Saturday, February 09, 2013

Excerpts From The Fare Rise Consultation:

Who was consulted?
Taxi trade organisations, representatives of taxi customers (LondonTravelWatch (LTW) and Age UK), the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other key stakeholders, such as London Boroughs, Greater London Authority Assembly Members and London MPs were asked to provide comments on the proposals through a formal consultation, which was launched on 26 October 2012 and closed on 23 November 2012. The consultation was also published on the TfL website so members of the public could respond.

Annual revision – general change in tariffs
The taxi cost index was published to consultees on 26 October 2012 and showed a proposed increase to taxi fares of 1.8 per cent. Since October the cost index has been revised to include the most recent fuel costs and the proposed increase to taxi fares is now 1.7 per cent.

There was support from the Licensed Cab Drivers Club (LCDC), the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), Unite the Union, the taxi radio circuits (Computer Cab, Dial-a-Cab and Radio Taxis) and LTW for using the existing cost index and increasing fares accordingly.

The RMT requested a substantial increase to taxi fares, as a result of rises in living costs. The United Cabbies Group (UCG) requested an increase inline with the Retail Prices Index (RPI), which was at 3.2 per cent in October 2012, and said that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), which was at 2.7 per cent in October 20121, should not be used.

Some respondents requested a freeze of taxi fares or a lower increase and concerns were raised about the impact an increase would have on disabled and elderly taxi users, and Taxicard members who rely on taxi services. One disability group felt that a 1.8 per cent increase was reasonable in relation to RPI and CPI but raised concerns in relation to passengers whose income is from benefits only, such as disabled passengers, and who did not have an alternative or supplementary income stream.

Although the LCDC, LTDA and Unite supported in principle frontloading an increase they did not support it for this particular fare increase.

Extension of the fuel charge extra
The LCDC, LTDA and Unite supported the extension of fuel charge extra but felt that the extra should be reduced from 40 pence to 20 pence and the fuel threshold figure reduced accordingly. The UCG suggested a different fuel extra arrangement with real-time monitoring of fuel prices by TfL was needed, instead of using the Arval index as there is a delay with fuel prices being published. The UCG also requested that there be an incremental extra (20 pence, 40 pence, etc.) which would increase as fuel prices increased.

LTW did not support the introduction of an increase in fares between the annual revisions as this was not in the passengers’ interest.

Heathrow Airport extra
The LCDC, LTDA and Unite requested that the Heathrow Extra be increased from £2.40 to £3.20 as a step towards taxi drivers eventually recovering the full charge. The UCG requested that TfL ask HAL to lower the charge for taxi drivers using the feeder rank at the airport. One driver felt that the extra should be increased to £6.00 to compensate taxi drivers for working in an area where air quality was extremely poor as a result of the high level of harmful emissions from aircraft.

LTW did not support an increase and concerns were raised that any increase would affect disabled passengers who could not access other transport modes from Heathrow Airport. It was also suggested that the Extra should be waived for Taxicard members.

Christmas and New Year extra
There are no plans to change the level of this extra charge but there have been requests for it to be automatically added to the taximeter, as opposed to the driver having to add it to the meter manually at the start of each journey, and so a proposal to automatically add this extra to the meter was included in the consultation.

LTW felt that the extra charge should not be added to the taxi meter automatically but there was broad support from other respondents, including from the Suzy Lampugh Trust who felt that automatically adding the extra to the taximeter could help reduce conflicts.

Mandating card payment acceptance
At present there is no obligation on taxi drivers to accept card payments for taxi journeys.
The LCDC, LTDA, Unite and the UCG felt that card acceptance should not be mandatory.
LTW accepted the case for not mandating card payments at present but felt that a plan should be agreed for when this would become mandatory (e.g. in three or five years time).

The taxi radio circuits suggested that TfL should work towards a set date when card acceptance would become mandatory but also said that wider consideration of the issues regarding this was required and that TfL should do more to promote the availability of card acceptance and the various taxi booking services.

Surcharges for card payments
At present TfL regulates the surcharge for card payments and this is currently set at £1 or 12.5 per cent of the metered fare, whichever is greater.

No change to the current requirements on drivers accepting card payments or the surcharges for card payments are planned at present but these areas will be reviewed once the outcome of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills consultation on excessive surcharges is known and whether this will affect taxis.

