Saturday, April 27, 2013

Taxi Proprietor Takes Council to The Ombudsman over Taxi Vehicle Test Results.

We've all been there, take the cab in for its annual inspection....and wallop, a stop note.
Leaky steering box, brake cylinder, smoke test etc.

Take it back to the garage and the mechanic is scratching his head saying there is nothing wrong. He then wipes over with a cloth and says "just take it back and try again".
As if by magic, it now passes with flying colours.

We all take this as just another part of a Cabbies lot, but a certain taxi proprietor in Brentwood decided he'd had enough of the jumped up little jobsworths at his council's inspection centre, he decided to take his case to the local government ombudsman after a decade of, in his opinion bad service.

A TAXI firm boss is to receive £1,000 compensation from Brentwood Borough Council after the authority was rapped by the local government watchdog for poor record-keeping.

Graham Dinning, the managing director at Treble Twenty Cars and Couriers, got the Local Government Ombudsman involved after he became concerned about the safety checks the council was carrying out on his taxis.

Mr Dinning, 54, asked the ombudsman to investigate the council's emissions testing and brake calibration policy.

The investigation concluded that the council's mechanics only did a visual emissions test, which is not up to the standard of an MOT test – the level the authority said it would provide.

The watchdog's report also found that the council did not have any records to show that its brake-testing machine had been calibrated before 2010.

Mr Dinning said: "We have pursued this complaint to the ombudsman for public safety reasons.

"As a responsible taxi company, Treble Twenty pride ourselves in ensuring that, where possible, our cars are fully roadworthy and any defects are repaired immediately when they are brought to our notice.

"However, like all other taxi operators, we also rely on the six-monthly safety checks by the council to ensure our vehicles are in the best possible condition.

"I was horrified to find out that the council had failed to carry out their safety checks correctly over such a long period.

"If the council had found out that we had not carried out our safety checks correctly, it would have been screaming that we were putting passengers' lives in danger and would have justifiably taken our licences off us."

Mr Dinning, who lives in South Weald, added: "The council should not only be apologising to the trade for its failures, but to the public of Brentwood as a whole because it is them who may have been put at risk by the failure of the council to test vehicles correctly.

"The council systematically charged the trade for elements of the vehicle test that were either not carried out, or which were of such poor quality that they were meaningless, and they should refund the costs of the tests to the trade.

"If you went anywhere else and paid for a service that you did not receive then you would be entitled to your money back, but it appears that this does not happen when it's Brentwood Borough Council.

"It's one rule for them and one rule for us."

The ombudsman has instructed the council to pay £1,000 to Treble Twenty Cars and Couriers to compensate the firm for its "time and trouble".

The firm will be giving this money to the BBC's Children in Need Charity Appeal.

A council spokesman said: "Public safety is the council's primary concern.

"The ombudsman was satisfied that the brake-testing equipment was calibrated and so brake testing had been valid and in line with legal requirements.

"Emissions testing has been carried out over a number of years, although this is not a mandatory part of the licensing process. In 2010 we introduced improved emissions testing equipment though even with previous methods, public safety was not compromised.

"All minimum safety requirements have been met at all times.

"We are confident in the current high standards of all our testing and record-keeping."

Source: Brentwood Gazette
Apr 27th, 2013

For the full report and verdict of the Local Government Ombudsman click here

Friday, April 26, 2013

‘Time to kill Clipboard Johnnie?’ Paul Bond.

An Open Letter to M.P.’s of London, The Lord Mayor, Mayor of London, Commissioners of Police, TfL and the London Taxi Trade.

This week I attended the taxi trade forum held at Palestra under the auspices of TfL’s LTPH Directorate. I again raised the following proposal (that I have sent to them before) without any response.

Every Private Hire Operator must have an IT booking System (there are many at low cost) approved by TfL that receives bookings with details of the driver, passenger, destination etc.

