Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dundee cabbies hit out at ‘nasty’ bus drivers


Police are targeting cabbies in Dundee city centre following “confrontations” with bus drivers.

Rising tensions over a lack of rank space has seen city centre stand-offs, with cabbies angry that bus drivers are taking pictures of their cars with mobile phones.

Unmarked cars are now patrolling Nethergate and warnings are issued to taxi drivers parked illegally. More than 50 cabbies have been cautioned since the crackdown began at the turn of the year.

Robert Griffin, who has been running a taxi for 40 years, said: “It’s pandemonium here most days. Half the time we have to line up on the other side of the road but then the bus drivers go off their heads at us.”

Chris Curran, who has been driving taxis for 20 years, said: “There have been quite a few confrontations with bus drivers, mostly trading insults. It’s pure nastiness.

“They also take pictures of us and report us. I can understand the bus drivers’ point of view but they’re salaried. We’re just trying to make a living and we need to get hires.”

Taxi driver Margaret Duncan was cautioned last week. She said: “The police have been coming down to Nethergate in unmarked cars. On Friday they were issuing warnings.”

Cabbies have called on the council to create more bays for their cars so that they do not have to break the rules. There are more than 600 drivers in Dundee.

Chris Elder, taxi branch secretary of Unite union, who represents 140 full-time drivers in the city, said: “There are drivers verbally shouting at each other but the council is the problem — they’re flooding the town with taxis and not providing enough rank space.”

Bus passengers have warned that illegal parking could compromise their safety.

A pensioner, who asked not to be named, said: “There’s going to be an accident because we have to cut between taxis to get on the bus.”

Another passenger who contacted The Courier anonymously said: “On Tuesday there were three taxis parked at the traffic lights and the bus stop.

“I got on the bus and I could see the anger on the bus driver’s face. He had to stop at the bottom of the bus stop and everyone had to walk to the opposite side.”

A spokesman for Dundee City Council said 56 warnings have been issued since a protocol for dealing with abuse of bus stops was agreed by councillors late last year.

The spokesman added: “Any third offenders will be reported to the licensing committee with a recommendation that their licences be suspended. No one is in this category yet.”

A spokeswoman for National Express Dundee welcomed the crackdown.

She said: “We regularly receive complaints from passengers about taxis blocking the bus stops in Nethergate and we are assisting Dundee City Council in investigating this issue.

“One of the ways our drivers are encouraged to help is by taking photos, when safe to do so, of vehicles which are blocking bus stops as this can provide clear evidence of the problem.”

A police spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the matter and where appropriate, suitable action is taken.”

source: http://www.thecourier.co.uk/

Canterbury taxi drivers 'may get tougher tests'

Complaints by passengers about Canterbury taxi drivers' language skills could see tougher English tests brought in.

Some drivers also need a sat-nav to find well-known destinations, passengers have told the city council.

The authority said it was currently rewriting its taxi policy.

Head of neighbourhood services Larissa Read said the main change, if the policy was adopted, would be to bring in a comprehensive testing process.

"At the moment we are still working on the draft policy, so we cannot go into the detail of what it may contain," she said.

"But the main change, if adopted, will involve a comprehensive testing process covering areas such as a working knowledge of English required to be a driver, reading, writing, numeracy and listening skills, routes throughout the district, the Highway Code, policy conditions, byelaws, vehicle maintenance and disability awareness."

'Drivers refusing fares'
The council was consulting the Canterbury and District Taxi Association throughout the process, she added.

She said the current policy covered safety, competency and quality of service.

Taxi driver Roger Clark said some drivers did not know where they were going and would refuse fares if they did not know the destination, leaving other drivers to take over.

John Darby, another driver, said better qualifications would protect both drivers and customers.

He said: "I think it would make a major difference to the public because the public will get what they pay for which is to get from A to B in the quickest [time] and [at the] cheapest price."

Source: BBC News Kent.



Private hire driver’s jail threat


A private hire driver has been given a suspended jail sentence after a court heard he drove after a fare dodger and clipped him on the pavement with his car.

Asim Iltaf had been distracted by other people trying to get into his vehicle when he pulled up outside the Old Griffin Head Inn at Gildersome, Leeds to drop the man off in January last year.

As he tried to explain the situation to them, his fare in the front passenger seat jumped out and jogged off without paying the £9.60 due.

Andrew Dallas representing Iltaf said his instinctive reaction was to follow and it was only for a few seconds before he caught him.

He said: “He had no intention of running him down, he had not thought it through at all. It was four seconds of driving at a maximum of 12.5mph.”

He added that the life of a private hire driver was not a happy one with drunken passengers and fare dodgers but Iltaf had been doing it successfully for 10 years.

Louise Reevell prosecuting told Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday that Iltaf had already started to brake when he caught the passenger, but had two wheels on the pavement which constituted the offence.

The passenger was later found to have a broken arm, but he had been drinking heavily and was seen on CCTV to fall over a short time later when he clambered over a wall and picnic tables so the arm injury could not be attributed to the incident with the car.

Iltaf, 37, of North Park Street, Dewsbury, admitted dangerous driving and was given a six months prison sentence suspended for 12 months with 150 hours unpaid work and £300 prosecution costs. He was also banned from driving for 15 months.

Judge Christopher Batty said in the 10 years Iltaf had been a private hire driver, his driving had never been criticised and employers had given him references.

The judge said: “I accept on this occasion you acted instinctively but what you did was drive on the pavement putting this man at a significant risk and that is a serious matter.”

