Saturday, October 27, 2012

Please Help Get these Ranks Back For Suburban Drivers.

There are 2 Planning Application for the continuing use of the kiosks within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames to be used as minicab booking offices.

At present, the Private Hire Operators and their drivers constantly flout the law, creating traffic congestion in that area with Private Hire Vehicles forming illegal ranks and blocking the flow of traffic including the local bus service passing through Horse Fair Junction.

Licensed Private Hire drivers brazenly break the law by making the illegal turn from Kingston Bridge into Clarence Street which only buses and licensed Taxis are permitted to do so.

They also make an illegal turn on their way out of Clarence Street.
None of this conduct can be considered as suitable and in compliance with a planning application.

Earlier this month LTPH released an unsigned statement threatening the suburban drivers who use Finsbury Park Station Island Rank, with prosecutions or similar behaviour. No such Statement has been issued about the behaviour of the Private Hire drivers in Kingston.

Please leave a comment on the planning application shown below.
Also, why not write to Transport for London (TfL) and LT & PH as well to see if they are opposing this application.


The current closing date for comments on this application is: 09-Nov-2012. Please note this date can change over the lifetime of the application.

Click on the links shown below
Then on the line= Click here to send comment on this application.


Lets help get the suburban ranks back for the Suburban drivers.
And remember "Unity is Strength".

LAND AT HORSE FAIR JUNCTION, CLARENCE STREET, KINGSTON UPON THAMES
Renewal of existing permission (07/12697/FUL) for GRP kiosk to be used as minicab booking office.

Click here to comment

PAVEMENT AREA ADJ TO, KINGSTON RAILWAY STATION, WOOD STREET, KINGSTON UPON THAMES, KT1 1UJ
Renewal of existing permission (07/12676/FUL) for GRP kiosk to be used as minicab booking office, for a period of 5 years.

Click Here to comment

Friday, October 26, 2012

RMT Branch Secretary Mike Tinnion, Statement About Trade Unity

My name is Mike Tinnion and I'm the Branch Secretary of the RMT's London Taxi Drivers Branch.

Just a couple of points.

"Unity is Strengh" is the moto of the RMT, I live and die by it.

Sadly there are certain groups or people within these groups who's wage packet or stand down payments prevent them from doing what's right for the trade. I will sit down with the Devil himself, if it gets the London taxi trade back on its feet. Sadly the devil would be easier to get a meeting with than TFL and UTG.

It's strange because when I've spoken to the leading members of the UTG they want the same thing as the RMT does.

• A taxi trade that is robust
• A taxi trade that is fit of purpose
• A taxi trade that is sustainable for years to come.

This is my third offer of a meeting.
I ask the members of the UTG to join forces with the RMT and fight the injustices in the trade. Fight private hire and the sattelitte offices and demand a strong working environment which includes more ranks in better areas.

If the London taxi trade is to survive we must speak as one Unity is Strength.

Individual Meters for Taxi companies.

TAXI drivers in Henley are asking South Oxfordshire District Council to set their fares in order to make prices fairer.

The district council wants taxi drivers to use meters set by individual operators from June.

But the South Oxfordshire Taxi Drivers’ Association says fares should be fixed by the council in order to prevent smaller companies being disadvantaged.

The cabbies do not currently have to use a meter and many display fare cards showing the minimum fare and the price of each mile thereafter. Companies are able to set their own fares.

About 25 drivers from Henley attended a meeting with the council last week.
Munir Hussain, secretary of the association, said: “We don’t mind using meters but we want the council to fix the charges rather than individual operators setting their own.

“It would lead to more friction between the companies and the drivers on the rank. If there were 10 drivers on the rank that could mean 10 prices and we don’t want that. Most operators want the council to set the prices. There would be more complaints if every private company could set its own price.”

Mr Hussain, of Streamline Executive Cars, used to work in Reading where the council sets the fares and he says the system works well.

Drivers also objected to plans which would mean taxis could only have MOTs carried out at two garages in Didcot.

The association asked for at least one garage to be available in Henley or Reading for the 250 drivers working in Henley.

Since then, the council has said five to seven garages will be made available to drivers but their locations are still to be chosen.

A Truly United Front? What Have We Got Left To Lose

If all the trade groups adopt the stance of "Our door is open - you only have to knock" I think we all know that to save face none of the trade leaders are likely to make the effort.

The seemingly bitter differences of opinion and objectives between the trade groups and the desire to maintain and even increase their memberships is what most of their differences are all about.

The RMT, in this instance, is inviting talks with the other groups, but who will be the first group to see common sense and arrange (privately) to talk.

