Saturday, March 16, 2013

Unlicensed minicab driver loses license.

Illegal cabbie is fined £320 after picking up passengers in Tottenham Court Road
Published: 15 March, 2013

A CAR mechanic from Islington was fined £320 and disqualified from driving after illegally acting as a minicab driver without insurance for the fourth time. Samuel Ntim-Addae, 47, was pulled over by police in Hampstead on February 21 after picking up passengers in Tottenham Court Road. The Upper Holloway father-of-three was fined and disqualified for 56 days at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty on Tuesday. He had previous convictions from 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Source Islington Tribune.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Update on temporary measures implemented to assist driver during The London Taxi Company administration process

TPH NOTICE 12/13.

This Notice is issued to update the taxi trade on measures taken by TfL to
assist those drivers and garages adversely impacted by the London Taxi
Company entering administration.

The London Taxi Company exited administration on 1 February 2013 when
Chinese automobile manufacturer Geely acquired the business and the
principal assets of Manganese Bronze Holdings.

TfL have been in discussions with the new management of the London Taxi
Company and they are back in operation in London from their Brewery Road
site.

LTC have informed TfL that they have been actively taking order for new and
used taxis and they have good levels of stock available to drivers.
During the administration period TfL took steps to assist drivers and garages
including:

Allowing Euro 4 taxis to be licensed for up to 5 years where as the
minimum emissions standard for taxis new to licence is Euro 5
Issuing some temporary licences to taxis impacted by the 15 year age
limit which expired on 14 March 2013

Given the positive trading situation with London Taxi Company and the on
going availability of new and used Mercedes via KPM with immediate effect TfL
will not be issuing any further temporary licences or extensions to existing
licences for taxis over 15 years old and will no longer accept any taxis new to
licensing unless they meet Euro 5 standard.

John Mason
15 March 2013 London Taxi and Private Hire
For previous Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph

ComCab London Release New Taxi App for iPhone

London’s largest licensed taxi fleet is now available to the consumer market through the ComCab taxi booking App which was released on 11 March 2013.

The App is available for free in the App store and allows for immediate access to safe and reliable taxis anywhere in London (including all of the suburban boroughs) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The new App allows customers to track their taxi on a map displayed on their phone, as well as provide an estimated arrival time.

The App is available on all iOS 5 and iOS 6 operating systems which means the ComCab App is available for download on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.

The ComCab London App will launch on most other mobile platforms within the next few months.

The ComCab App is unique in that you do not need to register to make a booking, and the Quick Book function allows for quick and easy ASAP taxi requests.

However, more regular taxi bookers can register a credit card for simple,
convenient and secure payment of their cab fares.

All ComCab taxis feature in-vehicle Chip & Pin credit card facilities which also accept the latest ‘Tap & Go’ contactless cards.

All ComCab taxi fares are regulated by Transport for London.

The App also features a ‘Favourites’ facility to save your most popular pick up and destination points and allows simple re-booking of recent trips.

The ComCab fleet exists in all 33 London boroughs, so for once this is a taxi App that services more than just Central London. Unlike other taxi Apps that take a cut of the driver’s fare, ComCab can provide a more assured service as all of the passenger’s fare goes directly to the driver, meaning the taxi drivers provide a more robust service.

The App will be heavily promoted through social media sites such as such as Facebook for regular competitions and Twitter for information updates such as travel news and latest offers.

About the company:
ComCab was founded in London in 1974 and became part of the ComfortDelGro Corporation in 1997.

Its award winning service has seen ComCab secure the London Transport Award twice and the SCOPE Platinum Access Equality Award, in recognition of its highly accessible transport facilities.

It was the first taxi company to attain ISO14001 environmental certification and has secured the prestigious Sunday Times Best Green Companies Award three years running.

For further information please visit - http://www.comcablondon.co.uk/app/ or https://www.facebook.com/ComCabLondon

Law officials in £1m taxis con face jail

TWO crooked Crown Prosecution Service officials who fiddled £1 million in a bogus taxi fraud have only £1,400 left in the bank, it was revealed yesterday.

Lisa Burrows and Tahir Mahmood are facing lengthy jail sentences after inventing a cab firm called “B&M Taxis” to plunder the public purse for five years. (correct)

The couple used £120,000 to pay off a mortgage and spent a fortune on luxury holidays, designer clothes and property, a court heard.

Yesterday, they were facing a substantial prison sentences after admitting conspiracy to defraud.

The CPS is carrying out an internal review into the scam. One strand of the internal inquiry is to attempt to discover why the fiddle was not detected earlier.