He added that when he realised there might be a collision, Iltaf had sought to stop but could not do so in time.
The court was told Iltaf now has a job in a textile mill.
source: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/

Friday, April 12, 2013

Events between 13th April through to Wednesday 17th April 2013

There are a number of events taking place between the above dates across Central London which may impact on normal business operations.

Sat 13/04/2013:

1130hrs (Parallel Event): UK UNCUT will stage a protest called ‘Who wants to evict a millionaire’. Facebook shows 436 Going, 175 Maybe and 3,230 Invited. Protesters will assemble at King’s Cross Station and make their way to an unknown location.

1330hrs - 1800hrs: Trafalgar Sq: ‘Pony Party YAY’. This event was initially posted on Facebook as a Thatcher Death Celebration party. Facebook showed 57 Going, 22 Maybe and 1,285 Invited.

1500hrs (Annual Event): Loyalist March from Old Bailey to St Paul’s concluding at Smithfield Market.

1800hrs: The Big Party, Trafalgar Sq. Class War has indicated that they will hold a gathering in Trafalgar Square. It is possible that attendees from ‘UK Uncut Evict a Millionaire’ event will attend and swell numbers.

Various times: There are expected to be demonstrations on Saturday connected to the Welfare Reform Act. It is thought likely that these will now be connected. The Welfare reform Act demonstration has been advertised as including an ‘Evict a Millionaire’ event. The venue of this is unknown. Last year Deputy PM Nick Clegg was targeted and a protest held outside his house. It is likely that this year a similar person will be selected.

Football:

Millwall v Wigan​1715hrs kick off FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley. Millwall fans expected around ​ London Bridge area pre match.

Arsenal v Norwich​1500hrs kick off Capacity crowd expected

Brentford v Portsmouth 1500hrs kick off

Leyton Orient v MK Dons 1500hrs kick off

AFC Wimbledon v Exeter City 1500hrs kick off

Dag & Red v Oxford United​1500hrs kick off


Sun 14/04/2013
Chelsea v Man United​1600hrs kick off
FA Cup Semi Final at Wembley


Monday 15/04/2013

There will be a dress rehearsal for the funeral procession taking place between the Strand and St Pauls Cathedral. This should be concluded before the start of the working day.




Tue 16/04/2013
Millwall v Watford​1945hrs kick off
Arsenal v Everton​1945hrs kick off


Wed 17/04/2013:

Early hours: The funeral of Baroness Thatcher will take place today. Road closures will start early and the route is publicised across several websites. Large numbers may attend, which may include some protest groups.

The procession will leave in a hearse from the Houses of Parliament along Whitehall, into Trafalgar Square and along the Strand. At St Clement Danes Church the ceremonial procession will start and follow a route through the City of London to St Pauls Cathedral. The service will start at 11am and is open to invited guests only. The service will be attended by HM The Queen and other dignitaries so a security operation will be in place.

Road closures will remain in place and it is not know at this stage when they will be lifted.


Football:

West Ham v Man United​1945hrs kick off
Fulham v Chelsea​2000hrs kick off


The Metropolitan Police Service, The City of London Police and British Transport Police are fully aware of the potential impact of such a significant number of events taking place so close together on the local business community. We have an appropriate and proportionate policing plan in place.

We are working closely with organisers where available and are attempting to engage with any protest group to facilitate the events taking place.
You will notice an increase in the number of police officers in and around Central London over the next week. This is part of the preparation for this event and should not be cause for alarm. Please contact your local safer neighborhoods’ team if you have any concerns.
Whilst a robust policing plan is in place you can help to manage your business by taking a few sensible precautions. The following points are a list of considerations and are by no means exhaustive.

The police are constantly monitoring the situation and there is no intelligence as yet to suggest any buildings or companies will be targeted. It may however, be prudent to review some of the suggestions below should there be a protest at your business premises.

Islington Council set to become the first London borough to introduce a 20mph speed limit on all residential roads


Work to introduce the new signage is well underway. Islington council claim the speed cut will reduce accidents, congestion and pollution, although this is highly disputed by motorist groups.

Some groups have stated the complete opposite. Most believe we will see a rise in accidents as drivers constantly take their eyes off the road to check they are not exceeding this unfamiliar speed. The AA warned that a 20mph limit for London would hamper travel. It wants councils to introduce such zones only in severely sensitive or residential areas.

Transport for London research found 20mph zones reduced casualties by 43 per cent and the number of fatal or serious casualties by 53 per cent. As there are currently no 20mph zones, perhaps TfL would like to explain where they did this research?

More than 150 miles of Islington's roads are to be affected, with motorists only able to reach 30mph on 15 out of 1420 streets in the borough. However, more than half of Islington's roads are already covered by 20mph limits.

Councillor Greg Foxsmith, Islington's environment spokesman, said, "We want streets where our kids can walk to school safely, where our cyclists can ride without risk, and where pollution levels are driven down. A blanket 20mph zone is a bold step, but it's what our residents want and deserve. The scheme has had cross-party support and widespread public backing."

Perhaps councillor Foxsmith would do better for the borough by reintroduction road safety training in schools and collages, to teach people how to be more responsible when crossing the road. Also, cyclists should only be allowed on the road once they have passed a cycling proficiency test. Every other form of transport using our roads have to pass some type of test, so why should cyclists be different. As for pollution, levels of dangerous particles from brake pads and shoes will now rise as driver brake more often to achieve the lower speed.

Signs have now been erected proclaiming the new limit, but the council rejected calls to enforce the limit with even more speed bumps. Islington already has one of the highest road hump counts in Greater London.

