

“Rochdale has been at the forefront of rooting out abuse and exploitation of children and of course we have shared that good practice with other bodies. Everyone from the deputy children’s commissioner down has said this is not just a Rochdale issue, but a national issue.”

source: Manchester Evening News

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Forced to urinate in street? Westminster toilets contract row continues

The ‘West End Extra’ continues its coverage of the Westminster toilets scandal;

“PUBLIC toilets have been closed across Westminster leading to people urinating in the street while a dispute between the council and a company owned by Tory party donor Lord Ashcroft continues.

The West End Extra understands the council is planning to bring in temporary toilets until a legal row with its private contractor is resolved.

The city council privatised its public toilets last year, contracting Carlisle Cleaning Services with a 10-year deal.
The council said it was “expecting the company to abide by the terms of its lease” but a Carlisle spokesman said the toilets were open “during the agreed hours”.

The gates of four public toilets were locked shut when the West End Extra visited on Monday and Tuesday and park regulars said some have been closed for weeks.

Lydia Manda, who runs a café next to the St John’s Wood Gardens park, said:

“It’s disgusting, it stinks. People are going behind the toilets and there’s the smell of urine there now. There’s a playground just behind, the kids are playing and there’s human urine, it’s unhygienic. People in the park are so angry, but they can’t do anything about it.”

In January last year, the council announced its contract with Carlisle would include “at least 50 per cent of the sites being free for all users” and would “safeguard” public toilets from closure.

Carlisle is part of the Impellam Group owned by the billionaire and former Conservative Party treasurer Lord Ashcroft.

Zbigniew Palgan, who lives in Luxborough Tower overlooking Paddington Street Gardens, where the toilets have also closed, said:

“They need to be open, otherwise people will go in the park. There are many workers, taxi drivers, people who are passing by and many people bring their kids to the park so we’d like to see it reopen.”

A park warden, who did not wish to be named, said he had seen people urinating in the bushes since the toilet closed around three weeks ago.

He added: “They’ve closed down – they’re no more. In Baker Street, you have to pay 50p.”

Ed Argar, Westminster Council’s cabinet member for city management, said:

“Our main priority is to ensure that public loos are kept open across the city. To protect the interest of council taxpayers we expect Carlisle to abide by the terms of their lease.The dispute between the city council and Carlisle regarding the lease of the city’s loos, a lease they signed in 2012, is now in the hands of the council’s lawyers who are working hard to resolve the issue as swiftly as the legal process allows.”

Paul Dimoldenberg, Labour group leader, said:

“We call on Westminster Council to bring these toilets back in to public control urgently so that residents, visitors, shoppers, tourists and cab drivers can get their free public toilets service back.”

The West End Extra found that public toilets were closed at Paddington Street Gardens on Monday at 1pm and Tuesday at 2pm. St John’s Wood Church Gardens was found to be closed on Tuesday at 3pm. James Street and Broadwick Street were also found to be closed at 1pm on Monday. Toilets were reportedly closed at Church Street and Westbourne Grove.

A statement from the company said: “Claims in the press that Carlisle Support Services has been closing public conveniences as a part a dispute with West-minster City Council are completely false. Toilets are open during the agreed opening hours.
“For operational reason, there are times when some locations are closed for short periods. Two other locations are currently closed; one following vandalism, and one by a water leak. Both of these will reopen as soon as remedial work is completed.”

Carlisle did not respond to a request to clarify “the agreed opening hours” and the two locations that are closed for maintenance

Source: West End Extra.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Cabbies Cabinet Idea Scrapped.....there's a surprise.

London Taxi Drivers
‘Cabbies Cabinet’
Further to TPH Notice 25/12 this notice provides an update to taxi drivers and
driver associations with the outcome of the engagement held late last year with
taxi drivers regarding the Mayor’s proposed “Cabbies Cabinet”.

In November 2012 Leon Daniels, Managing Director Surface Transport wrote
to every licensed taxi driver outlining the commitments made by the Mayor in
his manifesto including the proposal to set up a “Cabbies Cabinet”.

A total of 215 responses were received (less than 1% of all drivers) to this
letter with many positive comments and constructive ideas as to a possible
constitution and role of the Cabinet. Suggestions as to who should sit on the
Cabinet were varied and mixed with some suggesting that more driver
associations who currently do not meet with the Mayor should be invited while
others suggested that the existing arrangements were sufficient.

All the responses from drivers regarding the Cabbies Cabinet were considered
carefully by the Mayor and TfL. Given the very small response from drivers on
this issue, the Mayor feels that there is not a significant consensus across the
table on the formation of a larger representative body and that the
arrangements already in place are serving the needs of taxi drivers and the taxi
trade as a whole. TfL will therefore continue to meet with representatives from
LTDA, Unite and LCDC on a formal, regular basis and TfL will continue to liaise
and meet with all driver groups, associations and representatives as required.

However TfL will continue to hold regular “Open Forums” for all driver groups,
individual drivers and trade stakeholders providing anyone involved in the taxi
trade the opportunity to meet with TfL to raise and discuss key issues on a
regular basis.

