Saturday, December 08, 2012

Ram rage cabbie gets 15 years for mowing down men ‘like bowling ball’

A RAGING cabbie was jailed for 15 years yesterday after mowing down eight men “like a bowling ball”.
Black cab driver Majid Rehman, 29, mounted a kerb before ploughing into the group after a row at a taxi rank.


He sent them flying like “pins in an alley” — but miraculously no-one was killed, a court was told.
Jailing Rehman, Judge Philip Richards told him: “You used a vehicle as a weapon. You sent bodies flying in all directions — one being trapped under your car.
“Your intent was to cause them all serious harm. It was intolerable behaviour in a civilised society.”


Rehman flipped after a “modest dispute” with six railway workers outside Cardiff railway station, the city’s crown court was told. He drove into them — and two bystanders — at 14mph as the eight walked away from him.
One needed skin grafts for burns after getting wedged beneath the cab’s hot engine.
Rehman, of Cardiff, claimed he had been attacked and was acting in “self defence”. He was convicted of causing GBH with intent and attempting to cause GBH with intent. He admitted dangerous driving.



The Islington Tribune.

The Islington Tribune:
Not only can they not get their facts straight;
Older drivers allowed to jump queues and broom work, Taxis won't go south of the Thames!
Not only do they spread lies and myths about the Taxi trade, they're also in breach of the Private hire Act 1998 sec 31 and also the London Cab act 1968.

There latest online edition advertises minicabs under the banner of a "Taxis in Hackney" as well as advertising another minicab company, offering a "professional Taxi service".

This Is Lazy, Incompetent, Journalism.



Perhaps Taxi drivers would like to contact the rag and leave a comment on the offending page

CLICK HERE

Why not also contact the director of LTPH direct and complain by email.
His address is

johnmason@tfl.gov.uk

PRIVATE HIRE ACT 1998 sec 31;

31 Prohibition of certain advertisements.

(1)This section applies to any advertisement—

(a)indicating that vehicles can be hired on application to a specified address in London;

(b)indicating that vehicles can be hired by telephone on a telephone number being the number of premises in London; or

(c)on or near any premises in London, indicating that vehicles can be hired at those premises.

(2)No such advertisement shall include—

(a)any of the following words, namely “taxi”, “taxis”, “cab” or “cabs”, or

(b)any word so closely resembling any of those words as to be likely to be mistaken for it,

(whether alone or as part of another word), unless the vehicles offered for hire are London cabs.
(3)An advertisement which includes the word “minicab”, “mini-cab” or “mini cab” (whether in the singular or plural) does not by reason only of that fact contravene this section.

(4)Any person who issues, or causes to be issued, an advertisement which contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.

(5)It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that—

(a)he is a person whose business it is to publish or arrange for the publication of advertisements;

(b)he received the advertisement in question for publication in the ordinary course of business; and

(c)he did not know and had no reason to suspect that its publication would amount to an offence under this section.

(6)In this section—

“advertisement” includes every form of advertising (whatever the medium) and references to the issue of an advertisement shall be construed accordingly;
“telephone number” includes any number used for the purposes of communicating with another by electronic means; and “telephone” shall be construed accordingly.


IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN



Friday, December 07, 2012

Results of the Carry On Complaining Campaign: Part 2

Jennette Arnold AM
City Hall
The Queen's Walk
London
SE1 2AA

4 December 2012

Dear Jeanette

Thank you for your email of 19 November in which you asked me to consider the points raised in Mr Robinsons email to you about illegal cabs.

You can assure Mr xxx that TfL, the police and the Mayor take the issue of touting extremely seriously. Touting poses a serious risk to the travelling public and undermines the legitimate and law abiding taxi and private hire trades.

The Mayor’s Safer Travel at Night (STAN) initiative, is a partnership between TfL, the Metropolitan Police (MPS) and the City of London Police (CoLP) which aims to make travelling in London safer. Touting and associated problems are being addressed through its programme of activities including industry regulation and licensing, enforcement and education. Our joint efforts have seen a reduction of over 40% in cab-related sexual offences between 2002 when STAN began and 2011. Despite this, we are not complacent. The incident in Walthamstow is a stark reminder of the dangers of illegal cabs and highlights the importance of the work we are doing with our partners to reduce these despicable crimes in London.



TfL funds 68 dedicated cab enforcement officers in the MPS Safer Transport Command (STC) and CoLP. These officers have been effective in targeting illegal touts, clamping down on unsafe vehicles and other taxi and private hire offences across London and helping to investigate cab-related sexual offences and bring offenders to justice. The officers work alongside TfL’s enforcement and compliance officers to maximise the impact of cab enforcement activities across London, particularly at night to deter, detect and disrupt illegal cab activity.


