Saturday, March 02, 2013

New Tests At NSL, Apear To Be Running Smoothly.

After receiving initial unconfirmed reports that the new NSL test centres were in utter chaos, we have now received confirmed reports that this was not the case across the whole network and in fact most were running smoothly to plan.

Below is a report from Richard Potter (DAC driver), who had an inspection yesterday.

Got taxi examined at NSL Crayford at lunchtime and it passed. The place is a new unit with Sky TV with free tea and coffee. All in all it was what LTPH had said it would be and all the examiners were former SGS (Deptford) workers who had just changed uniforms and workplace.

When you arrive you take all your documents and plates to the desk.
You will need your expired license, V5 log book, meter certificate, insurance certificate, MOT (including smoke test result slip) and if you had it done, the LTI fire certificate.

There is a good viewing area and from what I could see, the examiner does the following checks; After lifting the bonnet all the dashboard lights inc hazards, indicators, brake lights etc. Meter check, seat belts, wheelchair ramp but doesn't remove the extension from boot. Boot inspection, doors and electric windows. I left hub caps on. Bodywork inspected.

All the cabs regardless of age of whether they have a gearbox seal are put on the ramp and inspected underneath. Its hard to tell what they are looking for but they use a light and that's it.

If the taxi passes they then sort the plates out for you and put them on. Takes about 40 mins in total. There were PH drivers there and it ran pretty smoothly, considering it was the 1st day and some of the examiners (6 in total) were standing around waiting for the next taxi in.

On getting my plates I spoke to the examiner and asked what he was checking for underneath. He said "anything obviously dangerous and major leaks". Most of his time was spent looking at the front and rear brakes, so I guess he was looking for brake fluid.

On a positive note he told me that my discs were quite worn, something that my garage pointed out, but just verbally said keep keep an eye on them. I said that it passed the MOT and he agreed. So you can take it from that, they are NOT going to overrule an MOT certificate, unless something is major. I got the impression that they were NOT looking for trouble and in some respects, if you keep your cab up to the standard as before, its a formality.
So we can all breath a sigh of relief.

All in all the NSL test has basically taken the sting out of SGS. Also (in my opinion) I believe the comparison between the pass standard for garages was much lower than that for mushers, so hopefully the MOT will address this. End.

Our roving reporter is up on Monday at a different test centre, lets hope he has a similar experience to report.

Now we just need LTPH to sort out the little matter of reimbursing drivers who have been overcharged.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Taxi drivers left fearing for their lives after another brutal attack in Watford

A brutal attack on a taxi driver in Garston has provoked new calls from the Watford’s Hackney carriage drivers for CCTV to be installed in their cabs.

Azmat Shah, a 59-year-old Hackney carriage driver from Chester Road needed glue stitches above and below his eye following the attack. Speaking to the Watford Observer, he said: "I feel scared at the moment. I don’t want to go back to work as a Taxi driver, but I have not got any other choice."

Mr Shah’s son, Mohammed, 26, added: "We are not happy with him going back out. If he is trying to help the public get around and he is going to get attacked there is no point in him going out."

The Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association has called for CCTV to be installed in the town’s taxis before. But the move has been rejected by Watford Borough Council, which regulates and licences taxis.

This week Shafiq Ahmed, the chairman of the Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association renewed calls for a borough council-backed scheme for CCTV to be installed in taxis.

He argued the equipment was too expensive for drivers to fund on their own and the move would save taxpayers money by sparing police time and resources investigating attacks.

Mr Ahmed said: "Taxi drivers are being frequently attacked. This is the only way forward as we are all fearing for our lives. The time to do it is right now before someone gets killed.

"We have been calling for safety measures for three or four years and it has fallen on deaf ears. We feel let down."

Mr Ahmed added that taxi drivers were willing to contribute to a CCTV initiative but he felt it would only be workable if the council set it up and regulated it.

However, Watford mayor Dorothy Thornhill flatly rebuffed the calls, saying taxi drivers were private businessmen and taxpayers would not want their money spent furnishing their vehicles with cameras.

Mayor Thornhill said: "They are individual businessmen who run their own businesses. In these difficult times, if I went out and asked people if they wanted their taxpayers’ money to be spent putting cameras in taxis I don’t think many would say yes.

"If we really, really thought things were so bad in taxis that they needed camera for safety that would be a different issue of crime on the town. I don’t believe we are at that stage."

This week Hertfordshire Constabulary said a man and woman have been arrested in connection with Mr Shah’s attack.

Anouska Hardwick and Scott Crawford, both 33 and both of Cezanne Road, Garston, were charged with robbery on Tuesday.