TfL can bring this about very swiftly by making it a condition of licensing without any legislation; it will bring the following immediate benefits:
  • Ends fictional scribbled ‘instant’ pre bookings outside venues that flout the law and in effect ensure the passengers are uninsured, vulnerable travellers that put other road users at risk.
  • Breaks the links between corrupt door security staff, predatory drivers, organised crime, drug dealing, money laundering and much else.
  • Ensure PH business is carried out within the law and enforcement authorities have a clear ‘audit trail’ of all bookings made in advance available in real time. This protects legitimate operators and preserves the Taxi trades hard won right to ‘Ply for Hire’.
  • Ensures all licensed PH drivers are working for an operator and those not so, liable for the congestion charge etc., as all work must come through an operator, they can’t be working legitimately.

A simple solution to end the scourge of illegal activity and it can happen NOW without waiting for the maybe never to be enacted Law Commission Draft bill.

Will those who have the power to make the above happen do so?
Will they kick it into the long grass?
Will it be killed by vested interests?

There is everything to gain for the law abiding citizens and visitors to this great city.
The only losers are those with criminal intent.

I could have written this from my position on a union committee but thought that would be used as an excuse to ignore the message by some and again let an important measure be held back by petty infighting or political bias.

It’s the message that matters here not the messenger
Let’s all step up to the plate and get behind it and ask some searching questions as to why, if it does not happen!

Please pass this letter on to any organisation or individual you think will support the proposal and ask them why if they don’t?

For further information my contact email is:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Taxi Drivers Forum, Palestra: Unstructured and Unprofessional.

Before proceedings got underway, the trade was shown just how important our issues are to LTPH with the announcement by Chairperson Helen Chapman, the meeting would be cut short to facilitate the cleaners.

I wonder if Boris would ever inform a meeting of the board at TfL they have to conclude early as the man who washes up the tea and coffee cups has to get away early?

According to the LTDF today, many who attended felt there was no structure to the meeting which came across as very unprofessional. Important issues were fudged and time was wasted on minor issues.

Almost one third of the time allocated was initially spent discussing wether extras could be reintroduced. We were informed that although it was previously announced in a TfL press notice, the Christmas charges would be automatically activated after this Aprils fare increase meter change, this will not now be the case, as meter companies say they can not accommodate the request.

A representative of the Jewish Association of Cabbies (JAC) accused LTPH of being institutionally racist and anti-semitic, as the engagement policy which has terms and conditions they could never meet, excludes them as a group from regular and meaningful meetings, along with other small representative groups.

Another driver asked about compensation for loss of earnings, after having to answer false allegations from a member of the public. He was told that his situation had already been dealt with. Unfortunately the driver concerned, still feels the issue hasn't been concluded to his satisfaction.

The question of signage for private hire was bought up and the assembled drivers were told that the PH trade had made it clear in the private hire consultation they didn't want more/ better signage. One driver asked why the trade wasn't balloted over ID badges, to our amazement, we were told LTPH couldn't afford to write to every driver (although thats exactly what Leon Daniels did over the Cabbies Cabinet Scam).

There were no real answers about the volume or extent of the cloned Bill, IDs and Badge issue and the panel moved away from the subject rather sharpish.

LTPH were accused of inventing rules and regulations that they had no intention of backing up with enforcement. It was felt by the drivers that we need to see the rules against illegally plying for hire being enforced and the argument that LTPH are waiting for a water tight test case, no longer holds water as the situation outside many night venues is completely out of control.

It was stated from the floor that we desperately need more rank spaces. In just a few decades we have gone from one rank space for every taxi to 65 taxis vying over each rank space available. We will shortly be seeing new road schemes which will sweep away even more traditional ranks over the next few years.

It was explained to the assembled drivers, that although the self appointed quango known as the "Joint Ranks Committee" meet regularly on a monthly basis with LTPH, they do not have decision making powers. In other words, a waste of time and money.

LTPH tried to side step the ranks issue, stating they have no control over the situation regarding the appointment of ranks. It was politely pointed out, the Mayor as head of TfL does in fact have the power to do just this. Boris had no trouble finding road space for the Barclay Bank Bike scheme, even managing to replace a number of cab ranks with bike docking bays.