Mr xxxx is incorrect in his claim that TfL ‘refuses’ to deal with unlawful plying for hire offences. TfL and police cab enforcement activities and tactics are intelligence led and kept under regular review to determine what is the most effective and appropriate action and/or sanction in given situations. At the current time the majority of touting offences are dealt with under criminal proceedings including the financial investigation and confiscation of assets through the Proceeds of Crime Act. Touting arrests are considered to be an essential part of the approach in London given the links between touting and more serious crime including rape and sexual assault. Arresting touts allows the police to take DNA samples from the suspects. The STC Cab Enforcement Unit alone has made over 300 arrests for touting so far this year.



TfL and its police partners are always pushing for the strongest penalties for touting and other cab-related offences. Licensed private hire drivers convicted or cautioned for touting lose their TfL licence for a minimum of one year. Since the policy was introduced in August 2008, almost 1,000 drivers have had their licences revoked for touting.

Mr xxxx refers to the STAN press release which was issued recently. This is part of the multi-media communications campaign which is an integral part of STAN. It aimed to raise awareness of the serious dangers of using illegal cabs, particularly to women, and provide the public with information on safer travel options including licensed taxis and private hire vehicles. It also served as a reminder to illegal cab drivers that TfL and the police will be cracking down on illegal cab activity over the festive period through Operation STAN. Over 200 arrests were made in last year’s operation. The STAN campaign, in particular, has been extremely successful in reducing the demand for illegal cabs. The latest market research shows that the proportion of women using illegal cabs in London has fallen from 19% in 2003 to 4% in 2012.



In Mr xxxxs’ email he also raises concerns about touting and illegal parking and a perceived lack of action by TfL, the police and the local authority to deal with it On Regent and Swallow Streets. I can inform you that the area receives regular attention from the TfL funded Cab Enforcement Unit and the Westminster Safer Transport Team in the STC and from TfL’s enforcement officers as part of their activity in the West End. The West End is the predominant hotspot for touting. Both plain clothes and uniformed officers are regularly deployed to the area.

The bus lane on Regent Street as well as Swallow Street are Borough roads (double yellow lines) and are the responsibility of the local authority – this includes responsibility for illegal parking. Whilst the parking situation Mr xxxx describes is not something that we or the police are able to enforce we are in constant communication with local authorities to seek enforcement of the parking restrictions in particular areas of concern. As parking on double yellow lines is a civil offence, enforceable by the Local Council, the police would not normally take action unless they felt the vehicles concerned were causing an obstruction.

Westminster Council is aware of the issues in the area and deploy appropriately to deal with this. The location has been incorporated into their intelligence led enforcement which increases the number of visits to the area. Westminster enforce the area through a combination of on-street enforcement officers, mobile CCTV cameras and Automatic Number Plate Recognition.

In relation to parking issues by licensed taxi and private hire drivers, there are a number of activities that TfL also undertakes. For example, taxi and private hire compliance officers, whilst not able to enforce local parking restrictions, regularly approach licensed private hire drivers that are parking illegally, whether in a taxi rank or on a Borough road and request that they move. In most cases the driver complies with these requests.

Licensed and law abiding taxi and private hire drivers often have valuable intelligence that is used to inform both the Safer Transport Command’s and TfL’s enforcement activities to deal with touting and other illegal cab activity.




It is for this reason, that we developed an online reporting form to make it easier for drivers like Mr Robinson to report specific touting issues. I would encourage Mr Robinson to use this tool to report issues directly to TfL and the STC. https://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/19382.aspx.

Yours sincerely





John Mason
Director, Taxi & Private Hire


.......................................................................
Dear Xxxxxx

I am writing on behalf of Navin Shah AM regarding your recent email. Apologies for the delay in replying to you- I recently returned from annual leave.

Navin has contacted TfL asking them to investigate your concerns and we will reply to you as soon as we get a reply.

I hope you find this email helpful.

Kind Regards
Abena Oppong-Asare (Abby)
Research and Support Officer
LONDONASSEMBLYLABOUR
City Hall, The Queen's Walk, London, SE1 2AA

Some Results of the Carry On Complaining Campaign: Part 1

Dear Xxxx,

Thank you for your email raising your concerns regarding illegal plying for hire by minicabs in central London, and of cases of rape and sexual assaults by bogus minicab drivers.

These are serious issues and I have previously asked questions of TfL about what steps they are taking to combat illegal taxi touting and how they are working with the Police. I have copied those answers below.

Other Assembly Members have also asked extensive questions on this issue, and it is clear that action is being taken. Hundreds of private hire drivers have had their licences revoked as a result of being convicted or cautioned for touting. Cab related sexual offences figures have also fallen. (See figures below).

However, further action does need to be taken and I will ask the Mayor what more is being done to promote the Cabwise service – which is particularly important at this time of year - and crackdown on illegal plying for hire. I will let you know when I have a response.

