Friday, August 31, 2012

Police searching for wanted minicab driver in Edgware

A minicab driver wanted for breaching his licensing conditions is being hunted by detectives in Edgware.

Police are trying to track down 46-year-old Mohammed Hersi who is believed to be living in Edgware and operating as a minicab driver in Wembley.

He is described as five feet nine inches tall, of stocky build and with black short afro hair.

Source: Times Series, Natalie O'Neill

Another Council Set For Deregulation.

Council plan could kill off local taxi firms, claim.

TAXI drivers are fearing for the future of their businesses due to proposals which could see increased competition on Burton’s roads.

East Staffordshire Borough Council is planning to remove the limit on the number of Hackney carriages allowed in Burton, which is likely to mean less custom for the town’s current firms.
In a further blow, the council is also proposing to allow private hire cars to accept customers who flag them down as they pass or from taxi ranks.

Currently only Hackney carriages are permitted to take customers who hail cabs and from taxi ranks, as well as prebookings, whereas private hire cars, can only take fares that have been booked in advance.

Under the new plans, a private hire car from Derby dropping a customer in Burton would then be able to be flagged down by another customer wanting to travel elsewhere in the town, meaning Burton custom lining the pockets of Derby minicab firms.

Taxi drivers in Burton feel that an increase in the amount of Hackney carriages will swallow up competition in what is a relatively small town.
Additional proposals to allow private hire vehicles from elsewhere to pick up customers in Burton are seen as a further kick in the teeth, which taxi firms say could put them out of business.

Shokad Mahmood, owner of A1 Taxis and 58 Taxis, in Station Street, said: “Burton is a very small place. If big firms are allowed to hijack all the trade, we will be finished. More cars will be allowed to come on the roads, from areas such as Derby and Lichfield. These cars are not allowed to pick up fly-by passengers at the moment, but now they will be able to hang around in Burton.

“It is going to ruin the business, and all other small taxi businesses around here.”

The plans are currently in their consultation stage, with East Staffordshire Borough Council keen to hear the views of both taxi drivers and members of the public.

Mr Mahmood pledged to fight the council’s proposals in a bid to safeguard the future of his business.
“I have been to a town hall meeting, and more meetings are in the pipeline. This could ruin my business, we’re going to arrange more meetings and take it from there.

A spokesman for East Staffordshire Borough Council said: “The proposals are only at the consultation stage at present and we are urging people, including licensed taxi drivers, to respond to the proposals.”

A final decision is expected to be made following the end of the consultation period on Monday, September 10.

Members of the public can have their say about the proposals at

Deregulation is happening around the country, it is a reality.
Many more councils are consulting these type of proposals.
The Law Commission is looking to repeal and change Hackney Carriage Law and London's world class taxi service is under threat.


Source: The Burton Mail

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Still think men ain't coming to kill you? Deregulation and an increasein numbers in the provinces, escalate.

People across the Chichester District and members of the taxi trade are being consulted on proposed changes to the way Hackney carriages are licensed.

Since 1987, licensed Hackney carriages (London-style cabs) in Chichester District have had to conform to the London Conditions of Fitness (LCOF). Chichester District Council is one of only a minority of local authorities who continue to retain this policy.

Government advice, recent legislation and case law required the council to review this policy.

As a result, a decision has been taken by the Licensing and Enforcement Committee to move away from the London Conditions of Fitness.

The Council have said;
"The principle objective for the council is the protection of the general public who use licensed Hackney carriage and private hire vehicles and that they are accessible to everyone. The revised policy outlines a number of new proposals on how the council deals with licensed drivers, vehicle proprietors and operators."

How can changing from a purpose built wheelchair accessible vehicle with a safety shield between passenger and customer, to a saloon car be more accessible and safer for both the driver and passenger?

During a consultation into the LCOF, The London Taxi Company warned: “If the council moves away from their present conditions, this will allow converted vehicles to be taxis - lowering standards and putting public safety at risk. As many of these vehicles are operated by private hire companies, the distinction between licensed and unlicensed vehicles will be lost. This could endanger the public.”

The council insist that the new conditions will make sure that any licensed vehicle continues to be clearly identifiable as a taxi. Some critics say the new conditions are more likely to harmonise the gap between Hackney carriage vehicles with private hire.

Local residents can provide their views from 28 August until Tuesday 6 November.

The Licensing and Enforcement Committee will consider the feedback in November.

Cllr Henry Potter, Vice-Chairman of the Licensing and Enforcement Committee at Chichester District Council, says: "We want to hear from local residents and members of the taxi trade. We will rely on this information to help us make our final decisions."

Wolverhampton taxi drivers oppose plans for more cabs

The Wolverhampton Taxi Owners Association said about 160 drivers had taken part in the protest

Parminder Sekhon, from Wolverhampton Taxi Owners Association, said: "The point we're trying to make is this is what will happen if they issue more licences."

Wolverhampton City Council said people had told them there were often not enough taxis available.

The plans are part of a consultation.
Nick Edwards, the council's assistant director for regeneration, said: "The proposals form one element of a major piece of work to explore options for how we can enhance the city centre.

"But I must stress these are only proposals at this stage."

'First of many'
The council's consultation ends on 14 September.

Mr Sekhon said: "This is not something we wanted to do but we've got no choice, the council wants to flood our streets with more taxis.

"There's no need for any more and the point we're trying to make is this is what will happen if they issue more licences.

"We've wanted to raise public awareness which we have done but this could be the first of many protests."

He added there were 170 taxis in Wolverhampton and about 160 drivers had taken part in the protest.

The go-slow started at 10:00 and last until about 13:30 BST, said Mr Sekhon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Not All Gloom And Doom.

Bored, nothing to do, why not advance to London and play life-size Monopoly

I suppose living and working in London, we take for granted all the destinations on the Monopoly board. But nationwide there are many people who only know a street, road, square, or station, in relation to the space occupied on the game board.

Members of Thetford Players have been exploring a new way to play Monopoly.

On Saturday, the players travelled to London and took part in their first ever real world Monopoly Race. The traditional board game was turned into a fun, real-life on street version with the aim of raising money for their charity of the year, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (Each).

Speakers Corner in Hyde Park became their GO! spot and the 22 players visited as many places in London featured on the Monopoly board as possible.