Let the so-called leaders of the groups have off-the-record phone calls and see where they can find ANY common ground.

We will all suffer if they cannot bring themselves to at least make 'private' approaches to one another and form some sort of consensus as to how the trade should proceed with a 'Strategy' and an 'Action Plan'.

It seems they all want to protect their own little 'Fiefdom' regardless of how much damage our trade suffers whilst no consensus can be reached.

They surely cannot all be that stupid that they cannot see the dangers of NOT talking presents.

John Mason must be laughing his socks off at the lack of professionalism portrayed by groups only putting their own interests first and perhaps too scared to budge from an intransigent position.

That, I'm afraid is not Leadership from within our representative groups, who all appear to be afraid of even talking or being seen talking together.
Why? - Why? - Why?

The RMT may wish to get together with the other trade groups (and why not) but they are wasting their breath if those who they feel they sought to talk to, deliberately don't want to listen and say "our door is open too!" How stupid and damaging is all this petulant self-serving posturing?

Rome burns whilst Nero fiddles?

If the members of these organisations seriously want their leaders to enter talks with one another - let them write in and demand it and see what (if any) response they get.

Let all the trade groups put one question to their own members - "Would you like your committee to enter into dialogue with the other trade representative groups to try and form a consensus for a collective dialogue with TfL and air our trade grievances with a 'UNITED' front"?

This, at least, could be a start.
The effect of this general consensus would have on the strength of our negotiating position could be immeasurable.

Unity from us it what John Mason fears most.

As with the STaN Report, the silence from some of these groups might be deafening, but we should live in hope that some common sense will prevail.

If any of this fails then I believe as a trade we will have failed and we can't blame that on the minicabs.... can we?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

RMT London Taxi 0930 Branch An Appeal to Every Taxi Driver in London Time to Stand Together

In the same week that once again, London’s Taxi Service was voted No. 1 in the world for a record breaking 5th year, we are still reeling from the TX4 Steering box Fiasco and what it means to all of us.

Remember it’s not just the desperate souls whose cabs are ‘against the wall’ with no remedy in sight to get them back on the streets;
Spares Availability,
Warranty for earlier TX4’s,
Rental charges,
resale value etc.
All are critical issues, indeed whether the TX will ever be made again is another.

Earlier in the week we issued a press release that called upon TfL to suspend the flawed 15 Year Age Limit and give other assistance to the trade, they have unsurprisingly refused to do so.

Later we had the Director of LTPH at TfL John Mason on the TV & Radio advising drivers affected that ‘Mercedes Benz had over 150 cabs ready to go’.

So after spending nearly 36K on a non- working cab, the helpful advice from TfL is to finance another 42K plus on a Vito, all of course whilst not working.
What planet are these people on?

This statement from a senior manager at TfL is at best insensitive and at worst a cynical jibe at drivers in a desperate situation and exemplifies the attitude and contempt shown to us by them, remember the Olympics?

We therefore call upon every Cab Driver Fleet Owner and Organisation to come together and demand:

1. An open GLA led enquiry into TfL/LTPH and its mismanagement of the world’s finest Taxi Trade (Satellite Offices, Air Quality, Lack of PH Enforcement etc.)

2. An independent public review into who knew what, when about the steering issue on the TX4 and who approved it for use?

3. A Cab Trade Working Party to look into being moved to another Licensing Body fit for purpose and deserving of our support and licence fees.

These issues are far too important for Petty Politics and Personality Clashes to stand in the way, we may always agree to disagree on many issues but we will be inviting every organisation to discuss a plan of action.

IF you are a member of any other organisation, urge them to take part in the discussion, we may agree to disagree on many issues but be sure the one thing TfL won’t like is a 100% response from us all.

Don’t let them divide and rule.

Let’s make it happen for all our futures!
Contact londontaxi@rmt.org.uk or call 07899 786433

TfL Press Release – Locations for new inspection centres announced

From TfL Press Office

Locations for new inspection centres announced

London Taxi and Private Hire (LTPH) has confirmed the locations for six new vehicle inspection centres to be managed by NSL from February 2013.

NSL won the contract to provide the vehicle licensing and inspections service for London’s taxis and private hire vehicles in March this year.

Following discussions with the taxi and private hire trades and NSL, the six new vehicle inspection centres will be at the following locations:


North Site – Watermill Business Park, Enfield
South Site – Redlands Industrial Estate, Coulsdon
East Site – Acorn Industrial Park, Crayford
West Site – Air Links Industrial Estate, Hounslow
Central East – 1 North Crescent, Canning Town
Central West – Aquarius Business Park, Staples Corner

NSL will be licensing taxis under the new licensing regime which requires taxi vehicle owners to ensure their vehicles have passed an MOT no more than 14 days prior to inspection and to carry out a further MOT six months from the date the licence is issued. The private hire vehicle licensing regime will remain unchanged.

Helen Chapman, Deputy Director for Taxi and Private Hire, said:
“After positive discussions with members from both the taxi and private hire trades, we are pleased to confirm the locations for the new inspection centres. We believe that drivers will find the inspection centres are in convenient locations and will meet their expectations.”

Dale Wood, Business Processing Director for NSL, said:
“We’re excited to be working with TfL in providing taxi and private hire vehicle drivers with greater and more state-of-the-art control and accessibility in booking their inspections, renewing and applying for licenses, as well as offering a great choice of inspection locations.”

As well as providing the taxi and private hire vehicle licensing and inspection service, NSL will also be responsible for the provision of an end-to-end IT system which will be used by LTPH staff for all other licensing and compliance activities.

Did LTPH Fail Taxi Trade, Under Conditions of Fitness? Part 2

In the most recent Notice from TfL -

TPH notice 20/12 – Steering Box Fault in TX4 Taxis / London Taxi Company in Administration -

In a letter written by John Mason (who obviously hasn't resigned) they say:

"Work should not be carried out on taxis until any engineering solution has been appropriately tested and approval has been granted by LTC and VOSA and then authorised by TfL.
TfL has had regular contact with the administrators & LTC management".

So, it begs the question - Who tested and approved the original and 'failed' steering box on our taxis that is now seen as dangerous? We can only hope that the inspection/testing that they are now saying must take place is better than it was in the first place. Somebody is lucky they haven't got blood on their hands.

The public and the London taxi trade deserve better than this.


In today's STEERING BOX RECALL UPDATE: 25 OCTOBER 2012 from the London Taxi Company (LTC) it states:

STEERING BOX RECALL:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHO AUTHORISES THE VEHICLE TO GO BACK ON THE ROAD?
"Any solution we prove solves the fault will then be tested and validated by MIRA, VOSA and passed by Transport for London and other affected Licensing Authorities".

The question still remains - how did this current 'failed and dangerous' steering box come to slip through the net in the first place and get fitted to London taxis? Did it have the required vigorous testing - was it originally approved by all these Agencies now being quoted?
.
Who is watching our watch-dogs?

 



 It seems that Taxi drivers in India know more about the next London Taxi than we do hear in the UK.


 

Did LTPH Fail Taxi Trade, Under Conditions of Fitness?

With regard to the problems with the new steering-box, introduced into the production of our cabs in February this year, one wonders if it had been given the usual close scrutiny and testing under the PCO Conditions of Fitness for any major component BEFORE it went onto the assembly line.

Did this steering box from a new supplier have to undergo rigorous road testing or have to provide assurances with it from its manufacturers as to the efficacy and safety of this vital component?

One wonders how a defective component on one of the most important parts for the vehicle’s safety cannot be identified prior to it being part of the vehicle’s production.

It seems that the defect has manifested itself quite early in the life of some vehicles and it also seems quite incredible that this was not picked up by those whose job it is to subject London’s taxis to safety inspections/tests.

Inappropriate humour? 
If Mr Mason is still in post he should be asked to account for how this has all come about. In the event that he has resigned then his successor should provide the answers at the earliest possible opportunity.

A lot of questions need to be asked about how this serious matter has been allowed to develop and it is indeed fortunate that no-one has been injured or killed.

It is not inspiring any confidence to public safety or to the credibility of the manufacturers if it was known that a serious problem existed and the vehicle was still being sold to unwitting customers. As has already been pointed out, this in itself is a very serious matter.

If financial considerations were taking priority over the safety of the driver, the vehicle, the passengers and other road users, then someone has got a lot of explaining to do. We have a Licensing Authority whose job (statutory duty) it is to prevent any of this from happening, hopefully BEFORE the defects manifest themselves.

To protect the integrity of us being recognised as the ‘best taxi service in the world’ this matter should be thoroughly investigated to ensure that it can never happen again. It is not a good advert for the so-called ‘icon’ that so many people call our vehicles.

We may have an iconic shape to our vehicles but a London taxi has to have more to it, rather than just an aesthetic shape. It has to be robust, reliable, safe, value for money and most important of all ‘Fit for purpose’.

What a disaster this is for our trade, but it has to be determined how it all came to pass. This is one occasion where the drivers cannot be blamed for the problems.
In this case we cannot be blamed for “not driving them properly”, It was most certainly a characteristic of their design

Notice 20/12 Steering Box Fault TX4

Notice 20/12
/12
Steering Box Fault in TX4 Taxis / London Taxi Company in administration
This notice is issued further to PCO Notices 17/12 and 19/12 regarding the manufacturer/VOSA recall and subsequent suspension by Transport for London (TfL) of the licences of late model TX4 taxis affected by a steering box fault. It also provides information related to the announcement on Monday 22 October that Manganese Bronze and the London Taxi Company would be entering administration.
Since the recall announcement, TfL has been in constant dialogue with the London Taxi Company (LTC) and the administrator to understand the technical nature of the recall, the steps that LTC are taking to identify and implement a solution and the impact of the decision to enter administration.
TfL’s priority is, and will remain, ensuring the safety of drivers, passengers and other road users and assisting drivers where possible affected by the recall.
The current position is as follows:
440 taxis in the UK are affected by the steering box fault and recall. Of these 316 are TfL licensed taxis.
A full list of the affected taxis as provided to TfL is attached as Annex A. This includes an additional 13 taxis which were not listed in PCO Notice 17/12 but which were subsequently found to have been affected by the recall.
The recall is due to a serious fault in the steering box and therefore the affected taxis must not be used under any circumstances.
While the recall has been described as “voluntary” this does not make it any less serious or imply that drivers/owners should not comply with the recall. The licence of every one of the 316 licensed taxis was immediately suspended by TfL and remain suspended at this time.
Where TfL identify any of the 316 affected taxis being used in any circumstances then the taxi vehicle licence plates will be removed immediately.
Only LTC have been given permission to temporarily license Euro IV taxis which have not been previously licensed in London, and these taxis are only for use by drivers directly affected by the TX4 recall.
Page 2 of 10
Drivers and other taxi proprietors and garages are not permitted to license Euro III and Euro IV taxis which have not been previously licensed in London.
Any solution to the steering box fault and replacement must have the full approval of the vehicle manufacturer, LTC and VOSA – TfL will work with and support garages who believe they have a solution, however any solution proposed must have LTC and VOSA approval.
Work should not be carried out on taxis until any engineering solution has been appropriately tested and approval has been granted by LTC and VOSA and then authorised by TfL.
TfL has had regular contact with the administrators & LTC management and have expressed our concern at the delays in providing replacement taxis and the provision of inconsistent and/or lack of information to impacted drivers.
As well as being in constant dialogue with LTC, TfL has also contacted KPM who have assured us that they have a significant number of taxis in stock and have committed to assisting drivers affected by the recall any way they can.
At present there is no intention to relax the age-limits for taxis in London which are still in force. This decision will be kept under review as the situation develops.
TfL appreciates that taxi drivers and the trade in general are concerned and worried by recent events. We will endeavour to provide regular updates and inform you of any changes as and when they arise.
Further information and guidance visit the LTC website at london-taxis.co.uk, call the LTC Customer Support line on 02476 572000, contact TfL by emailing TPHEnquiries@tfl.gov.uk or contact your driver association.
John Mason
25 October 2012 Director Taxi and Private Hire
For previous PCO Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph
Follow us on Twittter @TfLTPH

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

LTPH Continued Threats On Taxi Drivers

LTPH have issued this unsigned statement after Taxis were allegedly found to be over ranking at Finsbury Park Station.

Taxis at Finsbury Park Station
Transport for London (TfL) has been advised that despite previous advice being issued and the local police speaking to taxi drivers, a small number of drivers have continued to commit offences at Finsbury Park Station and put other road users, cyclists and pedestrians at risk.

The offences are primarily focussed around the loading bay, outside Costa Coffee, and include:

1. Obstructing the cycle lane, forcing cyclists into the lane used by buses entering the station

2. Parking on double red lines
Double parking next to the loading bay, forcing cyclists across two lanes used by buses entering the station

3. Reversing the wrong way out of the station onto Seven Sisters Road

4.Driving the wrong way out of the station onto Seven Sisters Road

Finsbury Park Station is a busy interchange with buses, taxis and cyclists all passing through the station plus pedestrians crossing at the entrance to the station. These offences put taxis, buses, cyclists and pedestrians at risk.

The police have advised TfL that Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) will be issued to taxi drivers who continue to obstruct the cycle lane, obstruct buses or commit any other offences in or around the station.

MORE THREATS FROM LTPH, BUT ADDISON LEE CAN RANK WHERE THEY LIKE.
But nothing said as Addison Lee form an illegal taxi rank on double red lines at the PR Week Awards held at Grosvenor House Hotel.

Its not just Addison Lee, the enforcement CCTV camera on the corner of mount street is frequently turned away from PHVs who park on the Taxi rank outside The Grosvenor House Hotel.

LTPH Director is seen to have no appetite to take on the issue of private hire illegally plying for hire. Not one single case has been taken up by TfL since taking over from the Met.

RMT Considers Legal Action Against Manganese Bronze.



The maker of London's black cabs knew about vehicle steering problems that led to the company's collapse for more than a month before it ordered a recall of 400 taxis, according to drivers and unions.

The manufacturer, Manganese Bronze, which is due to call in administrators this week, could face an investigation by the Financial Services Authority, or the Insolvency Service, if it is proved directors knew about the problems before informing the stock market in a timely manner.

The RMT union, which represents black-cab drivers in London, said it was consulting lawyers about possible legal action to recoup any financial losses from the firm's collapse.

The union has called on the London mayor, Boris Johnson, to suspend his scheme to ban any taxi which is more than 15 years old, due to the recall that is leaving fewer cabs on the road.

It has been revealed that the two incidents that finally led to the company recalling the cabs took place in London and Edinburgh on 30 September and 4 October, but that the firm continued selling the £35,000 vehicles. One sale to a driver occurred only hours before the recall.

The collapse has left 1,500 cab drivers across the UK without a warranty on their vehicles, while the 300 owners of the faulty TX4 models are unable to use them.

Martin Adkins, a taxi driver from Carshalton, south London, said he drove his brand new TX4 off the London Taxi Company's showroom forecourt on the afternoon of 11 October. At 7.30am the following morning, shares in Manganese Bronze were suspended and later that day 400 cabs were recalled.

He said: "I bought the taxi in good faith and did a shift that same night. Then, a day later, I was told the cab had been recalled. I was absolutely gobsmacked. I couldn't believe it. They must have known that there was a problem when they sold it to me."

Jason King, a driver from Hertfordshire, who has been driving black cabs for 10 years, said he first informed Manganese Bronze, which trades as the London Taxi Company, on 4 September of steering problems after he bought a cab.

King said: "Immediately, I could tell there was a problem with the steering and called up the company.

"They told me to bring it in a few days later and the tracking was tightened, which made a slight difference. However, it was still pulling the vehicle towards the kerb.

"I phoned on three occasions and was told 'it is a characteristic of the cab'. Even when I bought the cab I had heard about problems with the steering, but had been assured these had been fixed."

Between the time King contacted the company and the recall on 12 October, the firm had sold a further 99 cabs.

Manganese Bronze knew about steering issues in 2011 and decided to replace steering boxes with parts from a new supplier in February this year, although directors did not think it necessary to inform the stock market at their annual results launch in March. However, the new parts also failed and the steering reliability was an ongoing issue for several drivers.

On Tuesday, Manganese Bronze declined to comment.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, said the company had known about steering issues for several months.

He said: "Drivers I have spoken to have been experiencing steering problems for some time, long before this recall. The company has tried to fix the problems in the past but obviously this time they can't. It has left 1,500 drivers without a warranty, 300 without a cab, and there's not a single taxi in London available to rent."

Paul Bond, press officer of the RMT said; "The RMT have written to Boris Johnson and TfL on behalf of our members, asking that the age limit on older Taxis be suspended.

Mike Tinnion, of the RMT, said eight union members had submitted details which were being looked at by the union's lawyers for possible legal action.

He said: "A number of our members have said to us they experienced driving problems with the cabs … It is difficult to believe the firm didn't know about the steering problems before the recall."

The company announced plans to call in administrators on Monday after an emergency cash injection from its Chinese partner, Geely, failed to materialise.

About 300 jobs at its Coventry plant, which has made the Hackney carriage for more than 100 years, are under threat.

The first some drivers heard about the recall was when 18 TX4 vehicles were stopped by Transport for London from taking part in an annual trip to Disneyland Paris for sick children.

A spokesman for the Johnson said: "The mayor's team at Transport for London are in contact with Manganeze Bronze in order to establish the full implications of the company's decision to go into administration for cab drivers in London.

"To help drivers affected by the recent recall of vehicles we have temporarily suspended the requirement to source taxis from inside London, although all taxis operating in the capital will continue to have to meet the 15-year age limit. We hope this decision will help affected drivers to obtain replacement vehicles as easily as possible and minimise any potential losses on their part."

Source: The Guardian

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Excerpts From Unlicensed Mini Cabs Operating In Wandsworth: Part 3

The next part of this award winning CPOP report beggars belief:

Analysis
Clapham Junction's specific problem
We identified the problem as; late at night (between 00:00 - 0400) on Fridays and Saturdays there was an influx of drivers illegally touting for hire in the Battersea Rise and Clapham Junction area.
(Notice the removal of the term unlicensed minicab drivers)

The motivating factor for these drivers was money and the abundance of fares in the busy transport hub, which has a thriving nigh time economy and houses numerous pubs and nightclubs. Our survey revealed the problem was compounded by the fact that members of the public who employ the touts are often drunk, do not wish to stand in line at a black cab rank or are merely unaware of the potential dangers. There was also a lack of access to legal private hire vehicles in the immediate vicinity.
(licensed PH operators were complaining that customers were being touted before they could reach minicab office)

There are further issues regarding the road worthy condition of the vehicles being used as mini cabs, some of which fall well below recognized safety standards. In addition to this many drivers are not insured for hire and reward. Indeed, checks on regular offender’s car registration numbers revealed that many of them were not registered cab drivers, often holding no valid insurance or MOT.
(Would we be right in thinking that these regular offenders are the same 8 referred to earlier in this report)

Why were police required?
There were numerous demands for police intervention from the high volume of complaints from independent parties.
The significant amount of touting that our research told us was occurring had a direct impact on legal businesses and as such undermined confidence in the police by people working in the local area. This was enforced by the amount of complaints received from local businesses and legal cab firms.
The stream of vehicles plying for hire around the busy transport hub also caused a constant disruption to traffic and blocked major routes when stopping to harass members of the public.
(So, although the Met have always turned a blind eye and a death ear to complaints from the licensed Taxi trade concerning illegal plying for hire, the met have produced this report on behalf of local minicab firms complaining that PHVs from outside the area are nicking "their" work)

What could we do?
Our next step was to contact the Cab Enforcement Team (CET), who specializes in offences regarding mini cabs and Hackney carriages. We did this to gain advice on police powers and to learn what we as police officers could use as disposal options for taxi touts and their vehicles.
(As the Word Taxi can only be legally used when referring to a licensed Taxi are we to believe that some complaints from these local minicab firms involved licenses Taxis plying for hire?)

We already understood that we could arrest offenders, but wished to find out what other avenues were open to us in relation to not only punishing those found to be breaking the law, but re-directing them to a legal means of working. It was hoped that once put in place, a system to direct touts to registered employers would permanently reduce the number of illegal cabs.
(So, instead of arresting persistent PH touts, which is in the power of the police, they decide to get these drivers to sign up to working for local minicab firms, increasing that companies revenue. Also as the police admit they direct these persistent touts to work with registered employers eg. a Satellite office, we must assume that these drivers are not as the title of the report suggests, unlicensed minicabs. You couldn't make this stuff up)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Breaking News: Manganese Bronze Calls in Administrator

Manganese Bronze announced the move in a statement, saying crisis talks to save the business had collapsed.

"The Board has therefore concluded that the Group is no longer a going concern and has filed notice of intention to appoint administrators," it said.

The embattled black cab-manufacturer, which has been reporting losses since 2008, had hoped that a deal could be reached with Chinese carmaker Geely - its second largest shareholder.

However, the firm said it remained "hopeful that the fundamental strengths of the company, the TX4 model and its global reputation" would provide the platform for a successful business in the future.

Problems developed with a safety defect in the new models of the TX4 - as well as accounting issues following the introduction of a new IT system.

The company - based in Coventry in the West Midlands - launched an emergency recall of 400 TX4 Hackney carriages earlier this month after discovering a steering box fault.

The product recall on October 12 prompted a halt in sales, while shares were also suspended in the company.

Since then, the financial position of the firm has remained unclear.

"A speedy resolution of the product recall ... remains the top priority for the Group and will continue to do so throughout the administration process," the company added.

Grant Thornton UK LLP will be handling the administration process.

The recall is the latest in a spate of issues that have plagued the taxi maker at a time when rival Eco City Vehicles, which sells the Mercedes Vito taxi, has been gaining market share.

Manganese Bronze's shares had lost more than two-thirds of their value since the beginning of the year to October 11 - the last trading day before the stock was suspended.

Midlands manufacturer Russell Luckock said: "The demise of Manganese Bronze was not really a surprise, although the speed of this disaster has caught some British suppliers.

"Their problems with the steering box was going to be very expensive.

"Geely might do a deal with the administrators, but the market is such that any supplier of this type of vehicle will find it a marginal operation."