If the Mayor is serious about a cleaner, greener environment for Central London then it should be a priority to implement more rank spaces to take as many taxis as possible out of traffic congestion and negate their of constantly having to circulate to look for work.

Highlight of the evening was when Mike Bailey, chairman of the RMT London Taxi branch, fed up with constantly being ignored by the Chair, decided to interject and was threatened with eviction from the meeting by security which didn't go down very well with the drivers. He then went on to make one of the best speeches I have heard for a long time, that laid out the dangers we are facing, concerning our exclusive right to ply for hire, from the Law Commission.

Also a great short speech from RMT Vice Chair Paul Bond talking about illegal practise at Satellite offices

The meeting was bought to conclusion 30 minutes early at 7o/c. Quite a few drivers remained speaking on a one to one basis with panel members. When I left the room, just after 7:30, there were no signs whatsoever of any cleaners.

Before I personally attend another forum at Palestra, the length of the meeting will have to be extended, the format would have to have a radical shake up and the meeting would have to be chaired by an independent Chairperson. Until then, I believe this type of forum is a complete waste of time.

Murder on Tothill Street (first published May 2012)

Article originally published 12 May 2012 – a number of the predictions made were eerily prophetic

On May 10, fourteen months after the investigation began, the Law Commission presented the nation with their ‘provisional’ views on the taxi and private hire trades – in reality, it was a capitulation to the traditional aggressors: the minicab empires.

It should be remembered that there are three main issues, the rest are superfluous due in many parts to them being interconnected. The first, underlines the surrender, the allowing of private hire vehicles to work across district borders.

The L.C. call for cross border hiring’s to be legalised, appears to be innocent enough, mildly describing a situation where a PH Operators vehicle breaks down with passenger in another area. Current law specifically prohibits the operator from contacting another operator (in a different area), they presumably envisage the passing on of bookings as a measure to protect the public. After a few more pages, that credulousness is cast aside as the prejudice comes to the fore – operators would be permitted to use vehicles and drivers licensed anywhere, a complete deviation from the rationale.

At the outset of the consultation, the L.C. suggested they would be working on a blank canvas approach to taxi and private-hire law. Yet within months, the L.C. not only decided to retain a two-tier licensing system, it decided to permit cross border hiring, thus following a consistent line of legalising previously illegal activities.

The L.C. place great emphasis on national standards, although this emphasis does not extend to advising what standards they have in mind, but there is emphasis nevertheless. The L.C. allude to DSA driving tests, group 2 medicals and enhanced CRB checks, in respect of drivers, stuff that most of us have anyway, yet like true snake oil salesmen, great play is made of the magic elixir of standards.

Rather foolishly even some in the Hackney carriage trade are seemingly supporting these standards, although they appear to have little concept of what they may actually entail. Again, the duplicitous nature of the cab trade comes becomes apparent – attempting to set standards on a trade they regularly show nothing but utter contempt towards.

Public safety is of obvious concern, hence the national standards, it is instructive to note the L.C. chose to mention the case of John Worboys – ‘The black cab rapist’ – the unpalatable fact the L.C. appear to miss is that Worboys would have been granted a license under any licensing regime in the country – they similarly neglect to advise of systematic failings within the metropolitan police, this would ordinarily seem too bizarre to neglect to mention – although the L.C. choice to cite Worboys as a ‘black cab’ driver is quite revealing, showing partiality. A balanced document would have perhaps mentioned the plethora of both licensed and unlicensed minicab drivers who have been convicted of horrific offences over the years.

Obviously, the worry of the taxi trade is the national standards for private hire maybe piecemeal, to this end the concern is perhaps justifiable – however it does smack of duplicity – whilst the taxi trade want national private hire standards, they want no such national governance of their own industry. Such inconsistency will no doubt be highlighted when the consultation closes.

The only person permitted to change the envisaged national regulations will be the Secretary of State – as the regulations are national they will naturally cover the entire country – be this central London or the Lake District – it is astounding to comprehend the L.C. would seemingly believe the profit margins of the likes of Addison Lee are comparable to Bert’s taxis of Mungrisdale – which of course would suggest the new standards will need to be of a quality to encompass both John and Bert.

The rationale behind the national standard is that if the Lake District has the same standards as London, with licenses at the same cost – then a person wouldn’t need to travel to avoid localised licensing regimes.

No one can know how much influence of private hire operators are imparted into the consultation, and backed by the DfT and government, we are likely to never know, but the apparent slant is there for all to read.

To back up their fixation with cross border, the L.C. informs of envisaged new powers for local licensing officers over vehicles from other districts. This is all part of the overt plan, a person can still obtain a license elsewhere, the national standards will be the exact same nationwide anyway, they surmise it must surely follow that licensing departments will need the power to check the vehicles and drivers from these areas, thus firmly backing up the cross border scenario.

The L.C. appears to view the expansion of large PH into other areas as a good thing, one where mere fundamentals such as localised regulation shouldn’t prohibit expansion. They selectively appear to forget Dr Darryl Biggar’s thoughts on how taxi monopolies emerge, although, in a manner we have become accustomed, they quote the poor chap to death when his words suit their purpose. It naturally doesn’t appear to concern them locals have developed both taxi and private hire policies and standards over an extended period of time.

The L.C. alludes to private-hire driver pseudo employment, but don’t seemingly have the courage to even suggest this matter should be reviewed by the HMRC. Of course, they’re view would (and still may be) very useful, as theories go empires are generally built through the blood, sweat and tears of others, minicab drivers, those low paid, family tax credit claiming serfs, never get the acclaim they truly deserve. Notably, the L.C. seemingly fails to recognise why the turnover of drivers in the minicab industry is alarmingly high – with the profits of minicab companies even higher.

Of course the L.C. is truly balanced in their views, as much as they seemingly love minicab proprietors, they detest taxis with equal measure. Local authority regulatory control of taxi numbers was a key target from the outset. I am sure most of you, like myself wonder why a body whose job it is to review the law would feel the need to be involved in economic theory.

The L.C. plans for the taxi trade revolve around taxi delimitation, there is little of consequence about the effects, although they seemingly are aware to impose deregulation overnight would create ‘market distortion’ – in layman’s terms they mean anarchy.

They don’t feel able to comment on taxi rank provision – no doubt they gave it a great deal of thought – the same type of thought most of us give the first coffee of the day, one would suspect – one that involves multi agencies such as coffee, milk, water and sugar, plus the limitation of space due to the size of the cup. Due to things like that – ranks were, as you might expect – ignored.

That too makes good sense. As the L.C. are still going to permit cross border hackney carriages – if you can recall a few paragraphs above, they naturally need licensing departments to regulate vehicles they do not license.

The maximum national standards for private hire will be minimum standards for taxis – to this end there will be still localised regulation – just not regulation permitting local authorities to limit taxi numbers. Intimating the envisaged more austere licensing regime for taxis than private hire, although doubtless we will be given some feigned response implying the opposite.

Whilst the L.C. appear to trust local authorities to enforce their new laws, this trust does not extend, as mentioned above, to one where they are able to control taxi numbers. One could be mistaken for believing with such a grandiose title as ‘Law Commission’ they would realise that under certain conditions the law can be just plain stupid. Even the L.C. should recognise that places such as Liverpool, Cardiff and Sheffield were re-regulated due to police advising local authorities that they were spending too much of their time moving on taxis from fouled cab ranks – than doing what they’re paid for – which is presumably catching proper criminals. Unless the law has some type of escape mechanism to allow for local authority action – it is patently ridiculous.

Another illustration of the ambiguities of the L.C. is the lack of clarity in respect of licensing fees. It was acknowledged by Mr. Christopher Symonds QC in Newcastle CC v Berwick DC [HC QBD] 2008.

“One of the reasons why Berwick have received numerous applications for licences from outside their area is undoubtedly the fact that the cost of the licence in Berwick- upon-Tweed is less than in many other areas including Newcastle upon Tyne.”

The L.C. moots the idea of a national licensing fee, nothing substantive, just a punt into the main field of the consultation. The national fee would presumably be set by the Secretary of State for Transport.

The other mooted idea (these people can moot with the best of us) is to vary the costs of enforcement locally. The thought occurs that this is nothing more than fudge; it would still lead to ‘honey-pot’ areas charging greater fees as the cost of enforcement still has a bearing. The alternative would be for some type of licensing poll tax, where all areas pay for the enforcement of the ‘honey pots’, this would be highly controversial, in effect a licensee from the Lake district would be burdened with the cost of enforcement in London. The simple fact the L.C. haven’t seemingly thought about how enforcement will be funded is in itself quite astonishing.

For reasons explained in chapter 12 of the consultation the L.C. remains convinced changes need made due to technology. They appear to miss the point that how a booking is made is of little consequence, be this by carrier pigeon, telephone, iphone ‘apps’ or twitter feeds, it is clearly more important that the person receiving the booking is licensed. To all intents and purposes, this is already the case, the person receiving the booking is already licensed, thus the technology part of the document is nothing more than the proverbial ‘red herring’ and duplicitous in the extreme.

Due to column inches I must now finish this article, but there’ll be more, I can guarantee it.

The Reiver


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Addison Lee Appeal Over

Addison Lee's courtcase is now over.

The Court of Appeal Judges have retired to consider their verdict as TfL, Cyclists and the Taxi trade wait with baited breath.

This is normal procedure and the verdict will be announced in due course

TfL boss claimed £180 on expenses to buy toy buses for Boris

Corgi produce the die cast models under licence from TfL. Image: Corgi
London’s transport commissioner has claimed almost £180 on expenses to buy toy buses for Mayor Boris Johnson.

In January MayorWatch reported that senior Transport for London executives had charged taxpayers thousands of pounds for taxis, magazine subscriptions, meals and internet use.
The single largest claimer of expenses was TfL Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy whose claims included more than £2,500 on taxis and travelling costs.

New figures covering claims made between 15th September and 31st December 2012 show that Sir Peter claimed a further £800 on taxis during the closing months of the year.
TfL repeated its defence of Sir Peter’s taxis use, stating: “He is overseeing the delivery of a ten-year multi-billion pound budget to manage transport in London, and also deliver Crossrail and the upgrade of the Tube and there are occasions when his full schedule and late hours necessitate the use of taxis (which, of course, TfL licenses).”

Sir Peter’s expenses also include £179.70 for “Die Cast Models of NBfL for the Mayor”.
NBfL is TfL’s in-house abbreviation for the New Bus for London, the Mayor’s new bus which is due to enter regular service later this year.

According to a press release issued in October by die cast toy specialists Corgi, the company “has the exclusive rights from Transport for London to produce this bus in die-cast.”
The statement suggests fare-payers have picked up the tab for making the Mayor a gift of toys licensed by his own organisation, rather than the licensee providing them at no cost.
The toy buses do not appear to be listed in the Mayor’s public register of gifts and hospitality.
Answering an FOI from this site, TfL declined to provide details of expenses claimed after January 1st 2013. However these figures are due to be published online “within the next 4-6 weeks”.

Commenting on the latest expenses claims, Green party London Assembly Member Darren Johnson said:
“Not only are Londoners paying massively over the odds for the New Bus for London, they are also being asked to pay massively over the odds for toy buses for Boris Johnson. An unbelievable waste of public money.”


New York City to unveil six all-electric taxis

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is flanked by Ken Srebnik with Nissan, at left, and David Yassky with TLC at right as he arrives at Rockefeller Center in the new electric taxi, Nissan Leaf, and is greeted by Ken Srebnik of Nissan. Six of the cars will be on the streets for the first time on Monday as part of the City's effort to make one-third of the taxi fleet to be electric by 2020.
NEW YORK’S yellow cab fleet is about to get a jolt.