Burrows, 41, an area financial officer for CPS West Midlands, and Mahmood, 50, a CPS administrative officer, yesterday admitted conspiring to commit fraud at Birmingham Crown Court.

Judge Nicholas Webb warned the pair to expect custodial sentences “measured in years rather than months” before adjourning the case until July 4.

An earlier hearing was told how the fraudsters were found with just £1,400 left in their bank account.

Malcolm McHaffie, told Birmingham Magistrates Court last month: “Burrows met Tahir Mahmood and they started a relationship.

“He was a former taxi driver, who assumed the named Joseph Thomas O’Neil and opened bank accounts in that name.

“They claimed for services provided by the made up name of B&M taxis, standing for Burrows and Mahmood.

“Evidence proves she went to Dubai on previous occasions and spent money on expensive clothes jewellery and other holidays but this in no way explains where the £1 million went.

“There was only £1,400 left in the account connected to him when they were arrested, they maintain it spiralled out of control and there is no money left.

“As I understand there is a substantial amount of work to be done to trace the money from the fraud.

“They both made relatively small deposits on property, Burrows £15,000 and Mahmood £20,000.”

Burrows, of Oldbury, West Midlands, and Tahir Mahmood, of Hodge Hill, West Midlands, were charged with conspiracy to defraud by false representation.

They were remanded in custody until sentencing on July 4.

After yesterday’s hearing, a CPS spokesperson said: “As soon as this fraud was uncovered by the CPS national finance team, we notified the police.

“Following their investigation and the subsequent charging of two employees, as a precautionary measure we are now undertaking a thorough internal review of CPS West Midlands finances and the circumstances surrounding the fraud. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

Source: Express on line.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Court case against Aylesbury minicab firm collapses – due to gaping legal loophole

While the Hackney Carriage and London Cab acts stand rigged, it seems that anything connected with private hire legislation is full of loop holes.

Unlicensed operations are escaping prosecution by claiming they are not actually PH operators but are in fact "Taxi Management Services".

We have also seen these "Taxi Management Services" advertising on line, in magazines, in supermarkets, clubs, bars and Hospitals. Adverts offering Taxi services, Hospital Taxi services, Station Taxi services and Heathrow/ London Airport Taxi transfer Services, can be seen all over the place.

These loop hole have been in plain sight for many years and there have been very little action from licensing authorities or Taxi representative groups to lobby to close these gaping loop holes.

Below is a report of such a case that collapsed through bad representation and poor evidence.

Aylesbury Vale District Council had prosecuted Call a Cab Ltd for operating without a private hire operator’s licence.
The firm claimed that it was not an operator but an intermediary, acting as a taxi management service, finding operators to meet the customer’s journey requirements rather than accepting the booking itself.
It also argued that the council had not properly adopted legislation that controls private hire operators.

The council passed a resolution to adopt private hire controls in March 1989 but could not prove it had sent copies of the notice to all relevant parish councils – a legal requirement – as it had destroyed the copies. Therefore, the court dismissed the case.

Councillor Judy Brandis, chairman of the licensing committee, said: “The council is very disappointed with this result and will be lodging an appeal. We firmly believe that the private hire controls were properly adopted in 1989.

“I must stress that the court’s decision does not affect the council’s ability to continue to enforce private hire controls in the interests of public safety and the public interest generally.”

Source: The Bucks Herald

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mason to take over Congestion Charge and Traffic Enforcement.

Dear Sir / Madam

As a result of a forthcoming change in the way Surface Transport plans to organise its major project delivery (partly as a result of the significant increase in road investment) I have been asked by Leon Daniels, Managing Director, Surface Transport to take on a temporarily expanded role having increased additional responsibility for the leadership of the Congestion Charging and Traffic Enforcement Directorate as well as Taxi and Private Hire.

Given this wider remit, Helen Chapman has been asked to act up into a role of General Manager for Taxis and Private Hire. Helen will therefore take on the vast majority of my current day to day TPH operational management and leadership responsibilities. These changes with take effect immediately.

As a result of my expanded role I would ask that all matters you would normally refer to me are referred to Helen Chapman until further notice. I would like to thank you all most sincerely for the assistance and support you have given me over the past three years. I am sure you will all be as supportive to Helen and will join me in wishing her all the very best for her new role.


Kind regards


John Mason

Age Limit on London Taxis, Mayors Air Quality Strategy and Conflicts on Interest.