To read full release: Click here.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Breaking News: TX4 Warranty to be honoured in full By Geely.

Following its acquisition by Geely Automobile Holdings, The London Taxi Company is pleased to confirm that reopening activity is in full progress.

The latest update since Friday’s news is:
The company has now reinstated warranty to the same coverage level as prior to the administration for new and used vehicles.
All aspects remain the same, including the end date of warranty cover.

This means that all vehicles purchased new are covered by the comprehensive manufacturer’s warranty for the rest of the 3 year period, up to 100,000 miles; qualifying new vehicles are also now once again covered by the unlimited mileage Core Engine warranty for the remainder of the 3 year term.

Owners with used TX4s which were purchased with a 50,000 mile vehicle guarantee have also had this cover reinstated for the remainder of the 12-month term.

We can also confirm that all warranties have been reinstated, included extended warranties such as the 4 year extended warranty which came with the lease deals.

We hope this helps - please do not hesitate to come back to us, should you have any other queries.

Kind regards,

Customer Contact Centre
The London Taxi Company
Holyhead Road

This Statement from Geely Automobile Holdings should now put a lot of drivers minds at rest.

Festival Artwork too rude For IOW Taxis.

ARTWORK promoting the Isle of Wight Festival will not be allowed on the back of taxis because the Isle of Wight Council thinks it is too rude, according to the man behind the event.

The art deco inspired image of a girl draped in a cloth has been used on promotional material by the iconic festival for the last five years.

Isle of Wight taxi firm, Alpha Cars, approached organisers to ask if they could put the design on their taxis this year.

Promoters created a special version of the image, but when the taxi company sought permission from the Isle of Wight Council, which licenses cab firms, they were told the design was inappropriate because the girl was partially nude.

Festival boss John Giddings revealed the decision on Twitter to thousands of followers and festival fans.

He tweeted: "Just had our @IsleofWightFest taxi design rejected by the council for the mermaid being 'naked' Hilarious."

He added: "Even worse, just found out it's the art deco 20s me..."

He went on to tweet a copy of the picture and ask fans what they thought, with many responding in disbelief over the decision.

Promoters then created a special, covered-up version, showing the same woman wearing a cardigan and a bobble hat.

Festival boss John Giddings said: "Some jobsworth has told us it's unsuitable, even though we have literally been using for the last five years, it's nothing new.

"It's beyond funny."

He added: "Someone reminded me it is actually on the wall of Dimbola Lodge for all to see, it's huge.

"I am really proud of our artwork, it's beautiful, hippy-dippy and in the 70s style. I think we'll put it all over buses just for fun now.

"People are genuinely stunned, they want the Isle of Wight to come into the 21st century, but it's just being held back."

Roger Coombes, owner of Alpha Cars, said: "They did not like certain bits. To be fair the council did say that it did not offend them, but it might offend someone because she is partially naked — but she isn't, all you can see is her arm.

"She is not showing anything, it is a very arty picture. I was surprised that they came back saying certain parts of it did not comply with their rules. We are just waiting for the council to explain why they don't want it."

News from Jenny Jones AM: TfL release new data on exemptions to black cab 15 year age limit

Information obtained from TfL by Jenny Jones AM reveals that 146 black cabs have been granted an exemption from the 15 year age limit on taxis. The exemptions were granted for the following reasons:

12 vehicles granted exemption due to alternative fuel conversions
1 vehicle granted exemption due to it being adapted for use by a disabled driver
3 vehicles granted exemption due to their status as a historic/classic/niche vehicle
36 vehicles granted a year exemption due to exceptional circumstances
94 vehicles granted a temporary exemption until 14 March 2013 due to exceptional circumstances

Jenny Jones commented:
"I have consistently pushed for the Mayor to work with black cab drivers to consider other options than a simple age limit ban.

The level of emissions is not simply about age, but can also depend on how clean you keep your engine. We'd already have cleaner air if the Mayor had given LPG a chance, or not abandoned the hybrid electric device for when vehicles were idling.

The Mayor's often-repeated promise of a million pound fund to help cabbies move towards cleaner vehicles has never materialised. Meanwhile cabbies experience some of the highest levels of air pollution in London and all the negative health impacts this brings.”

Mayor's answer to Darren Johnson

Illegal Minicab - prosecutions
Question number 4012/2012
Meeting date 19/12/2012
Question by
Darren Johnson

TfL took over responsibility for prosecuting minicabs illegally plying for hire from the Metropolitan Police Service over a decade ago. Can you confirm how many such prosecutions TfL has pursued, broken down by year?

Answer by Boris Johnson
I am aware that local authorities outside London prosecute Taxis and Private Hire drivers for plying for hire, however this is due to the fact the legislation outside London differs from London. In basic terms, outside London, under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, a licensed vehicle is always considered licensed and is, in most cases, clearly identifiable as a private hire vehicle due to its colour or identifiers.

This makes the offence of 'plying for hire' clearer and has many stated cases. In London, a licensed private hire vehicle is only considered licensed if driven by a London licensed private hire driver undertaking a booking for a London licensed private hire operator. Therefore a licensed vehicle parked may not be considered plying for hire as it may not be working.

For this reason in London, touting and associated problems are addressed by intelligence led enforcement activities involving the 68 TfL funded police officers in the Metropolitan Police Safer Transport Command (STC) and City of London Police as part of the Safer Travel at Night (STAN) initiative. STAN involves a programme of activities including industry regulation and licensing, enforcement and education.

The Mayor, TfL and its police partners are always pushing for the strongest penalties for touting and other cab-related offences to provide a more effective deterrent. It is for this reason that 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.

Tactics and sanctions are kept under regular review to determine what is the most effective and appropriate action and/or sanction in given situations. TfL is currently reviewing its approach to illegal playing for hire offences as part of the joint TfL/MPS cab enforcement strategy.

Comment From Paul Bond, Vice Chair RMT London Taxi Branch

Simple solutions then.

TfL (as promised by the PH Review) insist on clear visible consolidated PH signage AND as PH can only operate through an operator, Drivers have to log on.

If therefore they are found outside a premises without a booking but logged on, then they are illegally plying for hire.

If they aint logged on and take a passenger, they are uninsured.

Next step amend the rules so PH cars can ONLY be used as such so no fannies about I am waiting for a mate etc.

It might also mean we will not be allowed to have other non Taxi drivers driving your cab but its a small price to pay to stop the vermin.

The concept in Law is called Strict Liabilty.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Campaign To Save Badge Day at Palestra:

TfL never scrap what they believe is a good idea
If a controversial proposal runs in to a flood of protest, they just shelve it till the heat dies down then, in a shroud of secrecy, try to slip in under he radar by stealth.
Once in place, it's unlikely to be changed.

TfLTPH have announce, from 1st of March 2013, there will be no more Badge day for students after the hell of (on average) 44 months of the knowledge.

In an amazing justification of their action, LTPH state:
Historically, candidates have had to wait several weeks / months to gain the date for their final appearance in order to ensure we can then do a finals presentation and to hand the newly licensed driver all their documentation to be able to go out to work.

So in order to speed things up they are to scrap the presentation day they current students hold so dear and instead, will give a final talk before the students final appearance. Then, if they past their final appearance the badge and bill are to be sent by recorded delivery.

Over the passed decade, TfL have made its intention quite clear, they want to scrap the Green and Yellow metal badges proudly worn by the Taxi trade. Their vision is of a single standard minicab style badge for both private hire and Licensed Taxi drivers. There has been a number of campaigns in the past where Taxi drivers have stated firmly, they will not give up their metal badge.

We can't let them put this system into practise, it's unsafe.
We have to make sure that badges are not sent out to be lost in the post, whether it be by recorded delivery or not. The only way we can safeguard badges not falling into the wrong hands is to present them in person and literally put hem into the hand of the student having passed the Knowledge of London test.

Many of the knowledge schools are up in arms over these new proposals and there is currently an online petition. if you want to keep your metal badge, you need to sign this petition.

Can you imagine getting a double first at Oxford, only to be told "We'll post your degree to you, no need for an expensive graduation ceremony"

It may also be a good idea for KoL students to let TfL know how strong their feelings are. Palestra should be put under siege from a veritable army of angry moped riding knowledge students.

Is this the first step on the road to a one tiered system, as presented to the Law commission by the Institute of Licensing for Great Britton.

Join the Campaign to save Badge Day

Click here to sign the petition

Use box below to contact MP and GLA Assembly Members

Contact Your Politician

Enter your Postcode below:


Last of a Dying Breed?