Azmat Shah was so badly beaten after dropping customers off in East Drive last Thursday his family don’t want him to go back to work as a taxi driver.

Source: Watford Observer

Thursday, February 28, 2013

"Bill Gate"...How Much Longer Can These People Last?...Post Removed after harassment from TfL.

This post has been removed by the administrator after harassment and threats of legal action from LTPH.

Blog moderator and occasional poster Jim Thomas said:
We did everything possible to insure the facts in the post were correct. But sometimes LTPH/TfL won't let you get to the whole truth. It's hard because Director of LTPH John Mason has in the past, ignored important questions.

We were given three points said to be incorrect. As a good will gesture, we immediately removed and rewrote the post. Apparently this action wasn't good enough and we were told that the post contained other incorrect facts which LTPH refused to point out, demanding the whole post be removed. Threats were made about contacting Google UK and getting the blog removed.

We take reasonable care to ensure articles are factual and advertise an email address for queries. Mason refused to use the facility we offer and instead went straight for bully boy tactics threatening to take the blog down.

Removing this post, is in no way an admission. We shall be posting the offending bullet points in future articles. We intend to post, one point at a time, backed up with all the evidence in our possession.

CPS Taxi Fraud: Two staff charged over £1m Taxis for witnesses.

Two workers at the Crown Prosecution Service are to be charged with a fraud plot over false taxi claims totalling at least £1m.

Lisa Burrows, a finance manager, and an administrative officer who has not been named, work for CPS West Midlands.

The allegations concern false claims for witness care taxi services to the value of at least £1m when no such services had been supplied, the CPS alleged in a statement.

Source: Skynews

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Operation Big Wing Update

As of 17.20hrs officers working on Operation Big Wing have arrested 343 people across London.

The arrests have been for a range of offences including theft, possession of class A drugs, possession of class B drugs, possession with intent to supply, burglary, robbery, handling stolen goods and possession of an offensive weapon.

Highlights have included:

Officers arrested a man on suspicion of absconding from prison after he was found hiding in a loft at a house in Beckenham.

Acting on intelligence officers attended the address and arrested the 35-year-old man who was taken to a south London police station where he remains in custody.

It is believed the man had absconded from an open prison in Kent in November 2009 and had been circulated as wanted since then.

Inquiries are continuing.

A search warrant was executed by Southwark Trident Gang Team at an address in Walworth, SE17, this morning.

Officers found approximately a half of a kilo of what is believed to be crack cocaine, evidence of its production, white powder - believed to be cutting agent - and around £3,000 cash.

A 35-year-old man was arrested at the scene and is currently in custody at a South London Police Station.

Officers working on Operation Big Wing have seized a number of items today including a CS canister and asp from an address in Kingston and a stun gun from an address in Waltham Forest.

Officers in Bromley have raided a cannabis factory and seized 80 plants.

In Kensington and Chelsea officers seized more than £35k of designer handbags and arrested a woman on suspicion for money laundering and theft

Kensington Safer Transport Teams has recovered cash and six suspected stolen bikes and cash.

In Greenwich there have been 27 arrests for a variety of offences from burglary to GBH and possession of drugs, 82 vehicles stopped in ANPR operations, four of which were seized for no insurance and no MOT. A total of 950 people went through a knife arch outside a school today in Abbey Wood. No knifes recovered.

In Brent 86 vehicles have been stopped in an ANPR operation and seven vehicles seized so f ar. A knife arch also has been erected at a school in Brent

Officers executing a search warrant at an address in Westminster this morning seized a Porsche as part of Operation Big Wing activity.

The vehicle has been taken away from the address pending further inquiries. No arrests at this stage.


Criminals from drug dealers and gang members to uninsured drivers and burglars are being targeted by the Met Police in a major day of coordinated activity to cut crime and disrupt those who cause harm to London’s communities.

Borough officers will be joined by specialist colleagues to carry out arrests, search warrants, licensing enforcement, ANPR operations, high visibility patrols and a range of other activity in what will be the biggest ever Big Wing operation to date.

Officers will also be conducting street briefings and police surgeries across the Capital’s 32 boroughs to inform and engage the public on what is being done to tackle crime and disorder.

Chief Superintendent Simon Letchford said:

“Gang violence, drugs, and knife crime are serious, high harm crimes that can sadly have a devastating and lasting effect on local communities; however, there are also many other issues which might be seen as ‘lower level’ offences, such as anti-social behaviour or uninsured drivers, that we know can and do blight the daily lives of too many people.