The winning group, Fairgate Flyers, reached 26 out of 27 locations. The game lasted five hours.

Their prize, a £50 Amazon voucher, was donated to Each. The fun day raised just under their £1,500 target.

If anyone would like to donate, they can go to

One game that would be popular with London cabbies would be Battleships using minicabs as targets.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


LABOUR city hall bosses have been condemned by a human rights group after they decided to fight a ban on their use of spy cameras and microphones in taxis

Last month the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham slapped an enforcement notice on the Southampton City Council, after he said it had “gone too far” by using the surveillance equipment.

However, councillors have lodged an appeal, which is due to be heard by the Information Rights Tribunal this autumn. If successful it raises the prospect of all taxi passengers in Britain being snooped on.

Since 2009, taxis in Southampton have been required to install cameras and microphones.

The cameras cannot be turned off by the driver.

Recordings have been used to convict passengers who have assaulted and robbed drivers and in one case to revoke the licence of a driver who hurled abuse at three elderly women.
Southampton City Council says it will use this evidence in its appeal to be allowed to keep the cameras working in the city’s taxis.

Councillor Jacquie Rayment, deputy leader of the council, said: “No one sees these videos unless there is an incident that needs investigating and in those cases the footage and audio becomes crucial independent evidence.
“The very fact that the cameras capture everything is a valuable deterrent against attacks, both verbal and physical.

“This appeal is an opportunity for us to show the court that we are not using them to snoop on innocent activity but to deter and to take action on criminal offences.”

The appeal has been condemned by civil liberties group Big Brother Watch and the Local Government Minister Bob Neill.

A Big Brother Watch spokesman said: “Yet more public resources will be tied up defending a policy that has no grounding in rational thought or civil society.

“It is another example of a council trying to steamroller surveillance through without paying attention to public opinion, privacy or, in this case, the law.”

Mr Neill has also questioned the move accusing Labour-controlled Southampton of “excessive and unjustifiable snooping by a town hall Stasi”.

In other parts of the UK it is recommended that cabs install either CCTV systems without audio recording due to privacy concerns, or use a system which triggers audio recording only in specific circumstances, such as if the driver pressed a panic button.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Detectives launch appeal after sex attack on woman picked up in minicab at King’s Cross nightclub

Detectives have launched an appeal for information following a sexual assault on an 18-year-old woman.

The incident on Sunday, August 19, happened after the victim was shepherded into what she believed to be a LTPH licensed minicab outside Egg nightclub in York Way, King’s Cross, at around 3am and asked to be taken to Paddington.

It is believed that the suspect then drove her to the Euston area in the silver vehicle where he sexually assaulted her. Following the attack, he then took her to Gloucester Place in Westminster where he pushed her from his vehicle and drove away at around 3.55am

The suspect is described as dark European, possibly Turkish, aged around 50, of a large build with stubble and dark thinning greying hair that was gelled back.

Anyone with information should call Det Sgt Brian Richards of Sapphire on 020 7421 0203 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800


This is how easy it is for the predators.

Enforcement from LTPH is woefully inadequate

Friday, August 24, 2012

London Taxi Drivers Review of Suburban Licensing: Is This To Be The Final Nail In The Coffin For The Suburban Driver

TPH Notice 13/11, published on 23 December 2011, announced that TfL are to undertake a detailed review of suburban taxi driver licensing following concerns raised by the taxi trade.

But what about the Taxi trades concerns over Private Hire touting, illegal plying for hire and obstruction of working Taxi ranks by PHVs? Not a word from LTPH on these issues!

The ultimate aim, they say, is for TfL to understand the taxi trade’s issues and concerns and seek to create a sustainable suburban taxi driver licensing system that benefits both taxi drivers and the public.

Surely stopping touting and illegal plying for hire (which is leading to robbery, assaults and serious sexual attacks including many actual rapes) is more beneficial to the public and the trade.

The review will include several workshops with many trade representatives and will culminate in a public consultation which will be sent to every single taxi driver for their comments. It is anticipated that the consultation will be undertaken early in 2013.

Is this another diversionary tactic designed to cause fragmentation in the trade as the law commission report is rolled out, while the real issues that affect our livelihood such as Touting and illegal plying for hire by Private hire are left un-dealt with?

The first workshop will take place on Monday 24 September 2012 from 13:00- 16:00 and will be held at Palestra. This workshop will focus on TfL providing a background presentation and TfL will then chair a discussion and debate with all attendees.

Drivers and driver organisations should register their interest in attending the workshops by e-mailing
quoting their name, badge number and licence area or alternatively the name of their organisation if a driver association.

Although LTPH will not be able to accommodate everyone, they will ensure that the presentation and summary of the discussion will be circulated to all drivers who have registered an interest.

Release is again signed by John Mason Director Taxi and Private Hire

So John, when can we expect a well advertised workshop on the real life problems of lack of enforcement from LTPH on touting and illegal plying for hire issues.

Just As We Are About To Go Over To MOT's, East Surrey Taxi DriversFurious Over New MOT Rules

FURIOUS taxi drivers have criticised a new council MOT service which they say could cost them even more money.

Under new rules passed by Reigate and Banstead Borough Council's Regulatory Committee all taxis – both private hire and hackney carriages – will be forced to have their MOTs carried out at the council's Earlswood Depot, rather than using their usual local garage.

Next year see the mayors new scheme of two MoTs for London's Taxis, replacing the present yearly overhaul and presentation to SGS. Taxis will still have to have a safety and compliance check but also need to have two MoTs.

No details have been released by LTPH as of yet, but will we be able to have a normal MoT anywhere we like, or will LTPH sponsored MoT service stations suddenly emerge.

Is the article below an precursor of what the London Taxi trade is about to experience:

East Surrey taxi drivers furious over new MOT rules

Taxi drivers in Reigate and Banstead will be forced to have their vehicles MOTd at the council's Earlswood depot

But with more than 600 taxis in the borough, each needing a MOT every six months, and only three spaces at the depot, drivers say the plan is unworkable. They have launched a petition against it.