In 2010, consultations took place about a maximum age limit for London taxis. By removing the older, most polluting vehicles, the air quality would improve dramatically, although this was not supported by any specific scientific evidence.

An imposed age limit, as we now know is illegal and can be challenged in the high court. The DoT have stated that if a vehicle passed the conditions of fitness, then it should be licensed irrespective of age. Unfortunately London's age limit was not imposed but offered to the Mayor on the trades behalf by so called trade representatives.
One from manufactures LTI, one from manufactures Eco City Vehicles, three radio circuit CEOs, two driver org representatives, one union branch secretary and one representative of garage proprietors...so no conflict of interests there?

Many sceptics raised objections to removing older vehicles, stating that it would lead to some drivers who couldn't afford to upgrade, being forced out of the trade. It was also pointed out, by expect witnesses on behalf of the Taxi trade, that some older vehicles were showing lower emissions than new vehicles.

It was alleged this was a blatant move, on behalf of manufactures (who were struggling), to sell more vehicles in replacement of older Taxis. But the Mayor categorically denied this, saying he had had no contact with manufacturers before the age limit was introduced. We now know this statement was not correct.

The Mayors Diary disclosure states the following meetings:

  • Meeting with Mr Liu Shufu, Geely Automobile The Mayor's Office 02/02/2009 LTI TAXI MANUFACTURER
  • Meeting with Wilfried Steffen, Mercedes The Mayor's Office 20/07/2010 MERCEDES VITO TAXI MANUFACTURER
  • Meeting with Mr Lee, Geely The Mayor's Office 03/08/2010 LTI TAXI MANUFACTURER


The diary shows that he met with the manufacturers of London Taxi International (suppliers of TX4s) and Mercedes (suppliers of Vito Taxis) before he introduced the taxi age limit which would benefited them both.
He had previously said that he had no communication with the suppliers of the new taxis.

His diary also shows he attended the Copenhagen summit in December 2009 which was also attended by Tim Yeo , but Boris says they had no contact.

Now after nearly a fifth of the London Taxi fleet has been scrapped, forcing many older drivers out of the trade, putting many drivers under a massive financial burden.... has the air quality in central London suddenly improved?

Actually it's got worse.

4267 people a year are dying in London from pollution (the Mayors own statistic from his 2008 campaign). After nearly 5 years in office, however, Mayor Johnson has implemented failed emissions strategies which have seen no reduction in pollution.

Not one penny has been offered in compensation to drivers, no money has been made available for financial help to drivers struggling with massive debts.

So what are they planning next.

Three london councils, Westminster, Camden and The City of London, who are responsible for some of the worse congestion causing traffic systems, have asked the Mayor to reduce the age limit from 15 years, to 10.


THE LAST SUPPER FOR THE FX4

Source: Taken from extensive research carried out by Dave Davies.

Interesting Interview with Leon Daniels in the Badge.

In a recent interview between the LCDC and Leon Daniels, a couple of surprising points were bought up about compliance and enforcement.

First, it was suggested to Mr Daniels that one way of raising standards was to make sure that enforcement levels were drastically improved, to enable drivers to reclaim much of the work that had been lost to illegal touting!

He answered “I agree with your concerns regarding the lack of enforcement and I fully understand the frustrations you are telling me. We have plans for raising the levels of enforcement and I have been out at night with the enforcement teams and can see first hand just how cagey the touts are in evading prosecution."

“There will be a reduction on the licence fee this year and also we urgently need new faces to come into the enforcement team, as the touts recognise the faces of many of the team. The coverage, to be honest, is microscopic to say the least. I myself am currently undertaking training at the moment to be part of the enforcement team."

“Be under no illusions that I am fully aware of the problems facing the licensed taxi trade by illegal touts. TFL have advised the Law Commission that tougher laws need to be introduced in London to help us fight against the menace of illegal taxi touts."

It was explained to him that at meetings attended at Palestra, Helen Chapman informed there are no funds available for our requests for new taxi ranks.”
Leon replied,
“That is not the case, there are funds available."

It was also mentioned, at meetings held with Helen Chapman regarding enforcement, Helen refuses to allow police officers to go out with the enforcement teams on a regular basis, which means enforcement teams cannot pull over cars to inspect them - this is ridiculous.

Leon replied
“I agree and cannot understand why the police are not out with enforcement teams on a regular basis - it does not make any sense not to do so.”

Want to know what Leon Daniels has been up to lately, read his blog
http://leondaniels.blogspot.co.uk/



Another fine mess?


