Representative trade orgs were informed that seats on this cabinet would be available to all groups, plus there would also be a small number of seats for drivers with no connection to any trade org. It seemed too good to be true.
Was the Cabbies Cabinet just a scam?
Most believed it was just a carrot being dangled, hoping to put and end to any type of protest against the Olympic arrangements. This opinion was confirmed on the 12th of July 2012, by an email sent by Deputy director of LTPH Helen Chapman to a trade representative group, stating:
"The first Cabbies Cabinet session will consist of the 3 driver associations that the Mayor already meets with on an ad-hoc basis, but the first agenda item will be to discuss and agree the make-up of future cabinets. A date hasn't been set for the first session but with the Olympics I expect this won't be until September /October time.
I'm sorry as I know this won't be the news that you were hoping for but John and I will be happy to meet with you to talk through any concerns /issues you have. "
This statement from Ms Chapman was completely opposed to what drivers had been told in earlier meetings, but to be honest, no one really expected the cabbies cabinet to get off the ground once the Olympics were completed. This has now been confirmed by Leon Daniels statement that as there was little interest (in his opinion), the standing engagement policy (as we had always suspected) will carry on.
After the mess over the killer on the knowledge issue, where top ranking LTPH officers were replaced, TfLTPH needed a policy which allegedly would divide and fragment the Taxi trade, to insure a smooth implementation of the STaN agenda and project Horizon.
And so the engagement policy was born!
The policy states that to engage with LTPH on a regular and meaningful relationship:
- Associations must be formally established, registered, friendly societies or trade unions.
- Associations must represent 5% of the licensed Taxi drivers at the start of TfL financial year which starts on 1st April.
- Associations must allow TfL to inspect records which confirm paid membership of licensed Taxi drivers at the start of each financial year.
On the1st of April 2011 the only group engaging with LTPH to meet the conditions was the LTDA. Both Unite and LCDC had/have nowhere near 5% of the Taxi trade as members.
But then we were told;
"Members of the UTG are exempt from the engagement policy."
What possible justification would allow any group to be exempt from policy conditions, other than to give them a "get out of Jail free" card. It is unfairly bias and makes a complete mockery of the whole engagement policy. Perhaps this is the reason why there has been no comprehensive publication of the STaN agenda in any of the UTG media.
It should be pointed out that the private hire trade has no such engagement policy restrictions.
The policy uses words such as engagement and engage, there is no mention whatsoever of negotiations or negotiate.
In section 4. Publications, it appears TfL want the right to nullify or censor articles before publication. Surely the basic principles of a democracy is freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to express opinion.
Is divide and conquer, the order of the day?
Approx, only one third of the trade is presently being represented at meetings with the Mayor TfL and LTPH. It would seem that's the way Leon Daniels wants it to stay. Strangely enough, although engagement meetings have taken place, I am told there are currently no recorded minutes of these meetings available.
The document "Engagement Policy For Associations Representing London Taxi Drivers", is not available for download from the TfL website.