I opened the post this morning to find that sadly T & J Taxi Rescue are to cease offering their excellent, helpful specialist breakdown service to the Trade at the end of the month.

Usually in these cases that's it, you find another supplier and whistle for your previous layout.

But Jim Pullum (who runs T & J) has done the following:

Refunded me with the remaining portion of subscription.
Given three contacts (RAC/AA and MEM's) so that drivers can find another service in good time.
This magnificent gesture in an age where dog eats dog is worthy of celebration and of letting the Trade know of an example of how it should be done.

Indeed my wife who is not usually overflowing with praise (mind you she has a lot to put up with!) said 'What an absolute gentlemen, he did not have to do any of that'.

So Mr Hendy and co. if you want to learn how to treat people and gain respect get in touch with T & J's before its too late.

To Jim Pullum and all the great crowd at T & J's, Thank you and be lucky.

We will miss you.


Hailo raises $30m to launch in New York

The company set up by three London cabbies two years ago has secured $30m (£19.2m) from investors including Sir Richard Branson. It now plans to launch in New York, Tokyo, Washington, Madrid and Barcelona this year.

According to chairman Ron Zeghibe, the success of Hailo demonstrates how London has become the European capital for digital technology development.

He said: “The London market has evolved rapidly so it now has the financial backing and expertise to allow companies like Hailo to thrive. You are starting to get the supply of the right talent. London does not have as deep a talent pool as Silicon Valley but it is the best pool in Europe.”

Hailo has been backed in the current funding round by Union Square Ventures, the financier that provided backing for Twitter and Tumblr. The New York-based group was joined by Japanese telecoms group KDDI and Sir Richard Branson. KDDI has also agreed to partner Hailo in launching into the Japanese market.

In London Hailo is used by 11,000 cabbies and 225,000 potential customers. The company’s business model works by taking a 10pc commission on cab fares booked through the app. In New York the business model will work differently, charging customers $1.50 each time they book a taxi using Hailo.

Mr Zeghibe said: “The calibre of investors that we have attracted in the fundraising speaks volumes about what we have achieved and what we, and they, believe is possible.
“Japan’s taxi market alone is worth $25bn and Tokyo has 40,000 taxis – twice the market value of London or New York.”

Mr Zeghibe said the company could be looking at a public market flotation within the next five years.

“Realistically if we get to the scale we want to get to we think an initial public offering would be the best option. That is what we are building towards.”

Hailo is due to launch in New York this quarter. The US division will be led by former Starbucks exec Tom Barr. Following the New York launch Mr Barr will be tasked with rolling out the business model through other US cities.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

New Licensing System Explained.

Badges and Bills to be sent by post

Further to our text conversation regarding the finals talk, I thought an email summary might help you to understand the changes that are happening. To be clear, we are not cancelling finals:

With the introduction of TOLA, our new licensing system, we will be making some changes to the way that finals are conducted for newly licensed taxi drivers.

Historically, candidates have had to wait several weeks / months to gain the date for their final appearance in order to ensure we can then do a finals presentation and to hand the newly licensed driver all their documentation to be able to go out to work. With our new computer system this is no longer necessary. Instead, the final appearance will take place within the required timescales (21 days) and candidates will have their finals talk before this date.

Providing they successfully pass their final appearance we will then send out the licence, badge and licence area identifier directly to the newly licensed driver using recorded delivery. This will significantly reduce the timescales for new drivers receiving their badge and being able to start work – something we know from speaking to existing drivers is important after several years of hardship doing the knowledge.

The finals talk has and will remain an important part of completing the Knowledge and there are no plans to remove this now or in the future.

Kind regards

Helen Chapman
Deputy Director
London Taxi & Private Hire Directorate | Transport for London

London taxi fares to rise by 1.7% in 2013/14

A below inflation rise in taxi fares for the coming financial year has been agreed by the board of Transport for London (TfL).

TfL said the average increase of 1.7% from 6 April would be the lowest in the decade that it has licensed taxis.

A spokesman from the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) said it thought the rise was "about right".

Both organisations said the costs associated with running a taxi have gone up.

The LTDA spokesman said: "It's a below inflation rise and everybody knows fuel and insurance have gone up.

"It's far below the rise in bus and Tube fares. It will enable us to keep pace with the cost of living."

John Mason, TfL’s director of taxi and private hire, said: “Taxi fares are reviewed annually and in making a recommendation we take into account a range of factors that include taxi drivers’ running costs including vehicle costs, parts and fuel.