Source: Sky News


STATEMENT FROM LONDON TAXI COMPANY
22nd October 2012


Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC (the "Group"), the manufacturer of the world famous London taxi, today announces that discussions with various parties to secure funding on acceptable terms to address the Group's financial needs have proved unsuccessful. The Board has therefore concluded that the Group is no longer a going concern and has filed notice of intention to appoint administrators.

A speedy resolution of the product recall announced on 12 October 2012 relating to the discovery of a steering box fault remains the top priority for the Group and will continue to do so throughout the administration process.

The Board remains hopeful that the fundamental strengths of the company, the TX4 model and its global reputation will provide the platform for a successful business in the future.

A further announcement will be made in due course.

 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Excerpts From Unlicensed Mini Cabs Operating In Wandsworth, London:Part 2

The next part of the report concentrates on putting over the concept that all these offences are committed by unlicensed minicabs which, as every Taxi driver knows, is definitely not the case. 

Demand
Complaints originated from local bars on Battersea Rise (who now have satellite offices, so no conflict of interest there), who say they were concerned about the safety of their patrons and the influx of unlicensed touts outside their premises at closing time.
(By unlicensed, do they mean minicabs who didn't pay commission to the door staff?.. Nowhere in this report is it mentioned that door staff were taking back handers from minicabs to supply them with work. Are the Met seriously asking us to believe this wasn't going on)

Security staff from Stop Shop Security, Clapham Junction, also complained that the amount of touts at the front of the station caused disruption to travelers and presented a genuine risk to health and safety.
(From the word "touts" are we to understand these are licensed minicabs touting)

Numerous Metropolitan Police crime reports link unlicensed mini cabs to a variety of offences on the traveling public and late night revelers. This was research was based on information gleaned from police databases and Safer Transport Intelligence reports and have been a well documented problem Pan London.
(Still insisting that all these offences are being committed by unlicensed minicabs)

This was compounded by documentation sent in by the London Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) containing registration marks of offending vehicles and photographs of illegal touts.
(The evidence from the LTDA shows licensed minicabs touting, this seems to be skipped over by report)

Local legal mini cab firms (Grand Cars and KVC Taxi’s) also expressed concerns that unlicensed mini cabs take their custom and pose an unfair competition to their legitimate businesses.

When and where
We took into account the complaints we had received but deemed it necessary to conduct our own research into the times and location of the problem.

To establish the peak of these offences, police databases (CAD, CRIMINT & CRIS) were scanned over a six month period (October 2009 to March 2010) for evidence of arrests and relevant information reports, which provided us with quantitative data. In addition to the complaints we had received this provided a realistic indication of times/dates.

The Clapham Junction Hub Team gained qualitative data by conducting public surveys around the Clapham Junction and Battersea Rise area (12th March - 09th April 2010, 458 people surveyed), asking if they had been approached by touts and if so when. The questions were as follows;

1. Do you live in or socialize in the Battersea Rise/Clapham Junction area? 2. Do you travel home late at night, if so what time?
3. What venues do you frequent and what time do you usually leave?
4. What is your usual means of transport to and from the area?
5. Have you ever been offered a mini cab, if so where/what time? 6. What day/night does this usually happen?
8. Do you take these cabs, if so why?
9. Would you consider hitch-hiking on your journey?
10. Do you question a cab driver or ever ask for company identification? 11. What potential dangers do you think taking a mini cab could be?

(Notice the question missing?...Do you know the difference between a licensed and unlicensed minicab?)

This gave an accurate timescale as to when most activity was occurring, namely Friday and Saturday nights in the early hours when the pubs and nightclubs were emptying.

Police officers conducted plain clothed intelligence operations, spanning one month (April to May 2010). The data from these was collated and a database opened highlighting repeat offenders and detailing the time, dates and scale of the problem.

Baseline
Research identified twelve regular unlicensed mini cabs and drivers in the Battersea Rise and Clapham Junction area. Our observations told us there was average of between four and eight irregular visiting touts also visiting these areas.
(At last an admission! Of all the hundreds if regular offenders touting in this area the Met only managed to identify 8 irregular unlicensed Minicabs. Lets remember that their research took place over a 13 month period.)
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This report has been written in the same style of the smoke and mirrors we get regularly from LTPH and TfL.

Excerpts From Unlicensed Mini Cabs Operating In Wandsworth, London:Part 1

We have recently come into possession of a report made by the Metropolitan Police to identify, analyse and respond to the problem of illegal and unlicensed minicab touting in the Wandsworth area. Particularly around Clapham Common and Battersea rise.

This report will be published in parts over the next few days.

