The Sanderson hotel are using their own cars which are illegally plying for hire outside the entrance. It's alleged that the cars charge a minimum fare of £15.
The door staff have recently been observed shepherding customers straight into the cars which have not been pre-booked and are available for immediate hiring.
When questioned, the doorman claimed that as people leave the hotel and there are no Taxis outside, he asks if they would like a house car. This does not constitute a pre booking, it's touting.
It has been explained to the door staff that all journeys in PH cars have to be pre-booked and what they are doing is illegal. But they claim, as the cars belong to the hotel, it is not necessary to pre-book. This is rubbish.
We will be passing this information on to TfL on-street Enforcement to deal with. Unfortunately this is not a one off. We were going to compile a list of BENT hotels, but it would be a mammoth task and we probably wouldn't have the bandwidth to post a list that long. It would be much simpler to post a list of straight hotels.
The French solution to this problem has been to define "Pre-Booking" and "Plying for Hire" in Law. No Private hire vehicle can pick up without their being an interval of 15 minutes between original booking and passenger getting in to vehicle. Sounds perfect but it all falls down when TfL compliance and Cab Enforcement are added to the equation.
Every Taxi Driver in London has done the knowledge.
This gives him/her the sole right to accept immediate hirings (ply for hire). This right is about to be diluted by the Law Commission who say they are not going to define Plying for Hire in Law, but are looking to introduce a more modern approach to Pre-Booking.
At present, the reason why we have the right to ply is that passengers can get straight into our vehicles and we have the knowledge to take them were they want to go, straight away.
With PH, a pre-booking gives time to find destination and work out a rout.
Both TfL and the Law Commission feel that with new technology PH can use Sat Navs to find destination and rout. They feel that PH should be able to accept immediate hirings. TfL have stated on many occasions that as far as their interpretation of the present Private Hire Vehicles act stands, immediate hirings through smart phone apps are perfectly legal.
Amazingly, our biggest representative Org's general secretary Steve NcNamara has gone in record, saying the LTDA don't see the same dangers in the Law Com proposals as other trade Orgs.
The writing is on the wall and if the rank and file don't heed this warning, sit up, take notice and fight back for the right to ply.... Then, it's all over and we may as well start seeking other employment.
Photos: Clifford Powell