“This year’s increase is the lowest for ten years and seeks to cover increases in the cost of running a black cab while continuing to provide passengers with value for money.”

The board also approved an increase in the "Heathrow Extra" additional charge to fares for journeys starting at Heathrow, which will rise from £2.40 to £3.20.

It also approved a 40p rise in all taxi fares if diesel reaches 179.7p per litre.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

MINICAB DRIVER JAILED FOR RAPE: One Man's Important Part Of PublicTransport Is Another Man's Rapist.

Ellie Feghaly worked as an minicab driver targeting vulnerable women by illegally plying for hire outside clubs and bars in Central London. A modus operandi that, just recently on the 08/11/2012, district Judge Fanning referred to as "an important part of Londons public transport system"..

This animal was found guilty on Monday 4 February of rape at Woolwich Crown Court following a successful investigation by officers from the Metropolitan Police Services (MPS) Sapphire Command.

Ellie Feghaly, 44 of Ealing Park Lodge, Horsden Lane South, Perivale, Middlesex, was sentenced to nine years for the rape of a 33-year-old woman in August last year.

The court heard how on the 23 August 2012 the victim, who was in London on business, had been enjoying a night out in central London before wishing to return to her hotel. After leaving a bar in Leicester Square, she and a male companion, came across a minicab driven by Ellie Feghaly.

As the victim and her friend were headed in the same direction they decided to share the cab. However it soon became apparent to them, Feghaly did not know where he was going and was becoming increasingly aggressive towards them.

It was at this point, Feghaly suggested to them that the male occupant get out of the car at a Texaco petrol station in Shadwell, east London and ask for directions. Once the man got out of the car, Feghaly seized the opportunity to drive off with the victim, locking all of the doors and preventing her escape. He drove to a car park a short distance away and raped the victim on the backseat.

Following the assault, the victim managed to escape from the car and attracted the attention of a passer-by.

Her friend meanwhile had been attempting to call her and came to her aid. The following morning she reported the rape to police.

The victim was medically and forensically examined at the Haven in Camberwell and a DNA profile of the attacker was obtained.

On the 27 August 2012 the suspect was identified as Ellie Feghaly through a match on the National DNA database. He was arrested on 26 August 2012 at 9pm and subsequently charged.

Feghaly pleaded not guilty to the offence but the jury refused to believe him and returned a guilty verdict.

Detective Constable Peter Thompson from the MPS Sapphire Command based at Lewisham said: "This man used violence in order to carry out this attack. He was operating as an unlicensed mini-cab driver in Central London. The victim had trusted that she would get to her destination safely. However this sexual predator subjected her to this horrific attack despite her pleas for him to stop. I hope that the sentence handed down by the Judge goes someway in helping the victim recover from this ordeal."

Detective Chief Inspector Pete Thomas of MPS Sapphire Command said: "Feghaly worked as an unlicensed cab driver to target vulnerable women. The victim has shown great courage throughout this ordeal and as a result Feghaly has been taken off the streets. It is possible there are other victims out there and I would urge them to come forward. I hope this will encourage those who have been victims to come forward and tell us what has happened to them."

How many more lives will be shattered, how many more families have to suffer this unbearable pain, before something is finally done about these predators, who wait outside night venues for victims.
Their prey easier to find, now that Westminster's parking agents NSL refuse to ticket or move on touts at Swallow Street and Regent Street.

It's not only unlicensed minicabs that commit rape and sexual assault, as TfL figures show, licensed private hire drivers are also committing this heinous crime.

The Met and City Police, Local Councils and TfL turn a blind eye to the practise of illegally plying for hire. The police and Local Councils just want the streets cleared, at any price.
TfL (Follow The Money) just want the money from license fees and after that, theres no interest in public safety.
Recently PH roundels where purchased for cash from SGS employees... Did TfLTPH recall all the PHVs that were dealt with by the arrested employees? What do you think!
Dangerous life threatening vehicles, driving around in a third world free for all scenario, with no proper enforcement.

We've seen in a previous post that the Cabwise App for the iPad, doesn't work properly ( you can't book a licensed Taxi only minicabs) and it still hasn't been fixed!
Where are the 68 STC enforcement officers the Mayor keeps referring to?
Checking tickets on buses and tube trains...
No one is stopping these predators.
We need proper enforcement of illegal plying for hire and we need it now

Monday, February 04, 2013

All TfL Consultations Corrupt? Sure Not...

