Heron Tower, Bishopsgate, one of the main contenders for minicab touting hotspot of the year. Customers leaving this venue are subjected to running the gauntlet as they are bombarded by offers of illegal minicab rides.
It's about time the City of London placed a legitimate licensed Taxi rank in front of this extremely busy venue.
I have just emailed TfL with this complaint:
It is with deep regret I feel the need to email you regarding an unfortunate encounter with an over zealous Compliance Officer on the early hours of Friday 1/8/14.
At approximately 01:30 on Friday, I was travelling southbound on Bishopsgate with my light on, plying for hire. The taxi in front of me also had his light on. As we both approached the Heron Tower, the taxi in front was hailed and he pulled over. There were a group of 10-12 people there so my natural instinct was also to pull over as it was obvious to me that 10 people would not get into one taxi.
As soon as I safely pulled over, there was a loud knock on the window - I assumed the lady knocking on the window was a customer. She then quickly flashed a card at me and yelled "Compliance" at me. I switched my engine off and watched 2 taxis pull over and pick up the customers who I originally had pulled over for.
The next few minutes, I was subjected to, what can only be described as "barking" from a rude, aggressive and abrupt Compliance Officer.
Firstly, the CO accused me of smoking in my cab. She insisted that she saw me smoking and threw the cigarette out of the window when I saw her approach me. A LIE. I will gladly dispute this in front of a Magistrate. She said that she could smell the cigarette off my breath. How is this possible, when (1) she was standing outside my near side window and I was in the drivers seat and (2) she was standing outside the Heron tower at 0130 where many people are smoking at that time. Unfortunately, the CO didn't believe a word from me. The interrogation continued.
At this point, can I just mention that I have had my badge for 4 weeks. It has taken me 5 years to complete the Knowledge. I feel like I've been accused of committing the most serious and heinous crime known to man and am now wondering if I have made the correct career choice.
Along with smoking in the cab, the CO then told me that I also will be reported for Illegally plying for hire. There is no rank outside the Heron Tower, the CO tells me so I cannot stop there. I tried to explain that there were customers hailing taxis there and whilst I was being interrogated, at least 3 had stopped and picked up customers. To no avail. The CO was having none of my explanation.
The CO had ordered me to hand over my Bill which I did. She asked me to confirm my date of birth and my address. I was not cautioned. I was simply told that I will be reported for these serious offences.
I was extremely upset at my treatment so I switched my light off and went home. Whilst on the way home, I was thinking of any other instances where I have been treated so unfairly and harshly within any previous employment. I can categorically say, I have never been on the receiving end of this kind of "police state" mentality. The closest is when I was 7 and I got caught stealing a pack of chewing gum from the local shop, who then reported this to my father, who in turn gave me 10 lashes of his belt. I didn't realise, we have gone back 40 years in time.
In the first week of obtaining my badge, I participated in a trip to Southend for under privalidged children along with 150 other taxi drivers. I have put my name down for helping out in various events including assisting with the war veterans. I am not doing this for self gratification or praise. I am doing this, because I have joined a noble and honourable trade. The best in the world.
For your compliance officer to simply come along and threaten my badge, my future, my daughter's future, my participation in many good causes in the future, is simply unfair not justified.
I do not know the CO's name. She was elderly, with white or grey hair. She was white and I believe had a red coat on.
Another TX fire. M25, junction 11/12 Sunday morning: