After receiving reports from drivers, complaining about the illegal goings on outside Smiths and Fabric in Charterhouse Street, our roving reporter, Glen Alutto decided to write to Baroness Jones, assembly member for the Green Party.
Sent: 25 November 2013 15:53
To: Jenny Jones
Subject: Charterhouse Street, Islington.
Since the Crossrail works began at Farringdon the rank for Fabric has been removed leaving the area outside Smiths open to blatant abuse by touts who will often park on the pavement completely blocking access for pedestrians.
The situation hasn't improved since Islington Council painted a two cab rank outside the front door recently, with the head operator & his drivers either blocking the rank or intimidating drivers wishing to service it.
The situation could easily be resolved if Islington Council were to issue the illegally parked minicabs PCN's for their parking misdamenours in the same manner as which they do for Taxis who stop & use the cafes around the market.
I look forward to your response in this matter, yours sincerely Glen Alutto.
We have now received this reply:
Happy new year. I am getting in touch on behalf of Jenny Jones AM to let you know that a response has now been received to the enquiry which the Green group on the London Assembly raised with TfL on your behalf.
Please see below for the response from TfL.
Thank you for your email, I am very sorry for not replying sooner.
As I believe Jenny has seen first-hand, we take touting and other illegal cab activity very seriously - touts pose a serious risk to the travelling public in London and undermine legitimate and law abiding taxi and private hire drivers. We are aware of issues including touting and illegal parking on Charterhouse Street and I can confirm the area receives regular attention from the Cab Enforcement Unit and from TfL’s compliance officers. Both plain clothes and uniformed officers are regularly deployed to the area.
Complaints have been received about the behaviour of both private hire and taxi drivers in the area. Compliance officers have visited Smiths and spoken to both the venue manager and the private hire operator that is licensed to operate from that venue.
The compliance officers did not observe any wrongdoing at the time but they reminded the operator of their responsibilities and conditions of their licence and warned them action will be taken against them if they are found to be touting / operating outside their licensing conditions. The situation is being monitored closely and compliance officers are making regular visits to the location - we will also ensure the area continues to be given attention by the police.
TfL expects any private hire vehicle to comply with local parking restrictions. However, TfL has no powers to enforce parking restrictions on Borough roads which are the responsibility of the local authority. While the parking situation the constituent describes is not something that TfL or the police are able to enforce we are in regular communication with local authorities to seek enforcement of the parking restrictions in particular areas of concern.
As parking on double yellow lines is a civil offence, enforceable by the local borough, the police would not normally take action unless they felt the vehicles concerned were causing an obstruction. We will raise this issue with the London Borough of Islington to see what more can be done. TfL is also in the process of writing to the driver of the vehicle in the photograph provided to make them aware they have come to our attention and that we expect the highest standards from our licensees.
Licensed and law abiding taxi and private hire drivers, and members of the public, often have valuable intelligence that is used to inform both the Safer Transport Command and TfL’s enforcement activities to deal with touting and other illegal cab activity. We have logged the information provided by the constituent to our intelligence database which is used to inform the deployment of police and our compliance team officers.
And so the problem continues to fester away. Private hire cars are left alone to illegally park on the double yellow lines, park on the pavement, blocking emergency exits, illegally ply for hire and the operator constantly abuses Taxi drivers legally using the official taxi rank.
Again we see TfL bending over backwards to accommodate satellite office operations, giving preference over the licensed taxi trade.
We need a Parliamentary committee enquiry, to look into the behaviour of our licensing authority (TfL), concerning the issuing and running of satellite office operations in Central London.