Roads run by Transport for London such as the A1 and Camden Road will continue with a 30mph limit. At present, TfL are just given other authorities the bullets to fire.

Islington is now putting pressure on neighbours with roads that share boarders but have come up against some resistance. However, Haringey’s environment chief Councillor Nilgun Canver said they had not ruled out the proposals “entirely”. She also added that as the number of accidents are relatively low along Stroud Green Road “we do not currently see the benefit of this proposal”.

Islington’s transport chief James Murray said: “We hope that once other boroughs see the benefit of the 20mph limit, it will be taken up further.”

The next boroughs in line to adopt the lower limit include Hackney, Southwark, Brent, Kingston upon Thames, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets and Merton.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Everyone Wants A Slice Of The Taxi Business.

San Francisco Airport Bans Rideshare App Companies from Taxi Line

Last month, San Francisco International Airport issued cease-and-desist orders to six different app-based rideshare companies like Lyft, SideCar, and UberX.

These companies connect regular drivers –not licensed taxi or limo drivers– to passengers via smartphone app. The driver gets paid through a voluntary donation, also done through the app.

Doug Yakel, a spokesperson for the airport, said it’s not about shutting out new forms of transportation. “We’re very open to new business ideas and we would like to provide a way to provide those options, but we have an obligation to safety,” he said. “We also have to keep a level playing field and promote fairness.”

With 44 million people coming through SFO each year, Yakel says it’s important to make sure each passenger gets a safe and fairly priced ride from the airport.

On its website, SideCar says it shouldn’t be regulated like a taxi or limo company, because it isn’t one. They say they are a “peer to peer ridesharing app,” not a typical dispatch service that requires regulation. SideCar says it simply facilitates trips that are legal in California– think casual carpools.

Yakel acknowledges that carpooling and traditional ridesharing are legal, but he maintains that SideCar and similar companies have a key difference.

“The difference is money is being exchanged for transportation and the company is keeping some of the profits,” Yakel said.

In other words, app-based rideshare companies can’t claim they’re just helping people find rides — so the airport says they should be regulated like taxis and shuttles.

Back in November, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued cease-and-desist orders and fines to Lyft, Uber, and Sidecar to stop all operations within the state. Since then, Lyft and Uber have entered into operating agreements with the CPUC, meaning they’ve showed proof of insurance that will protect their passengers in the case of accident or injury.

But that’s just temporary. The CPUC is studying how to determine — if at all — how the agency should regulate ridesharing companies.

“We’re concerned for the safety of riders and everyone involved in these new operations,” said CPUC spokesperson Andrew Kotch. “We’re figuring out how rules might be revised to include these new transportation entities.”

The CPUC is holding a workshops this week to bring together representatives from all affected parties –including rideshare companies, limousine services, and taxis – and discuss the agency’s options in regulation.

“The information we gather will be taken into consideration and will help come up with a new proposal, expected in mid- to late summer,” said Kotch.

Meanwhile, airport spokesperson Doug Yakel said the airport permit process is closely linked to the CPUC’s.

“Before we could begin the airport permit process, they have to clear the CPUC and MTA processes,” he said. “These companies have to find their place in the transportation process.”

Source: Transportation Nation.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Private Hire Drivers Who Don't Know The Regulations: Who's Fault Is It - Where Does The Buck Stop?

The law is quite clear. If you are a licensed private hire driver and you begin a journey without a booking, you are touting, you are also uninsured.

It is a requirement that for a private hire journey to take place, a pre-booking through a third party licensed operator must have been made.

It is the job of a licensing authority, to make sure every licensed private hire driver is made fully aware of all regulations before they are licensed to operate. In London, this duty falls under the responsibility of TfL's London Taxi and Private Hire (LTPH) directorate.

If you are caught touting by STC cab enforcement or the police, you will be arrested and charged. Sometimes the police will offer you an official police caution, which means are far as the police are concerned that is the end of the matter.

LTPH at present have a one hit and your out policy for touting, which means if you are charged and found guilty by a magistrate, you will have your license revoked. If you have chosen a police caution, it will be treated as an admission of guilt and LTPH will revoke your license.
This policy has been reinforced on a number of occasions in TfL notices.

But this statement has appears in the latest PHC magazine:

John Mason / Director / TfL’s Taxi & Private Hire department:
“Let’s be clear about something. If someone does accept a caution and we do revoke their licence, there is still an appeal process. I have personally intervened in cases where a driver has accepted a caution for touting and claimed that he had been mislead by the police. TfL accepted that he wasn’t fully understanding that he would lose his licence and that he wouldn’t have taken the caution if he had known. I intervened, looked at the case, looked at the background and his history and decided in his favour. I don’t want to go to magistrates’ court and I don’t want to spend money on lawyers!”

Yes let's be clear about something.
If private hire drivers are unsure of the most fundamental restriction they operate under, then the fault lies with their licensing authorities poor management and poor performance in educating the drivers in respect to their conditions of operation. In this case its LTPH.

No wonder touting and illegal plying for hire is out of control.


While we're on the subject of poor management and poor performance, perhaps Director of LTPH John Mason would like to make a statement about LTPH's reluctance to deal with Mr Gurdev Jassi's company Sky Express.

Many Licensed Taxi drivers ( mainly suburban drivers) have made complaints to LTPH about the companies continued disregard of the Private hire act that forbids private hire companies from using the words "Taxi, Taxis, Cab or Cabs" to advertise their services. The photos below were taken in Hillingdon Hospital and clearly show Sky Express using the words TAXI and Taxis.