According to Transport for London’s own assessment of options for new river crossings in East London, tolling the Blackwall Tunnel without adding any new crossings would halve the amount of motorists using it off-peak (1). The 'options' paper makes clear that charging is essential as building the Silvertown Tunnel would not in itself reduce congestion and delays. TfL state that:

"If the new [Silvertown] crossing were not charged, then widespread congestion in the area is forecast, with the crossing resulting in much higher volumes of traffic in the surrounding area"
The option of tolling the Blackwall Tunnel without building a new crossing is explored in the 'options' paper, but has not been put to the public in TfL’s Thames River Crossings consultation (2). TfL consultations corrupt?...surely not.

PRESS RELEASE - Boris Johnson ‘Corrupted the Consultation’ into Silvertown Tunnel

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has ’corrupted the consultation’ into the proposed Silvertown Tunnel by saying the road project will go ahead anyway, even though the consultation is still ongoing.

At Mayors Question Time, Boris Johnson who is head of TfL said they were ‘going ahead with a tunnel at Silvertown, a Blackwall 2 Crossing’ but the Transport for London consultation is still open to responses from members of the public until February 1st. [1] [2] [3]

The Mayor also failed to rule out any bridge at Gallions Reach were the proposed ferry is seen as a stealth way to reintroduce a ‘fixed link’ in the future, much to the dismay of residents in Bexley.

There has been widespread condemnation about the proposed river crossings due to its impact on the local area. Greenwich Council has been slated for launching a ‘Bridge the Gap’ campaign calling for the tunnel even though they admit they have no evidence of any impacts.

Local campaigner Alan Haughton said
“The Mayor has corrupted the consultation. Why would any member of the public now respond when the Mayor has said it is going ahead anyway.? Boris Johnsons comments show that the public input into any TfL consultation is irrelevant. The decision has been made. East London residents are being gagged by the Mayor and by the air pollution.

Darren Johnson AM commented:
“TfL admits that imposing tolls would slash off-peak demand for the Blackwall tunnel by half. That means half the pollution and a big reduction in delays for drivers. The money raised could be used to freeze bus fares and stop above-inflation fare rises on the tube and London rail. Given that both car ownership and car use is falling in London why isn't the public being given the chance to support a 'tolls only' option as part of the river crossings consultation?"
There is no need for the Mayor to throw away £600m of taxpayers’ money on a Silvertown tunnel which will only draw even more traffic into East London and will take many years to complete. What we need is for existing capacity to be better managed and tolling the Blackwall tunnel is a step in the right direction.”

Personally I see many drivers refusing to pay this stealth tax bynmaking longer journeys using other free crossings such as the Rotherhyde tunnel and tower bridge...more congestion... More pollution

But then I'm only a Taxi driver with 39 years experience of Traffic conditions. What could I possibly know?

Source: GLA press release and Stop City Airport Master Plan,

Pimlico stabbing: Taxi driver appeal over Hani Abou El Kheir death

A London taxi driver seen picking up three suspects minutes after the fatal stabbing of a teenager in central London is being sought by detectives.

Hani Abou El Kheir, 16, was killed in a suspected drugs-related attack in Lupus Street, Pimlico, on 27 January.

The suspects got into the silver taxi in Hudson Place, near Victoria station, just before 19:00 GMT, police said.

On Saturday police arrested four males on suspicion of murder and four people on suspicion of assisting an offender.

The murder suspects, teenagers aged 19, 18, 17 and 16, remain in custody.

The four arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender - a man aged 48, a woman of 47 and two girls aged 17 and 16, were all released on bail late on Sunday night until a date in March. A 20-year-old man arrested on Thursday has also been released on bail.

According to new information, a silver London taxi was seen picking up three suspects in Hudson Place before turning left into Wilton Road.

Appealing to the taxi driving community for help, police urged the driver involved, or anyone who knows them, to come forward.

Det Ch Insp Neil Attewell said: "We are exploring numerous lines of enquires, with this latest development being one of them.

"I am appealing to the driver of the silver taxi seen in Hudson Place at 18:59 on that Sunday to come forward.

"Are you that taxi driver? Where did you drop the passengers off and did they discuss anything of significance whilst in the taxi?