Transport for London
London Taxi and Private Hire Notice 10/13:


London Taxi Drivers - New Design Licences and Area Identifiers

Further to TPH Notice 07/13, regarding the new design licences and area identifiers issued on 12 February 2013, this notice provides taxi drivers with an update on our plan to re-issue all taxi driver licences and area identifiers.

As was set out in TPH Notice 07/13, in order to re-issue taxi driver licences it is imperative that those drivers who were requested to provide passport sized photographs do so without delay. We would like to thank all the drivers who have already done this.

Unfortunately there are still a significant number of taxi drivers who have not provided their photographs and any driver who has not yet responded to this request is required to do so without further delay.

Photographs can be emailed to TPHphotos@tfl.gov.uk or posted to:
Taxi Driver Photographs 4th Floor, Green Zone Palestra
197 Blackfriars Road London SE1 8NJ

Given the volume of drivers that are still required to provide photographs, the bedding-in period of the new vehicle licensing service and the ongoing development of the new system for driver and operator licensing, we have decided to reschedule the issue of the replacement taxi driver licences and area identifiers.

This programme of work will be restarted as soon as possible and a further announcement will be made in due course.

Thank you for your understanding and assistance.
John Mason
11March 2013 Director, Taxi and Private Hire
For previous Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Myths About Rape?

What is rape? Who does it? Who does it happen to?

Myths and untruths around rape and sexual assault have devastating effects on how many rapes are reported and the decisions made by juries and judges.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt, Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC, who in her 38 years at the Bar has tried many rape and serious sexual offence cases, and Professor of Law Joanne Conaghan set the record straight and explained why changing the debate around rape, which has long been dominated by ideological and fixed views, is crucial to prevention.

The event was hosted by broadcaster and journalist Zeinab Badawi.

Some shocking statistics from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt show that while Peter Hendy and the Mayor were reporting dramatic consecutive drops in cab related sexual attacks between 2008-2011, the actual statistics were in fact escalating, peaking in 2011.

Martin admits that at best only 30% of adult rape is reported and i his view this is an over estimate. He put the range between 15-30 %, saying that at best 70% of rape in adults goes unreported.

Only 1/5 of all rapes reported resulted in an arrest.

But something is missing from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt's presentation and that was the phrase, "Cab Related Rape and Serious Sexual Assault".

Not one word about the massive case load of serious sexual offences, including rape, put at approx 22 incidents a week, by the Met in the Clapham Junction PoP report, not a myth, an actual fact.

Again we see the Met turning a blind eye to the self inflicted problem created by the implementation of the STaN agenda by TfL and LTPH in order to clear the streets late at night. Unenforceable satellite offices, where touting Private Hire cars illegally ply for hire, have become breeding grounds for sexual predators, waiting for vulnerable people to become their next victim.

I suggest Deputy Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt and Judge Rosamund Horwood-Smart QC spend a little time observing the scandalous behaviour of the NSL Council Wardens and the Licensed Private Hire touting that goes on nightly at the junction of Regent Street and Swallow Street. Perhaps they would be interested to know that the enforcement camera, situated at the junction of Vigo Street is turn away at 10:30pm in order to allow the touts to illegally park.

Just a few weeks ago, a young lady was taken from this junction by a tout and his friend who was also hiding in the Mercedes minicab, to the Paddington area and brutally raped. Surprisingly, no attention has been paid to this area in respect of the attack.

Serious sexual assault and rape victims in London, have become little more than collateral damage.

John Mason answer to Private hire forum question: "With regards to having your own supply of stickers, that seems like a perfectly sensible solution."

After the recent case where a West London PH operator had illegally obtained his own supply of SGS inspection roundels and as LTPH has a duty of care/safety to the traveling public, you'd think they would be clamping down on the ease that such items are being acquired.

But no...At a recent forum held at Palestra for Private Hire Drivers and Operators, a question (reproduced below) was put to LTPH Director John Mason. His answer is of concern to anyone worried about unlicensed, unlawful and un-inspected minicabs.

Q: Could licensed operators have their own supply of red route exemption stickers, to replace those vandalised, or stolen from PHV vehicles, as TfL take a long time in sending out replacement ones?

John Mason / TPH director: “I’m certainly surprised to hear that there are delays in the process in getting the stickers to you guys. And if that is the case, I would like to get to the bottom of that.
With regards to having your own supply of stickers, that seems like a perfectly sensible solution
and I’m not sure why we could not go down that route. It would take away an administrative layer where you have to write in and we have to stuff things in envelopes.”