At a meeting of the Taxi Association at Holy Trinity Church Hall in Carlton Road, Redhill, on Wednesday last week, it was claimed that time constraints and the lack of a price discount will hit them in the pocket. Association chairman Abid Majid said: "There are 600 drivers whose livelihoods are being affected.

"They [the council] say as far as they are concerned they will be able to cope but we have reservations. Some drivers get services done and get a free MOT."

Drivers cannot apply for an MOT more than 28 days before their current one expires, but since the council will not carry out mechanical work at the Earlswood depot, drivers risk having to have a test, go to a separate garage for repairs and book another test, all within 28 days, or be left unable to work due to a lack of MOT.

The council will charge the full £54 for tests, rather than the reduced price offered at local garages, which could be as low as £25.

It says MOTs in the area need to be standardised despite the fact that garages are licensed by the Government to carry them out.

Driver Raymundo Negro said: "The taxi trade is struggling.

"If we lose our MOT we can't work, then we're out of business."

The council claims its new waste collection lorries require less mechanical work, being brand new, and will free up time at the depot.

There are also plans to create a third work bay to handle the workload.

Councillor Rita Renton, executive member for health, said after the meeting: "The council has been working to make the vehicle licensing process quicker, easier and more flexible for drivers and operators.

"We plan to use our Earlswood Depot MOT test centre, which as well as MOTs would also provide a one-stop shop for taxi licensing, vehicle inspections and licence renewals."

Source: Surrey Today.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dear John.... By David Wicks.

Dear John
It has come to our attention that certain drivers who were exercising their right of protest, have been summoned to Palestra, to be interrogated by your department like common criminals.
Could you please answer the following questions;

How can Taxi drivers, who were stuck in gridlock, due to their right to protest under the human right act, be accused of causing obstruction by a licensing authority, in the light that no charges from the police have been made?

Were your undercover spies looking for particular Taxi drivers to fit up, in retaliation for certain trade orgs representatives bringing to light Leon Daniels bias treatment of the trade during the Olympics?

Have you and your officers not spent the last three years, telling the trade you can no longer prosecute Private hire drivers for similar offences outside night venues, unless your staff are in the company of warranted police officers?

Is it not your policy that obstructing the highway is the remit of local parking enforcement or the police?

So how come you now summon License Taxi drivers up to Palestra for this offence and to what purpose?

Do you intend to set yourself up in a quasi judicial capacity for licensed Taxis but not private hire?

The Police Praised the Behaviour Of Both Drivers and Organisers
The drivers other than the diver, involved in the Hyde Park Corner , Tower Bridge and Parliament Square protests have not been charged with any offence by the Police!
After the demonstrations the Police stated they were pleased at the orderly way the protests took place.

We look forward to your answers which will be posted uncensored.

More Threats From LTPH in Press Release 10/12

Olympic Route Network and Paralympic Route Network

The Olympic Route Network (ORN) and the Games Lanes along the ORN ceased operation at midnight on Tuesday 14 August 2012, enabling athletes, officials and the world’s media to leave London after the Olympics ended.

The final works to reinstate pedestrian crossings and remove any temporary signs, Olympic Rings, barriers and other measures from the ORN that are not required for the Paralympic Route Network (PRN) were carried out between Wednesday 15 August and Sunday 19 August.

Paralympic Route Network
The Paralympics take place between Wednesday 29 August and Sunday 9 September and, throughout this period, the PRN will be in operation to ensure that all athletes, officials and the world’s media can get to events on time. The PRN is much smaller than the ORN with just under 9 miles of Games Lanes. As with the ORN there will be electronic roadside signage (Variable Message Signs) advising motorists when the Games Lanes are in operation, as well as when they can be used by Games vehicles only and when they are open to all traffic.
The physical build of the PRN will begin overnight on Saturday 25 August, but will not come into operation until 06:00 on Wednesday 29 August, the opening day of the Paralympic Games. The PRN and Games Lanes will cease operation and enforcement one day after the end of the Paralympics at midnight on 10 September, to aid the efficient departure of athletes, officials and the media.

A map showing the full PRN route plus the route on 9 September, when the marathon takes place in central London, is in Appendix 1.
As was the case for the ORN, TfL will be monitoring the network constantly and will only activate the lanes when absolutely necessary. Drivers should continue to follow the guidance given by the Variable Message Signs located at regular intervals across the network.
Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs)
If you drive in one of the Games Lanes during operational hours, you will receive a penalty charge notice (PCN).
Penalties can, of course, be challenged through the representations process; this is outlined on the penalty which is the same process for PCNs issued during the Olympics and Paralympics to taxi or private hire drivers by TfL, the Police or Local Authorities for driving in Games Lanes when in operation or for banned turns.

Licensed London taxi or private hire drivers should also be aware that repeated intentional breaches of the PRN or other inappropriate conduct may give rise to regulatory issues.

Paralympic Events
There is a packed schedule of Paralympic events taking place at the Olympic Park, ExCel, Greenwich Park, North Greenwich Arena, The Mall and The Royal Artillery Barracks.

The date of every event and the expected start/finish times are in the Games Handbook which is still available online at All taxi and private hire drivers should make sure that they are prepared for the Paralympics by reading the guidance, particularly on page 8 of the handbook about assisting passengers. Taxi drivers should also check that the wheelchair ramp and other accessibility features on their vehicles are in full working order.

21 August 2010
John Mason Director, Taxi and Private Hire
For previous Notices visit

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Leon Daniels and TfL, Take Issue With Taxi Drivers Legal Right ToDemonstrate.

Drivers who took park in recent demonstrations against TfL's Leon Daniel's decision to exclude the Licensed Taxi Trade from Games Lanes, are now receiving a letter of complaint from LTPH. The letter, allegedly signed by Director of LTPH John Mason, asks them to attend an interview at Palestra to explain their action. These letters follow on from the insulting TfL press release 08/12 also signed by John Mason, made just a few weeks ago and are a blatant attack on the trades right to demonstrate.

The Human Rights Act protects freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – this forms the basis for your right to gather with others and protest.

I am disgusted by Leon Daniels and TfL who have over stepped their authority. While obstructing the highway is an offence, as far as we know, no drivers have been advised of pending prosecution by the police. Leon Daniels, who is managing director of TfL's Surface Transport, does not have the power or the right to set himself up as judge and jury over this issue neither does any other officer at TfL and they should immediately apologise for this malfeasance.
Apart from that, we have heard statements from the police who praised the lawful way the demonstrations were carried out and so in my opinion we have no complaint to answer.

