Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hillsborough apology 'a breakthrough', says Trevor Hicks, father of killed Hatch End sisters

A Hillsborough campaigner who lost his two Hatch End daughters in the 1989 tragedy has welcomed the Prime Minister’s apology for police failures.

Trevor Hicks, whose daughters Sarah, 19, and Victoria, 15, were crushed to death in the stadium along with 94 other fans in the disaster on April 15, 1989, said that David Cameron’s apology in the House of Commons earlier this afternoon was “a breakthrough”.

Mr Hicks, 65, who is part of the Hillsborough Family Support Group, has campaigned for justice for 23 years on behalf of those who died in the crush in the Leppings Lane Terrace at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Sarah was a student at Liverpool University, and her sister, Victoria, was a pupil at Haberdashers' Aske's Girls' School in Elstree.

A damning independent report into the disaster released today found that there was a failure by authorities to protect people, revealed that police and the ambulance service tried to cover up their shortcomings and decided “conclusively” that fans did not cause or contribute to the deaths.

Speaking at a press conference inside Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, Mr Hicks said the families of the dead "knew nothing about the incompetencies of the ambulance service until today”, but that he did not blame “the guys on the shop floor”.

He added: “There were two disasters – one that happened on the day and what happened afterwards.

“We feel a breakthrough has been made. The truth is out today and the justice starts tomorrow.

“What we got was an unequivocal and unreserved apology and I was staggered by that, I have to say, because I hold politicians by pretty low regard.

“It’s not going to be put right overnight. I can’t use the term ‘it’s a day for rejoicing’, because it’s not. But at least the truth is out.”

The campaigner added that those involved in cover-ups must “resign and stand up and apologise”, but rejected the apology of Kelvin Mackenzie, the former editor of The Sun who ran an infamous ‘The Truth’ headline the day after the disaster, calling him “a clever lowlife”.

Mr Hicks lived in both Rayners Lane and Hatch End, but moved to Yorkshire in 1990 to work as managing director of an engineering and wholesale distribution business.

Speaking in Parliament earlier, Mr Cameron apologised on behalf of the Government for the failures that led to the deaths and the action taken afterwards.

He said: “The new evidence that we are presented with today makes clear that these families have suffered a double injustice.

“The injustice of the appalling events – the failure of the state to protect their loved ones and the indefensible wait to get to the truth.

“And the injustice of the denigration of the deceased – that they were somehow at fault for their own deaths.

“On behalf of the government – and indeed our country – I am profoundly sorry for this double injustice that has been left uncorrected for so long.”

Source: The Harrow Times.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Compulsory Credit Card Acceptance In All Taxis?

Just back from vacation, the director of Licensed Taxis and Private Hire John Mason has again put himself in the spotlight by making a statement via a social media network that he believes it should be compulsory that all Taxis, accept Credit Cards. He them spent most of the afternoon multi-tasking, trying to defend his stance to the hoards of angry Taxi drivers who feel he was overstepping his remit.

Personally I believe that Mr Mason is living in "cloud cuckoo land" if he thinks LTPH can make this compulsory.
LTPH could make installation of a CC machine part of the conditions of fitness, we saw this with the receipt printers that added a financial burden upon many drivers only to find that most passengers still prefer hand written receipts.

As we are all independent sole traders, Mason and LTPH have no authority to insist that we give our customers credit. Their job, as they keep insisting, is as a licensing authority, they have no say in the running of our business financially. This idea is solely a pipe dream of the Director of LTPH who prefers not to carry cash.

Also, for this to happen, every driver would need to have a bank or building society account. (Most do, but there are still a many who don't). Mason has no authority to compel drivers to open bank or building society accounts.

It stands to reason that every Taxi driver who wants to take CC and DD cards already has this facility. Those who don't accept cards think cash is king and will always find a way of refusing. But even most of the ones who take cards, are against a compulsory trade wide order.

Perhaps this is just another ploy to get the trade fighting amongst themselves again while the bigger, more threatening issues slip by unnoticed.

Question: What's in the offering over the next few months that we should be concentrating our efforts on?

Answer: The Law Commission consultation. (Men are still coming to kill us)

Divide and conquer
We have seen this tactic before from John Mason.
When he first came to the throne he immediately split the trade representative bodies by introducing an unfair and biased engagement policy. This caused widespread infighting and efforts to respond to the infamous Private Hire Consultation were diluted.
The result was PH got everything they asked for and we got nothing.

Then we had the issue of the games lanes which hit our attention about the same time as the cheap pieces of card "ID badges" were introduced. This had the trade tearing strips off each other and caused almost civil war as drivers started to argue and fight amongst themselves.
The result of this infighting would be, any campaign against exclusion to the Olympic Zil lanes was always going to be too late.

Even if LTPH was given the power to make CC acceptence compulsory, what business person in their right mind, is going to finance installation of these machines into an extra ten thousand Taxis, most of whom will just stick a plastic bag over them and not use. Much in the same manner as receipt printers.
It is clearly noticeable the amount of rented taxis which have bags covering their CC machines and have disconnected the annoying advertising screens.

Mason can bleat all he likes about Credit Cards, we should just ignore him and carry on with the important stuff. Compulsory acceptance of Credit and Debit Cards really is just a non starter and I believe John Mason well knows it (or is his advisory team really that bad?)

A man who holds such an important office, should not put himself in a position to be constantly attacked on twitter by drivers, its inappropriate, demeaning and damaging to his authority as Director. Could you ever imagine Roy Ellis on Twitter?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Response to the Law Commission from Carlise TOA

Carlisle Taxi Owners Association

Veronica Wadley was the only candidate for £95,000 job

Boris Johnson gave the former editor of the Evening Standard a £95,000 job without interviewing a single other candidate, his office admitted today.

