Saturday, January 12, 2013

Is This The Shape Of Things To Come From Net Work Rail In London?

Roads shake-up paves way for fewer taxis in Waverley

NEW pedestrian crossings and roundabouts are to be built around Waverley Station to improve access when there is a reduction in taxi provision later this year.

Network Rail intends to cut down on the number of black cabs allowed into the transport hub as part of a Home 
Office anti-terror policy.

A complete ban was originally proposed but has been scaled back due to concerns that it would make access difficult for those with disabilities and young children in 

New measures – which are still awaiting around 
£1 million funding from the UK Department for Transport – include extended taxi ranks in the streets around the station and a new crossing on Waverley Bridge, along with improvements to pavements.

A new roundabout beneath North Bridge – at the junction of East Market Street and Jeffrey Street – would be built to manage the flow of traffic to the new pick-up/drop-off bays.

Provision for taxi stacking on Market Street will also be made to allow controlled access into Waverley Station.

Network Rail intends to reduce the number of taxis from around 27 at present to somewhere in the region of 12. Access to the station will be managed by an electronic barrier system.

Security changes are being made as part of a UK-wide programme to prevent vehicular access to all stations, due to concerns that a vehicle could be driven into a train or packed concourse.

Waverley has been granted a reprieve due its geographic position in the Waverley Valley. The taxi ban was originally scheduled for last year and due to the wait in funding is unlikely to come into force until after the summer.

Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said: “The council has been working very closely with Network Rail and I’m pleased to say we’ve come a long way since last summer when it seemed as though access to Edinburgh’s principal rail hub could be seriously compromised, particularly for less mobile station users.

“The designs the council has produced, coupled with Network Rail’s investment into new lifts and escalators, will make it much easier for everyone to access Waverley Station as well as improving the surrounding area with resurfaced carriageway and footways and a new pedestrian crossing at the junction of Market Street and Waverley Bridge.

“With up to three taxis a minute entering the station at peak times, it’s crucial that we find ways of managing the traffic on Market Street and Waverley Bridge. The proposals up for approval offer a range of measures which will do just this, as well as enhance the amenity of the whole area.”

A report detailing these proposed measures and requesting elected members’ permission to progress the £1m project will be considered by the transport and environment committee on Tuesday.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Discussions with the council are progressing positively and we remain committed to removing unrestricted vehicle access from Waverley to improve security and enhance the station environment for passengers.”


Friday, January 11, 2013

None Enforcement Of Parking Regulations At Regent And Swallow.

Last Night, Thursday the 10 of January, private hire touts began illegally plying for hire in the bus lane just before the junction of Swallow Street, from as early as 10:30pm. The surveillance CCTV camera in the middle of the road at Vigo Street, pointing directly at the Touts parked up illegally in the Regent Street bus lane. The bus lane is in force till midnight and is restricted for the use of buses, Taxis and cycles only. After midnight it reverts to a double yellow line.

Our investigations show, it is the same minicabs that assemble at this point night after night. So it's safe to assume PCNs are not being issued to these vehicles, or they wouldn't keep returning. It is alleged, Westminster Parking Services (currently run by NSL ltd) has instructed it's wardens not to issue tickets at this location, so the touts are being given carte blanche to illegally plying for hire and tout.

We have contacted GLA assembly members and asked them to carry out an investigation as to why these vehicles are being allowed to break the law and why an agency that will soon be taking on the responsibility for licensing Taxis and PHVs, has instructed it's CEOs to turn a blind eye to the parking restrictions contraventions in Regent Street. We have been asked to supply all our evidence, which we have done.

After years of being left alone to steal work from honest, working Taxi drivers, it would appear the trade is no long willing to roll over and has united, deciding enough is enough. With this new found fighting spirit from within the taxi trade, the touts are being denied the chance of having it all their own way. Last night united cabbies again took up position, filling the ranks in the middle of the road. Hardly anyone leaving the clubs and bars in Swallow street went away in a minicab, almost all opted for a real, legal Taxi.

Regular updates were put out, giving details of availability of rank spaces on twitter utilising the new @Tag_Hit_Squad and @UCGup accounts. Both offer a free service to all cabbies that is easy to use, plus there is no joining fee.
Just follow on Twitter and when you have been confirmed you can join in. Regular work and traffic updates are also given out and so far over 500 drivers have taken the opportunity to signed up to these accounts.