Personally I will refuse to attend such an interview as it was perfectly clear exactly what the demonstration was about and I have the legal right of protest.
I would suggest Mr Daniels and other staff at both TfL and LTPH would by better value to the Tax payers of London by concentrating on the illegal practises outside every night venue in London which presently he prefers to turn a blind eye to.

Instead of worrying about Licensed Taxi drivers legally exercising their right to protest, he should do what he's paid to do and enforce the law on illegal plying for hire which is leading to robbery, serious sexual assault and rape.

Below is an email followed by a video of RMT Chairman Mike Bailey which has been sent to all RMT members by Taxi Branch secretary Mike Tinnion.

Dear Colleagues,

It has come to light, that a TfL Official, has taken it upon himself to take down the vehicle registration details of a number of Taxi drivers, at the recent demonstration in Parliament Square. These drivers have subsequently received letter of complaint, for obstruction and asks them to attend an interview at Palestra House, to explain there actions.
Let me make things quite clear, the RMT union, will robustly defend your right to protest, and any issue that may effect your ability to work.

On a personal level, I am disgusted at these attacks on drivers, by an organisation that is meant to treat you fairly, I don't call sneaking around and slyly writing down the vehicle details of drivers, who are sick and tired of being treated like second citizens, fair. We will not allow TfL to bully or intimidate you the working Taxi driver. We will defend your "Bill" to the highest court in the land.

Mike Tinnion RMT London Taxi branch secretary.


First They Came For The Trade Unionists... from On the Barricade on Vimeo.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Minicabs are not "Taxis" and never will be.

Many drivers have become incensed at the proliferation of the contravention of the London cab act which protects the words "Taxi, Taxis, Cab and Cabs" from use other than by describing the vehicle or service appertaining to a Licensed Hackney carriage.

The weakness of the director of LTPH in dealing with this issue, is just another example of the unfitness for purpose of this quasi judicial department. Minicab companies constantly advertise all over the Internet blatantly using the term "Taxi Service".

Some Private Hire minicab offices even display a form of TfLTPH roundel which displays the logo "Taxi Private Hire". This infringement of the London Cab Act gives the public a false sense of security and should be dealt with by LTPH, but it's not!
Every service provider should be contacted and advised not to do this, but they are not!

Private Hire offices are replacing this logo

With this misleading logo

Misleading Media Articles
As commissioner of Transport for the Mayor, TfL's Peter Hendy should write on our behalf, to ever newspaper, national or local, plus all the radio and TV news outlets and demand they stop putting the public at risk by referring to Minicabs as Taxis.
He should do, but he doesn't!

Is there more to this than meets the eye?
With the Law commission report looming, the term Taxi is constantly being used when referring to Minicabs. Even John Griffin has referred to himself in the media and on TV (quite wrongly) as owner of the biggest Taxi fleet in Europe.

Touts outside night clubs are being referred to as unlicensed Taxis by the police, TfL and the media, while serious sexual assaults including rapes statistics are kept under the heading of Cab related sexual attacks.

This problem needs addressing now.

Picture and Text below taken from the Metro. Notice the minicab is referred to as a Taxi...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Touting Enforcement Record: Jeddah Better Than London

Arabs returning to Jeddah, having witnessed the non enforcement of on street touting, are emulating practises experienced in London, when they get back home.

Because of the big crowds during the holy month of Ramadan followed by Eid, motorists start working as unlicensed taxi drivers. These motorists use their private vehicles and follow special strategy to avoid traffic patrols.

According to Jeddah traffic management statistics, the main areas of reported problems are the roads leading into the downtown, roads leading to malls, and roads leading to Makkah.

Col. Zaid Al-Hamdy, the head of public relations at Jeddah Traffic Management, said private motorists are forbidden in the Kingdom to work as cab drivers and it is a violation.

“This is a phenomenon that is available through the year, but it increases largely during the holy months Ramadan and Haj. To control this phenomenon, our patrols observed main areas, like roads lead to Makkah and Madinah, airport, malls and downtown,” he said.

Latest statistic issued by Jeddah police confirmed that the number of seized motorists that work as taxi drivers in 2011 was 16,454.

That's ten times the number of touts reported in London!

Perhaps Col. Zaid Al-Hamdy could come to London and give LTPH and chief superintendent Sultan Taylor a few tips on how to do the job properly

Source: Arab News

Racism, Following Deregulation in Dublin

Very shortly, the London Taxi trade will have to face the most important law changes ever to hit the trade. In just one of the many issues facing us, the law commission will be looking to deregulate our trade.
The Law Commission is not a licensing authority or council, these are the people who make the law! What they say goes, end of.

Anyone in doubt of the devastation caused by deregulation should look at the places such as Colchester, Belfast and Dublin.

In Dublin there has been a massive influx of foreign nationals driving Taxis with ranks full to capacity. Drivers have formed elite closed shop ranks and racism has become more intense. Some Irish national drivers are displaying green lights to advise passengers they are indigenous.

The Law commission is also looking to scrap the controls on cross boarder hiring. The dangers of this will be explained at length in a forthcoming article

Below is an article from the Irish Times showing the breakdown of their trade since deregulation.


Faced with a ‘closed shop’ at some Dublin taxi ranks, many foreign-national drivers view exclusionary behaviour as racism

LAST YEAR I spent a shift in a taxi with a Taxi driver and wrote about it for the Irish Times newspaper. Over 12 gruelling hours on a Saturday night, he made just over €140 and good-humouredly put up with all sorts of anarchic, drunken behaviour from passengers.

That night there was an undercurrent of racism from some customers (one woman skipped three non-Irish drivers to get into our car) and some taximen. Subsequently, there have been scandals involving taxis with green lights, supposedly indicating Irishness (these have vanished), and ongoing rumours of racially segregated ranks.

Anecdotally, the most regular culprit is the rank on O’Connell Street, Dublin, which is reputed to have a closed shop of regulars and is, in my recent experience, regularly host to shouting matches and horn-beeping aggression between drivers.