Can we point out John, it's what you get paid to do. It's part of the license fee that Private Hire drivers are required to pay. But John, "a perfectly sensible solution", are you sure?

We have seen in the past (and Helen Chapman can back me up on this), these stickers have been readily available to anyone on eBay. We managed to purchase 4, which were delivered next day. I have no idea how this person got hold of the stickers which were genuine LTPH issue. We were informed by Ms Chapman that no action would be taken against the seller as they had agreed to return what was left to LTPH.

Surely in light of all the sexual assaults and rapes carried out by predators using licensed and unlicensed private hire vehicles, LTPH should be making it more difficult to impersonate a licensed PHV, not easier. In a report on problem orientated policing the Met police estimated that in London, there are approximately 22 attacks of this nature every week.*
Surely LTPH are not putting cost cutting above public safety?

The question that should have been asked is, why are LTPH so inefficient at getting material to those who request it. If a private seller can get these things out by return of post, why cant LTPH?




There is of course a simple, more common sense solution:
That is to issue proper plates for PHVs, like every other licensing authorities in the country and completely scrap roundels and stickers.

Source PH and C magazine
* Source: http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2011/11-18.pdf page 5.

Article by Jim Thomas.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

FORMER LTPH LICENSED MINICAB DRIVER, ACCUSED OF SOMALI PIRATE KIDNAPPING

After hearing that a Rwandan 'war criminal linked to a million murders' who can't be deported due to human rights laws has been driving a licensed minicab in London, it didn't come as too much of a shock to read this story publish in the PH and C magazine.


A SOMALIAN businessman who worked as a private hire driver in Walthamstow East London has been accused of organising the abduction and ransom of a British husband and wife in 2009.
Mahad Nuur (51) has been named in a secret United Nations re- port which alleges that he helped to organised the kidnapping of round-the-world sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler.

The couple from Tunbridge Wells and their 38-ft yacht, the Lynn Rival, were held captive for 13 months before they were released in November 2010 after a ransom of £635,000 was paid.

The former minicab driver has denied having anything to do with the kidnapping and of helping to plan, direct and finance the infamous Hobyo-Haradheere pirate gang, which terrorizes shipping off the coast of Somalia.

However, a confidential section of the UN report alleges that Mr Nuur is “responsible for co-organising hijackings and abductions” and accuses him of acting as a negotiator between kidnappers and hostages’ families and employers and of collecting six-figure fees for arranging ransom drops.

The report goes on to accuse the former private hire driver, now director of Mogadsihu-based company Indian Ocean Consultants, of being “Directly involved in the hijacking of the Panama-flagged bulk carrier Orna and the hijacking/abduction of the owners of the British yacht Lynn Rival”.

Mr Nuur, currently living in Mogadishu, denies the allegations in the UN report and said: “They are saying that I am involved in piracy and that even my company is involved. That’s totally false. I never had contact or anything to do with piracy.

“I had not been in Mogadishu for 20 years, until 2011, long after the Chandlers’ yacht and the MV Orna had been hijacked. These allegations are politically motivated and come from former busi- ness associates in Somalia who are misleading the UN in a bid to destroy my business and my name.”

Mr Nuur added that Indian Ocean Consultants specialised in of- fering investment advice to members of the Somalian diaspora spread around the world. The company’s website says it specialises “in the marine industry, serving international clients”. It also makes reference to a “hostage negotiation” service.

By coincidence, another private hire driver from East London was responsible for the release of the Chandlers. Dahir Abdullah Kadiye came to Britain in 1997 as a refugee and said he was drawn to help the Tunbridge Wells husband and wife couple to help “end the humiliation of Somalis in the UK.”

The Chandlers have continued their round-the-world voyage since they were released and Mr Chandler (62), speaking from somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, said he and his wife would be “very happy” if any of the men responsible for their kidnapping ordeal were brought to justice.

The UN report concerning Mr Nuur’s alleged criminal activities in Somalia and Eritrea has since been handed to Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). And the Crown Prosecution Service is currently looking at a file of evidence relating to the kidnapping of the Chandlers.
But the UK authorities have come under fire from the UN for its failure “to pursue law enforcement investigations against Nuur and other alleged Somali pirates and their associates”.
The report added: “Britain’s refusal to agree to sanctions against pirate leaders or hand over details of the gangs’ financial and communications network raised serious concerns, especially when UK residents or nationals are involved in Somali pirate activity.”

SOCA has refused to discuss the allegations against Mr Nuur, adding that “It does not confirm or deny the existence of specific operations regrading intelligence matters”.