Monday, March 17, 2014

Have we been bought off, for less than the price of a new cab?...By Jim Thomas.

A few weeks ago, we were informed on the twitter page of a leading member of the Joint Ranks and Highways Committee, that he had specifically requested a Taxi rank outside the exit of the Shard restaurant in St Thomas Street SE1.

We were then informed it would be sited further down the street, leaving PHV free to intercept customers as they leave the restaurant. 

The LCDC twitter account alleged Leon Daniels had become personally involved with the placement of the new rank, which drivers now feel is totally unsatisfactory.

Are  TfL senior management interfering in operational rank matters and why?

It's quite apparent to everyone, why the rank has been sited away from this location. The space outside the Shard (soon to be new Hotel), is being used by a certain favoured private hire operator as a pseudo minicab rank.

Is this is the same company often seen to be given exceptional help from TfL in regards to acquisitions of satellite office license?

We now hear again via the LCDC Twitter account, that TfL have instructed their red-routes network enforcement officers to ticket Taxis plying for hire in advance of the Taxi rank.

It should also been pointed out, that no such instructions have been given in regards to PHVs illegally plying for hire outside the shard.

Complaints from customers are common, stating they are being intercepted on the 31st floor (the restaurant) by representatives of the Private Hire operator, asking if they require a Taxi.

This is touting. 
It is a criminal act, an act of solicitation. 
It is also an arrestable act. 
An act that should result in a fine plus the revocation of the drivers PHV licence.  
Any private hire driver who instigates a journey in this manner also contravenes the conditions of his insurance policy meaning both he and his passengers are uninsured...this on its own is an arrestable  offence and the vehicle can be seized.
As this act is carried out with the full knowledge of the operator, the operators PH licence should also be revoked. 

Perhaps this is a job for secret shoppers from TfL, seeing as how they seem to like a free meal and night out. 
(As witnessed by their attendance of the British Parking awards last week, even though TfL weren't nominated)
Perhaps they could ask TfL staff and their guests to check out the Shard.

To reiterate, these offences are serious, but TfL, inspite of complaints, choose to turn a blind eye, possibly to facilitate the business associates of the satellite office licensees, who TfL class as Stakeholders.

Many complaints have been made to TfL but they are constantly ignored, especially when complaints are made on line. 
(Probably why they keep insisting complaints are made online)
But then TfL don't process complaints made against PH drivers. They are sent directly to the operator to deal with.

It has also come to light that TfL have recently spent £250,000 on promoting their twitter accounts. 
(This would have paid for an amazing rank, possibly with a weather shelter and benches)

This is the same TfL who forgot to mention to the Joint Ranks Committee, that contra to belief there was in fact £80,000 in the ranks budget, but, it was hidden in a TfL account. It appears that only TfL senior managers knew it was there and it only came to light after it was too late to spend. As a result, the money was lost and this years budget has been halved to £40,000. 
(Info published in the badge)

But if TfL are going to keep putting ranks in the wrong places, then it's just an overall waste of funds.

We have seen ridiculous placing of ranks over the last few years. Remember the impotent rank in Cornhill?

It took demonstrations from a united force of cab drivers to get the rank moved, to outside the Abacus bar. But even then, they still left space in front of the rank for minicabs to illegally ply for hire and tout. Plus after objections from the satellite office operator, the accommodating space was more than halved. 

We also saw the unbelievably bad placement of the Mahiki rank where customers can't see the "For Hire" signs of the waiting Taxis, plus the laughable extention of the rank at Babbel bar.

The RMT Ranks and Highways team have now been promised a full enquiry by the GLA into the running of Taxis and private hire by TfL.

One question that the inquiry must ask is: 
Why do TfL bend over backwards to help private hire operators set up and operate these businesses and yet rigidly enforce any laws or regulations when it comes to Licensed Taxis? 

But then again, this is all small potatoes in the overall scheme of things.
We've had:
The sale of PH roundels to "friends"
The counterfeit licenses cover up
The wholesale issuing of satellite office licenses to favoured operators.
The dismantling of any meaningful form of licensing enforcement 
The bullying and intimidation of drivers who demonstrate
The over selling of suburban licences
The outsourcing of all TPH licensing responsibilities
(In fact so much has been outsourced, it's rumoured that TfL had to bring down staff from Coventry and invite ex staff, to make up a full table at the parking awards)

Lately on twitter TfLTPH have been posting about Taxis blocking a 10 foot section of cycle lane in Finsbury park. This only happened a couple of times while The loading bay became a temporary rank. 

Every night of the week minicabs block cycle lanes all over the place, worst being regent street, and Lower Thames Street.

And yet TfL/LTPH haven't uttered one word, about PHVs blocking cycle lanes.

It's not just TfL who shoulder the blame, the Met police also turn a blind eye to illegally park, illegally plying for hire and touting minicabs. The robberies, sexual assaults and rape, excepted as collateral damage, as long as the late night streets are cleared.

TfL have divorce themselves from any form of responsibility

We are being driven off the road and out of business.
Our representative groups are threatened with exclusion, should they rock the boat. 
How much more is this trade going to let TfL throw at us before the drivers themselves stand up and shout


Almost half the trade pay good money for representation.
Where is that representation?
Allegedly, it takes less than the price of a new cab, to bring silence from one organisation.

It's now time for the people who take our money, to stand up and earn that money.

As usual, space will be made available on this blog, should TfL and any of the trade orgs like to explain their actions.