Eighteen months ago, concern about public-order issues on some Dublin ranks prompted Garda moves to address the problem; specifically, according to some taximen, the rank across from the Gresham Hotel on O’Connell Street. “We do have the power to ensure a taxi rank is run in a competent manner,” a Garda spokesman said this week.

“There was an unsavoury element controlling that rank for a time,” says Jerry Brennan, the taxi branch organiser of Siptu. “The Garda did pay particular attention to that rank and the unsavoury behaviour was sorted out.”

David Franzoni, a committee member of new representative body Tiománaí Tacsaí na hÉireann, who I met on the Gresham rank, says, “myself and a number of other drivers had meetings with gardaí to resolve a few issues around how this rank was run. The gardaí told me they’ve had no issues since.”

Franzoni stresses the issues were not about race. He lists several non-Irish colleagues who work there. They recently had a whip-around to send a Turkish colleague home for his father’s funeral, and another to help an Egyptian driver to visit his sick mother.

“I’ll admit that this is a strict rank,” says another driver, Joe. “Some might see it as a closed shop because if there’s anything wrong with your documentation, you’ll be asked off the rank. But a lot of problems are simply a result of people not queuing properly.”

Others, however, maintain that some at the Gresham rank, and to a lesser extent the ranks adjoining O’Connell Street, practise exclusionary behaviour. “The system there is designed to keep people out,” says John from Sierra Leone, who is on the rank at St Stephen’s Green. “In O’Connell Street they’ve a system where the queue is not serial and they do that to keep people out. When you go there you might queue up but the guy you’re queuing behind, he’s not necessarily the guy you’re after. When you ask who you’re after in the queue they don’t tell you and it can get very aggressive.”

There’s a term in the taxi industry called “getting last”. In the past, and up until recently at the O’Connell Street rank, a new taxi-driver would “get last” by asking who they were following if it wasn’t immediately apparent. It might have been the car in front or it could well be one of several cars circling the rank. According to Franzoni and others, many new drivers misunderstood the system and misconstrued it as racist. Furthermore, Franzoni says the rank now operates in a more straightforward way.

Yet, others say that many at the O’Connell Street rank still withhold information and are generally unfriendly. “I don’t go there anymore,” says Uche who comes from Biafra. “The person you think you’re following will deny that you’re following him.”

“I went there about four months ago and a guy said: ‘You don’t normally work here. Why are you here?’” says Pascal from Cameroon. “He told me to leave. But I didn’t, as he has no right to say that. It’s like the Mafia.”

Jerry Brennan of Siptu is reluctant to put this in a racial context. “In the past, the ‘racism’, if you can use that word, was between the Dublin fellows and the country fellows. The Dubliners stuck together. When I got into the industry in 1990, I couldn’t ‘get last’ on that rank, but then I learned the unwritten rules. The problem now is that when deregulation happened you had a massive deluge of new people and there wasn’t time to teach them these unwritten rules, and it created tension.”

THAT TENSION IS partially about economics. All the drivers, Irish or not, talk of falling incomes and tough working conditions, against a backdrop of 14,000 taxis operating in Dublin, concerns about part-time drivers and unlicensed operators. “I do about 65 hours a week for the equivalent of social welfare,” says Ali Sala from Somalia, who is at the St Stephen’s Green rank. At the College Green rank, an Irishman named Chris talks about the suicides and stress-induced heart attacks of colleagues, and an older driver called Tom recalls having a knife held to his throat the previous week. “I managed to get away, but I was pretty shook up for a few days.”

Although many of the non-Irish and Irish drivers have similar problems, non-Irish drivers have the additional problem of passengers skipping their cars because of the colour of their skin (this practice was unintentionally facilitated by the Taxi Regulator deciding that choosing any taxi from a rank was the customer’s prerogative). This behaviour is exacerbated by the insinuations of colleagues. David Franzoni at the O’Connell Street rank suggests that because foreign drivers are only vetted from the time they entered the country, Irish drivers are more strictly vetted and thus it’s reasonable to skip a non-Irish taxi driver: “If the first car is a non-EU national driver and a person goes past them to an Irish driver, is that racism or is that person protecting their own personal security because they know these guys haven’t been security checked?”

All the non-Irish taximen I speak to feel unwelcome at the O’Connell Street rank. Drivers there maintain they exclude only those who break the rules. Others contend that they’re generically unfriendly to newcomers, that it just so happens that many of the newcomers are non-Irish. “I don’t feel entirely comfortable on that rank myself,” says an Irish veteran of two decades.

Whatever the intention, a side effect is racial exclusion. If the Irish drivers on this rank feel misunderstood, they could try being friendlier to strangers. Evarest Chisi from Nigeria has been hearing innuendo about foreign-national drivers since 2010. “Before that, everyone was friendly,” he says. “Then I started hearing: ‘Don’t go with the non-nationals because they will rob you.’ A girl told me that one Irish driver told her she might be raped in a car with a non-Irish driver. I studied psychology. I understand why this is happening. When the recession came and there wasn’t as much work, those who couldn’t cope with the new situation started brainwashing the youth about non-Irish drivers. I don’t even call it racism. I call it recessionism.”


I’m from Nigeria, but my family lives in Warsaw. I went there 24 years ago to study psychology and I married a Polish girl. I came here in 2005 because I read that Ireland needed psychologists. I ended up working for a security company. I’ve been in the taxi business since 2009.

A good friend of mine, Bernard, is an Irish taxi guy. One day I was at the top of a rank and I was talking with him when a girl and a boy came, ignored us and took the next taxi.

I took another fare and when I came back, Bernard was upset. I said, “What’s wrong?” He said the other driver had come back and said, “If you weren’t talking to that nigger, I wouldn’t have taken the fare.”

I saw it in Poland at the end of communism. You could be queuing two hours for a loaf of bread and some guy would think, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have had to queue so long.

In Poland, the racism was more direct. Here they try to tarnish our image, telling people nonsense about us ripping people off. I don’t do that. I believe in karma.

Source; Irish Times, Patrick Freyne

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Taxi Drivers Told CCTV Cameras Breach The Data Protection Act.

Southampton City Council has lodged an appeal after it was told taxi drivers must not use CCTV in their cars.