The Tag Hit Squad even has a channel on an iPhone app that works like the old CB radio. The app is called Zello and can be downloaded from the App Store. This is real fun and breaks up the monotony of a quiet night.

Soon we may be seeing multiple hits as this group expands and more volunteers get involved.
As a famous man once said: This isn't the end, its not even the begging of the end (as there is so much more to deal with). But it is the end of the beginning.

We haven't won the war yet but we are winning the opening battle.
Get involved
Take the work back and starve out the touts.

Yes your eyes are not deceiving you, there is some good news. A new rank for two Taxis has been situated bang outside the exit to the restaurant/bar The Collection in Brompton Road by Brompton Cross.

A veritable hot spot of touting activity, thousand of jobs are lost to minicabs illegally plying for hire outside. All you have to do is service this rank and the customers will use you, they want and prefer real Taxis after years of being ripped off

Last night I went to the restaurant to take a couple of snaps and even though the Bar wasn't open, I got a walk up. So did I get the first official job of this new rank? Did anyone beat me?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Record number of taxis loaded at Las Vegas airport

The arrival of the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show this week helped shatter a year-old record for the most taxis loaded in a single day at McCarran International Airport.

Airport officials said that on Monday, 17,084 taxis were loaded at Terminals 1 and 3. The previous record was 14,495 on Jan. 5, 2011, also during CES.

During the peak of arrivals on Monday, customers waited 30 minutes to board a cab, officials said.

Officials speculate the increase could be attributed to more airport arrivals and a larger loading area at Terminal 3, which opened in June. Shorter wait times for taxis also contributed, because fewer people gave up waiting for a cab for other transportation options, officials said.

McCarran officials also said that for 2012, 3.3 million customers boarded cabs at the airport, 2 percent more than in 2011 and also a record.

There are 16 cab companies that serve Clark County, but some are not authorized to pick up passengers at the airport.

Swallow Street Tout Free For All: Tag_Hit_Squad Fights Back.

Last nights action at Swallow and Regent, put the smile back on my face.

I felt something I haven't felt for a long time, Pride. 

Pride in my fellow drivers, who decided enough was enough and just went out and took back the work from the band of thieves operating unhindered by police or parking wardens, too frightened to move them on or dish out tickets. 

I worked the rank at swallow street most of the night. It was great to see drivers from every trade org uniting, in spite of the current climate between their representative group leadership. When drivers unite irrespective of representative group, we are unstoppable.

I took this opportunity to engage with the customers.
It seems they are only too willing to take real taxis, as they have been constantly been ripped off by these licensed touts. 

One punter was asked £20 to Novikov, a journey that normally costs under £7 in a real Taxi.

But the people who use the facilities in Swallow Street, don't like waiting around. They will use these illegal services if we are not at hand.

Some time ago Westminster council carried out a survey on behalf of TfL. They found that customers leaving late night venues would get into the first transport they see outside, when leaving a bar or club. The late night revellers interviewed, believed minicab's have the legal right to pick up in this manner as this is the way it has worked for nearly a decade under TfL.

Westminster's conclusion was, the best way forward was to install Taxi ranks outside night venues with the point Taxi as close to the main exit as possible.
These findings were never acted upon by TfL. Possibly because they thought it might affect the revenue from the escalation of license applications that were flooding in. 

Its highly dangerous for customers who, more than likely have been drinking, to cross such a busy road as Regent Street to get into a Taxi. Therefore, a kerb side night rank for three Taxis, 11 pm till 4am, (similar to the one in Charing Cross Road by Bear Street) should be Installed ASAP. The rank could be fed from the middle of the road and enforced by the CCTV camera at Vigo Street, fed from Rank in the middle of the road, with the occasional visit of CEOs from Westminster Parking Services.

Last night proved there is a need for such a rank.

If we put on and service this rank, they will use.
Although It started off a bit slow around midnight, it picks up and runs well from about 1 am.

Don't engage with the touts! Keep it legal:

The private hire touts have started to get very aggressive. I was assaulted with in minutes of arrival by a couple of minicab drivers, as I collected registration numbers, so stay in your Taxi.

We have been informed by individual CEOs from NSL that Westminster Parking services has instructed it's wardens not to ticket the touts as their officers were regularly being assaulted.
They will now only attend if accompanied by Police officers which in the current political climate, is not high on the met's priority list.

If NSL cannot enforce parking at this location, what makes TfL think they are the right company to take over licensing of Taxis and Private hire vehicles from SGS?

Taxi Leaks is in possession of emails to and from NSL and Westminster council which backup our claim.