John Mason
22 March 2013 Director Taxi and Private Hire
For previous TPH Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph

Free WiFi brought to London Taxis

A free WiFi platform has been launched using Vodafone's machine-to-machine mobile network. Microsoft has sponsored 225 London Taxis with free WiFi as part of a wider roll-out to the public.

Taxi advertising specialist Ubiquitous and technology supplier Track4Services have launched the CabConnect platform via Vodafone's machine-to-machine (M2M) mobile network.

Microsoft is CabConnect’s launch customer, bringing free WiFi to London Taxi passengers from this month via a network of 225 branded cabs. The three-month WiFi sponsorship initiative is part of a wider campaign that aims to showcase the benefits of Microsoft’s business solutions.

The onboard Taxi wireless network will enable passengers to access the Microsoft for Business mobile hub via their smartphones or other mobile devices, as well as the wider web while travelling.

Transport for London approved plans to install free WiFi into Hackney Carriages in December 2012. This is the first time that a Taxi advertising campaign has included branded WiFi with an interactive advertiser hub.

Philippa Snare, chief marketing officer at Microsoft, said, "Offering free WiFi during a Taxi journey means there’s an opportunity for passengers to explore our mobile hub, which is full of information that could be useful to their everyday tasks."

Source: Computer World UK.

Exclusive: Driver Robbed By Men With Shotgun.

Reports have been received of an incident that took place, late on Wednesday night.
A licensed Taxi driver was robbed at gunpoint in the Westbourne Park area.

The driver had picked up two men in the Earle's Court area, who asked him to drive them to Westbourne Park. He was directed to the estate close to the Cow public house. At the drop off point a sawn off shot gun was produced by one of the men and the driver was ordered out of his cab. The second man then searched the drivers compartment and took items including money, phone and cab keys.

The two men then threatened the driver not to follow and made off further into the estate. The Driver flagged down a passing cab and the police were called.
The police have impounded the cab for forensic examination as one of the robbers had been in the front compartment. The driver, after giving a statement was left to make his own way home.

This is all the information we have at the moment. More news as it comes in.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Licence for online alcohol sales supplied direct from mini-cab premises refused.

Westminster Council has refused an application for a licence to sell alcohol from the rear of a mini-cab office in Riding House Street. The Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association and local residents had made objections to the application.

The licensing sub-committee of 14 March heard that the applicant, who did not attend the hearing, wanted a licence to sell alcohol over the internet with the drinks distributed from the premises using cars and scooters but customers would not be allowed to visit the premises. The committee also heard that the mini-cab office was operating without planning permission.

Miss Aroush Amin applied to sell alcohol 24 hours a day and seven days a week at Call for Drinks, 35 Riding House Street. In support of the application she submitted a photograph and drawing of the mini-cab office operated by Pinnacle Cars. However, planning permission for the mini-cab office had been refused by Westminster Council in December 2012. Westminster’s planning website states that an appeal has been lodged against the decision.

Prior to the hearing, the applicant amended the hours for deliveries of alcohol from a 24 hour a day operation to Monday to Saturday (08:00 to 23.00 hours) and Sundays (10:00 to 22:30 hours).
Richard Brown a solicitor from Westminster Citizens Advice Bureau attended the hearing on behalf of the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association. Mr Brown asked the licensing sub-committee to refuse the application to prevent public nuisance from delivery vehicles and to protect children from harm as there was no age verification procedure in place to prevent alcohol being bought by people under the age of 18 years.

Westminster Council’s licensing news of 15 March 2013 reported:
The Sub-Committee refused the application, taking into account the significant concerns of Environmental Health, Metropolitan Police and local residents. In particular there were doubts as to whether conditions could be attached to the licence which would address the problems of noise nuisance, particularly in respect of the vehicles being used. It would be difficult to enforce when the cars left the premises. The Applicant had also not set out what procedures would be put in place to verify the age of those consuming the alcohol as it could potentially be delivered to a child under 18 in the event an adult had ordered it from a specific address.

source: http://news.fitzrovia.org.uk/


New Tougher MoT From Today

If you thought you were in for an easy time under the new system of 2 MoTs and a safety check, think again.

Defective warning lights and faulty car seats could see thousands of motorists failing their MoT test when strict new rules come into force tomorrow.

The changes, which will bring Britain into line with the rest of the EU, reflect the increasing sophistication of modern cars.

But, the AA warned, it could lead to motorists facing hefty bills to comply with the new rules.

“If you’ve been happily ignoring a warning light because it’s not part of the MOT, these changes mean your car could now be on the MOT scrap heap or you’ll need to fork out on expensive repairs,” said Andy Smith, the AA’s patrolman of the year.

“While it could have expensive consequences for someone running an old car on a tight budget, these changes are long overdue as airbags, for example, have been widely fitted since the mid-nineties.

“It’s important that these systems remain safe and effective throughout the life of the vehicle.