Since 2009, all taxis in the city have been required by the council to record video and audio on cameras.

In July the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) ordered the council to halt the use of cameras, saying it breached the Data Protection Act.

The authority says CCTV helps protect the safety of both passengers and drivers.

The council's deputy leader Jacquie Rayment said: "What has not been acknowledged in the process so far is the lengths we go to to protect the privacy of all drivers and passengers.

"No one sees these videos unless there is an incident that needs investigating and in those cases the footage and audio becomes crucial independent evidence.

"The very fact that the cameras capture everything is a valuable deterrent against attacks, both verbal and physical."

The appeal is expected to be heard in spring 2013. A council spokesman said: "Until then the status quo will remain, with Southampton's taxis continuing to be required to use the camera equipment."

An ICO spokesman said: "We have received notice that Southampton City Council have appealed against the enforcement notice served on the council on 23 July and will consider our response."

Friday, August 17, 2012

BBC chief claims £2,500 for Taxis in 3 months

One of the BBC’s most highly paid executives accounted for more than a tenth of all the taxi expenses claimed by almost 100 senior figures in a quarter, new figures have shown.

Chief operating officer Caroline Thomson – who was in the running to be the new director-general – put in claims totalling in excess of £2,500 for the three-month period.

Ms Thomson, who receives a total remuneration package of £328,000, also claimed back a £2 cash machine charge from a US visit, according to her latest expenses claims which have just been published.

Her taxi spend for the period came to £2,551.59, averaging at just over £25.50 each time she took a cab. Ms Thomson’s spend adds up to the cost of 17 licence fees.

The entire spend for 97 executives over the three months is £24,770, down 11% on the previous quarter.

Ms Thomson’s taxi bill has actually gone up by more than 100% during the same period. For the previous quarter she claimed £1,194.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “Caroline Thomson is responsible for the operations division which is based across a number of different locations around the UK, so her role involves a considerable amount of travel.”

The BBC’s creative director, Alan Yentob, claimed £1,216.05 for taxis for the period, quarter four of the last financial year. He also claimed a total of £722.81 for discussions about “projects” and “BBC films”.

Expenses and “central bookings” are down 4% on the previous quarter and down 11% since it started publishing the figures in 2009, said the BBC.

“Expenses have fallen 4% this quarter and remain within a range proportionate to running a media organisation of this size. We continue to be mindful of how we spend public money and to drive down costs wherever possible,” said the BBC.

Is Griffin Trying To Cash In On The Free Publicity?

Pranksters figured that Julian Assange needed some help getting to Heathrow Airport, and a few hot pizzas to see him on his way, after Ecuador granted him asylum yesterday.

Local minicab and fast food firms fell for a series of hoax calls as they stood outside the Ecuadorian embassy in Knightsbridge, waiting for some one to come out and pay for the deliveries.

Amid protesters and police, photographers surrounded one of the many minicabs that had a placard with the WikiLeaks founder's name in the front window. (How thick to you have to be to get a job with Addi Lee)

The bemused Addison Lee Minicab driver acknowledged that it was all a practical joke and pulled away.

It's amazing to think that with all the publicity over the passed few days that Addison Lee dispatchers would still fall for this prank. But I supposed it helps keep the numbers up of jobs dispatched. Plus there is always the added bonus of getting a free bit of advertising in the worlds media!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


John Anderson is pleased to announce he is now open for business again.

Access to the New Royal Oak Cabbies Cafe, can be gained by driving into the entrance to the car wash, located in Hermitage street W2 (last turning on left before roundabout at rear of paddington feeder rank

The Cabbies Cafe is currently licensed to open 7am-7pm Mon-Sat, please help spread the word.

In an interview with Taxileaks, John said he was keeping his fingers crossed in hoped that the opening hours could be extended to 11pm in a few weeks time.

The New Royal Oak has managed to maintained last years prices and now look forward to offering value for money with quality food and great service. There is plenty of on-site parking

Taxileaks would like to wish John Anderson much success with this new venture.

MiniCab Used in Assange Hoax

A policeman asks a minicab driver, who had apparently arrived following a request he received on a smart phone App, to pick up Julian Assange, to leave after he pulled up outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where the Wikileaks founder sought sanctuary from the British authorities.

Supporters of Julian Assange, gathered outside the Ecuadorean Embassy in Knightsbridge.

Mr Assange has been living inside the embassy since June 19 after requesting political asylum whilst facing extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said they are looking at an obscure law which will allow the police to enter the embassy and arrest Mr Assange.

Although this episode can be seen as no more than a prank, it should open up debate in the legality and safety of electronic street hails.

At present the only vehicle that can accept a casual street hail, is a licensed London Taxi, but smart phone apps are allowing members of the public to hail unbooked minicabs on-street. This is putting the safety of the public at risk.

One Law For Them and A Different Law For Us.

It's amazing how the government can dig up obscure laws to deal with one alleged rapist claiming political asylum in an embassy and yet TfL/LTPH show no appetite to use existing legislation, to deal with potential predatorial minicabs, illegally plying for-hire outside virtually every night venue.

LTPH's action (or lack of it) is blatant bias and proof that a licensing authority for a city as large as London, can not function properly having a remit for both Hackney carriage and private hire. It is imperative that LTPH be split in two, to secure the survival of the Licensed Taxi trade.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Girl gets a no strides ride in Perth cab

So you think London Taxi drivers are not the best dressed in the world, well we certainly are not the worst.

This story from PerthNow...

A PERTH woman has told how she got into a taxi on the weekend - only to discover her cab driver was not wearing pants.

Jessie Gravett, 21, told PerthNow she caught a taxi from a North Perth address about 12.30am on Sunday morning after a night out and was appalled to look over mid-journey and see the cab driver apparently wearing no pants and no shoes.

She managed to snap a photo of the driver on her mobile phone as she exited the cab after arriving at her Spearwood home and has lodged a formal complaint with Swan Taxis.

"I got picked up by a taxi in North Perth and then I was messaging my boyfriend as I got in the taxi so I just opened the door and got in and sat down, I didn't even look at the driver because I didn't expect to see anything," Ms Gravett said.

When she eventually looked over at the driver, she could not see any clothing on his legs.

