Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Letter To Baroness Kramer, From Chair Of ALPHA : Re The Taxi Deregulation Act 2015

For those unaware, a quick reminder of who Baroness Kramer is. 


Susan Veronica Kramer, Baroness Kramer, (née Richards; born Holdorn London, 21 July 1950) is a Liberal Democrat politician. 
Member of Parliament, Richmond Park, from 2005 to 2010.
Prior to that having a career in infrastructure finance and in 2000 having been a candidate in the London Mayoral Ellection.

Lady Kramer began her career in finance. She rose to become a Vice-President of Citibank in Chicago. She and her late husband then set up Infrastructure Capital Partners, a firm which advises on infrastructure projects, primarily in Central and Eastern Europe. Its alleged she still remains a director of the firm.

As patron of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust Lady Kramer should be well aware of the recent record high number of sexual assaults recorded in London minicabs made public recently by Freedom of Information Request to the Met Police.

See previous Taxi Leaks article about Baroness Kramer and Taxi and Private Hire deregulation 2014.  >CLICK HERE<.

Letter below is from Lee Ward Chair of ALPHA.

Dear Lady Kramer

After reading the arguments for and against the deregulation of the taxi industry and more importantly the cross border hiring or sub contracting, I wish to ask you what the intention of this amendment was.

i have read the notes from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords on this matter and I have taken note of the examples that you gave during this debate. My question is this;

Did the change in law take into account that a company such as Uber (but other companies now do the same) take a booking in, for example my home town of Sheffield, and give it to the nearest Uber driver that is vacant and waiting for a job regardless of the authority that this said driver is licensed by, or was it so that a company could take a booking because the person booking trusted that company and was happy for that company to deal with such booking when the person was in an area that the trusted company did not have any vehicles or actually covered work wise?

You see the problem is, that we as a trade see a massive loophole within the industry, one that puts serious issues on public safety. As I have referred to just now, Uber take a booking and pass it to the nearest driver regardless of how many drivers are sat waiting to take work that are licensed in the area. These vehicles can not be stopped and checked or even questioned by the local authority in the area that they are working in, how can we ensure that the person driving is the person licensed and insured? we can not.

I now make reference to your speech within the House with regards to this issue as follows;

"I was in Gloucestershire and going to visit an elderly friend in a nursing home. I got to the station and there was no one around. I looked at the board and started calling taxi firms and car hire firms and not one could supply a car."

As the then Minister for Transport, I can not understand why you did not look at the place that this train station was and not pre empt any transport issues that you may encounter.

"We are often concerned about young people out late at night who try to find a taxi to take them home safely. In that situation, we do not want them having to track down one company after another. They should be able to call an operator who they have confidence in who can find them a taxi, even if it is subcontracted from out of area."

Does this really happen now, where the company that they book with sends a vehicle licensed sometimes up to 200 mile away to collect them and take them to their destination (who can not be spot checked by the local licensing officers), while locally licensed drivers are sat about waiting for a job?
 
"Most car hire companies have a limited number of wheelchair-accessible vehicles and there may be circumstances where a disabled person needs to travel in a particular kind of vehicle. It is all very well to say that disabled people need to make advance bookings, but I want people with disabilities to be able to live their lives as freely as the rest of us can and not always have to think about things in advance—or, frankly, have to do without. We have a mechanism here which gives an operator the scope to reach out of area and subcontract to someone else who has a wheelchair-accessible vehicle to meet a need. That is exceedingly beneficial."

Does Uber even have wheelchair access vehicles, let alone take advance bookings for these people?

"I want to make it clear that the initial operator who takes a call and makes a booking remains liable to the passenger who made the booking. He is the person with whom the contract has been established. If someone chooses to call a particular operator, that operator retains the liability for the subcontractor, so the terms and conditions, the recording of the booking and the fare, if it has been agreed, all remain with the operator who the customer has contacted."

I will now show you what Uber's Terms and Conditions are with regards to their acceptance of liability for sub contracting bookings (even if they do sub contract to themselves)

UBER MAKES NO REPRESENTATION, WARRANTY, OR GUARANTEE REGARDING THE RELIABILITY, TIMELINESS, QUALITY, SUITABILITY OR AVAILABILITY OF THE SERVICES OR ANY SERVICES OR GOODS REQUESTED THROUGH THE USE OF THE SERVICES, OR THAT THE SERVICES WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED OR ERROR-FREE. UBER DOES NOT GUARANTEE THE QUALITY, SUITABILITY, SAFETY OR ABILITY OF THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS.

I guess they think otherwise, dont you?

This email could go on for much longer, but I think I will leave you with this summery to ponder before you reply.

The Deregulation Act of 2015 has done nothing for the Private Hire industry across the UK, if anywhere. The reasons and arguments from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords are so flawed that it is quite apparent that no imput from the industry was taken into account, or even requested.

My final request from yourself is that you reply to this email with good faith so that I can post your reply to the drivers (as I will post this email awaiting your reply) who work long and hard to make a living across this country at hours that people seldom relate to, ensuring that the public of this great country get home safe and soundly.

Yours sincerely

   Lee Ward

   ALPHA Chairman