To date nothing has been done about this contravention of the PH act.

We would also like to point out to Mr Mason that Sky Express is not a third party company that connect passengers with local services, they are licensed by LTPH as a private hire operator, ID 535: till 06/12/2016.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE LAW COMMISSION: INTERIM STATEMENT

Following an extensive consultation on the regulations governing taxis and mini-cabs (private hire vehicles), the Law Commission has announced, in an interim statement, a change of direction on two key proposals: setting restrictions on local taxi numbers, and licensing for wedding cars.

The Commission initially proposed abolishing the right of licensing authorities to restrict the number of taxis permitted to operate in an area. But it has been convinced that the benefits of change are outweighed by the advantages of continuing to allow restrictions. On the one hand, the Commission accepts that restrictions can have a place in combating congestion and over-ranking, and supporting a viable taxi trade to maintain high standards. On the other, there is no compelling evidence that de-restriction reduces fares or has a significant effect on waiting times. It will also recommend that areas where numbers of taxis are now limited should be able to retain their traditional “plate value” systems. If new areas regulate numbers, however, licenses would not be transferrable, preventing plate values from accruing.

The proposal to bring wedding and funeral cars into the same regulatory framework as mini-cabs has also been revisited, and the Commission will be recommending that they retain their statutory exemption from licensing, rather than relying on the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers to exempt them.

The Commission has restated its commitment to keeping the two-tier system that distinguishes taxis from mini-cabs. It will recommend retaining the local nature of the hackney trade, with only taxis being able to pick up passengers from a rank or on the street (“ply for hire”). Mini-cabs should continue to be restricted to offering a pre-booked service.

Frances Patterson QC, the Law Commissioner leading the project, says: “The legal framework governing the taxi and private hire trades is complex and inconsistent. The purpose of our review is to improve and simplify it, and ensure it is fit for purpose.

“We listened to a great many people during our consultation – drivers, operators, licencing authorities and passengers. They confirmed what we have always believed, that the two-tier system distinguishing taxis and mini-cabs should stay. And they convinced us that the trade and its passengers will benefit if licensing authorities continue to have the power to limit taxi numbers.”

The Commission is half way through its review and expects to make final recommendations for reform to Government at the end of the year. In light of the consultation, which brought in more than 3,000 responses, it has reached a number of other early decisions on what it will recommend, including:
Applying a national set of standards for mini-cabs.
Introducing compulsory disability discrimination training for all drivers, and making it a licence condition that drivers should not discriminate against disabled passengers.
Responses to the Commission’s consultation can be found on www.lawcom.gov.uk. The final report, with a draft Bill, will be published at the end of 2013.


INTRODUCTION

1. In July 2011 the Law Commission started working on the project to review of the law relating to the regulation of taxis and private hire vehicles. We opened a four month consultation period in May 2012, outlining provisional proposals and questions, with a view to publishing a final report and draft Bill at the end of this year. Once we publish the draft Bill, it is up to government whether to accept our recommendations. We will publish our final report and a draft Bill at the end of 2013.

2. This is not a further consultation nor does this document include our analysis of the responses received. Our discussion of the responses and our reasoning will be published in the final report. This is an interim document outlining the key decisions we have reached. It is not normal practice for the Law Commission to publish any indication of its preferred policy at this point; however, we recognise that many stakeholders are concerned about possible changes to taxi and private hire licensing laws. We appreciate that waiting until the end of this year for our conclusions to be published is a long time. That is why we have decided to depart from our usual procedure and publish our thinking at this interim stage.

3. This deliberately short paper gives an indication of what will be contained in the proposed Law Commission draft Bill. We publish this alongside the responses we received during consultation. It should be stressed that this document is an interim statement and not our final report, and we will continue working on developing policy alongside Parliamentary counsel until the end of the year. It is important to be aware that our final recommendations might differ as a result of that process from those set out here. We continue to work to the government’s deadline of December 2013 for our final report and draft Bill, but we would take this opportunity to stress that our recommendations cannot change the law, and the decision whether to accept the proposed policy rests with the government.

(1) THE CONSULTATION

4. The consultation attracted over 3000 written responses from a wide range of stakeholders, including taxi drivers and private hire operators, licensing officers,disability groups, specialist consultants, trade unions and the police. We attended consultation meetings and events over a period of four months. We attended 84 meetings across England and Wales, many of which attracted large-scale attendance, including conferences and meetings organised by taxi associations and trades unions representing taxi drivers, the Institute of Licensing and the National Association of Licensing and Enforcement Officers, trade associations and councillors, as well as a two day road show at an exhibition event, organised by the National Private Hire Association. The Private Hire and Taxi Monthly magazine undertook a significant survey based on our provisional proposals, with over 800 responses. We were also assisted by some very helpful discussions with experts in the field, including an advisory group and an expert legal panel on plying for hire.

(2) REFORM TO TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE LAW
Retaining a two-tier system

5. The two-tier system, distinguishing between taxis on the one hand, and private hire vehicles on the other, should remain. Only taxis should be allowed to pick passengers up from hails or at ranks. Private hire vehicles should only be able to pick up passengers if pre-booked through a licensed operator. When requested,operators should be required to give passengers the price of the journey up-front, as is already the case in London. London should be covered by the reforms, which wethink give enough flexibility to allow for the significant differences in its taxi and private hire markets. We suggest moving away from the out-dated concept of plying for hire and use instead a more modern definition of the limits to the way private hire services may be offered, using the concept of pre-booking (which would be statutorily defined) through a licensed operator.