A typical modern car has 40 or more computers and a level of technical sophistication a world away from that seen in the early 1990s when the MOT test last underwent a major revision. These

changes are important and help bring the MOT test in line with 21st century car technology.”

Other key changes will include testing whether an array of dashboard lights are working properly, including seat belts, brake fluid and headlights.

Tyre pressure monitoring systems, which became compulsory on all new cars from January 2012, will also be checked.

Car seats must be able to move forward and backwards, to ensure that drivers can reach the pedals.

The electric motor fitted to many seats in modern cars will also be checked separately.

Car doors will have to open and close properly. The warning light, which warns that they have not been fully shut, will also be checked.

Other additional items subject to the tougher testing regime include airbags, electronic stability controls, the speedometer and the catalytic converter.

However the testing interval will remain unchanged with the Government resisting EU proposals to delay the first inspection by 12 month to four years after the first registration.

Subsequent inspections will take place every year rather than after 24 months, as takes place in many other parts of the EU.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Drivers Complain About New Licensing System And TPH Overcharging Drivers.

Initially, the new system of Taxi inspections carried out by NSL got the thumbs up from the first few drivers in the opening days of operation. But it didn't take too long before the true picture became clearer and now the cracks are beginning to show.

Examiners who seem unsure of exactly what they should and shouldn't be inspecting, have led to some drivers demanding answers from LTPH. What's the point in having an MoT when, whole aspects of the MoT are again examined by the NSL inspectors. This is also causing delays to other drivers waiting in the system. Reports of unacceptable waiting times of up to 90 minutes, as inspections overrun.

Last week, a driver tweeted that his Taxi received a stop, because the drivers compartment was judged to be not clean enough, to be fit for service.

A second driver phoned to ask why he hadn't received a reminder for relicensing and was told "We don't send out reminders anymore, you just phone up and book your appointment. Most drivers will be completely unaware of this new arrangement and many are not in possession of NSLs booking line number.

Another driver who called to book an appointment for April, was informed he would have to pay the full amount of £154. When he said that the price for an appointed is quoted as £102 from 1st April, he was told "It's still March and your paying now and at this moment, the price is still £154."

This overcharge is unacceptable.
How are they allowed to get away with it? This is like advertising on the side of your Taxi, "Heathrow Airport for £20" and when you get there, telling the customer, "The offer doesn't start till next week!"

Legally a licensing authority or Council, can only charge for the true cost of licensing. It cannot make a profit from license fees or add the cost of enforcement. Enforcement is funded by direct taxation. This was made clear in the recent case between Westminster Council and a well known sex shop group. In our opinion, to charge £154 for the new inspection is unlawful as the true cost is shown to be £102. TfL/LTPH have had plenty of time to set up the running of the new inspection centres and again, It's been a complete mess. So who's to blame?


By the end of March, over 2000 Taxi owners will have been overcharged. This amounts to over £100k and with Private hire also be overcharged, you can see why LTPH is keen to hang on to the money. The Private Hire trade have instigated a full audit and review of LTPH.

As far as we know, only the RMT and the UCG have made representation to demand refunds for their members. The UTG have said nothing publicly. Not only have they said nothing, the agreed to a below inflation fare rise which will see a drop in the living standards of over 20 thousand Taxi drivers.

TfL seem to be unable to recruit the quality of staff required to manage both private hire and London's Licensed Taxi trades. Whoever had the job to implement the services of NSL as their remit, has failed miserably. Just as London's Taxi drivers were sidelined by TfL during the Olympics, again we have been treated with scant disregard.

Article by, Jim Thomas





Monday, March 18, 2013

Manchester Show The Way: London Should Be Next: Long Live The Revolution

Hundreds of Hackney Carriage drivers converged in Manchester City centre today in protest amid claims minicabs are illegally taking work
They staged a go-slow protest as they headed in convoy from Manchester airport to Albert Square ahead of a council licensing committee meeting this morning
The drivers claim minicabs have been illegally picking up passengers on the city’s streets without bookings being made in advance.


Gholam Mustapha, the drivers’ spokesman, called on Manchester council to take action.
He said: “Private hire cars can only accept fares that are pre-booked through their office. When they pick up passengers off the street, they commit offences formally known as illegal plying for hire and touting and it means that the driver’s insurance is invalid.
“We want the council officers to do regular undercover ‘test purchase’ operations to check if private hire drivers are illegally plying for hire. Such operations are regularly undertaken in Birmingham, Liverpool and Stockport.”

Gholam Mustapha’s words to Manchester City Council
Madam Chairman, Councillors, ladies and gentlemen, and colleagues.
My name is Gholam Mustapha, I have been a taxi driver for 35 years, I am the secretary of the Airport Taxi Association but today also have the full support of the trade unions, and taxi associations.

Due to time considerations I have condensed my speech but have compiled folders to read at your leisure. I respectfully request that you do as they contain the full speech and other materials which support my case.