"I'm 99 per cent sure he wasn't wearing shorts because I could see," Ms Gravett said.

"The only clothing I could see on this guy was his work shirt.

"He just kept driving and I was messaging my friends the whole way letting them know what I had happened.

"I didn't talk to him and ask him why. He might have had harmless intentions, but if he did have bad intentions I didn't want to ask a question about it."

Ms Gravett said she felt "scared and uncomfortable" and the experience had made her think twice about catching a taxi in Perth alone at night.

"It's made me feel a bit worried about doing it," she said.

The Department of Transport has told Ms Gravett they are investigating the incident and would interview the driver next week.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Battle of the cabs: Hailing competition in London’s transport


WHEN I lived in Monaco, I had Ferraris. Now, living in London, I have a basic car but barely use it. The hassle of parking and traffic have made me a cab and minicab user, and I’ve recently noticed interesting things going on in their business world.

Cabs have had two unique selling points. Unlike minicabs, they can be legally hailed from the street – a huge advantage when so much hiring is done on the street on demand. Secondly, they have “The Knowledge”.

Cabbies have such an amazing and unmatched memory of streets and locations that research has been done into their ability and techniques. At times, it’s been a booming business. I remember a number of years ago when they increased their prices and were the most expensive in the world. That has probably changed with time and the weakness of the pound.

Cabs have also benefitted from their awesome reputation and branding, while minicabs have been seen as unregulated and even disreputable.

Then a number of years ago, that started to change. The minicab company Addison Lee started to get organised and eat the cabbies’ breakfast. Its distinctive branding and recognisable name brought a new respectability to minicabs. But it was more than that. It hit at the heart of the cabbies’ USPs. Firstly, the advent of GPS has probably meant a severe devaluation in the value of The Knowledge.

Relatively novice and even foreign drivers can find their way around London by simply inputting a postcode. Secondly, smartphone apps have made booking a car really easy for the consumer. They find the location, can remember past destinations and give you fixed price before the journey starts. It’s not been a surprise to see Addison Lee cars more and more on London streets.

To me, there is a huge question looming: if you stand on the street and use an app to order a nearby car, is that not “hailing” a car, just because you don’t wave a hand in the air?
If you can hail a car so easily, what’s the justification of an expensive cab license?
And I don’t know if it’s this competition or the recession or just exaggeration in recent gossip about cabbies being grumpy lately.

If they’re struggling for business, perhaps they could lower their prices, which I’m not sure they’ve ever done. What they have done, though, is to finally release an app of their own. "Hailo” works wonderfully and makes ordering a cab inexpensive and easy, so maybe they’ll claw back some market share. It’s certainly interesting.

A US company, Uber, has launched a luxury car app service at a reasonable price. They asked me to be their first London customer and I have to say I enjoyed it.

Whoever wins this battle, it is probably good for you and me. No more standing in the rain, jostling against others, looking for a cab while a few streets away a driver looks unknowingly for passengers. In this age of information, that shouldn’t be possible.

Richard Farleigh has operated as a business angel for many years, backing more early-stage companies than anyone else in the UK.

Source: City A.M.

Monday, August 13, 2012

RMT London Taxi 0930 Branch Press Release

The Olympic Legacy?
No doubt many of us would have had a wry smile when the ‘Iconic London Taxi’ appeared at the Olympic Closing ceremony seemingly adding insult to injury to a hard pressed Cab Trade..
The London Cab Trade has spent the last two weeks effectively excluded from serving the influx of spectators etc. that flooded in to London for this memorable event.

The decision to exclude us from the ‘Games Lanes’ and poorly site the Ranks was the decision of TfL (not LOCOG, The ODA or the IOC) and TfL’s alone!
Little point though now in an enquiry into who knew what, when and what they did or did not do about it. The key thing is for all in the Taxi trade to learn the lessons for future ‘engagement’ with TfL etc.

  • TfL have shown bad faith in negotiations with those TfL selected to negotiate with from the cab trade.


  • Organisations own agendas and fears of losing membership etc. MUST BE set aside

THE CAB TRADE NEEDS TO SPEAK WITH ONE VOICE ON IMPORTANT ISSUES and that means us the drivers and those with long term interests in our wellbeing.

This is facilitated by meetings such as that convened by us at the Royal National Hotel, The relationship between fellow drivers and ALL OUR FUTURES are far more important that any perceived advantage people may seek individually to gain by engaging with TfL separately.

The Olympics will have shown the folly of that approach, Remember the RMT has many years of experience negotiating with TfL and an excellent track record of success and has the resources politically and financially to take on any campaign.

We are of course more than happy to join with others at any time. TfL has played us all off against each over to achieve its objectives. They must not be allowed to do it again to us!

We now move on to the critical issue of the Law Commission Report and remind everyone that their stated aim is ‘Deregulation’ with all the dangers that has for Taxi Drivers & their families livelihoods. Let’s learn the lessons of the Olympics and other deregulated taxi trades (Dublin etc.) and come together and speak as one. It’s not going to be easy but it must be done.
Preserving the right to ‘Ply for Hire’ is insufficient safeguard without adequate enforcement and clarity on the meaning of Pre Booking, Rank appointment etc. etc.

If you are a member of another trade org. talk to your representatives and urge them to join with us in defending the Cab Trade. We need to move on!
The Future is Unwritten, Will you help write it?

Contact or call 07899 786433


Shortly after this video was sent to LTPH I was informed that man had been interviewed under caution

Please use the TfL on line tool for reporting touting. 
It is used by LTPH compliance and Met Police teams to collate information that is then use to organise surveillance and possible action.

Click here for link to site

Then click on the tab 

Reporting illegal activity

Friday, August 10, 2012

Terrified Taxi Driver Attack, Caught On CCTV

After spilling his wine, James Pilgrim suddenly turned on 52-year-old Hastings Taxi driver Lee Curtis. Throwing multiple punches, he grabbed him in a head lock and proceeded to bite him on the face. There can be absolutely no excuse for this type of unprovoked attack.

The physical signs of this attack, which took place three weeks ago will fade, but mental scars take far longer to heal. It is unclear whether Mr Curtis will ever again be able to face driving a taxi.