<B>We will be contacting our GLA members to investigate these claims.</b>

We will also be contacting the Media both Papers and TV, although we have in the past been let down badly by both on numerous occasions, so wont be holding our breath.

Please help your fellow Taxi drivers, don't just sit back and let others do all the work. If you see a hit on a club or bar, join in and help take the work back.

Follow @Tag_Hit_Squad on twitter for updates. Run on a similar line to CabUp only Taxi drivers need apply.

Only took four of them to get me in the road</>

Taxi driver goes on trial for lover's murder 17 years after she vanished

Kevin Doherty killed mother-of-two Jane Harrison before constructing a false alibi and even pretending to receive phone calls from her in front of witnesses, a jury was told.

Miss Harrison, 32, who had a one-year-old son with Doherty, disappeared without a trace in June 1995 just before the couple were about to go on a family holiday to Florida.

Doherty, 57, who also had three children from his marriage, had a volatile three-year affair with her after they met in a nightclub in 1992, the Old Bailey heard.

They would frequently row and split up, but Doherty told detectives he kept going back to his lover because he was “besotted” with her.

He is alleged to have murdered Miss Harrison and taken her body to a lock-up garage while pretending to be scouring the streets looking for her.

Doherty was questioned by police about his mistress’s disappearance at the time but was not charged with her murder until May last year.
The prosecution admitted that its case was “circumstantial” because Miss Harrison’s body had not been discovered, there was no direct evidence that Doherty was responsible for her death, and he had not confessed to the crime.

Jonathan Rees QC, for the Crown, said: “We are not in a position to call any eye witnesses who claimed to have seen the murderous attack or any CCTV evidence recording the event.
"There is no evidence that this defendant has admitted he has killed Jane Harrison. Instead the prosecution rely on what is commonly referred to as circumstantial evidence."

On the day of her disappearance, Miss Harrison went shopping with Doherty, who claimed he dropped her off at her mother’s home and then went to her flat in Highbury, north London.
He later rang the flat’s landline using his mobile and pretended the calls were from his lover in front of a babysitter and Miss Harrison’s teenage son, Ryan, the prosecution alleged.
The jury was told that when the babysitter left, she saw Doherty leaning against a window muttering, "Oh God. What a nightmare," and looking "sweaty and panicky".

Mr Rees said: "He had every reason to be, say the prosecution. This purported call from Jane to the house was nothing more than a continuation of a charade."
The prosecutor alleged that there was a discrepancy between the time when Doherty said he dropped Miss Harrison off and when he returned to her flat, which could be explained by him taking her to his lock-up garage in Walthamstow, east London.

When Doherty arrested, he told police he had an on-off relationship with Miss Harrison, sometimes breaking up with her and returning to live with his wife.

Mr Rees said: "He said he did not kill Jane Harrison and they had not argued. He said he was not a jealous person even though they had split up on a number of occasions. He said he kept going back and was besotted with her. It was a sexual thing and he was not in love with her."
Doherty, from South Woodford, east London, denies murder. The trial continues.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Missing Terror Suspect Escaped in London Cab, May Told

Terrorism suspect 'escaped in a black cab'
A missing terrorism suspect went on the run by jumping in a black cab.

A man suspected in Britain of terrorism offences, Ibrahim Magag, escaped surveillance by ringing for a black London cab, U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May was told.

The opposition Labour Party’s home affairs spokeswoman, Yvette Cooper, citing a Twitter posting from a taxi firm, told lawmakers that Magag picked up the ride less than half a mile (800 meters) from Euston station in London on Dec. 26. She had called May to Parliament today to answer an emergency question about the suspect’s escape.

Cooper said the government had made it easier for Magag, who is suspected of attended terrorist training camps in Somalia, to escape by allowing him to come back to London from western England, where he had been made to live under a so- called control order restricting his movements.

Asking an urgent question in the Commons, Ms Cooper said: “Magag is still missing after 13 days. Clearly the Home Secretary has no idea where he is.”

May “has personally made it easier for people to abscond,” Cooper said in Commons. “Other people previously relocated under control orders are also now back in London” under newer anti-terrorism measures. “Could any one of them simply jump in a black cab and be off?” Cooper asked.

The government replaced control orders, which put restrictions on the movement of terrorist suspects who have not been charged by police, with so-called terrorism prevention and investigation measures in 2011. These require suspects to stay overnight in their home for eight to 10 hours, down from 16 hours previously, and wear an electronic tag.

