Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Transport for London And Number 10 Face Information Watchdog Probe Over Uber Emails


Transport for London and Downing Street are facing an investigation from the Information Commissioner's Office, Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon revealed in City Hall on Tuesday night (11 April).

The chair of the London Assembly's transport committee, speaking at a black cab event organised by Ukip's Peter Whittle and David Kurten, said she had asked the watchdog to launch the probe.

The development comes after emails and other documents, obtained by Pidgeon using the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that aides close to David Cameron urged Mayor of London Boris Johnson to drop proposed extra regulations on private hire app Uber in 2015.

Transport for London (TfL) dropped the plans, including making Uber customers wait five minutes between booking their car and starting their journey, in 2016 after more than 200,000 people signed a petition.

"That correspondence between Downing Street and TfL, those were my FoI requests. I have now got the Information Commissioner investigating because Number 10's response completely differed from TfL," Pidgeon said.

The comments come after hundreds of black cabs blocked Whitehall, Westminster, on 6 April over the revelations. 

Grant David, chairman of the London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC), urged Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to meet with his colleagues.

"The future can be rosy. but we need TfL to regulate [Uber over private hire apps]," he added. "If they don't regulate, and we've got 120,000 mini-cabs doing the same job as me in a vehicle that's half the price and half the fair, we will just become a tourist attraction on the top of a tin of biscuits."

Helen Chapman, the general manger for TfL's taxi and private hire division, told the audience at City Hall that "we all want to work together to make sure that there's a great future and there's another 350 years of taxis in London, which are iconic and recognised around the world". Then refused to answer any questions on the grounds that this was a public forum. 

Trade leaders stood up, one after another, asked questions of TfL who were represented by Chapman and Blake, but were repeatedly ignored. The whole forum was a complete farce. 

LCDC chairman Grant Davis speaking to the forum.

UPDATE: 11:40 BST, 12 April

A spokesperson for the ICO said: "Anyone who has asked for official information from a public authority and thinks they have wrongly withheld information or incorrectly handled a request can bring their complaint to the ICO. We are aware of the issues raised and are making enquiries."

EXTRA COMMENT FROM ALAN FISHER 

This letter was sent this to the Mayor a few days after the Westminster terrorist attack by Alan Fisher, editor of Dial A Cabs in house Call Sign Magazine. He received a reply yesterday - pretty quick for the Mayor's office...

Mr Mayor
I know it must have been rather uncool for you to have to say this, but in the aftermouth of the terrible happenings of last Wednesday, London's black cab drivers in the area switched off their meters and ferried people away from the area to places of safety at no charge. 
Uber, on the other hand, surged their prices to triple. 
I don't particularly want to make a political point out of such an appalling tragedy, but it would have been nice to include them in your list of those to thank. 

Kind regards

Alan Fisher

Editor
Call Sign Magazine

Reply from Val Shawcross, Mayor's Deputy for Transport 

Dear Alan
I want to express my gratitude on behalf of the Mayor to Black cab drivers for providing an invaluable, selfless service to those in the vicinity of the terrible incident. I know a number of drivers provided valuable support to their fellow Londoners and visitors to our city. This was a clear demonstration that our capital has the best taxi drivers in the world.
Thank you again for writing.

Valerie

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