I will speak on two issues, both of great concern to all taxi drivers in Manchester – as demonstrated by the numbers here today, they are the high level of illegal plying for hire or pirating, and allowing Private Hire to falsely advertise themselves as taxis.
These issues have contributed to a significant reduced income for all taxi drivers.

Why should you be concerned with taxi drivers’ earnings?
Academic papers on the subject quote many reasons, I will pick one, less takings lead to longer working hours causing driver fatigue, this is a real risk as tragically demonstrated in the Selby rail crash which caused 10 deaths.


On the first issue, the enforcement of plying for hire is woefully inadequate
17 years ago Rachel Thacker was brutally raped and murdered by a bogus private hire driver, the then Manchester City Council spokesman said that they valued public safety very highly and would leave no stone unturned to ensure that this would never happen again.

Well since the murder of Rachel Thacker, the amount of pirating that goes on has increased considerably it would seem that to simply warning people of the dangers involved in getting into unbooked vehicles and enforcement officers observing in the hope of catching an offender do not discourage this and are time and cost consuming and lead to appeals in Court.

We are told by licensing that PH drivers waiting outside clubs are not necessarily committing an offence; it is their intentions that matter. Why not test those intentions?

A private hire car or an unlicensed car that is sat outside a club and when approached tells the customer that she has to phone “his company on this number first” to book, then immediately says “right I can take you now” is no safer than no booking at all.

Who is to say that the driver works for that particular company at all?
He could be a criminal intent on rape or robbery.
Like Amine Kacem who disguised his car as a private hire car with yellow stickers, parked outside a club on Sackville Street and brutally assaulted and twice raped the woman who got into the car.

There has not been a test purchase operation since the murder of Rachel Thacker, yet a FOI request showed that GMP recorded 109 sexual assaults with a “taxi” connection, Merseyside police recorded only 22. Of the core cities Liverpool has the highest number of prosecutions for plying for hire, due to a monthly test purchase operation, the figures suggest a correlation between an effective enforcement deterrent and the number of sexual crimes reported.

It is common knowledge that when sexual assaults do happen, it is when a woman has got into a car without a booking, most of these attacks are by licensed drivers.

When challenged on pirating by taxi drivers, private hire drivers can resort to violence. Recently a taxi driver was hit with a hammer by a PH driver, he was very lucky not to have been killed
A licensing officer said that when they had been out checking on cars waiting outside city centre bars, all appeared to have a booking on the data head. It didn’t seem to occur that the bookings might be bogus.

When I was on private hire, 32 years ago, the radio operator would often tell the drivers to go and park outside clubs and he would put bogus bookings down for them.

How can I be 100% sure that illegal plying for hire is so rife?
Well we have all done 2 cab jobs with unbooked PH cars.
An individual who is prepared to commit the criminal offence of plying for hire is not a law-abiding citizen and may well be prepared to commit serious crimes if opportunities arise. He is fully aware that there is no record of a booking and is unlikely to be traced especially if the passenger is under the influence of drink or drugs

We request test purchase operations by the licensing unit, these are cost effective use of resources as used by many Councils, Birmingham a comparable city recorded 14 times as many convictions as Manchester, many of these were achieved using the Nottingham vs. Woodings approach meaning that officers did not even have to undertake a journey, they asked only two questions of the driver “are you free?” and how much to..?”

My second point is about the Terms and Conditions for Private Hire Operators
Section 19B states
Advertising other than on private hire vehicles – no notice, sign or advertisement seeking to advertise or promote the business of a private hire operator wherever it is displayed shall consist of or include the words taxi or cab, whether in the singular or plural, or any words or devices which give any indication that the service to which the notice, sign or advertisement relates is that which can only be provided by a licensed hackney carriage……….. Unless the words private hire are also displayed with equal prominence.

The last line seem to have been added to the sentence and changes the whole meaning to suggest that a private hire operator may falsely imply that he is offering the services of a hackney carriage as long as he has the words private hire displayed in equal prominence.
It also means that private hire vehicles are not allowed to call themselves taxi’s but, the operators can say that they provide a “taxi” service. Where is the sense in that?

This is a particular problem at Manchester airport where the operator’s office is strategically placed adjacent to the taxi rank and is emblazoned with the words “TAXI PRIVATE HIRE PAY HERE” in a deliberate ploy to mislead customers, many of them foreign visitors, to believe that they have to pay at this office for the British iconic black cabs they can see and want to hire, the operator of course does not inform them of the true situation in fact he offers no refunds without the customer writing to head office.

Passengers have actually paid Arrow cars and then got into a black cab only to produce the receipt at the end of the journey; this shows that the passengers are confused by the signage. If it is the intention to offer a private hire alternative to a taxi, the definition of which I am about to come to, then why not make that difference absolutely clear .

What is a taxi?
I have a letter from The Department for Transport . Paragraph 4 reads “your subsequent e-mail asked for the legal definition of a “taxi”……“A taxi is a vehicle licensed under Section 37 Of The Town Police Clauses Act 1847….” This is a hackney carriage Act, so “a taxi is a hackney carriage”.