Nobody should have to fear abuse, physical or verbal, when at work, or indeed fear for their life, as Mr Curtis did, and yet for taxi drivers in recent years, this threat is increasingly a reality.

In the last three years, assaults on taxi drivers have gone from extremely rare occurrences to almost commonplace -though thankfully most attacks are not so severe.

It's thanks to the CCTV installed in Mr Curtis’ taxi that the perpetrator was swiftly brought to justice.

CCTV should be mandatory in all taxis. Unfortunately there are many protest groups who argue against, as they say this is in breach of their privacy.

Having CCTV footage to refer back to protects not only the driver, but also the passenger. Any disputes can be resolved quickly by watching the tape back, and if a crime is committed the footage can be used as indisputable evidence.

Of course, CCTV is not the solution to the problem of violent acts being committed in the first place. All Taxis which unlike private hire, pick up mostly unbooked, unrecorded passengers from the street or licensed Taxi rank, should be fitted with attack proof partitions like the ones used in London's Taxi Fleet.

However CCTV is a positive move forward that could provide an extra layer of protection to every licensed Taxi driver, nationwide.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

London 2012: Olympic bosses admit to hiring too many helpers

Olympics bosses have said that they have taken on too many unpaid volunteers for the Games.
In particular, they have been “astonished” by the low demand from VIPs for volunteer-chauffeured cars.
So few of the BMWs are being used that many of the 9,000 drivers have been left twiddling their thumbs for large parts of their 10-hour shifts.

After complaining to bosses, many are now being given days off so they can fill empty seats in venues and enjoy the sporting action.

Some 70,000 people became Games Makers, with roles from stewarding crowds to mopping the handballs courts. A source said that while the vast majority were content, more than 100 did not turn up for their second shift, frustrated with the nature of their work.

A role as a volunteer driver was seen as one of the most prestigious tasks, with several days of training given on how to meet and greet clients and navigate the Olympic Route Network.

Last week Richard George, director of transport at Locog, sent an email to drivers who take VIPs from hotels to venues. He wrote: “I think it is fair to say that we have been astonished at how low the demand for our services have been so far ... We are therefore now looking at additional roles in which you can be employed so your valuable time is used to best effect.”

He added: “We will build on some of the feedback you gave me — that most of you would prefer to have ‘days’ off rather than shorter shifts ... I get that completely — somewhere out there is some great sport to watch!!”

The lack of use of official cars is likely to raise questions on the need for the Games lanes of the Olympic Route Network which are reserved for vehicles on Games business.

Source: Independent on line

Monday, August 06, 2012

New Nissan Taxi To Turn Black Cabs Green

This is the NV200, Nissan’s take on the classic London black cab which will go on sale in 12 month’s time. The new vehicle aims to both finally break the hold the classic LTI taxi has on the market and dramatically undercut the new Mercedes black cab on price.

Powered by a 1.5-litre, Euro V, diesel engine in either 90bhp or 110bhp guises, the new cab will be priced from £28,000. In manual transmission form, the NV200 is claimed to offer "50 per cent" better economy than today’s most economical London cab, which is expected to translate into a figure of around 42mpg. Nissan is also working on an automatic version of the new cab.

Nissan claims that this engine will save the average London cabbie about £1000 per year in fuel as well as seeing a significant reduction in particulate pollution. This is seen as essential by London Mayor Boris Johnson, because London blacks cabs travel around 230 million miles per year and, although there are only 22,000 black cabs on the road, they are responsible for 20 per cent of the particulate pollution in the capital.

Nissan will also begin testing an all-electric, battery-powered, version of this London cab in 2013. Nissan says it was inspired to break into the British market for London cabs after winning the competition to supply the new-generation taxi for New York, which is also based on the NV200 van.

Competition in the London cab market has been strictly limited because of the regulation that requires cabs to have a tight 25ft turning circle. Nissan has managed to achieve this in a front-drive vehicle by re-engineering the front suspension.

Bolted to the bottom of the NV200’s McPherson strut is a similar ‘wishbone’ attachment to that used on Vauxhall’s HiPer strut. The drive shaft is split into two, with a second universal joint mounted on the lower wishbone. This means the drive shaft attached to the front wheel is very short, allowing the wheels to turn to a much more acute angle than conventional front-drive vehicles can manage. This set-up means that the front track is now about 200mm wider than on the donor NV200 van.

Features include twin sliding doors to boost passenger access, and a ramp into the rear to enable easy wheelchair access.

Nissan sources say that they expect the normal UK-wide market for London cabs to significantly expand from today’s annual volumes of between 2000 and 3000 per year. New scrappage rules aimed at taking the most polluting vehicles off the market come into force in London. At the end of this month, any black cab over 15 years old will no long be able to be licenced for use.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Olympic taxis make 130-mile round trip to fill up in Swindon

The hydrogen-fuelled Hackney cabs are loaded on to a transporter to make the 130-mile round trip to refuel

The fleet of three low-emission cabs was introduced to ferry VIPs and officials during the Games.

But the hydrogen fuelling station, at Lea Interchange near the Olympic Park, has had to close for security reasons.

The consortium HYTEC, which provided the taxis, said a new station was expected to open at Heathrow soon.

In the meantime, the taxis are loaded on a transporter to make the trip to the nearest filling station at car manufacturer Honda's plant in Swindon.

Air quality
Diana Raine, co-ordinator of the HYTEC (Hydrogen Transport for European Cities) project, said: "Groundbreaking fuel cell electric taxis are running in London as part of a two year project to develop hydrogen technology.

"While arrangements for a hydrogen fuelling station at Heathrow are being completed we are using an alternative fuelling site in Swindon.

"However we expect a new fuelling station at Heathrow to be operational very soon and certainly before the end of the London Olympics."

Richard Kemp-Harper, from the government-run Technology Strategy Board, said the situation was "short term".

"The benefits for those taxis - apart from showing off some great British technology to the rest of the world - is actually that they produce water out of their tail pipes," he said.

"So the particulates and air quality - it's a big difference for London even if there's a small carbon problem with having to ship them up to Swindon to pick up hydrogen at the moment."

The fuel cell centre at Honda's South Marston plant was opened in September.

It is the UK's first commercial hydrogen filling station and is operated by industrial gases group BOC.

Source: BBC News