Quantity controls

6. We no longer recommend abolishing quantity controls. We initially proposed that local authorities should lose the ability to limit the number of taxis licensed in their area on the basis of economic theory, whereby the market could be left to determine the appropriate number of vehicles. The weight of evidence received during consultation and further comparative research have led us to change this key recommendation in order to allow licensing authorities to limit taxi numbers should they wish to do so.

7. We propose that in any areas where the licensing authority chooses to implement new quantity restrictions, vehicle licences would not be transferrable, meaning that licences would not have a saleable value. In areas that already have quantity restrictions, transfers would continue (and therefore licences could still have a value), but we will recommend that the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers should consider the future of licence transfers.

Who and what would be covered by licensing?

8. During consultation many stakeholders complained about vehicles operating at the fringes of licensing, or outside of licensing altogether. Pedicabs and stretch limousines are two examples that we recommend bringing clearly within the scope of taxi and private hire regulation, such that they may be controlled as necessary.

9. We recommend that wedding and funeral cars should continue to be exempted from licensing. Our provisional recommendation in respect of the wedding and funeral car exemption raised unparalleled concern among members of these trades, although licensing authorities and the police agreed that the current exemption could cause problems. On balance, we have concluded that there are valid arguments to keep the exclusion from licensing in primary legislation.

Standard-setting

10. Our provisional proposals for national safety standards for both taxi and private hire services proved popular and we maintain this recommendation. We think that the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers should have the power to set standards in relation to safety, accessibility and enforcement.

(3) LOCAL STANDARDS FOR TAXI

11. We also suggested that in respect of taxis, local authorities should retain their ability to impose additional conditions on top of national standards, and this too proved uncontroversial. Taxis would continue to only be able to be flagged down and use ranks in their licensing area, but would still be free to take pre-bookings elsewhere.

National standards for private hire services

12. We continue to recommend that only national standards should apply to private hire services. We appreciate the concerns of those who thought that local knowledge tests and signage should be retained, but think that appropriate national standards, including driver training, and vehicle signage, can address these concerns, alongside added customer protection through up-front pricing requirements for private hire journeys.

Cross-border

13. It would remain the case that taxis would only be allowed to pick up passengers in their own area (unless they had a pre-booking). However, we will recommend freeing up cross-border working for private hire services. Operators would no longer be limited to using drivers and vehicles from their own area; nor would they be restricted to only inviting or accepting bookings within that same licensing area. Under no circumstances would a private hire vehicle be allowed to pick up a passenger without a pre-booking with a valid operator.

Operators, taxi radio circuits and intermediaries

14. We support the retention of private hire operator licensing, but recommend a tighter definition that would only cover dispatch functions. We suggest that requiring a licence for the mere acceptance or invitation of bookings (as under current law) is unnecessary and creates grey areas around smartphone applications, aggregator websites and other intermediaries. We recommend that intermediaries should only be liable if acting in the course of business, and if they assist in the provision of an unlicensed journey. We do not propose to extend licensing to taxi radio circuits.

Equality and accessibility

15. We regard the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers’ powers to set standards to promote accessibility as striking the right balance between local and national control.

16. Stakeholders highlighted the problem of drivers avoiding disabled passengers through ignoring their hails. In order to help address this problem, we recommend clarifying compellability, combining it with a new duty to stop in certain circumstances. In addition, taxi legislation should make it clear that drivers are not allowed to charge passengers more for the time it takes them to board the vehicle, reflecting the Department for Transport best practice guidance. Provisions to make complaints procedures more accessible can also be particularly valuable to empower disabled users. We will continue to recommend that all drivers should undergo disability awareness training.

(4) ENFORCEMENT

17. Consultees were very concerned about enforcement – both that the current system was being insufficiently enforced, and that our proposals for opening up crossborder activities of private hire vehicles would increase the practical difficulties in information sharing and licence fee allocation. We recommend introducing a range of tougher powers for licensing officers, including the ability to stop licensed vehicles, impounding and fixed penalty schemes. We also recommend that such powers should apply in respect of out-of-area vehicles. We also recommend clarifying the scope of the touting offence and reinforcing licensing officers’ powers in dealing with it.

Hearings and appeals

18. Magistrates’ courts would continue to hear appeals in respect of licensing decisions. We think it should be easier to challenge local taxi conditions. We therefore recommend a simplified judicial review procedure in the County Court, akin to procedures that exist in relation to some housing challenges.

Law Commission9 April 2013

EDITORIAL COMMENT:

SO, WHY THIS AND WHY NOW?


Why did they break with their normal pattern?

(I took this below from a Taxi forum earlier today)

Update on the BBC debacle of Sunday 7 April.

I was persuaded to appear on Radio 5 Live Investigates.

I duly worked through Friday and Saturday nights, collating and printing the remaining evidence I had collected concerning Sex Attacks in Manchester and the implications of the lack of any enforcement in Manchester which has led to nearly a hundred vehicles from ten different Authorities, some of whom were up to 90 miles away, coming here to work as PH cars.

I emphasized the fact that Manchester's PH vehicle restriction were brought in, after the savage murder of Rachel Thacker in 1996. Rachel was murdered by a Scot pervert who had ran from Scotland because the police were on to him. I suggested he had chosen Manchester, because of the reputation that we have that 'anything goes'.

I supplied evidence to this theory. The BBC were excited and we planned to go ahead with the broadcast.

On Sunday morning at 9 am a researcher with the program called me and cancelled the program. I asked why and received the non committal fudge about other news matters.