A spokesperson for the Mayor said there was no requirement under the law to advertise for Mayoral appointments.

The mayor’s office insist that Veronica Wadley, who is a former colleague and close ally of Boris’s, was appointed on merit.

Wadley campaigned vigorously against cronyism at City Hall in 2008. She was interviewed by a panel chaired by Boris himself.

The Mayor’s office have been keen to point out that Wadley is not taking a salary in her first year.

However, her total pay over four years will be broadly the same as other Mayoral advisers, suggesting that this is simply a crude attempt to deflect criticism of her appointment.

Amazingly though, even after four days, her old paper still haven't found any room for this story!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Amnesty for Olympic Zil lane drivers

Thousands of motorists who strayed into Olympic “Zil” lanes will escape £120 fines under an amnesty announced today.

Transport chiefs issued 6,900 penalty notices during the Olympic and Paralympics but none for illegally driving along the 100-mile Olympic VIP lane network.

Instead the fines will be enforced for breaching traffic regulations along the routes, such as parking on the lanes or making a banned turn.

TfL issued 32,000 warning letters during the Olympics and Paralympics. They said they had 98 per cent compliance with the Olympic route network, meaning only two out of 100 vehicles committed an offence.

TfL commissioner Peter Hendy said today: “There will be no fines for driving in the Games lanes but there will be fines for ignoring the regulations, such as ignoring banned turns. The good news is that if you drove in a Games lane you will not be fined.”

Mr Hendy said manual boarding ramps added to 16 train stations during the Olympics and Paralympics would remain, and committed to keeping them for several months.

Source Evening Standard

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Council Drops Request For Single Colour Taxis and PHVs

Tendring District Council wanted all Taxis to carry a universal green and white livery in a bid to boost tourism and the image of the area.

But this was met with opposition from the cabbies, who said insisting on white cars with corporate green flashings would hit drivers financially and make earning a living even more difficult.

TDC’s licensing committee has now decided not to push ahead with the bid and instead consult further with taxi drivers. Although this would have made the distinction between Hackney carriage and private hire much better and would aid enforcement against touting and illegal plying for hire, the Taxi drivers were concerned with the financial aspect and couldn't see the long term benefit of the proposal.

Thought by many in London to be an answer to the problem of Private Hire forming illegal ranks and touting outside London's many night venues, in the recent PH consultation the idea of all London Taxis being black and all PHVs a single colour such as silver or white, was thrown out by TfL. TfL also rejected the idea of a pre booked sticker to be displayed on the side of all PHVs, while ID badges on Taxis were seen as essential.

The move by Tending District Council has been welcomed by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association who said it was an unnecessary cost burden at a very difficult economic time.

A spokesman for the association said: “We have got a double-dip recession and the economy is in its worst state since the 1980s, or arguably the 1970s and anything that increases the cost burden on taxi drivers we would question.

“We’d also question the need for a universal colouring scheme and the methods by which they have come to that idea.

“It’s not been proven to work; cabs are all shapes and sizes. You look for a taxi light – the fact the taxi is green, yellow or red is irrelevant.”

A report that went before committee members said if councillors had decided to proceed with the proposal – and taxi drivers ask for a judicial review – there could be significant costs to the authority.

It said a judicial review could delay the matter by up to two years and cost the council “tens of thousands” of pounds in legal fees.

The National Private Hire Association lodged an appeal against the initial decision to ask newly-registered minicabs to carry the standardised design. The trade body, acting on behalf of a Tendring minicab operator, had an initial hearing at North East Essex Magistrates Court on August 24. It has been adjourned until October 26.

Tendring District Council was asked to comment on the matter but did not respond in time.

Source: EADT24 on line.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Warning over unlicensed taxis

REPORTS of unlicensed taxis operating this weekend are being investigated by police and the Isle of Wight Council.

A police spokesman said: "One Volkswagen van was seized by police because the vehicle did not have the correct insurance to carry fare paying passengers.

"A number of people in the van confirmed to officers that they had paid the driver to take them from Newport town centre to the Bestival music festival.

"Police and Isle of Wight Council are warning other unlicensed taxi drivers that action will be taken against them if they accept money from passengers without the necessary insurance or licence issued by the local authority.
"Officers are also advising members of the public not to put themselves at risk by paying an unlicensed driver."

Anyone with information can contact police by phoning 101.

Information can be given anonymously by calling the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.

Isle of Wight Council's Licensing team can be contacted by phoning 01983 823159.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Is This The Legacy Of The Paralympics?

School taxis for Medway's special needs kids axed.

Special needs children are saying goodbye to the days of free taxi rides under sweeping new rules on how they get to school.

Councillors approved changes designed to help shave almost £1million off the school transport budget.

Chiefs have long said giving children daily taxi rides to school was too generous, too costly and children should be more independent.

But they had to scale back the cuts they originally proposed after comments from 136 parents.

They had planned to make pupils attend pick-up points a mile from their homes but this was slashed to half a mile after an outcry.

And a clause which would only allow pupils to go to one address was criticised by divorced parents.

Cllr Mike O’Brien (Con), pictured below, said: "The previous policy was written in 2003 and is quite frankly out of date."

Medway Parents and Carers Forum chairman Keith Clear said: "We had a very, very good response and organised question and answer sessions with council officers.

"They have clearly listened to some of the arguments that have been put across."

However, Mr Clear said he would still be challenging pick-up points, adding: "There are some ongoing issues with parents whose children have mobility issues and struggle to walk 200 yards, let alone half a mile."

Under the new policy, due to take effect fully by January, taxi rides will still be allowed but only for the most desperately needy children.

Source: Medway Messenger