Sunday, May 15, 2016

ABSOLUTE POWER, RACE TO THE BOTTOM....By Lenny Etheridge.

We are in the midst of a recession. "No shit, Sherlock."
This recession bitterly affects the working class.

For years now this recession has seen the rich get richer and the poor become enslaved.
Economists say, if you can see a city skyline full of cranes, there is no spare cash.


The wealthy have stuck everything into huge enterprises, and they need every bit of cash they can put their hands on; and that includes ours.

The new Mayor has an insurmountable task ahead of him. 
London is no longer a desirable destination.
It is choking under extreme pollution. And its arteries are clogged with unnecessary Private Hire minicabs and empty Buses.

The Buses are empty because, like all vehicles, they cannot move on the ever shrinking, overpopulated roads. 
Overpopulated because the previous Mayor refused to cap Transport for London's little earner (minicabs).

Who wants to sit on a bus, watching the world walk by?
And shrinking because the previous Mayor wanted to build a playground for bikes.

These spacious Cycle Super Highways are built, not for safety, but for speed. They are so big, Uber drivers often mistake them for roads. Who in their right mind would come to a city voted the most congested in the world?

Where you are forced to pay tax (Congestion Charge) for the privilege of sitting in an ever increasing meander of single lane traffic, which was caused by the very same shysters who levy the very same tax.

Once you finally get to your destination, you are then expected to pay four pounds an hour to park. 
No wonder people prefer to shop in Bluewater, Lakeside and anywhere else they can move freely without getting ripped off.

 
 
Yet the powers that be, think they can solve problems of overcrowding and pollution by pedestrianising areas like Oxford Street.

Really? 
And where do they think the inordinate amount of buses would go? 
The narrow backstreets of Britain's former shopping Mecca?
Is it now time for a London Mayor to stop listening to unelected quangos of self interested big businessmen and women, and listen to real Londoners?
Listening to Londoners who are at the sharp end of his decisions.

If you have not yet guessed, I am a Licensed London Taxi Driver. I openly admit my interests - unlike the conflicted board of TfL.
Like most Licensed London Taxi Drivers, I am not a Luddite. I have been accepting card payments for over a decade, on radio circuits and apps, long before Uber slithered into town.

The previous Mayor, Boris Johnson is a pathological liar. He lied to his wife, his employers, his constituents, the people of London, and his colleagues.

That man was born with a silver fork in his mouth.
He claimed he could not cap Private Hire minicab licenses, when it was well within his power to do so. 
His open contempt for Taxis is well documented.

I have to laugh when I look back to when 'Luddite' Taxi drivers were vilified by the media for behaving "outrageously" during one of Johnson's pantomimes at City Hall.

Has no one witnessed the pack behaviour of our honourable Members of Parliament during PMQ?
It did not help matters when one of our trade bodies apologised on our behalf. For what? For witnessing first hand Johnson's contempt for the questions put by Val Shawcross and Caroline Pidgeon?

Or when a member of the public (not a Licensed London Taxi Driver) pushed a security guard over?

No I do not apologise for anything that day. In fact I look back on our 'off the cuff' ten mile march in the rain, with pride.

 

Too long now the Taxi trade's representatives have been cozying up to the very people who are deregulating our trade.
History tells us that greed and corruption has always been part of any system.
Good men get assassinated whilst bad men fake their own deaths.

Who would have thought, pre Savile, that the BBC was a corrupt government tool?

From distorting information about the Miners Strike to suppressing rape and sexual assault in TfL licensed Private Hire minicabs.
Who would have guessed that two young, seemingly clean cut, up and coming political lightweights, like Dave and his afterbirth George, would go on to out-Thatcher Thatcher, and out-brazen Blair?

   
"Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
We have a situation where the Prime Minister orders the Mayor of London, according to Boris Johnson, to "Leave Uber alone." And where the Chancellor of the Exchequer lobbies the Mayor, on behalf of Uber.