Best wishes

Caroline

Caroline Pidgeon AM
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group
Chair Transport Committee
Deputy Chair Police and Crime Committee
www.carolinepidgeon.org



QUESTIONS ASKED TO THE MAYOR ON THE 21st Nov 2012

TfL Taxi and Private Hire Directorate (1)
Question No: 3594 / 2012
Andrew Dismore


How many Private Hire Driver licences were revoked following conviction or caution for touting in every financial year from 2000/2001 to date?

Written response from the Mayor
Before I introduced the “one strike and out” policy in 2008 no private hire drivers licences were revoked even if they were convicted or cautioned for touting. I found this remarkable, which is why I introduced this policy. Since the introduction of this policy, any licensed private hire driver that is cautioned or convicted for touting will have their licence revoked. The table below provides a breakdown of the revocations by financial year.

Financial Year
Revocations for touting
2008/09...64
2009/10...197
2010/11...330
2011/12...189
2012/13...195 (to end of Period 8 -10 Nov)



Performance Indicators on touting (1)
Question No: 3612 / 2012
Andrew Dismore

Please list what Performance Indicators the Safer Transport Cab Enforcement Unit is judged on?
Written response from the Mayor
The Cab Enforcement Unit is measured against three main objectives, with consistent indicators, to enforce the law with regard to taxis and private hire vehicles and ensure the safety of the public, as outlined below:


Objective = O
Indicator. = I
O, Reduce the risk of cab-related sexual offences and other serious crime
I, Cab-related sexual offence figures
O, Reduce taxi touting by tackling illegal cab drivers and operators
I, Usage of unbooked minicabs data and touting approach data
O, Support Taxi and Private Hire Directorate compliance activities and enhance the ability of the licensed trades to operate in a safe and effective manner
I, Operational level indicators and progress against specific action plans.

Performance Indicators on touting (2)
Question No: 3613 / 2012
Andrew Dismore

For the Performance Indicators listed, please provide the results for every financial year from 2000/2001 to date.
Written response from the Mayor
As per the three objectives listed in MQ 3612 / 2012, please see below:

Indicator linked to objective 1 (data available since 2007/08):

Year..........Cab-related sexual offences
2007/8......................121
2008/9.......................93
2009/10....................141
2010/11....................112
2011/12....................103
2012/13 (Apr/Sep).....61(6 months total)




QUESTION PUT TO THE MAYOR EARLIER THIS YEAR.
Taxi Touting (1)
Question number
0289/2012
Meeting date
25/01/2012
Question byCaroline Pidgeon


Combating illegal taxi touting is the joint responsibility of TfL and the Metropolitan Police. Please clearly explain what each organisation is responsible for?

Answer by Boris Johnson (1st Term)
TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and City of London Police (CoLP) are committed to reduce the numbers of bogus cabs in the Capital.
To be legal all minicabs must be licensed by TfL and must be booked in advance. TfL’s Taxi and Private Hire (T&PH) Directorate is responsible for the licensing and regulation of Private Hire Operators, Private Hire Vehicles and Drivers and the licensing and regulation of the Black Cab Trade. The Directorate has a compliance and enforcement team who ensure that operators and drivers adhere to the regulations and work closely with the police on criminal matters.
The MPS and the CoLP are responsible for supporting TfL in anti-touting activities and dealing with any criminal offences that are connected to taxi provision in London. This includes touting and sexual offences. In addition, TfL delivers a range of related activities including the successful Safe Travel at Night campaign, a number of marshalled taxi ranks and the cab trade’s contribution to Air Quality. All of these are undertaken in partnership with the MPS and CoLP.

Taxi Touting (2)
Question number
0290/2012
Meeting date
25/01/2012
Question byCaroline Pidgeon


Please provide details of how the Metropolitan Police and TfL are working together to combat illegal minicab touting?

Answer by Boris Johnson (1st Term)
Units from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and City of London Police (CoLP) funded by TfL all carry out enforcement action to deal with bogus cab activity.
TfL now provides funding for 68 dedicated cab enforcement officers in London, reflecting a doubling in the number of such officers by me in 2008. These officers deal with taxi and unlawful plying for hire offences, minimising the risk of cab-related sexual offences, cab-related serious crime, and dealing with taxi touting by tackling illegal cab drivers and operators.
The cab enforcement officers work closely with colleagues in borough based Safer Transport Teams (STTs), as well as other local police units to help make the most effective use of resources to tackle illegal cab activity. For example, during the pre-Christmas season, all 32 STTs undertook operations focused on cab-related issues in their boroughs.
Within TfL’s Taxi and Private Hire directorate there are 32 compliance staff whose responsibilities include private hire operator pre-licensing inspections, premises inspection and compliance checks such as driver licence checks and vehicle inspections. TfL has recently deployed a dedicated night compliance team in direct response to concerns regarding touting and late night compliance activity demand. TfL has no separate jurisdiction over unlicensed minicabs as they fall outside the licensing regime, but it does deal with licensed drivers found to be touting through licence revocation.