Today’s operation is about showing Londoners that we have listened to their concerns and we are committed to taking robust preventative and disruptive action to stop this criminal activity and make their communities safer. It’s also about warning those intent on breaking the law and engaging in criminal activity that we will be doing everything we can to stop them, and wherever possible we will be putting them before the courts.

Officers from every part of the Met have been mobilised and will be out and about on your streets today, tackling the crimes that affect your neighbourhood. You will see police carrying out licensing checks, uninsured vehicle checks, executing search warrants, and patrolling your local transport hubs throughout the day.

Some of you will notice police surgeries where you can drop in to speak to an officer about your concerns; or street briefings, where you can listen in and find out what police are doing to make your neighbourhood safer. All members of the public are encouraged to engage with the officers, get some crime prevention advice, ask questions.

We are here to serve the public, and we hope today’s activity will be one way of showing some of what we do every day to make London safer for our communities.”

The activity taking place across London today will include execution of warrants; arrests of those on outstanding warrants; arrests of gang members; arrests of domestic violence suspects; licensing checks; uninsured vehicle checks; ANPR; flying columns; street briefings;

The units and departments involved include all 32 London boroughs; Dog Support Unit; Mounted Branch; Territorial Support Group; Firearms Command; Trident and Gang Crime Command; Air Support Unit; Royal Parks Command; Traffic Unit; Special Constabulary; Police Cadets; Safer Transport Command;

To find out more details for your specific area please visit your borough page on the MPS website.

RMT Statement on NSL Test Fees.

The Taxi Specific test (conducted by NSL) commences this week and there is
an anomaly in that those who booked a test before the publication of the
new LOWER test fee had to pay the HIGHER test fee.

Cab Owners are significantly disadvantaged and the law clearly states that
Licensing Authorities can only charge licensees the actual cost of
providing the service.

RMT London Taxi Branch will therefore seek to recover the excess costs for
affected members, hopefully by TfL seeing the obvious injustice here and
issuing a credit for subsequent years or a refund.

If however TfL are not forthcoming we will not hesitate to take legal action.

TfL's policy in the past about timing of fees has nothing to do with the
above and was a policy decision by them alone.

We will also be keeping a close watch on proceedings at the test centres
to ensure no MOT items are retested or cabs denied licenses on trivial
matters, indeed we expect a 'failure' to be rare occurrence.

Can any member affected please contact the branch on 07899 786433 or email
us on

CRONY CAPITALISM: Boris Johnson, Tim Yeo, conflicts of interest, ignored evidence, and utterly pointless London taxi regulations

Eco City Vehicles supply new taxis to cab drivers in London. The Chairman of ECV is Jolly Green Giant Tim Yeo (right).

In 2010, consultations took place about a maximum age limit for London taxis. The main supposed motivation for having a maximum age involved the question of pollutants being emitted by older taxis. In fact, scientific testing showed conclusively that the new generation of London taxis were no better than the old ones: for that reason, the Department of Transport actually advised Local Authorities not to implement an Age Limit on Taxis on the basis of emissions. All evidence and objections on this basis were ignored by Mayor Boris Johnson, and the coming Age Limit for taxis was formally announced.

During 2011, further scientifically valid arguments were raised with the Mayor. There were protests by owners of older taxis, but these too were ignored. In January 2012, the Age Limit for taxis was introduced, forcing hundreds of drivers out of work….but doing nothing to reduce pollution.

By the passage of this rule, Tim Yeo’s company stands to benefit massively in terms of sales. Tim Yeo is a member of the Conservative Party. Boris Johnson (left) the London Mayor is also a member of the Conservative Party. When at Oxford, Johnson was a member of the infamous Bullingdon Club. Nick Hurd, Tim Yeo’s Chief of Staff while Shadow Minister, also went to Oxford. Nick Hurd was also a member of the Bullingdon Club. In 2005, Boris Johnson and Nick Hurd were founder members of the Conservative Green Chip Club.

Tim Yeo was Minister for (nota bene) the Environment from 1992 to 1993 in the government of Prime Minister John Major, and then Shadow Minister in that role while in Opposition. Before the last election, Tim Yeo initiated a debate about lowering London taxi emissions, the positive outcome of which he knew would benefit his company ECV. When the improper involvement of his company in the Mayoral Age Limit consultation was exposed, Tim Yeo and the CEO of Eco City Vehicles Peter Da Costa resigned from the process. No action was taken against them.

Asked whether there had been any involvement of ECV and Yeo in the decision making process for London, Boris Johnson wrote to Labour MP Andy Slaughter stating categorically that he had never discussed any of the proposals with Yeo, and that Eco City Vehicles ‘had absolutely no involvement in any way in the consultation process’. The Transport for London minutes appear to suggest that this was simply untrue: Peter Da Costa attended consultation meetings, and is quoted in the TFL minutes several times.