"I am also seeking the assistance of the wider taxi community. With a taxi rank close by there would have been other drivers who may have witnessed the suspects getting into the silver taxi.

"Did you see one of your colleagues pick up three people around this time or do you recognise the taxi?"

Read more:

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Confusing road layout branded worst in Islington after baffled motorists fined £750,000 in two months

A controversial lorry restriction has been branded the worst road layout ever installed in Islington after baffled motorists were left with a bill for nearly £750,000 in just two months.

New figures show Islington Council issued 5,741 penalty charge notices of £130 to drivers taking the wrong route through the width restrictions in Drayton Park, Highbury, in the two months after enforcement began on November 14.

That adds up to £746,330 and comes despite a three-month grace period so they could get used to the unusual layout – which has already been ripped up and redesigned once and has so far cost the council £132,000.

Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of the Lib Dem opposition at Islington Council, said: “This is the worst layout I have ever heard of in my 14 years as a councillor. It’s another example of the council just screwing as much money out of residents as possible.

“The council still hasn’t got it right, despite spending a fortune on redesigning it. We’re getting floods of complaints about how confusing it is.”

Roger Lawson, London spokesman for the Alliance of British Drivers, said: “I have never heard of such high levels of PCNs on that sort of restriction. It’s quite exceptional. Why do they need to penalise people for making accidental mistakes?”

Nearby residents and businesses say the measure has been causing traffic chaos with jams, burst tyres and several accidents, while large lorries have to do U-turns to avoid driving through.

The council insists residents were fed up with truck drivers using Drayton Park as a rat-run to travel from Holloway to Finsbury Park, but that explanation has left some perplexed.

Simon Jary, 45, a publisher who lives just off Drayton Park, in Whistler Street, said: “Nobody thinks the lorry issue was a big problem for quite some months before they built it. All it’s doing is pushing lorries onto smaller roads.”

Veli Narci, owner of Veli’s Café in Drayton Park, called for the restriction to be scrapped, adding: “A lot of our customers are getting tickets and they won’t come back. The council has just done this to make money.”

Glenn Tweedie, 42, who owns Premier Plumbing next door, said: “One of our delivery drivers was ticketed six times. It’s a terrible layout and it’s caused lots of accidents and lots of blow-outs. We have noticed sales decreasing since it was installed.”

When the Gazette attended on Monday, four lorries and one car passed through the wrong section in the space of 10 minutes. We managed to stop a second car from making the same mistake.

An Islington Council spokesman said: “This was put in at residents’ request for safer roads.

“Our data shows nearly all drivers are using it correctly. Eight weeks after implementation, the number of tickets issued is falling fast. This lorry ban keeps larger commercial vehicles from using Drayton Park as a rat-run.”

THE GREAT GLOBAL WARMING SWINDLE: Greens Furious, As More Scientists Stand Up To Be Counted

Duke of Edinburgh invites climate change heretic David Bellamy to Buckingham Palace
Prince Philip has invited David Bellamy, who was allegedly banned from the BBC because of his views on global warming, to give a lecture at Buckingham Palace.

The Prince of Wales warned in March 2009 that there were “less than 100 months to act” to save the planet from irreversible damage due to climate change. His father is known to be more sceptical.
Now, the Duke of Edinburgh has invited Britain’s best-known global warming heretic to give a lecture at Buckingham Palace.
David Bellamy, who described last month how the BBC “froze him out” when he dismissed global warming as “poppycock”, is to give the inaugural David Bellamy Lecture at the Palace next month.
Prince Philip is holding the event as honorary fellow of the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management.

Just last weekend, mayor of London Boris Johnson made an amazing statement in a newspaper column based on advice from a scientist, Piers Corbyn, Director of Weather Action. The Mayor said he now has an open mind, as to wether Climate Change was in fact caused by Carbon emissions. He was taken with the views of some that see solar influences as most important, or in his words, it's the Sun what does it really.


This film, made by British television producer Martin Durkin, presents scientists, economists, politicians, writers, and others who dispute the scientific consensus regarding anthropogenic global warming.

The film's basic premise is that the current scientific opinion on the anthropogenic causes of global warming has numerous scientific flaws, and that vested monetary interests in the scientific establishment and the media discourage the public and the scientific community from acknowledging or even debating this.