Part 1
Summary

Clapham Junction and Battersea Rise, SW11, was rife with illegal unlicensed mini cabs touting for business.
Pan London, unlicensed mini cabs who tout for business are linked to numerous sexual assaults on lone vulnerable females. These offences are primarily committed late at night, the victims being women traveling home after frequenting bars or nightclubs, often under the influence of alcohol.

Additionally, the vehicles used to ferry passengers often fall well below recognized safely standards and are uninsured for the purpose of hire and reward.

Taxi touts harass members of the public and obstruct the highway at the busiest transport intersections around Clapham Junction. They also take business from licensed black cabs and legally run private hire companies.

Our response was to research the scale of the problem by gathering intelligence to identify our local repeat offenders and create a baseline. We initiated plain clothes operations in order to arrest and prosecute the main protagonists.

Furthermore a separate strategy of increasing the availability of licensed mini cabs and directing customers towards them was put in place,

thus denying the touts access to fares and removing the motivating factor, namely money.
The implementation of satellite offices was part of this strategy.

We aimed to eliminate the demand for unlicensed cabs with a publicity campaign, which was rolled out to educate the traveling public on the dangers of taking unregulated transportation.

This focused on reaching the maximum number of people through mass text messaging, leaflet drops and street pastor services.

Partnership working with outside agencies has been a cornerstone of our approach allowing us to tackle this problem from a number of different angles.

We have utilized the services of Immigration, VOSA, the Cabs Enforcement Team and LTDA (London Taxi Drivers Association), all of whom had a stake in the problem.

We have been diligent to ensure the problem has not merely been displaced and since putting our procedures into practice have gathered intelligence on bars and nightclubs immediately outside our target area.

The problem is such that there are occasional transient offenders who come from other areas to work in the busy Clapham Junction transport hub and still cause a problem, however our original identified repeat offenders are no longer operational.

By focusing on a long term strategy and eliminating regular unlicensed offenders our recent intelligence tells us there has been a dramatic drop of 90% in the Battersea Rise area.

Scanning
Identifying the problem

It was important to understand the problem in order to see the main dangers presented by unlicensed mini cabs. To do this we contacted the Public Carriage Office (PCO) and asked the difference between a legal and illegal mini cab. We were told that mini cabs have to be pre booked and are not permitted to simply turn up at a venue with the hope of touting a fare.

When a driver touts for business and picks up a fare illegally there is no record of who the driver is, the passenger details or indeed where the fare is supposed to be taken. This amounts to getting into a car with a stranger and leaves a person in a very vulnerable position in respect of being a potential victim of crime.

Our investigations revealed the problem was often compounded by the fact that members of the public who avail of unlicensed cabs are often drunk or are merely unaware of the potential dangers.

Figures gleaned from the Safer Transport Intelligence Unit told us that between 200 and 250 cases of sexual assault concerning unlicensed mini cabs are reported across London every year, however it is conservatively estimated that five times that number go unreported. That gives an average total of 1,125 offences per year, approximately 22 every week.

This excludes other crime figures, such as robberies and thefts.

Source:The Centre for Problem-Oriented Policing

The mission of The Centre is to advance the concept and practice of problem-oriented policing in open and democratic societies.

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This report was made after a survey carried out between March 2009 and April 2010, where 458 people were surveyed.

As a direct result of this report 343 operator and satellite office licenses have been issued in this area. 

It is our opinion that these measures were not put in place as a result of complaints from the general public about unlicensed minicabs, but from establishments, who have drivers paying them commission for work, complaining that this work is being stolen by other unbooked licensed private hire drivers. 

The many establishments in this area have had clipboard door staff operating illegal minicab ranks for many years, its not a recent issue. It would seem that after over a year of investigation, the Met Police are unfortunately still unaware of the problems and dangers to the public from unbooked, unrecorded, uninsured licensed minicabs. The Met's own estimate of cases of sexual assault including rape concerning mini cabs, (1,125 offences per year, approximately 22 every week) would show just how dangerous this issue has become.

But by far the biggest danger is that in this report, the Met have stated that all the sexual assaults and rapes have taken place in unlicensed minicabs. Yet where perpetrators have been caught, this has most definitely not been the case.

We all know and understand that touting is an arrestable offence, but illegal plying for hire by licensed PHVs is also a reportable offence. Since TfL took control of Taxi and Private Hire from the Met, not one case of illegal plying for hire has been pursued.

Neither the Met or our licensing authority have the will or political appetite to address the problem of illegal plying for hire. 

We have seen many licensing authorities outside London take positive steps to address this issue, so why can't TfL/LTPH.