Illegal mini cabs
Question number
1681/2012
Meeting date
13/06/2012
Question byFiona Twycross


What action are you taking to deal with illegal mini cabs that tout for business in central London?

Answer by Boris Johnson
Units from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and City of London Police (CoLP) funded by TfL all carry out enforcement action to deal with bogus cabs. This includes a specific focus at key hot spot locations in central London.
The Metropolitan Police Safer Transport Command has a dedicated pan-London Cab Enforcement Unit (CEU) responsible for enforcing the law relating to taxis and private hire vehicles in London. The police use a plethora of tactical options with covert and high visibility activities prioritised across London to detect, disrupt and deter touting. The CEU also work closely with Safer Transport Teams (STTs) and with local borough police including those based in central London on joint operations to tackle the problem.
A number of measures have been implemented over recent years that are helping TfL and the police to deal with touting more effectively:
- The number of dedicated cab enforcement officers was doubled to 68 to reinforce the resources deployed in the late evenings and provide greater coverage across London. The CEU has made around 5,500 arrests for touting.
- STTs have increased their focus on illegal cabs as we have seen bogus cabs moving into outer London locations. Operation Safer Travel at Night which involved all STTs resulted in over 320 arrests for touting in late 2011.
- Other MPS teams have also carried out dedicated operations in central London through high profile initiatives such as Operation Condor and Operation Trafalgar to deter and disrupt bogus cab activity as well as informing the public of the dangers of using bogus cabs.
- Tougher penalties have been introduced for licensed private hire drivers convicted of touting. PHV drivers have their PHV licence revoked for a minimum of one year following a conviction or caution for touting. In total 422 licences were revoked last year. Additionally we have recently doubled the strength of the Taxi and Private Hire night compliance team, in direct response to concerns regarding touting. This will provide more capacity to respond to night-time touting related issues and we will be working closely with the Police to tackle touting issues alongside other cab related offences.
- The Safer Travel at Night campaign will continue to be utilised to help raise awareness of the dangers of using illegal cabs, provide enhanced information to travellers and offer access to safer travel alternatives. A key element of the campaign is the proactive targeted of taxi touts both to both raise the profile of enforcement teams and to deter offenders.
The market share usage of bogus cabs has reduced to 2% compared to 16% in August 2003. Percentage of late night revellers approached by touts has also fallen from 66% in 2003 to 15% in 2012.




Put London Taxis under control of The Met' Police - e-petitions

I have been asked by a friend, who has put together an ePetition, if I would promote and get as manly drivers and their friends/family as possible to sign.

If you feel as we do that the licensing of Taxis needs to be taken away from an un-knowledgable bunch of civil servants, then please don't hesitate.
Sign today.


Below is the text of the petition and a link to the online site. All you need is an email address.

Put London Taxis under control of The Met' Police

Responsible department: Department for Transport

I believe London Taxis should be put back under the control of The Metropolitan Police. Since TFL "took over," we have seen rapists allowed to do The Knowledge, touting by mini-cab drivers has increased dramatically, so has sexual assaults by said "touts", and we have seen the invention of "Satellite Offices", where mini-cabs can illegally "rank" outside venues. The old Public Carriage Office, (under Met' Police) not only used to test you on your knowledge of London, but also test the character of its candidates , something TFL, sadly, does not seem to do any more.

The Public Carriage Office, was once described as "the last bastion of The British Empire". The examiners (all ex-Police Officers) demanded respect, and got it, which in turn, made the candidates realise, that is the correct way to treat the public, with respect. Unfortunately, "the bastion" has been invaded by unknowledgeable civil servants.
Thank you for signing.

Click Here To View

Thursday, December 06, 2012

New Edgware Road Artwork puzzle.

I have been puzzled by the monstrosity that has emerged above Edgware road tube station. It caught my eye recently as I came of the west way, Edgware Road flyover a few days ago.
Being a permanent night man, I'm not always one of the first to notice new artwork on buildings but I first though some demolition had taken place leaving the interior tiles of an old bath house visible

I was shocked to later find out that this is commissioned art work. I am also told the design brief was to reflect the history of the area surrounding Edgware Road Tube.
As someone who lived and grew up around this area, I am left completely bemused!!!

Apparently its called "Wrapper", a permanent installation above Edgware Road tube station in London, by artist Jacqueline Poncelet, was unveiled on 20 November.


Their website proclaims, "The 1500 square metre vitreous enamel artwork dresses a new London Underground building with patterns and colours drawn from the surrounding man-made and natural environments. Over 700 decorated panels were inspired by the history of the area, its overlapping transport systems, waterways, architecture, communities, and London Underground’s colourful Tube map".

Now the living wall on the other side of the Marylebone road looks fantastic and according t climatologists is doing its bit to help clean up some of the pollution caused by the traffic using the flyover.