The Miscellaneous Provisions Act defines a private hire vehicle as “a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a hackney carriage”
Substituting the word taxi for hackney carriage it becomes clear that a private hire vehicle is;
“A motor vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a taxi”
Therefore there cannot be a “private hire taxi” or a “taxi private hire”.

Mr. James Button licensing solicitor agrees in this book that taxi is not a generic word as this legal definition of taxi has been consistently used in every Act since the 1980 Road Transport Act.

It is clearly the wish of parliament (and of Manchester City Council) that there be a distinction between hackney carriages and private hire vehicles and it has become customary in statutes, among government departments, and on the council’s own website, to refer to hackney carriages as taxis; this corresponds to the international usage of the word “taxi” to refer to a vehicle that is available for public hire.

In summary the trade requests just two things today; that the licensing unit carry out regular test purchase plying for hire operations and that the words “unless the words private hire are also displayed with equal prominence.” are removed from Section 19b we respectfully ask that you consider these two points as a matter of urgency.

I invite all of you to come with me on a tour to see for yourselves what is actually going on and how the taxi drivers of Manchester are willing to work with the city council to achieve a safer city and I would be happy to report back any changes after 6 months or so.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New Mode Of Touting and Possible Fake Taxis Operating In North London

it has been alleged that a number of black cab drivers (apparently Licensed Taxis) are using the business cards and services of a minicab firm in North London
This really is a weird one.

1st Report: A couple walking along Camden High Street, were approached by what appeared to be a genuine Taxi. Passengers asks to be taken to Greenwich. The drivers says "I can't do the job myself but phone this number and my friend will. With that he handed the man a card issued by a minicab firm based in Seven Sisters Road, N7. They phone the number on the card and a voice on the line agrees a price of £45. Within minutes, another black cab turns up stating that there had been a mix up with the agreed fare. This had suddenly increased to £60 with £50 to be paid up front. The potential passengers refused and flagged down a passing Taxi.

2nd Report: We have also heard from a member of the public who, along with his friend, approached what appeared to be a genuine Taxi driver outside the Bronze Age Bar in the Kilburn High Road. This time the driver told the couple wait in his Taxi while he arranged for them to be picked up by friend, but this time a minicab turned up. The couple were too frightened to refuse. We have now advised the passengers on how to complain using the TfL website.

The Taxi driver in both these cases, was of a Turkish appearance and speaks English with a strong accent.

It is not known if this driver/drivers, are real licensed Taxi drivers or just part of a growing number of fake Taxi drivers in possession of fake/cloned documents driving cheap 15 year old vehicles. Excellent quality cloned Licenses and IDs have appeared on the black market and are openly being offered to certain drivers by word of mouth. LTPH and the Met know about the forgeries but have no idea just how big the problem is.

The problem of fake Taxi drivers is set to get a lot worse
Large numbers of cheap FX4s and TX1s are about to come onto the private market, in line with the Mayors 15 year Age limit on Taxis. This is a problem that could have been easily dissipated, had the Mayor kept his word and introduced a scrapage scheme for vehicles that reach the end of there service life.
But again, money seems to be more important than the publics safety.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

Unlicensed minicab driver loses license.

Illegal cabbie is fined £320 after picking up passengers in Tottenham Court Road
Published: 15 March, 2013

A CAR mechanic from Islington was fined £320 and disqualified from driving after illegally acting as a minicab driver without insurance for the fourth time. Samuel Ntim-Addae, 47, was pulled over by police in Hampstead on February 21 after picking up passengers in Tottenham Court Road. The Upper Holloway father-of-three was fined and disqualified for 56 days at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty on Tuesday. He had previous convictions from 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Source Islington Tribune.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Update on temporary measures implemented to assist driver during The London Taxi Company administration process

TPH NOTICE 12/13.

This Notice is issued to update the taxi trade on measures taken by TfL to
assist those drivers and garages adversely impacted by the London Taxi
Company entering administration.

The London Taxi Company exited administration on 1 February 2013 when
Chinese automobile manufacturer Geely acquired the business and the
principal assets of Manganese Bronze Holdings.

TfL have been in discussions with the new management of the London Taxi
Company and they are back in operation in London from their Brewery Road
site.

LTC have informed TfL that they have been actively taking order for new and
used taxis and they have good levels of stock available to drivers.
During the administration period TfL took steps to assist drivers and garages
including:

Allowing Euro 4 taxis to be licensed for up to 5 years where as the
minimum emissions standard for taxis new to licence is Euro 5
Issuing some temporary licences to taxis impacted by the 15 year age
limit which expired on 14 March 2013

Given the positive trading situation with London Taxi Company and the on
going availability of new and used Mercedes via KPM with immediate effect TfL
will not be issuing any further temporary licences or extensions to existing
licences for taxis over 15 years old and will no longer accept any taxis new to
licensing unless they meet Euro 5 standard.