The program broadcast at 11.45 was a hastily arranged item about College fee rip off's.

I made inquiries and found that the Institute Of Licensing officer that was booked to be against/alongside me on the broadcast had pulled out.

Further inquiries revealed that something was happening at the Law Commission. That something, is published on this blog. It was obvious the Law Comm had been pressured into making an interim statement, something they admit they do not usually do.

I also note that Unites planned 'No Submission, to the Law Commission' rally is planned to leave Leeds and go to London on April 30.

The announcement today (April 9) will probably mean, that Unite will re think that strategy. It would appear they have won already why go to London mob handed now ??

We will see. As always, watch this space. You will get the info FIRST.




Source: http://www.mrblackcab.proboards.com/

TfL poor performance: Bullet Points Part 4...The Engagement Policy and The Cabbies Cabinet... By Jim Thomas

Just before the Olympics of last summer, militant groups from the London Taxi trade made clear their intent to hold a series of protests over the way TfL's Leon Daniels had sidelined the trade from Olympic venue ranks and games lanes. Suddenly, Boris's idea of a cabbies cabinet was resurrected.

Representative trade orgs were informed that seats on this cabinet would be available to all groups, plus there would also be a small number of seats for drivers with no connection to any trade org. It seemed too good to be true.

Was the Cabbies Cabinet just a scam?
Most believed it was just a carrot being dangled, hoping to put and end to any type of protest against the Olympic arrangements. This opinion was confirmed on the 12th of July 2012, by an email sent by Deputy director of LTPH Helen Chapman to a trade representative group, stating:
"The first Cabbies Cabinet session will consist of the 3 driver associations that the Mayor already meets with on an ad-hoc basis, but the first agenda item will be to discuss and agree the make-up of future cabinets. A date hasn't been set for the first session but with the Olympics I expect this won't be until September /October time.
I'm sorry as I know this won't be the news that you were hoping for but John and I will be happy to meet with you to talk through any concerns /issues you have. "

This statement from Ms Chapman was completely opposed to what drivers had been told in earlier meetings, but to be honest, no one really expected the cabbies cabinet to get off the ground once the Olympics were completed. This has now been confirmed by Leon Daniels statement that as there was little interest (in his opinion), the standing engagement policy (as we had always suspected) will carry on.


After the mess over the killer on the knowledge issue, where top ranking LTPH officers were replaced, TfLTPH needed a policy which allegedly would divide and fragment the Taxi trade, to insure a smooth implementation of the STaN agenda and project Horizon.

And so the engagement policy was born!

So what makes the engagement policy so controversial?
The policy states that to engage with LTPH on a regular and meaningful relationship:

  1. Associations must be formally established, registered, friendly societies or trade unions.
  2. Associations must represent 5% of the licensed Taxi drivers at the start of TfL financial year which starts on 1st April.
  3. Associations must allow TfL to inspect records which confirm paid membership of licensed Taxi drivers at the start of each financial year.


On the1st of April 2011 the only group engaging with LTPH to meet the conditions was the LTDA. Both Unite and LCDC had/have nowhere near 5% of the Taxi trade as members.

But then we were told;
"Members of the UTG are exempt from the engagement policy."

What possible justification would allow any group to be exempt from policy conditions, other than to give them a "get out of Jail free" card. It is unfairly bias and makes a complete mockery of the whole engagement policy. Perhaps this is the reason why there has been no comprehensive publication of the STaN agenda in any of the UTG media.

It should be pointed out that the private hire trade has no such engagement policy restrictions.

The policy uses words such as engagement and engage, there is no mention whatsoever of negotiations or negotiate.

In section 4. Publications, it appears TfL want the right to nullify or censor articles before publication. Surely the basic principles of a democracy is freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to express opinion.

Is divide and conquer, the order of the day?
Approx, only one third of the trade is presently being represented at meetings with the Mayor TfL and LTPH. It would seem that's the way Leon Daniels wants it to stay. Strangely enough, although engagement meetings have taken place, I am told there are currently no recorded minutes of these meetings available.

The document "Engagement Policy For Associations Representing London Taxi Drivers", is not available for download from the TfL website.


Monday, April 08, 2013

EU Set To Ban E Cigarettes. Follow the Money.

By the end of this year, over a million people will be using e-cigarettes in the UK. But while some believe the electronic alternative to tobacco could help save hundreds of thousands of lives others think they just normalise what looks like smoking and may be unsafe. It is also feared that people who have kicked the habit could be tempted to return after using the device socially.



The e-cigarette comes in two parts. In one end, liquid nicotine, in the other a rechargeable battery with an atomiser. When the user sucks, the liquid nicotine is vaporised and absorbed through the mouth. What looks like smoke is largely water vapour. Because there is no tobacco in e-cigarettes, there is no tar and it is the tar in ordinary cigarettes that kills.

If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started smoking e-cigarettes we would save 5 million deaths in people who are alive today”
But if all the smokers in Britain were to quit, the exchequer would lose billions in taxation.

Professor John Britton
Royal College of Physicians
The e-cigarette market is growing fast. A survey by the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) suggests 700,000 people in the UK were using e-cigarettes last year.

The charity estimates that number will reach a million in 2013 and some medical experts see huge potential benefits.

"Nicotine itself is not a particularly hazardous drug," says Professor John Britton, who leads the tobacco advisory group for the Royal College of Physicians.

"It's something on a par with the effects you get from caffeine.

"If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started smoking e-cigarettes we would save 5 million deaths in people who are alive today. It's a massive potential public health prize."

There are however concerns about the safety and regulation of e-cigarettes.