Putney Station Rank Direction Reversed with Added Feeder Rank.



Because there have been many complaints, mostly from green badge drivers, that Yellow badged suburban drivers have been over ranking at Putney Station and illegally parking down the high street, TfL, the Red Rout Committee and Local council have decided to completely revamp the High Street station rank. (Allegedly, without the knowledge of the Taxi Trades Joint Ranks committee. What is it they do now?)

From today the 6th of December the rank will be reversed to face in a northerly direction. It will now have a feeder rank situated on the southern carriage way of the upper Richmond Road facing westbound, opposite the Fez club.

The locals in Putney who use the rank have been delighted to see Taxis available in abundance since it was made an island rank.

Surprisingly though the hours of operation have been reduced and both the station rank and the new feeder rank will only be operational from 7pm till 7am rendering the station rankless for the day time 12 hours. This means that the station can not be legally worked during both morning and evening rush hours

There doesn't seem t be any logical reasoning or common sense behind the decision to remove the rank from the station in the daylight hours, but then again this is TfL we are talking bout and we all know TfL don't do common sense or logical reasoning. Personally I would wager that we will soon see a minicab office in close proximity to the station.

Although the change of direction and feeder rank will spell disaster for the touts outside the fez club, it looks like once again TfL have snatched another failure from the jaws of victory.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Cabbies happy after proposals to introduce age limits for taxis are thrown out

Cardiff’s cabbies enjoyed a victory yesterday when councillors threw out proposals aimed at improving the standard of the capital’s ageing taxi fleet.

Cardiff council officers had recommended the public protection committee set a maximum age limit for the first licensing of saloons and multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs).

They also recommended the maximum age that saloons, MPVs and black-and-white cabs can be licensed as taxis in Cardiff be limited at 10 years.

But councillors on the committee voted by a majority to reject the proposals, with some arguing the ongoing maintenance of vehicles was more important than their age.

They instead removed the current initial licensing vehicle age restriction of 25 months and extended the maximum age a cab is allowed to be on the road from 10 years to 12 years.

The “prestige vehicle” classification, which allowed the owner to extend the life of their vehicle, was deemed defunct as a result of the changes and was scrapped.

Some 96% of the taxi fleet were previously either “prestige” or purpose built black-and-white cabs. But the frequency of testing for all vehicle types will become annual for the first five years of the vehicle’s life and twice-a-year thereafter.

Splott’s Labour councillor Gretta Marshall said: “Age is a total red herring, the fitness of the vehicles is the key thing – age is irrelevant.”

Heath’s Conservative councillor Lyn Hudson added: “Sometimes the older cars are better maintained, more robust and fit for purpose. In this current (financial) climate, we should be encouraging better maintenance rather than worry about the age of the car.”

But Liberal Democrat councillor Joe Boyle, who represents Penylan ward, warned: “We will flood the market with cheaper cars as there is no longer any distinction between prestige or not.”

Representatives of the hackney carriage and private hire trade had earlier warned that imposing stricter age limits could put some drivers out of business.

Sharyn Donnachie, of Supatax 2000 Ltd, instead called for council officers to better monitor vehicles for faults, saying stop notices would get unsafe cabs off the road.

Cardiff Hackney Drivers Association chair Mathab Khan said as well as a being an inconvenience, the more frequent testing regime will cost cabbies an extra £114 a year.

“I’m happy the prestige status was removed, there was no need for it any more as the vast majority of vehicles that are being built now are high quality,” he said.



Next shipment of London Taxi TX4 to be brought to Baku


The next shipment of London Taxi TX4 is to be brought to Baku in February-March.
According to director of the Baku Taxi Company Ilgar Gasimov, there is a plan to bring 1000 London Taxi TX4 cars in five shipments to Azerbaijani capital in 2013.

1000 London Taxi TX4 cars are already operating in Baku in December 2012 (Baku Taxi Company car park).

Source:News.Az





Tuesday, December 04, 2012

All Over For Manganese Bronze

Company AIM
TIDM
Headline Cancellation - Manganese Bronze Holdings Plc
Released 07:00 03-Dec-2012
Number 4835S07

RNS Number : 4835S
AIM
03 December 2012



NOTICE

03/12/2012 7:00am

NOTICE OF CANCELLATION OF ADMISSION TO TRADING ON AIM

MANGANESE BRONZE HOLDINGS PLC

The under-mentioned securities has been cancelled from 03/12/2012 7:00am, pursuant AIM Rule 1.

Ordinary Shares of 25p each, fully paid
(0561701)(GB0005617013)

8.25% Cumulative Preference Shares of £1 each
(0561745)(GB0005617450)

If you have any queries or require further information, please contact the London Stock Exchange on 020 7797 4154.

This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange

END

Finally, Production At Coventry Is Shut Down: The End Of An Icon.