John Mason
15 March 2013 London Taxi and Private Hire
For previous Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph

ComCab London Release New Taxi App for iPhone

London’s largest licensed taxi fleet is now available to the consumer market through the ComCab taxi booking App which was released on 11 March 2013.

The App is available for free in the App store and allows for immediate access to safe and reliable taxis anywhere in London (including all of the suburban boroughs) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The new App allows customers to track their taxi on a map displayed on their phone, as well as provide an estimated arrival time.

The App is available on all iOS 5 and iOS 6 operating systems which means the ComCab App is available for download on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

The ComCab London App will launch on most other mobile platforms within the next few months.

The ComCab App is unique in that you do not need to register to make a booking, and the Quick Book function allows for quick and easy ASAP taxi requests.

However, more regular taxi bookers can register a credit card for simple,
convenient and secure payment of their cab fares.

All ComCab taxis feature in-vehicle Chip & Pin credit card facilities which also accept the latest ‘Tap & Go’ contactless cards.

All ComCab taxi fares are regulated by Transport for London.

The App also features a ‘Favourites’ facility to save your most popular pick up and destination points and allows simple re-booking of recent trips.

The ComCab fleet exists in all 33 London boroughs, so for once this is a taxi App that services more than just Central London. Unlike other taxi Apps that take a cut of the driver’s fare, ComCab can provide a more assured service as all of the passenger’s fare goes directly to the driver, meaning the taxi drivers provide a more robust service.

The App will be heavily promoted through social media sites such as such as Facebook for regular competitions and Twitter for information updates such as travel news and latest offers.

About the company:
ComCab was founded in London in 1974 and became part of the ComfortDelGro Corporation in 1997.

Its award winning service has seen ComCab secure the London Transport Award twice and the SCOPE Platinum Access Equality Award, in recognition of its highly accessible transport facilities.

It was the first taxi company to attain ISO14001 environmental certification and has secured the prestigious Sunday Times Best Green Companies Award three years running.

For further information please visit - http://www.comcablondon.co.uk/app/ or https://www.facebook.com/ComCabLondon

Law officials in £1m taxis con face jail

TWO crooked Crown Prosecution Service officials who fiddled £1 million in a bogus taxi fraud have only £1,400 left in the bank, it was revealed yesterday.

Lisa Burrows and Tahir Mahmood are facing lengthy jail sentences after inventing a cab firm called “B&M Taxis” to plunder the public purse for five years. (correct)

The couple used £120,000 to pay off a mortgage and spent a fortune on luxury holidays, designer clothes and property, a court heard.

Yesterday, they were facing a substantial prison sentences after admitting conspiracy to defraud.

The CPS is carrying out an internal review into the scam. One strand of the internal inquiry is to attempt to discover why the fiddle was not detected earlier.

Burrows, 41, an area financial officer for CPS West Midlands, and Mahmood, 50, a CPS administrative officer, yesterday admitted conspiring to commit fraud at Birmingham Crown Court.

Judge Nicholas Webb warned the pair to expect custodial sentences “measured in years rather than months” before adjourning the case until July 4.

An earlier hearing was told how the fraudsters were found with just £1,400 left in their bank account.

Malcolm McHaffie, told Birmingham Magistrates Court last month: “Burrows met Tahir Mahmood and they started a relationship.

“He was a former taxi driver, who assumed the named Joseph Thomas O’Neil and opened bank accounts in that name.

“They claimed for services provided by the made up name of B&M taxis, standing for Burrows and Mahmood.

“Evidence proves she went to Dubai on previous occasions and spent money on expensive clothes jewellery and other holidays but this in no way explains where the £1 million went.

“There was only £1,400 left in the account connected to him when they were arrested, they maintain it spiralled out of control and there is no money left.

“As I understand there is a substantial amount of work to be done to trace the money from the fraud.

“They both made relatively small deposits on property, Burrows £15,000 and Mahmood £20,000.”

Burrows, of Oldbury, West Midlands, and Tahir Mahmood, of Hodge Hill, West Midlands, were charged with conspiracy to defraud by false representation.

They were remanded in custody until sentencing on July 4.

After yesterday’s hearing, a CPS spokesperson said: “As soon as this fraud was uncovered by the CPS national finance team, we notified the police.

“Following their investigation and the subsequent charging of two employees, as a precautionary measure we are now undertaking a thorough internal review of CPS West Midlands finances and the circumstances surrounding the fraud. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

Source: Express on line.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Court case against Aylesbury minicab firm collapses – due to gaping legal loophole

While the Hackney Carriage and London Cab acts stand rigged, it seems that anything connected with private hire legislation is full of loop holes.

Unlicensed operations are escaping prosecution by claiming they are not actually PH operators but are in fact "Taxi Management Services".

We have also seen these "Taxi Management Services" advertising on line, in magazines, in supermarkets, clubs, bars and Hospitals. Adverts offering Taxi services, Hospital Taxi services, Station Taxi services and Heathrow/ London Airport Taxi transfer Services, can be seen all over the place.