They can legally be sold to children. There are few restrictions on advertising. Critics say some of the adverts glamorise something that looks like smoking.

Unlike patches and gum, e-cigarettes are not regulated like medicines. It means there are no rules for example about the purity of the nicotine in them.

So are e-cigarettes safe?

"The simple answer is we don't know," says Dr Vivienne Nathanson from the British Medical Association (BMA).

EU Set To Ban
According to a leaked memo highlighted in the tobacco analysis blog, the EU is likely to recommend a ban on electronic cigarettes shortly.

The EU plans to ban the marketing of all nicotine containing products which have not been approved as a medicine. This, of course, includes electronic cigarettes.

This is despite extensive research and scientific opinion that the device is likely to be many, many times safer than cigarettes.

The EU will be well aware of this research after presentations made by the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA) in Brussels.

No Surprise from an Agency that Tippexes away the Truth


The ban will come as no surprise to those who have followed the smokeless tobacco debate.

Like e-cigarettes, the safest forms of smokeless tobacco is far, far safer than smoking tobacco, and there is decades of evidence to prove the point.

And the EU has disgraced itself in its handling of the debate.

In its effort to ban smokeless debate despite scientific evidence that smokeless tobacco is safe, the EU allegedly rewrote a report on smokeless tobacco removing all positive comments.

When it became apparent that one positive comment had been removed, the agency was said to resort to tippexing the final positive comment.



But is this really about health and safety issues?
Could it be that governments across Europe are worried about the enormous loss of revenue from tobacco tax as millions of people stop smoking?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Open Season On Taxi Drivers, As Pair Who Assaulted Taxi Driver Are Spared Jail

A taxi driver suffered facial injuries after being attacked by two passengers in a car park, a court heard.

Joshua Roe and Samuel Wardell both received suspended detention sentences after admitting causing actual bodily harm.

Leicester Crown Court was told the pair were the worse for drink, having been out celebrating Roe’s 18th birthday, on August 6, 2011.

Jonathan Dunne, prosecuting, said the defendants got into a taxi in Loughborough, at 3.45am, and paid £35 up front for a fare to Ashby.

He said: “On arrival, they directed him to a dark car park at the back of a leisure centre. They asked him to drive into a isolated corner, but he became suspicious and stopped the vehicle in the middle of the car park, covered by CCTV cameras.”

The pair got out and Roe went round and punched the driver to the right side of his face. Wardell joined in.

Mr Dunne said: “The driver was punched several times to the head. Roe took from the driver’s door pocket a number of items, including a Bengali prayer book, taxi cards and a phone charger – later found discarded nearby.”

The defendants, now both 19, left the victim with a bruised face and chest, grazing, a black eye and a large cut behind his right ear, which needed stitches.

Roe, of Beech Way, Ibstock, and Wardell, of Rempstone Road, Griffydam, were both given eight-month detention sentences, suspended for 12 months.

Roe, who also admitted theft, was given a concurrent four-month detention sentence, suspended for a year, with 100 hours of unpaid work.

Sentencing, Judge Michael Pert said: “This was an assault at night on a taxi driver, a vulnerable member of the community doing a useful job.

“Although it crosses the custody threshold by a country mile, I have to also look at your personal circumstances. I’m satisfied there’s a lot that is good, that has been said and written, about you.”
Mark Knowles, for Roe, said: “It was an aberration on his part. He won’t be the first or the last to have too much to drink on his birthday. He has learned his lesson and regrets the consequences.”

Daniel Bishop, for Wardell, said: “He has stayed out of any trouble since this matter. What happened was out of character.”

Source: http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/

Two Men Jailed For Total Of 21 Years For Raping Woman From Heddon Street Bar, Thanks To Taxi Drivers Evidence.

On Friday, two minicab touts were sentenced to a total of 21 years in prison for the rape of a girl they picked up off the street near Heddon St.

You may remember a few months back there was an appeal from the police posted on the LTDF forum looking for a taxi driver who picked up this girl after she had been attacked.

The Taxi driver concerned contacted the police and made a statement helping them with their enquiries. The police then managed to arrest the two rapists with the help of DNA evidence.

But then, this Taxi driver went even further beyond the call of duty and appeared as witness in court where his evidence blew away their alibi.

To show their support and gather the facts, members of the UCG went with the driver to Wood Green Crown Court on the day where he gave evidence. The atmosphere in the courtroom was intimidating to say the least, with both the rapist's families packing out the public gallery. We certainly felt it, so god knows how he felt actually standing up and giving evidence against them.

Now this driver isn't exactly a small guy and is definitely no shrinking violet, but even so, many people wouldn't have done what he did. He is a credit to this trade, and humanity itself and I take my hat off to him. The same plaudits must go to the victim and her family, their lives will have been shattered by this attack.

Both rapists were found guilty last month after a week of deliberation, and finally sentenced on Friday. Between them, the attackers got 21 years. The victim and her family have to live with the terrifying memory of this for life.

Official Police Statement below

Two men who attacked and raped a woman in central London were jailed for a total of 21 years on Friday 5 April.

The victim - now aged 26 - befriended the men after leaving a bar in the West End and accepted an offer of a lift home. But she was attacked in the vehicle.

Suliman Ali, 21, of Marylebone, and Ahmed Ahmed, 21, of Paddington, pleaded not guilty, but after a trial at Wood Green Crown Court they were convicted on Friday 1 March.

At Wood Green Crown Court Ali was jailed for 12 years and placed on the sex offenders register for life.