The film asserts that the publicised scientific consensus is the product of a "global warming activist industry" driven by a desire for research funding. Other culprits, according to the film, are Western environmentalists promoting expensive solar and wind power over cheap fossil fuels in Africa, resulting in African countries being held back from industrialising.

The general reaction to the film has been overwhelming and enormously encouraging. As Channel Four reported in Broadcast magazine, they received a record number of phone calls following the first transmission. They calculated that the calls were 6 to 1 in support of the film.

It would be nice to claim that the explosion of interest was due to the film itself, but the fuss started even before the film was broadcast. The reason, we suspect, is that the coverage of global warming, on TV, radio and in the press, has been so one-sided and uncritical. In Britain, hours and hours of programmes have been broadcast by the BBC on the subject, much of it scientifically absurd. The very fact that a science documentary dared to challenge the orthodoxy was itself news.

Why? Why have journalists been so craven or biased? How has a theory which demonstrably lacks really solid supporting evidence become an indisputable fact? What of the impressive, much talked about scientific consensus which is used to forestall any awkward questions about the evidence?

The film made a humble stab at suggesting some possible answers, but there was limited space for these bigger questions. The whole global warming alarm, we believe, raises serious issues about the way science functions in the real world, about the political bias of scientists, about censorship within the scientific community itself, about the routine practice of scientists drawing false or inflated conclusions from ambiguous or uncertain data, about the manifest failure of the peer review process, about the extraordinary unwillingness of scientists who have invested time and reputation in a particular theory to consider evidence which directly contradicts it, about the elevation of speculation (models) to the level of solid data, and much else besides.

Science and scientists cannot always rise above the prejudices of their class and of their age. The selection and handling of evidence often reflects these prejudices. The most highly qualified and respected scientists can be blind to obvious deficiencies in a theory, and will be dismissive of evidence when it undermines what they want to believe.

But the scare over man made global warming may prove to be the first great example in the modern Western world, when science was betrayed by scientists themselves

The makers of the documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle have made many science documentaries before. The thing they found most shocking when they started to make this one, was the weakness of the case for man made global warming, and the quantity and quality of the evidence which flatly contradicts it.

The film won best documentary at the 2007 Io Isabella International Film Week. A number of academics, environmentalists, think-tank consultants and writers are interviewed in the film in support of its various assertions. They include the Canadian environmentalist Patrick Moore, former leading member of Greenpeace; Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Patrick Michaels, Research Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia; Nigel Calder, editor of New Scientist from 1962 to 1966; John Christy, lead author of the IPCC; Professor Phillip Stott, Emeritus Professor of Biogeography writer and broadcaster and a former editor of the Journal of Biogeography.

Taxi driver wins fight over speed camera error

Andrew Constantine studied photos of him driving in Drayton, Norfolk, and realised he was going at 18mph instead of the 50mph suggested.

He was due to appear at Norwich Magistrates' Court on Monday but the case was dropped.

A spokeswoman from Norfolk Police said: "In this case, a Fixed Penalty Notice was issued in error."

She added: "However, we were not notified that this ticket was being challenged until the morning of Monday, 28 January."

Mr Constantine, who has been a taxi driver for eight years, said he was "stunned" when he received a prosecution notice for speeding in the 30mph zone last February.


He decided to contact a specialist motoring solicitor and then received documentation for the case, which included two colour photos from the fixed camera in Fakenham Road.

When he examined the timings of his vehicle travelling over the road speed markings, he knew for certain he had not been driving too fast.

"I did the maths and satisfied myself and had a feeling of confidence that I would win the case," said Mr Constantine, 47.

"The bottom line was that I was innocent. The onus was on me to prove that it wasn't me travelling at that speed.

"If anyone is in the same situation, I would advise them to look at the speed camera pictures."


Mr Constantine, of Thorpe Marriot, near Norwich, has spent about £1,600 on legal fees and also lost a day's earnings due to his court appearance.

Although he is due to be refunded 75% of the money he spent on legal fees, he said he would still be out of pocket but was relieved that the episode was over.

He suspects that the camera reading was wrong due to a "malfunction in the calibration".

A spokeswoman from Norfolk Police said every safety camera is subject to government testing before use on a public road and is then calibrated yearly by the manufacturer.

She said: "The file was reviewed and we have supported the withdrawal of this prosecution.

"If we had been alerted to the precise nature of the challenge at an earlier opportunity, this case would not have reached court."