The entire production line has stopped mid-flow as if someone has pressed a giant ‘pause’ button. Time stands still - literally. The clock above the factory floor has stopped, too.

Scattered tools and wrenches bear witness to half-finished jobs which simply stopped on the afternoon of October 30. For that was the sorry moment when the company that makes one of the most famous vehicles in the world went into liquidation.

Stephen Fitter, production manager for the London Taxi Company sighed as he surveyed his dormant domain.

“It feels a bit like the Marie Celeste,’ he said. “But I only need to press one button and it could all get going again in an instant.”


The company has shed half of its 300-strong workforce since going into administration following a series of financial and technical problems. I have come to meet the core team who are now on standby to resume production. But if no new owner can be found, then what?

At one end of the dimly-lit production line, a pristine new vehicle is virtually ready to hit the streets. At the other, basic bits of bodywork are waiting to be assembled. But even the bare shells are unmistakeable.


AUTOMOTIVE LEGEND.

For this Coventry factory is where they make - or used to make - an automotive legend. Show anyone, from Mali to Manchuria, a picture of one of these cars and they will be able to say two things about it - that it is a taxi and that it comes from London.

No matter that the TX4 (to give it its proper name) hails from the West Midlands and is to be found in cities all over Britain and, indeed, the world. It is inextricably associated with one city.

Along with Big Ben, Tower Bridge and the Guardsman in his bearskin, it is a much-loved icon that shrieks ‘London!’ Pick any guidebook to Britain’s capital, whatever the language, and you can bet it will carry a prominent picture of a black cab, as surely as the Paris edition will sport the Eiffel Tower and the Venetian a gondola.

CLASSIC DESIGN

The modern black cab dates back to something called the FX3 which began trundling off the Austin production line just after the Second World War (with just three doors and an open-air luggage well where one might have expected to find a front passenger seat).

It was succeeded by the four-door FX4 in 1958, the classic design which lives on to this day.

The manufacturer may have changed hands several times and the vehicle has gone through numerous redesigns and new editions. But today’s TX4 has that same sturdy posture and those same jaunty curves as its ancestor, albeit with better heating and a smoother ride.

Just as they have a timeless quality, so black cabs are entirely classless, too.

Anyone and everyone uses them.

The King of Tonga has a customised TX4 with leather seats, a drinks cabinet and a set of engraved Brierley Hill Crystal (his predecessor found that a London cab was the easiest mode of car transport when travelling with a sword).

Security firm Serco commissioned a customised fleet of blacked-out cabs for ferrying suspects and prisoners to and from court as unobtrusively as possible.

Until recently a London cab has served as the official limo of the Governor of the Falkland Islands. Celebrity owners, including actor Stephen Fry and the late Sir Laurence Olivier, came to love the anonymity and practicality of having one’s own cab.

During the Sixties, oil magnate Nubar Gulbenkian, ordered a London taxi with a Rolls-Royce engine and Victorian carriagework. When asked why, he explained: ‘Because it turns on a sixpence - whatever that is.’

CONDITIONS OF FITNESS

The black cab appeared in this year’s Olympic opening ceremony and was there again in the closing one, too. It has acquired its own mythology. Some stories are utter rubbish, like a fabled law requiring every cab driver to keep a bale of hay in the back.

Some, though, are firmly rooted in fact. To this day, the basic dimensions of the London taxi date back to a set of 1906 Conditions of Fitness which stipulated that every cab should be tall enough to accommodate a man in a top hat and long enough to seat two people opposite each other without their knees touching.

8.5-METRE TURNING CIRCLE

Looking at a bare chassis awaiting its bodywork, I realise just how big the black cab really is. In its skeletal form, it could be a small truck. Back in 1906, it also had to be capable of circumnavigating the tiny roundabout outside London’s Savoy Hotel at one go. Today, a London taxi must still have a turning circle of 8.5 metres.

Not that it was called a ‘taxi’ back then. As taxi historian Bill Munro pointed out, it was only after the introduction of the ‘taximeter’ - which calculates your fare - to the ‘motor cab’ in 1907 that the word evolved.

Those early rules also decreed there had to be a partition separating driver and passengers, mainly to stop drunks from grabbing the wheel.

“Public carriages are frequently used by persons who are more hilarious than wise, getting beside the driver and interfering with the mechanism,” noted the police chief in charge of the Public Carriage Office.

MEDDLERS AND MODERNISERS

Over the years, meddlers and modernisers have tried to tinker with these arcane rules, but they remain in place for the simple reason that they work.

Several car makers have tried to establish a foothold in the black cab market. Some failed to crack the 8.5-metre turning circle. Others produced designs which might politely be described as hideous or which failed to meet new emissions standards.

Most challenging of all are the sums: how do you develop a design which a) complies with all these regulations and b) sells enough models to recoup your investment in such a tiny market? And that is the problem that has brought the London Taxi Company to its knees.