Gerald Coba said...

Jim, another epic piece.
Let's hope the drivers take on board the true sentiment behind this post.

Time is running out and men are coming to kill us.
Keep up the fight my friend.

Anonymous said...

As witnessed by their attendance of the British Parking awards last week, even though TfL weren't nominated
Well it is good to see the staff and their mates having a good time. Now I won't object to the rise in tube fairs now I know the dosh is going towards events at the Royal Lancaster Hotel

Jay B said...

Saw the selfie on Masons face book page.
Not a pretty sight

Thought he didn't work for TfL.
May be worth an FOI request to see how much the trip cost in total. And if TfL paid for everyone there.

Anonymous said...

You muppets are always complaining ! Shut the F..... Up.

Anonymous said...

Jim if you say that you are approached on the 31st floor by a cab firm i'm there tomorrow so will make sure i get to the see what is going on and let you know .BUT why do you and the rest of the trade go to the management and tell them that you will be asking the licencing of the local council to review their licence to sell alcohol on there premises as they are allowing a criminal act to take place .Therefore they are not a fit and proper person to hold an alcohol licence and if it dosent stop forthwith you will go to a magistrate to revoke their licence .I have used this on 3 pubs in sector & and they have shit themselves and now there are no more cars waiting outside these venues. good luck keep up the fight .

Anonymous said...

Time we took direct action.
We have the power to cripple London
No more talk about upsetting the public, they don't give a toss about our problems

They don't know about our problems

If everyone else can protest then so can we
But we know how and where to bring the most disruption.

Jack from Mons said...

Oddy must resign from boards of both TfL and LTDA.

We need new, strong leadership

We need to grow some balls

We need to take a leaf out of the French hand book and hit back,

We have the power, we have the technology

And in a very short time


the Law Commission want to take away your sole right to rank and ply for hire.

Ranks of minicabs outside every station and hotel.

All using virtual meters using their smart phones, which are now being defended by senior TfL managers.

It's no good saying "it will never happen" because it already has.

Anonymous said...

Funny how the club had 'Got busy' since Hendy and Daniels said adios!

The point is what are they going to DO about anything, they don't have the funds or the back up or the will since Alan F. left and have effectively become the SE London Branch of the LTDA.

Anonymous said...

please see the UBER link, at the end of the advert, for one of the SHARD restaurants, on the website below

where it states:
For a luxurious ride home after your meal, click here and save £20 off your first journey.

LCY Len said...

In our hearts we all know that tfl would love to get shot of the black cab all together and let the clearly lucrative and favoured mini cab trade have carte blanche to rape and pillage the public who (despite what black cab drivers believe)are more than willing to have their pockets picked by unscrupulous people masquerading as taxi drivers.

We are just as much to blame as tfl for the rise of the satellite office, because we were too busy talking crap in the cafe, playing golf or not going south.
We let the few make a noise on our behalf, while we carried on working (gotta pay the mortgage aint I)making the trade look like amateurs and pests that needed to be eradicated.
We put our faith in clearly bought and paid for, weak representation that did what it was told by tfl, rather than what it was told by it's paying members.

Because of our total apathy towards the things that have had a detrimental affect on our earnings and ability to earn, we have left ourselves vulnerable to the whims of those out to destroy us.

WE COULD fight back

WE COULD make them see through blockades, that we won't be pushed around.

WE COULD do this without the weak trade orgs


We will, AS USUAL sit back in the cafe pretending we're Charlie big bananas, spouting we've got 300 years of history and are the best in the world, to people who already believe it themselves. And while we do that, the thieves, rogues and rapists will be taking the people of London to their destinations, or not as the case may be.

Anonymous said...

The stark reality that Grant Davis will never replace Bob Oddy as the trades representative at £20, 000 + grand a year, has finally brought him and his addled partner to where they left the fight in the first round, at "The Oxo Tower".

The Sharde is a carbon copy of yester-year.

Anonymous said...

Did Grant get his picture taken at the Oxo Tower?

Anonymous said...

No, I don't believe Grant Davis had his picture taken at the Oxo Tower. However, he had his picture taken and plastered in The Badge with hos arms around Boris Johnson's neck, claiming Boris is the man the LCDC are backing.
Furthermore, the badge has been the mouthpiece of TfL since the engagement policy was signed

The Bard of Bermondsey said...

No more references to Grant Davis, he's a fine actor.

Anonymous said...

Steve MacNamara of the LTDA has mouthed his Opinions on emissions; Grant Davis of the LCDC is mouthing his anger about restaurant ranks... And Peter Rose of Unite as ever is ready to swallow what ever comes his way... You couldn't make it up !

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:49
I believe you are wrong about Unite
Although they really don't do anything, at least they don't propagate the myths and lies from the TfL board

The Cab Trade News posted the DoT deregulation letter first.
They were the first to break the Stan agenda report
Although never followed it up
Perhaps they would have done more had they more members who pushed them harder.

I don't believe them to be collaborators. Perhaps they should have thrown in with the RMT union and UCG rather than the UTG. Thinks we could well have been on firmer ground today.

Other unite branches do well for their members, but the London branch is all but washed up as it stands

I've always found Peter a gentleman and willing to engage in discussion although he does tend to disapear when the heat is on.

Others on his committee seem more interested in the struggles of the baggage handlers. Must be very frustrating

It's a shame, Peter is a brilliant journalist.

Perhaps he should be approach by the RMT. I think given support he would have a lot more to offer