Ahmed was jailed for nine years and placed on the sex offenders register for life.

Police have now issued pictures of these men in case any other women may have been attacked by them but have yet to come forward.

On 6 October 2011 the woman had been out for the evening with work colleagues. They had been for drinks and ended the evening at a bar in the West End.

She left the bar at approximately 1am on 7 October 2011 on her own and tried to make her way to a tube station; however she became lost and disorientated.

The woman was befriended by two men who walked with her. They arrived at Edgware Road Tube Station but it was shut. The woman was offered a lift to her home in Wandsworth Borough by the men, which she accepted.

She was in the back of the car and the two men in the front. She realised something was amiss when they drove past Edgware Road Tube Station twice, and she then became anxious.

She asked to get out of the vehicle and they pulled up in a small side street. The driver - Suliman Ali - then got into the back of the vehicle and raped her.

Ahmed remained in the front passenger seat.

After the assault the woman managed to escape and ran off. She found herself in Edgware Road and was picked up by a Black Cab driver who took her home. She called police later that morning.

Inquiries by detectives from Sapphire led to two men being identified by DNA - they were arrested in November 2011 and later charged. Both faced a charge of rape as Ahmed was deemed to be acting in concert with Ali.

Ali maintained that everything that happened was with the woman's consent. Ahmed initially denied being at the location or near the victim at all. He later changed his defence to say that he may have been in the car previously with a woman which is how his DNA came to be there.

The jury rejected their stories after a trial that began on Monday 18 February.

Detective Constable Jenny Thrower, of Sapphire, said: "Even thought DNA evidence linked both men to the crime, they pleaded not guilty and consequently prolonged this young woman's search for justice.
"She was determined to give evidence at court and we must applaud her courage in agreeing to testify.

"The verdict helps illustrate our commitment to dealing with sexual assault and bringing those responsible before the courts.

"It is possible that there are other victims of Ali and Ahmed who have yet to come forward. If so we ask such people to contact Sapphire officers on 020 8733 5999, or via our non-emergency line 101."

Taxis Drivers In Vegas, Strike: Regulator Adds More Cabs

Taxi industry regulators are preparing to put additional cabs on Las Vegas streets next week while drivers from the two largest taxi company groups continue to squabble with company management.

Frias Transportation Management, which operates five cab companies, and Yellow-Checker-Star (YCS) Transportation, which has three, are operating through labor disputes involving two separate unions. Between the two groups, the companies operate more than half of Clark County’s taxis.



Officials with YCS last week filed a National Labor Relations Board complaint against the Industrial Technical & Professional Employees union and its parent organization alleging a number of charges, including a death threat against the daughter of a YCS manager.

Nevada Taxicab Authority administrator Charles Harvey said Friday he would issue 10 more cabs per company on Monday to ensure adequate taxi service during one of Southern Nevada’s largest conventions.

The National Association of Broadcasters convention begins Saturday and is expected to have 96,000 people attending when the trade show floor opens Monday.

The five-member Taxicab Authority board approved an order in November authorizing up to 30 cabs per company to companies unaffected by labor actions. In early March, when a strike by United Steelworkers Union drivers against Frias seemed imminent at the peak of NCAA basketball tournaments, Harvey allowed an additional 20 cabs per company.

Driver strikes against YCS and Frias have taken different paths over the past two months.

After months of unsuccessful negotiations and an impasse at the bargaining table, YCS management on Feb. 3 implemented a five-year term and conditions of employment package and notified drivers of its intent to operate with them. YCS called the document the company’s “best and final offer.”

About 75 percent of the YCS’ 1,700 drivers are union members. Most of the union drivers returned to work shortly after the terms and conditions were implemented, but about 100 continued to stage protests and violence started to escalate in March.

On March 29, YCS lawyer Marc Gordon submitted an unfair labor practices complaint against the union. In the complaint, Gordon said that since March 3, union drivers have parked their private vehicles outside the residences of YCS managers; placed nails, screws and tire-puncturing devices on managers’ driveways; have spit on and assaulted nonstriking employees; attempted to run YCS taxis off the road; and have attempted to cause accidents with YCS cabs.

Bill Shranko, general manager of YCS, whose daughter is a missionary in Africa, said striking workers have said they were going to go to Africa to kill his daughter.

Shranko said Friday that YCS, which has been hiring replacement drivers, is at 67 percent of its normal workforce and is continuing to hire and train new drivers.

Frias, meanwhile, signed a collective bargaining agreement with the Steelworkers union March 11. But union drivers say they weren’t given the opportunity to vote on the contract and that union leaders signed it without a vote authorization. The union’s constitution allows a negotiating team to sign an agreement without a vote.

About 140 of the company’s 2,000 drivers turned in their cars and staged a wildcat strike in protest, although some drivers said they believed the contract would have won approval had it come to a vote.

Frias managers also say they’re concerned about violence escalating and have contacted Metro Police to protect employees leaving and arriving at Frias’ campus.

“While most of our drivers just want to work and move forward, there is a small group of malcontent drivers who are protesting the contract,” Frias President and CEO Mark James said in a statement.

“We are concerned by the fact that this group is now creating safety concerns for our employees coming to and leaving from our campus who just want to do their job,” James said. “Safety of our employees and our customers is the first and utmost priority to us as a company, and it is more than a little unsettling for us to see that a small minority of people, many of which are not even Frias drivers or former Frias drivers, are trying to place undue pressure on those that are not following what these protestors want.”

Shranko said a number of striking YCS drivers have been seen at demonstrations against Frias.

Source: Vegas Inc