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

THE NEW ROYAL OAK

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

CONFESSIONS of a SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR
RICHARD FARLEIGH




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. www.farleigh.com

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.


EVERYTHING TfL DOES NEEDS TO BE FULLY SCRUTINISED AND TREATED WITH THE UPMOST SCEPTICISM BY 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 londontaxi@rmt.org or call 07899 786433

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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