These loop hole have been in plain sight for many years and there have been very little action from licensing authorities or Taxi representative groups to lobby to close these gaping loop holes.

Below is a report of such a case that collapsed through bad representation and poor evidence.

Aylesbury Vale District Council had prosecuted Call a Cab Ltd for operating without a private hire operator’s licence.
The firm claimed that it was not an operator but an intermediary, acting as a taxi management service, finding operators to meet the customer’s journey requirements rather than accepting the booking itself.
It also argued that the council had not properly adopted legislation that controls private hire operators.

The council passed a resolution to adopt private hire controls in March 1989 but could not prove it had sent copies of the notice to all relevant parish councils – a legal requirement – as it had destroyed the copies. Therefore, the court dismissed the case.

Councillor Judy Brandis, chairman of the licensing committee, said: “The council is very disappointed with this result and will be lodging an appeal. We firmly believe that the private hire controls were properly adopted in 1989.

“I must stress that the court’s decision does not affect the council’s ability to continue to enforce private hire controls in the interests of public safety and the public interest generally.”

Source: The Bucks Herald

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mason to take over Congestion Charge and Traffic Enforcement.

Dear Sir / Madam

As a result of a forthcoming change in the way Surface Transport plans to organise its major project delivery (partly as a result of the significant increase in road investment) I have been asked by Leon Daniels, Managing Director, Surface Transport to take on a temporarily expanded role having increased additional responsibility for the leadership of the Congestion Charging and Traffic Enforcement Directorate as well as Taxi and Private Hire.

Given this wider remit, Helen Chapman has been asked to act up into a role of General Manager for Taxis and Private Hire. Helen will therefore take on the vast majority of my current day to day TPH operational management and leadership responsibilities. These changes with take effect immediately.

As a result of my expanded role I would ask that all matters you would normally refer to me are referred to Helen Chapman until further notice. I would like to thank you all most sincerely for the assistance and support you have given me over the past three years. I am sure you will all be as supportive to Helen and will join me in wishing her all the very best for her new role.


Kind regards


John Mason

Age Limit on London Taxis, Mayors Air Quality Strategy and Conflicts on Interest.

In 2010, consultations took place about a maximum age limit for London taxis. By removing the older, most polluting vehicles, the air quality would improve dramatically, although this was not supported by any specific scientific evidence.

An imposed age limit, as we now know is illegal and can be challenged in the high court. The DoT have stated that if a vehicle passed the conditions of fitness, then it should be licensed irrespective of age. Unfortunately London's age limit was not imposed but offered to the Mayor on the trades behalf by so called trade representatives.
One from manufactures LTI, one from manufactures Eco City Vehicles, three radio circuit CEOs, two driver org representatives, one union branch secretary and one representative of garage proprietors...so no conflict of interests there?

Many sceptics raised objections to removing older vehicles, stating that it would lead to some drivers who couldn't afford to upgrade, being forced out of the trade. It was also pointed out, by expect witnesses on behalf of the Taxi trade, that some older vehicles were showing lower emissions than new vehicles.

It was alleged this was a blatant move, on behalf of manufactures (who were struggling), to sell more vehicles in replacement of older Taxis. But the Mayor categorically denied this, saying he had had no contact with manufacturers before the age limit was introduced. We now know this statement was not correct.

The Mayors Diary disclosure states the following meetings:

  • Meeting with Mr Liu Shufu, Geely Automobile The Mayor's Office 02/02/2009 LTI TAXI MANUFACTURER
  • Meeting with Wilfried Steffen, Mercedes The Mayor's Office 20/07/2010 MERCEDES VITO TAXI MANUFACTURER
  • Meeting with Mr Lee, Geely The Mayor's Office 03/08/2010 LTI TAXI MANUFACTURER


The diary shows that he met with the manufacturers of London Taxi International (suppliers of TX4s) and Mercedes (suppliers of Vito Taxis) before he introduced the taxi age limit which would benefited them both.
He had previously said that he had no communication with the suppliers of the new taxis.

His diary also shows he attended the Copenhagen summit in December 2009 which was also attended by Tim Yeo , but Boris says they had no contact.

Now after nearly a fifth of the London Taxi fleet has been scrapped, forcing many older drivers out of the trade, putting many drivers under a massive financial burden.... has the air quality in central London suddenly improved?

Actually it's got worse.

4267 people a year are dying in London from pollution (the Mayors own statistic from his 2008 campaign). After nearly 5 years in office, however, Mayor Johnson has implemented failed emissions strategies which have seen no reduction in pollution.

Not one penny has been offered in compensation to drivers, no money has been made available for financial help to drivers struggling with massive debts.

So what are they planning next.

Three london councils, Westminster, Camden and The City of London, who are responsible for some of the worse congestion causing traffic systems, have asked the Mayor to reduce the age limit from 15 years, to 10.


THE LAST SUPPER FOR THE FX4

Source: Taken from extensive research carried out by Dave Davies.

Interesting Interview with Leon Daniels in the Badge.

