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

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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 TPHSuburbanReview@tfl.gov.uk
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 london2012.com/taxi-phv. 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 tfl.gov.uk/tph

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.

A WORD FROM CHAIRMAN MIKE BAILEY

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.

A WEAK DIRECTOR
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.

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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.”

RANK OUTSIDER: EVAREST CHISI



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