Saturday, December 31, 2016

As a Hard As They've Tried To Replace Us With A One Tier System, We Are still Here...by Jim Thomas

             Andrea Clarke                                   Howard Carter 

This year has seen unprecedented support from TfL towards third party companies, one of which has had a dramatic economical effects on our trade and other licensed Taxi trades around the country. 

The biggest threat our trade has ever faced, has enjoyed a free hand to run riot over regulation and legislation laid down by Parliament. 

New regulations have been bought in but many in the trade feel rules are being changed to facilitate an interested party at the detriment of established Taxi and Private Hire drivers of many years standing.

It's been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that regulations are being contravened everyday, and instead of enforcement followed by revocation (as promised by Sadiq Khan when campaigning for the job as Mayor), TfL and the Mayor's office, have resorted to actually changing and watering down regulating guidelines and in some cases, blatantly ignored current legislation.

From one TfL Managing Director, we've had the "Dear Jo" Email's, the covert un-minuted  coffee house meetings, multiple lies -on-off insurance, Uber met all requirements when first licensed, Uber has a pre booking landline- told directly to the transport committee of the GLA....and this man unbelievably, still has a job at TfL?

When fake medicals and topographical tests came to light in the Sun News paper expose', TfL said they would no be taking direct action but would be more vigilant in 3 years time, when certain PH driver's licenses were up for renewal. 

TfL's legal team, seem gutless to take on a large Private Hire operator whose philosophy is "it's easier to seek forgiveness than permission". So far, they appear to have gotten away with every rule they've broken and haven't had to seek forgiveness once. What message does this put out?

Funny thing is, this company state quite openly they are not a private hire operator but a tech company and they supply technology to the drivers who act as private hire operators. And yet TfL have chosen to licence the company as such and not the drivers.

Confused.....it gets much worse!

TfL director of legal Andrea Clarke and general counsel Howard Carter, last reviewed their advisory panel in 2012 appointing 11 new firms, including Dentons, Trowers & Hamlins and Lewis Silkin to a roster which also includes Berwin Leighton Paisner, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, K&L Gates and Gowling WLG. 

They now have a 200-strong legal team, comprising of 90 lawyers who handle TfL's core commercial work for operations which includes the capital that gets invested into the Underground, as well as diverting legal resources towards the office of the Mayor of London, the British Transport Police, the London Legacy Development Corporation. 

Firms on the payroll also advise the greater London authority, which also comes under the remit of TfL. (So no conflict of interest there then!!!

Back in 2012, when an employee from the Diamond Chauffeurs was caught blatantly touting outside a bar on Cornhill, by senior TfL staff members, their operator licenses were revoked, but they immediately appealed. TfL's legal team embarrassingly lost in the high court and decided to just leave it at that. 

     Touting on the pavement outside Tiger Tiger

Diamond can be found today openly touting with impunity  on pavements outside a number of London venues, left alone by TfLTPH enforcement. Many smaller PH firms now use the case as a precedent in defence when caught openly breaking the terms of their licence variation outside London clubs and bars.

Read the case for yourself >Click Here<

TfL's legal team waited some twelve years to get (in their words) "a water tight case". After losing the appeal, they've now been labeled "The Quality Street Gang"  by the Taxi trade. 

Trade org reps who attended the hearing, said they couldn't believe the weakness of the case bought by TfL, in light of the evidence that was available to them.

Observers have said it was exactly the same with Uber's "It's a meter, it's a smart phone?" case. 

Un-phased by the crippling affect of their woefully inadequate performance in general, TfL now operate a more relaxed approach to PH licensing. In doing so, they churn out somewhere in the region of 600 new PH licenses every week, allegedly to give Uber a steady flow of new drivers.

Issues such as: 
 • The ease in which Uber first became licensed without a landline
 •The Meter Case
 • On-off insurance policies
 • RD2.com's acquisition of PH operators licence and multiple licence variations (satellite offices), without the requirement of being in business for the minimum period of 12 months
 • Fake medicals, fake topographical test's
All now swept under the carpet.

Interestingly enough, the new commissioner of TfL, Mike Brown asked for it to go on record, that he had no part in the licensing of Uber....why would he insist on this going on record at a meeting of the Cabbies Cabinet?

So far, there's been a lot of shouting for Demo's, but not one of our trade orgs have challenged the real problem of TfL's conflict of interest with interested third party companies, (apart from the LCDC's expose's in the Badge paper).

I recently attended a meeting in Taxi House where most of our representative orgs were gathered to talk about what to do in light of the Toronto verdict. To my surprise two of the orgs hadn't even read this ground breaking story.
 
It also appears our largest trade org, has no viable plan to challenge these serious issues in the coming year. If they have, they don't seem to be letting on to anyone.

So perhaps it's time for the drivers to finally cross the line in the sand and take action for themselves.

The infighting and fragmentation has to stop and everyone has to come together under the one flag. Take the diary off the dashboard, forget the colour of the lanyard and fight for the badge that hangs from it.

At the beginning of 2016, our enemies predicted we would be gone by Christmas as with TfL's help, they double the size of their working fleet. 
But we are still in there punching our weight.
 
2017 has to be known as the year the drivers fought back.
If you don't get into the ring, you can't win the fight.

If you don't fight back now, TfL will destroy our trade and replace us with a one tier system, as per their agenda. 

Our fight back begins on January 12th at the Bank Junction and continues the following week for five days.




13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Already we have shown tfl we mean business, our pessitant badgering about ubers h&r (lack of ) , crb checks, driving & language skills ... but for our pessistance tfl would have done sweet fa ....we must however continue our fight and keep badgering until govt steps in, if 2017 has to be the year of the demo, so be it.