In a recent interview between the LCDC and Leon Daniels, a couple of surprising points were bought up about compliance and enforcement.

First, it was suggested to Mr Daniels that one way of raising standards was to make sure that enforcement levels were drastically improved, to enable drivers to reclaim much of the work that had been lost to illegal touting!

He answered “I agree with your concerns regarding the lack of enforcement and I fully understand the frustrations you are telling me. We have plans for raising the levels of enforcement and I have been out at night with the enforcement teams and can see first hand just how cagey the touts are in evading prosecution."

“There will be a reduction on the licence fee this year and also we urgently need new faces to come into the enforcement team, as the touts recognise the faces of many of the team. The coverage, to be honest, is microscopic to say the least. I myself am currently undertaking training at the moment to be part of the enforcement team."

“Be under no illusions that I am fully aware of the problems facing the licensed taxi trade by illegal touts. TFL have advised the Law Commission that tougher laws need to be introduced in London to help us fight against the menace of illegal taxi touts."

It was explained to him that at meetings attended at Palestra, Helen Chapman informed there are no funds available for our requests for new taxi ranks.”
Leon replied,
“That is not the case, there are funds available."

It was also mentioned, at meetings held with Helen Chapman regarding enforcement, Helen refuses to allow police officers to go out with the enforcement teams on a regular basis, which means enforcement teams cannot pull over cars to inspect them - this is ridiculous.

Leon replied
“I agree and cannot understand why the police are not out with enforcement teams on a regular basis - it does not make any sense not to do so.”

Want to know what Leon Daniels has been up to lately, read his blog
http://leondaniels.blogspot.co.uk/



Another fine mess?


Transport for London
London Taxi and Private Hire Notice 10/13:


London Taxi Drivers - New Design Licences and Area Identifiers

Further to TPH Notice 07/13, regarding the new design licences and area identifiers issued on 12 February 2013, this notice provides taxi drivers with an update on our plan to re-issue all taxi driver licences and area identifiers.

As was set out in TPH Notice 07/13, in order to re-issue taxi driver licences it is imperative that those drivers who were requested to provide passport sized photographs do so without delay. We would like to thank all the drivers who have already done this.

Unfortunately there are still a significant number of taxi drivers who have not provided their photographs and any driver who has not yet responded to this request is required to do so without further delay.

Photographs can be emailed to TPHphotos@tfl.gov.uk or posted to:
Taxi Driver Photographs 4th Floor, Green Zone Palestra
197 Blackfriars Road London SE1 8NJ

Given the volume of drivers that are still required to provide photographs, the bedding-in period of the new vehicle licensing service and the ongoing development of the new system for driver and operator licensing, we have decided to reschedule the issue of the replacement taxi driver licences and area identifiers.

This programme of work will be restarted as soon as possible and a further announcement will be made in due course.

Thank you for your understanding and assistance.
John Mason
11March 2013 Director, Taxi and Private Hire
For previous Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Myths About Rape?

What is rape? Who does it? Who does it happen to?

Myths and untruths around rape and sexual assault have devastating effects on how many rapes are reported and the decisions made by juries and judges.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC, who in her 38 years at the Bar has tried many rape and serious sexual offence cases, and Professor of Law Joanne Conaghan set the record straight and explained why changing the debate around rape, which has long been dominated by ideological and fixed views, is crucial to prevention.

The event was hosted by broadcaster and journalist Zeinab Badawi.

Some shocking statistics from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt show that while Peter Hendy and the Mayor were reporting dramatic consecutive drops in cab related sexual attacks between 2008-2011, the actual statistics were in fact escalating, peaking in 2011.

Martin admits that at best only 30% of adult rape is reported and i his view this is an over estimate. He put the range between 15-30 %, saying that at best 70% of rape in adults goes unreported.

Only 1/5 of all rapes reported resulted in an arrest.

But something is missing from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt's presentation and that was the phrase, "Cab Related Rape and Serious Sexual Assault".

Not one word about the massive case load of serious sexual offences, including rape, put at approx 22 incidents a week, by the Met in the Clapham Junction PoP report, not a myth, an actual fact.

Again we see the Met turning a blind eye to the self inflicted problem created by the implementation of the STaN agenda by TfL and LTPH in order to clear the streets late at night. Unenforceable satellite offices, where touting Private Hire cars illegally ply for hire, have become breeding grounds for sexual predators, waiting for vulnerable people to become their next victim.

I suggest Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt and Judge Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC spend a little time observing the scandalous behaviour of the NSL Council Wardens and the Licensed Private Hire touting that goes on nightly at the junction of Regent Street and Swallow Street. Perhaps they would be interested to know that the enforcement camera, situated at the junction of Vigo Street is turn away at 10:30pm in order to allow the touts to illegally park.

Just a few weeks ago, a young lady was taken from this junction by a tout and his friend who was also hiding in the Mercedes minicab, to the Paddington area and brutally raped. Surprisingly, no attention has been paid to this area in respect of the attack.

Serious sexual assault and rape victims in London, have become little more than collateral damage.