No, this is not the Alamo. This is not Rorkes Drift. Just the licensed Taxi trade, fighting for survival.
Last Friday, a compliance officer made a statement to a trade representative that has raised a red flag. His statement and the subsequent statement made by TfL should not be ignored.
This is not going away
This is not going to get better
This needs to be addressed NOW by a united trade response.
Statement made to Unites Peter Rose by compliance officer outside Smiths Restaurant in Charterhouse Street.
"WOW! Just been told by TfL Compliance team that Satellite Offices are allowed to have a 'certain' number of vehicles waiting outside, just as if it was a 'minicab office'. This has been confirmed by TfL legal apparently. This is no reflection on the Compliance team themselves, they only do as they are instructed to do."
After Mr Rose posted this remark on Twitter, many drivers sent off emails to TfL demanding clarification on this issue.
Peter Rose has been first to receive reply from TfL and his published this on his personal blog.
"When licensing an operating centre to accept private hire bookings, whether it is a ‘normal minicab office’ or an operating centre in a late night venue (what you refer to as a ‘satellite centre’), we expect any private hire vehicle that is serving that operating centre to comply with local parking restrictions and we do not condone illegal parking.
However, if the vehicles and drivers are legally parked in the vicinity of an operating centre run by the operator they work for, we will take the view that they are legitimately at the location waiting for bookings from that operator.
Where this is not the case and we or the police find drivers acting unlawfully we will take appropriate action. For example, where un-booked private hire vehicles and drivers are found making themselves available for immediate hire we will take action on the grounds that the driver is illegally plying for hire. This may result in prosecution and/or revocation of the private hire vehicle driver’s licence. We have no power to enforce parking restrictions which remains the responsibility of the local authority”. End.
This statement is the most dangerous statement ever to come from TfL and has got to be challenged immediately by all trade representative orgs.
Legal costs should not be a problem as Unite is the biggest union in the country with over a million members. The LTDA have over 10,000 subscribers plus a man on the board of TfL.
I would also point out, the RMT have a legal department and over 80,000 nation wide members.
THIS STATEMENT IS AN INSULT TO THE TRADE AND WILL LEAD TO PRIVATE HIRE RANKS REPLACING LICENSED TAXI RANKS.
What next?... Satellite offices at Rail Stations with ranks of minicabs waiting to become hired....of course this is illegal and we have decades of case law to back it up.
The reply on Mr Rose's blog was unsigned. So, to theTfL employee who made this statement;
"However, if the vehicles and drivers are legally parked in the vicinity of an operating centre run by the operator they work for, we will take the view that they are legitimately at the location waiting for bookings from that operator."
We would like to bring your attention and that of your legal team to sec.35 of the Hackney Carriage Act of 1831, which states the following:
"Every hackney carriage which shall be found standing in any street or place, unless actually hired, shall be deemed to be plying for hire"
A hackney carriage is a vehicle that is not necessarily a taxi, although a taxi is a form of hackney carriage. Private Hire Vehicles (minicabs) are also a form of Hackney Carriage.
We would also point out that under Metropolitan Public Carriage Act, 1869 (32 & 33 Vict c 115), s 7. The operator or vehicle owner is also liable to a charge of illegally plying for hire by the driver.
The contravention also carries a level 3 penalty.
The official statement made by TfL is wrong and would not stand up if legally challenged.
But will those who purport to represent us, actually represent us this time?
Rose v Welbeck (29/31 May 1962)
Alker v Woodward (16 /17 February 1962.)
Case law used in judgements.
Hunt v Morgan (23 Nov, 1 Dec 1948)
Cogley v Sherwood, Car Hire Group (Skyport) Ltd v Sherwood, Howe v Kavanaugh, Car Hire Group (Skyport) Ltd v Kavanaugh, (1959)
Gilbert v McKay (1946)