The Next Steps
The UCG Committee agreed to suspend one of the remaining three demos to give the Metropolitan Police Cab enforcement unit, the Metropolitan Police and TfL Compliance Officers a chance to prove to us they have got the message. The message is a simple one Enforce the Law, this is an all encompassing statement. There are many facets to it, but the message is ANYTHING that PHVs shouldn't be doing must be dealt with promptly and not for a month, but it must become the new "Normal".
That's Touting, Cruising and responding to Hails, Vehicles being driven by persons other than the person the PHV license appertains to, the correct insurance, Apps circumventing the law. One of our demands was an E-Hailing policy, this has still not been addressed and we haven't forgotten this. But we need to start somewhere. The "somewhere we are starting" is on street operations. The UCG will accompany both visible and undercover compliance officers and the cab enforcement teams.
The Police have shown an interest in the serious allegations about Uber that have been "popping up" all over twitter, we have between 10k and 12k logged now, some not so serious, just gripes, others are very serious. Senior Met Police officers have asked us to hand over the evidence we have so that they can investigate the serious issues. The very same list that TfL didn't want to see back in the spring of this year.
Another of our demands was a cap to the number of PHVs, our legal advice was different to both TfL and LTDA's lawyers. TfLs barrister QC Chamberlain will meet with our Barrister to find the best solution and discuss ways to fix this.
You have seen how much resource the police were instructed to throw at our last demo in Victoria. That level of deployment is seriously expensive and not one they can sustain without other budgets being robbed (peter to pay paul).
The Police are far more serious about dealing with this than TfL ever were. Perhaps Boris doesn't want this level of disruption, who knows what is going on behind closed doors? What is apparent to us now is that this problem is on everyone's radar.
There is a saying, "speak softly and carry a big stick" This was always our approach, you cannot negotiate a settlement from a position of weakness (or perceived weakness). This is why in all our dealings with the authorities we will maintain that we ALWAYS reserve the right to return to the streets if promises are not delivered.
But why would they make any promises if no matter what they try we continue to demonstrate?
The issue we must now address is... Do we continue regardless of the assurances we are getting? The last time we suspended our demos we stated we reserve the right to return to action. We also told them it would be an escalation. And did we escalate it!
As a sign of good faith we suspended ONE of the remaining three.
The Hogarth Roundabout to Hammersmith and Back to Hogarth is going to cause significant disruption. Trevor Merralls our campaign manager is under a lot of pressure from the Met to confirm whether the remaining two demos will go ahead. They have to do a lot of resource planning to cope with this.
But as a democratic organisation We ask you the members for your input. It's up to you...
Are we going to agree to suspend the remaining two demos? or not?
The UCG committee will meet with senior Police Officers and TfL Compliance heads next week. Between now and then the committee will formulate an acceptable response requirement. We will ask for KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure the response to this problem with dates and tangible, measureable outcomes. Ask all parties in the meeting to sign up to these or amended KPIs as agreed and add a caveat that if the KPIs are not being met we ballot our members to return to the streets.
The question to our members is:
DO YOU want this? or do you want to continue with demos 5 and 6?
The Police are asking for our response. They need to plan if these are going ahead.
SOME SUGGESTED POINTS TO CONSIDER:
We had assurances that Parliament would intervene, they are still working on this, but our clocks run at different speeds.
The authorities know we will return to action if this problem isn't dealt with because we did just that recently.
Our demos cost more to police than putting warranted enforcement officers on the streets to tackle touting.
Currently the police are on our side.
TfL bosses have egos bigger than buses, but we are out maneuvering them, going around and above them.
TfL bosses are still in denial and that isn't going to change anytime soon.
Public opinion at some point will tip against us (although everyone I spoke to currently supports us)
One final thought:- In military tactics there is a tactic called "leaving the gate open"
If your enemy is in retreat, leave them somewhere to retreat into. If you don't they will fight to the death and leave scorched earth.
I have tried to make this a balanced discussion for you to consider carefully.
But it's our members who have the vote.... We are here to guide, advise and serve.
Len Martin, Chairman United Cabbies Group.