Anonymous said...

We have been constantly sold down the river by most of the orgs,now is the time as a member of unite the largest trade union in the U.K. To make them aware we wil not stand by and allow these orgs to continue to cow tow to TfL, the prime example was the baggage handlers at lhr. Th eunoin backed them to the hilt and the management backed down.what we require is just one org to go against the grain and stand up to TfL, even take them to court for unprofessional conduct in giving private hire preferential treatment against all working conduct codes, stipulated by themselves,and taking the individuals to court for gross negligence and corruption, when this happens we will. Be on a level playing field.and we must make sure that the people who have been actively helping these companies for gain are sent to prison.

Geoffrey Whitehouse said...

The Issue of Bank Junction will now go before the Court of Common Council on jan 12 1pm Guildhall

Anonymous said...

A great post. However, TFL's legal team are not gutless to take on Uber...........they don't want to ! Why would they ? If somebody kept putting 150 grand through your letterbox every week, you wouldn't call in a handyman to have your letterbox sealed up would you ?
TFL are not guilty of being gutless, they are guilty of being complicit. They know only too well what they are doing, and sadly our trade are the casualties. We are the thorn in their sides. They want shot of us. That's why enforcement is non existant, that's why Uber have been given the Royalty treatment and that's why our trade are continually hit with petty regulations to make life difficult. Remember the Poll Tax demonstrations ? That's what happens when you turn the screw once too tight and the underdogs fight back. And that's what we need to do....as soon as we can.
Happy New Year.
Semtex.

I'm Spartacus said...

It seems that these cases were deliberately badly handled and strangely never appealed again, WHY?

The same longstanding mystery applies to the BugBugs case by the LTDA!, Never appealed,. WHY?

Credit Card decision, NO submission form the LTDA, WHY?

I used to attribute most of this to incompetence, but my research, 'Dear Jo' and Mr Daniles appearance before the GLA, leads me to know otherwise.

Keep up the good work in 2017, our cause is just, expect no quarter, give none!

Anonymous said...

There needs to be a clear message and clear objective,

Daily Taxi protests should take place until the ALL of the following demands are fully met;

1/ The media fully investigates, reports and exposes the improper and unlawful actions of TFL, to include the failure to regulate Private Hire, the issuance of tens of thousands of PH Licenses without proper background checks, medicals or insurance, the improper interference of senior politicians to allow the regulations to be disregarded and the many other issues that have been raised by Taxi drivers and their Trade Organisations.

2/ The Prime Minister and Government immediately initiates an urgent Statutory Public Inquiry into the improper and unlawful conduct of TFL as detailed above and in the Press Release below

3/ Pending the Statutory Public Inquiry there is an immediate suspension of
· New Private Hire License applications
· The Uber Private Hire operator’s License; they do not meet the regulatory requirements to hold an operator’s License (no landline/office etc ) and Sadiq Khan promised that he would do this if he became Mayor and there was a single case of a driver being licensed improperly. There is evidence thousands of drivers have been issued licenses improperly so he needs to stand by his word.
· The improper and unlawful Taxi Age limit which is needlessly scraping taxis on a daily basis costing drivers thousands of pounds.
· The continued road alterations which have not complied with proper Planning Process. TFL have claimed that change of a roads use from vehicles to cycle lanes is not a change of use.

The details of the demands of the daily protests could be communicated by Press Releases from Trade Orgs , Social Media and flyers handed out to drivers (there are thousands of drivers who don’t use social media and have no information about the ongoing issues).
There will be no need for representation or engagement; the protests organised by individual drivers themselves will continue until the 3 demands are fully met.
TFL have to be exposed and there has to be a change in the regulatory body.

Lenny said...

No one single word, or reTweet from any of the five Orgs.
All are as bad as one and another.
They're all petrified someone's going to steal their members.
None of the five have the trade's interest at heart.
None of the five can claim they don't agree with the Bank being the line in the sand this trade must draw.

Anonymous said...

Been bullied by TFL for far too long,lets hit them where it hurts,block the roads round bus garages,see how they like it when their precious buses cant get anywhere!

Thefat Girl said...

The Mayor will do nothing to limit PH drivers, he has to find the money to subsidise the bus fairs for his friends companies.

Anonymous said...

BLOCK ALL THE BUS GARAGES !!

Anonymous said...

Comply Or Die Bank Junction ?
To all of those Drivers that don't do demos your New years resolution should be to make a difference in 2017 and get stuck in and fight the cause, This I fear is our do or die demo let them win this one and we're doomed.

Anonymous said...

We should sit on bank junction until they ask us nicely if they can have it back!

Anonymous said...

Within our trade we have the Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers (formerly just a Fellowship) who rub shoulders with all the other Worshipful Companies in the City of London and perhaps we should ask them to make representations on our behalf. Many of the members of the WCHCD are 'Freemen of the City of London' by redemption and one wonders how far this 'Freedom' extends. These 'Freemen' have sworn an Oath to protect London from harm and to report any person or persons who might cause harm to London. They could start off with the figureheads at the top of the 'pecking order' in TfL. As 'Freemen' they will not be able to drive through the very heart of the City they are sworn to protect - some Freedom. We can only hope that they can uphold their Oath and not just wallow in the glory that they may feel their membership brings them. We can only hope that in our hour of need some influence can be brought to bear on this situation - or why do we need a Worshipful Company of Hackney Carriage Drivers if they cannot speak up for the people they purport to represent right in the heart of our most wonderful City.