Campaigners like ecologist Dave Davies have pressed for the Age Limit to be declared improper and unlawful given the flagrant ignoring of vital evidence. Davies appears to be on sound legal ground here: in a High Court Judicial Review brought by Newport Taxi Drivers, the Judge ruled that the consultation process had been improper there too, and thus the Age Limit that was being introduced was unlawful.

Let’s not beat about the Shepherd’s Bush here: Tim Yeo had a massive conflict of interest while Shadow Environment Secretary, and a massive conflict of interest regarding the decision to introduce a London Taxi Age Limit rule. Boris Johnson rode roughshod over entirely reasonable, evidential objections to the taxi cab Age Limit (for which there is no scientific basis whatsoever) and those involved in it all bring with them the unpleasant whiff of crony capitalism. (See the Deliverance inbreeding traced above)

In need of more evidence about double-dealing Timmy? Read on. Yeo sits as Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, while at the same time being Chairman of ECV, a company proclaiming emission advantages that are illusory. He is also pro-fracking. Obviously a man of firm principles.

Yeo’s time as Environmental Champion in the Major years was shortlived, as he was forced to resign after siring a love child with Conservative councillor, Julia Stent. Earlier, Yeo had said in a speech to Relate in his constituency, “It is in everyone’s interests to reduce broken families and the number of single parents.” Obviously a case of droit de seigneur, then: or crime passionelle. Or double standards. Or all of them. Well why not eh? We’re the √©lite, we’re worth it!

Want more evidence about political cronyism? In a dramatic U-turn in August 2012, Mr Yeo switched sides on the UK airport debate, saying a decision on expanding airport capacity in the South East was needed urgently to maintain Britain’s competitiveness. This of course put him entirely on message with….London Mayor Boris Johnson, who’d just helped him drive a taxi through the City’s emission laws.

But now let us turn to the aforementioned Dave Davies, a man batting for the right to breathe clean air. As he rightly points out, 4267 people a year are dying in London from pollution (the Mayors own statistic from his 2008 campaign). In the 4 ½ years that he has been in office, however, Mayor Johnson has, claims Davies, “implemented improper and failed emissions strategies which have seen no reduction in pollution.” Live, die, sword etc.

However, here’s a few more problems Dave is having…with the media. He can’t seem to get the Mail (where Boris’s sister writes) or the Telegraph (where Boris writes) to pay any attention to his concerns. Just fancy that.


Sat-nav vs taxi

Who is the best navigator: Mat Watson with a sat-nav or a London taxi driver? Watch the video to find out

Source : : with thanks to Les

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Met Police Action Over Rape Victim, Catastrophic for Women

A damning watchdog report published today found that a Police unit based in Southwark, who's job it was to tackle the increasing number of sex crimes in London, wrote off large numbers of rape allegations as no crimes to reduce the number of unsolved cases on their books.

Met Police rape victim failings
The police watchdog has published a highly-critical report on the Met Police's Sapphire sex crime unit. It said officers pressurise women to drop rape claims, including one against a man who went on to murder his two children.

The Women's Resource Centre, a charity which supports women's organisations has condemned Metropolitan Police after an IPCC report found officers had pressurised women to drop rape claims:

"Yet another catastrophic outcome for women and children as a result of serious and endemic institutionalised failings within the police, and even more worryingly within a specific unit of the police set up to deal with rape and sexual violence."

"They are obviously not fit for purpose! When will the institutionalised sexism obviously rife across the country be properly and satisfactorily addressed? Furthermore, in the wake of £3billion worth of cuts to the women’s sector under this coalition government, when will the life-saving work of women's charitable organisations be fully resourced to ensure appropriate support is available to women who have experienced such heinous crimes?"

Unbelievably all the officers involved in these cases based with the Southwark squad, have been reinstated within the force and two have actually been promoted.

The subsequent fall in minicab related serious sexual assaults in 2010 is alleged to be a direct result of officers pressurising victims into retracting reports of rape and sexual assault and also to prioritise on motor crime, graffiti and mobile phone thefts instead.

A survey carried out by ITN in 2012 showed that 80% of victims of rape fail to report to the police who they see as hostile.

London Taxi Company to take on 100 staff and start production again by June.

With Derv about to hit £1.50 a litre, a Hybrid engine, which we already know works, will save LTI, BUT, can they develop it quickly enough.

The maker of London's black cabs, which was rescued from administration by the Chinese car company Geely, is to double its workforce as it aims to restart production of the taxis in a matter of months.