MARKET LEADER

LTC enjoys an enormous market share, accounting for some 80 percent of London’s 22 000 black cabs. The other licensed models are the Vito, a newish converted Mercedes van with sliding doors, and the Metrocab, a boxy old thing which is no longer in production (the Duke of Edinburgh still uses one - in ‘Edinburgh green’ - for travelling around London).

Nissan also plans to introduce a new minivan-style taxi with sliding doors and a sun roof in the next year or so, but the vast majority of cabbies prefer LTC’s classic creation.

At about £35 000 (R500 000), it is marginally cheaper than the Vito and, while it is less efficient, it can easily clock up a million kilometres. As Fitter pointed out: “Other taxis are just adapted vans. This one was designed for the job.”

JOINT VENTURE

Just six years ago, LTC’s future looked rosy as its parent company, Manganese Bronze, was announcing grand plans and a joint partnership with a Chinese supplier.

But things did not go according to plan. In 2008, a technical fault affecting thousands of cabs was coupled with the credit crunch. More recently, a new IT system mislaid several million pounds of company money. And finally, in October, a fault appeared in a new Chinese-built steering component. More than 500 new cabs had to be impounded while another 455, already in service, had to be recalled.

Had Manganese Bronze been a giant like Jaguar or Ford, it might have weathered the storm. But in the automotive world, it is a pixie.

Unlike the average car plant, LTC does not have a single robotic machine. All its vehicles are assembled manually by a team of highly-trained technicians. So when the money ran out in October, PriceWaterhouse Coopers were called in to salvage what they could.

In due course, they hope to find a new buyer.

But their priority has been to find a swift solution to the steering problem, secure new funding and then repair every cab with the faulty part. That process, now well under way, will be finished by mid-December.

In the meantime, owners of faulty cabs have either had to scrabble around for a rented vehicle or twiddle their thumbs. But the problem is much wider. New rules mean that no cab is allowed to work in London for more than 15 years (hence you will often find elderly ex-London cabs in the regions).

So, day after day, cabs are coming up for retirement and drivers are having to ask themselves a simple question: do they buy a Mercedes or wait in the hope that somebody will start making traditional cabs again?

“We need this sorted urgently.”

Bob Oddy, deputy general secretary of the London Taxi Drivers Association, said: “It’s a huge problem because the overwhelming number of drivers do prefer the traditional cab.

“Within two days of the news, you couldn’t borrow or hire a new cab anywhere - and it’s been like that ever since.”

He pointed out that half of ‘black’ cabs are no longer black. Some drivers like a tasteful shade of blue or bronze - or any one of the 21 shades on offer at LTC, including Sherwood Green (mandatory for Nottingham cabs) and pink.

Many drivers, too, enjoy the revenue from an all-over advertisement, known as a ‘livery’. But whatever the colour, there is no question which shape the public prefers.

The liquidators insist they are confident of finding a buyer.

Matthew Hammond, 42, the PwC partner in charge of turning things round, said: “This a dominant market leader with an iconic brand and a huge level of international goodwill.”

He claims to have some clients ready to order up to 500 new cabs each and says that production will resume once the latest glitch is sorted.

I do hope so. London is the poorer without the old hop-on/hop-off Routemaster bus and would be drearier still without its classic cab; the West Midlands can ill afford to lose yet another car maker, and I think it is safe to assume that no King of Tonga will ever want to be driven around in a Mercedes van. -

Source: Daily Mail

Are Late Night Discount Vouchers, Better than Cabwise?

What a great idea from Hailo and the Dublin DRINKAWARE campaign.

HAILO the licensed taxi app and DRINKAWARE.IE, are joining forces in Dublin to give away €500,000 in free taxi vouchers to help people get home safely this Christmas.

Perhaps this would have been appropriate for TfL to adopt this Christmas, in regards to the breaking news that an unknown number of dangerously unsafe minicabs are out working the streets of London.

The campaign is focused on promoting a great night out, while reminding people to pace themselves and ensure they get home safely.

Over 100,000 wallet-sized cards, each containing a €5 discount voucher for a Hailo taxi, will be available to people in Dublin during December. Voucher codes are also downloadable on Facebook

At the moment, not only are late night passengers using unbooked minicabs in danger, but with vehicles that have had no inspection and have illegally purchased PH green roundels working pseudo-legally, no one is safe...Unless you use a Licensed Taxi.

What a great PR stunt this would have been for TfL. £5 off your taxi ride and could easily have been done in conjunction with their Cabwise smart phone app.

TfL who have known about this problem for over two months and said nothing, will have some explaining to do if any one is badly injured or even killed in an unsafe PHV/Minicab, after using Cabwise to get home this Christmas and New Year.

New Years Eve:
A rank on the Mall with Marshals handing out £5 discount vouchers would be a great sight to behold. As most of central London will be cordoned off, revellers will be delighted to walk the short distance to Admiralty Arch if they know they can find a Taxi.