We have 10 and 11 Downing Street favouring Uber, an American company, based in the Netherlands, who pay no Corporate Tax, whose 'drivers' get Income Support from the British taxpayer. All at the expense of London's iconic Licensed Taxi trade, who pay their taxes and do everything asked of them. They study the Knowledge of London for four years, pass an advanced driving test, pass a rigorous medical examination, are vetted by the police, drive an expensive purpose built vehicle, and have their fares set by TfL.

Four average Taxi drivers pay more tax than Uber UK.

TfL have been coerced by the Butch & Sundance of Downing Street, to allow illegal and immoral practices to take place, in favour of a freeloading American company.

TfL's Managing Director; Leon Daniels spends his spare time - when he is not busy lying on Uber's behalf to the GLA about 'on-off' insurances and bogus landlines - coaching Jo Bertram; General Manager of Uber UK, on how to get around various stipulations and requirements.

Courts are being told that an instrument which measures time and distance, is not a meter. Then what is it?

TfL state that an App which acts like a virtual binoculars, showing minicabs on a street nearby, with a customer choosing a minicab from that street, is not hailing.

TfL also state that when the customer presses the button of their App to instantly 'hire' a minicab, it is not 'instant', but 'pre booked'.
Let me ask you this - if a man decides at exactly 10am, to set his alarm clock to go off at exactly 10am; is that preset?

The answer is, no. And neither is an Uber journey pre booked. It is an immediate hail.
The minicab driver accepts the job, and is instantly hired.

TfL are churning out seven hundred Private Hire licenses every week, to satisfy Uber's appetite.
TfL are licensing Private Hire minicab drivers, without a full background check. Applicants relatively new to Britain, are having allowances made for them.

Other countries, including European countries, do not keep certain records on their systems forever.
Common sense tells us we must be able to check someone's background, within our own system, for a minimum of five years. Especially when the applicant is left alone with vulnerable customers, such as children and lone females.


TfL's requirements for a Private Hire license, is not good enough for the citizens of this country.
Contrary to popular belief in Downing Street, we are not plebs, we are people. Our daughters, mothers, sisters and wives, deserve better.

From their first application to their passing of the Knowledge, their advanced driving test, and receiving the coveted Green Badge, the applicant is looking at the best part of five years before they are deemed fit be a London Taxi driver.

When the London Taxi driver renews his Bill (license) every three years, the DBS process takes around four months.

Yet a Private Hire Roundel can be acquired within a day. By pumping out seven hundred Private Hire minicab licences a week, TfL cannot possibly be processing PH applications as stringently as Public Safety requires.

Our 'Owners' have always wanted more for themselves and less for us. Yet nowadays they cannot be asked to sugarcoat it.
What should do we do? Passively give in?

I firmly believe that in any fight, win or lose, hurt your opponent so badly, the bully will think twice before he comes back for more.
Uber bullies have all the money, the big name backers, professional lobbyists, and a huge amount of MPs in their pocket.

We have MPs calling, not for Uber to toe the public safety line, or to up its standards, but for Taxis to be deregulated and for our standards to drop, to meet the substandard Uber free-for-all.
Females are literally getting into a stranger's car, to satisfy investors' needs.

Big business and the media, especially the BBC, are turning a blind eye and deaf ear to the Private Hire minicab rape and sexual assault figures that have gone through the roof.

In essence, the money men do not care if our daughters are raped or abused, as long as their pockets are being stuffed with pieces of silver.
To 'bought and paid' officials, our raped and abused loved ones are but statistics, to be hidden away out of reach of the Freedom of Information Act.


Those who invest in and lobby for Uber, see victims' destroyed family members as acceptable collateral damage.
We the people do not count. We never have.
 
It is time for us to be heard.
We expect our new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan to order an independent Public Enquiry into TfL's dealings with Uber, Boris Johnson and David Cameron.

We expect Peter Hendy, John Mason, Leon Daniels, Garrett Emmerson and the above main protagonists to be questioned on oath.
Something is rotten in the state of London, and we the people of London, demand answers.

Lenny Etheridge