Having bought Manganese Bronze, the owner of the London Taxi Company, out of administration earlier this month, Geely is to add about 100 jobs over the next year, almost all at the Coventry plant where the distinctive taxi is made. The factory currently has 107 workers, after 156 lost their jobs following Manganese's fall into administration last October. "Geely is committed to retaining the facility in Coventry," said Peter Johansen, the former finance director of Manganese who is now executive vice president of the London Taxi Company. "The factory in Coventry will continue to manufacture taxis. That's the home of the taxis."

The company is also working towards restarting production of black cabs at the factory. The workers at the plant have been concentrating on repairing vehicles in the wake of a fault with steering boxes that resulted in 400 of its TX4 taxis being recalled last year, prompting Manganese's fall into administration.

Mr Johansen said that with this complete, "it will be probably June before we actually start producing a brand new vehicle off the assembly line".

Geely, which also owns Volvo Cars, has restarted selling cabs in the UK . The business has also received orders for 200 from both Australia and Saudi Arabia, in deals believed to be worth up to £15m in total.

With Boris Johnson, the London Mayor, recently proposing that only zero and low-emission vehicles should be allowed in the centre of the capital by 2020, the London Taxi Company plans to develop a hybrid taxi and in the long term, one powered by hydrogen.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Latest News From The London Taxi Company

EVP Peter Johansen talks to Global Partners

To our global partners,

Following the recent purchase of The London Taxi Company by Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, I felt it was important that I write to our global partners, both existing and potential, to introduce myself and our new company.

Geely has appointed me as the Executive Vice President of The London Taxi Company. I am relatively new to the industry but I hope to bring a fresh approach to how we operate and interact with our customers and stakeholders. The last few months have been a huge trial for all parties concerned and I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you for the support shown to us over the difficult recent past. We want to repay our gratitude to you through improved service delivery and products.

I would also like to thank Geely, not just for their pledges as new owners to invest in and develop The London Taxi Company brand and products but also for their unswerving support over recent years. Over the next five years Geely have committed to new products, new power trains and increased model range of taxi specific vehicles.

With that in mind, I am pleased to announce that Matthew Cheyne, Director of International Sales, will now take the lead on all global sales for all markets excluding China. This renewed focus will allow us to maximise opportunities across the world and deliver a consistent, mutually beneficial offer to our customers; his team are absolutely integral for The London Taxi Company to be recognised as the leading global provider of purpose-built taxis, on a sustainable, profitable business model.

We have a lot of hard work and challenges ahead of us in order to re-establish ourselves and I believe that our very first step is to express the trust and respect that we have for our customers across the globe. We can only truly do that by demonstrating our focus on customers and quality in everything that we do from this point forward.

Actions speak louder than words and we are going to focus on demonstrating our passion and commitment through improvements in customer satisfaction and product quality.
We believe that the future of this business depends on these fundamental principles.

Peter Johansen
Executive Vice-President
The London Taxi Corporation Ltd t/a The London Taxi Company

Minicab driver jailed after growing cannabis.

A pot smoking minicab driver has been jailed after he was caught growing the drug at his home.
Andrew Rochester admitted to a judge that he smoked up to four joints a day but denied he was cultivating it to sell to others.

The 49-year-old married father claimed that the possible yield of a kilo of cannabis worth up to £33,000 would last him “a lifetime”.

But a judge said it was clear to him that some of the drug would have been passed on for commercial gain.

Rochester, of Cavell Way, Sittingbourne, was jailed for eight months after admitting cultivating cannabis and possessing amphetamine and a police Parva spray.

He declined legal assistance and represented himself when he appeared for sentence at Maidstone Crown Court.

Forty-two plants and growing equipment was found at his home on June 13 last year, along with a small amount of amphetamine and the spray.

Asked how long the cannabis would last him, Rochester, who has a previous conviction for possessing the drug, said: “Judging by what was coming down, it would last me forever.”

He bought the equipment “very cheap”, he said, for £300 on the internet. He rented a minicab and earned about £50 a night, he added. His wife suffered from diabetes and was going blind.
Judge Philip Statman told the self-employed mini-cab driver: “I am satisfied this was not just a case of growing cannabis for your own use. I am also satisfied you are not a major dealer.

“I am satisfied you played a significant role and ran a small cannabis factory at your home. I accept you acted on your own. You were clearly motivated by financial gain.”

The judge said because of Rochester’s previous conviction, when he was given a suspended sentence, he knew precisely how seriously courts viewed such matters.

The most significant factor in mitigation was that he cared for his sick wife.