London has the worlds best Taxi service, a service that every other country admires.
Be Smart, Stay Safe and Always Use A Licensed Taxi

Monday, December 03, 2012

Recorded rape up 53% in London

There has been a 53% rise in recorded rape in London over the last four years.

In the financial year 2008-2009, there were 2,177 reports of rape to the Metropolitan Police.

But by 2011-2012, that had jumped to 3,334 cases. Some 667 prosecutions have been completed, 369 of which were successful.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman claimed the rise was due to victims feeling more confident about coming forward.

He said: "We believe this rise in recorded crimes is partly due to an increase in victims coming forward to report rape and sexual assaults."

The statistics are from the Crown Prosecution Service.

The CPS said a further 661 people have been charged from the year 2011-2012, with court cases yet to be completed.

'Unacceptable'
Yvonne Traynor, chief executive of Rape Crisis South of London, said: "Women feel more confident they are going to be believed.

Fear of demonisation in the courts and not being believed put off many victims of rape from reporting their attacks. Shame, fear and embarrassment also stopped victims speaking out.

A recent survey of Mumsnet members suggested rape is still heavily under-reported, with 80% of respondents who had been victims of rape or sexual assault saying they did not report their attack.

"We need investment in public campaigns on transport and elsewhere saying this behaviour is unacceptable."

Source: BBC news online.

Editorial Comment:
Taking this percentage across the board, unless the figures have been manipulated for the second year running, we are set to see a massive increase in cab related serious sexual assaults, including rape.
It is unacceptable that LTPH give quasi-official permission for touting minicabs to rank up outside night club were unsuspecting passengers are shepherded by clipboard Johnnies into waiting cars.

Most of these type of journeys are unrecorded and the lines of cars are no more than hunting grounds for sexual predators.

While LTPH refuse to enforce the illegal plying for hire contravention this type of serious sexual assault will only escalate.

Now we hear that many PHVs are operating without being inspected, after illegally purchasing their roundels from staff at SGS. We also have found out that LTPH knew about this problem some two months ago.

Do we see compliance officers checking details and reporting offenders? NO.

How many people need to be raped until something is done. Must we wait till some one is murderer?



Video courtesy off: The Anderson Shelter Channel

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Fred Housego's reply to Leon Daniels letter

Dear Mr Daniels – re your letter 192/24679 regarding your post Olympic Games analysis, which appears to be totally at odds with the experiences of the vast majority of London taxi drivers, but I’ll let that pass.

Now we come to your Cabbies Cabinet – a patronising and condescending name if ever there was one. Cabbie is the sort of phrase I associate with the habitu├ęs of the St James’ Club members. However, if by setting up a licensed cab drivers committee are you suggesting it will have real power? I doubt it. But let’s for a moment suggest that I could offer some advice that you’ll take.

It should have the power to negotiate cab fares – for example, if we overcharge we lose custom; if we undercharge we can’t cover our costs. Would it be possible for this committee to demand the restitution of our ‘extra persons’ charge, to regain rate 3 to start at 8pm all week and that rate 2 is only used on Saturday and Sunday? Will we be able to censure the head of the Carriage Office, involve ourselves with the CO’s budget, demand a counter at Palestra House 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday for cab drivers to have proper access to the organisation that allegedly runs it? I can almost hear the laughter from your office.

Let me be frank, I think your ‘Cabbies Cabinet’ is an instrument for allowing the cab trade to blow off steam and nothing more. If you are genuinely serious about a strong, confident, financially sound licensed taxi trade for London then the only way forward is a strong, well-founded series of checks and balances to which the licensed tax trade can contribute, knowing that what it demands after proper negotiations will be implemented.

I would be interested in your response.

Fred Housego – badge no. 19888

Source CTN blog

RMT London Taxi Branch Formally Requests New Years Eve Rank

The London Taxi Branch of the RMT
have formally requested a temporary Taxi Rank to be placed in the Mall at Admiralty Arch, from 23:30hrs Monday 31st December 2012 until 05:30hrs Tuesday 01st January 2013.

Access to this Rank would be via Hyde Park Corner, into Constitution Hill, which is usually manned for the duration the Rank will be in existence, on to the Mall and through Admiralty Arch. To rank and pick up in the Horseshoe closest to Trafalgar Square.

Drivers would leave the Rank through Admiralty Arch along the Mall back up Constitution Hill, or via Buckingham gate, depending on direction of travel.

The Police cordon, around the revellers, is there to protect the increased numbers of drunk people on the streets, but, it also impedes the London Taxi Driver from, going to work.

Even If we just had one access point, a rank at Admiralty Arch would be perfect.

With the correct signage the travelling public would stream to this rank and alleviate the pressure on the night bus and underground system.

If required the RMT London Taxi branch will provide the Marshalls, which I believe will be necessary.

Kind regards.

Mike Tinnion