Magag is suspected of escaping after ripping off his tag. Cooper said allowing him to move back to London had been a mistake, because being in the West Country “he was made to live under a control order -- harder to get help from his associates, harder to hide, harder to get forged papers.”

May said she “does not believe that Magag’s disappearance was linked to any current terrorism planning in the U.K.” She also defended the new terrorism prevention orders, saying control orders had not been foolproof.

“In six years of control orders, there were seven absconds and of those seven cases, six were never apprehended,” May told Cooper. “Magag’s abscond is serious and the authorities are doing everything they can to locate him.”

Monday, January 07, 2013

You Have the Right To Film or Take Photos In A Public Place.

On more than one occasion, I have been told by police officers that I must not film or take photos at certain locations when I have been involved with touts outside London clubs and bars.
However, legally, this is no the case. Officers have, in the past, threatened to take away my camera/smart phone if I were to persist.

This action on there behalf is an infringement of the human rights act;
Rome 1950, Fundamental Freedom
Protocol 1. Article 1.

(1) Every natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions. No one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law.

A Camera is such a possession.

Recently, more than 200 MPs put their signatures to Austin Mitchell’s Early Day Motion condemning police harassment of photographers in public places, the Bureau of Freelance Photographers (BFP) are launching a major initiative in an attempt to tackle the problem on the ground.

As part of its campaign for photographers’ rights, every UK member is being issued with the BFP Blue Card – a card that asserts photographers’ rights to take pictures in public places.
The card, which was enclosed in an issue of the BFP’s monthly Market Newsletter, may help members who find themselves being stopped from taking pictures in public places. In such circumstances, the Bureau feels that members may find it useful to show the card to the particular police officer, security guard or other official.

The card is written in simple language; it is short and to the point and has been legally validated. It is small enough to be slipped into a camera bag or pocket.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Cabup, Politically Motivated Paranoia? Or Just Plain Out Of Order?

On Friday night, around midnight, I put out a ordinary tweet "work at Swallow Street"
I was asked by another driver to use Cabup. He said this type of tweet is pure gold to the users of Cabup account. So I then put out the same tweet in the Cabup account.
Just after I put out the tweet, it all kicked off and the touts became violent.

I felt a duty of care to inform and warn drivers who would be turning up on my bequest.
As I have seen warnings about egg throwing and drunks on Cabup before, I didn't think there would be a problem, or anyway this warning could be perceived as disrupting the smooth running of the account.
So I put out this tweet on the Cabup account;

"Be careful on Swallow St rank
Don't approach touts
They are aggressively protecting their patch"

Surely there was no way this tweet could not be taken as offensive, politically motivated or out of context? It was just a warning to my fellow drivers.

But then I received this anonymous text on my phone.

"Please keep cabup to useful real time work & traffic info. If you've been physically assaulted on Swallow Street rank you should be telling the police..."

Is it not useful to know that an area you are making you way too, has become a battle zone?

Does this also mean that if you are in trouble, or being assaulted, you can't use this account to ask for help or assistance or call help from you fellow drivers?

I sent a message back saying that I was offended by this ridicules text, as I was only warning drivers who might be putting themselves in danger, what could possibly be wrong with that?

I never once mentioned on Cabup that it was me who was assaulted, so obviously the person who sent me the text had viewed my twitter time line and was fully aware of the situation unfolding at Swallow Street.

This anonymous person then sent another message which said, "can't talk right now as I am with people but can phone you tomorrow"...This person found the time to check my tweet, check my time line, write and send me a text "while out with people", amazing!

I told the sender I was offended by his original text.
Then out of the blue, I got an even bigger insult, another text which said;

"Your offended by everything and everyone"....

I have seen many tweets on cabup that are not strictly work or traffic related. I would always put fellow drivers safety in front of any work or traffic relate info.

Last night, I asked if any ordinary driver on twitter, was genuinely offended by my original warning text, or if anyone had a problem with the message I had put out...not one drive came back and said I was out of order.

I think the moderators of Cabup, have well overstepped the mark this time, what do they hope to achieve by this attitude directed solely at me. Surely drivers safety should be paramount. I will no long be using this account, until I receive a full apology from the sender of the two insulting texts.

Jim Thomas.

As a post script to this article, I now find I have been blocked and expelled from Cabup. No explanation or reason given, other than I was using Cabup for my own agenda???

If the safety of my fellow drivers is my own agenda, then I hold my hand up.