Six new all-electric Nissan Leaf taxis are set to hit city streets Thursday — kicking off a year-long pilot program to test the environmentally-friendly cars.

Mayor Bloomberg said the test cabs “will put us ahead of the curve in helping us answer important questions about incorporating electric taxis into the fleet.”

Starting Thursday, six all-electric Nissan LEAFs will be put on the road as New York City taxis. This vehicle runs exclusively on electricity and never needs to fill up at the gas station.

The city has set a goal of making a third of its 13,237 medallion cabs electric by 2020.
“These all-electric LEAF taxicabs will help us determine the best way to seamlessly integrate electric vehicles into the taxi industry’s 24/7 business and operational models,” said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky.
“Our next steps on the road to a more environmentally responsible and fuel-efficient future for the taxi industry are crucial ones," added Yassky.
The taxis emit 70% less carbon dioxide than an average car, officials said.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

'Cosy deal under Livingstone let black cabs use bus lanes'

John Griffin has again appeared in the Court of Appeal shouting that the legislation which allows Taxis to use bus lanes, was no more than a cosy deal cooked up by Ken Livingston and the Taxi trade.

It's quite simple really and easy to understand, that Taxis need access to the kerbside to ply for hire, pick up and set down. It would be highly dangerous for prospective passengers to have to cross a bus lane to board a Taxi stopped in the middle of he road.

To take Taxis out of bus lanes would literally mean taking away a huge part of the area they could safely ply for hire. Taxis also use a Taximeter to determine the fare, therefore it is financially advantageous to passengers for them to be allowed to use London's bus lane network.

On the other hand, minicabs are only available after first being pre-booked. A safe pick up and drop off location can be arranged at the initial booking call. As private hire operate on a fixed fare basis, time is not an issue in regards to price.

Below is a report of today's appeal.

Black cabs were granted permission to use London’s bus lanes under a “cosy deal” cooked up by Ken Livingstone and the taxi trade, the Court of Appeal was told today.

Nicholas Green QC, representing Europe’s largest minicab firm Addison Lee, said the arrangement breached European fair trade laws as it allowed black taxis an “accelerated course” through London that was unavailable to minicab passengers.

Three Appeal judges today began hearing Addison Lee’s bid to reverse a High Court ruling last July that maintained Transport for London’s ban on the capital’s 50,000 minicabs from using bus lanes.

TfL contests that only black cabs should be allowed to use bus lanes as they are unique in being able to “ply for hire” and it is easier for taxi drivers to be spotted and pick up passengers when using the lanes.

Opening the lanes to minicabs has sparked fears about buses being caught in congestion and a greater safety threat to cyclists.

Mr Green said: “My client has long taken the view that the initial decision to allow black cabs into bus lanes was a cosy deal between the then mayor, Mr Livingstone, and the black cab trade.”

He told the court he had just obtained previously undisclosed “dynamite” and “explosive” TfL research into bus lanes.

“It shows that the reasons TfL had worked on for 18 months to justify keeping private hire vehicles out of bus lanes would apply equally to black cabs,” he told the court.

But the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, who is hearing the case with Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice Patten, said: “I can’t see anything that is explosive or dynamite at all.”

Mr Green said there was a “wafer-thin distinction” in practice between the way black cabs and minicabs were used - though minicabs must be pre-booked and cannot be hailed in the street.

He said Addison Lee, which has 2,900 minicabs, took £30m a year in fares for journeys to and from airports and Eurostar services at St Pancras but was penalised by being unable to use bus lanes to speed up its passengers’ journeys.

The case continues.

Source: Evening Standard.

TfL Poor Performance: Bullet Points Part 6: Cloned Bills, Cloned IDs, Cloned Badges: What Next? Jim Thomas

Allegations have been circulating the ranks and shelters, that some drivers have received letters from LTPH, where an ID badge has been used to identify, in connection with a transgression quite unknown to the drivers.

This from the LTDF Taxi forum:
Mate of mine received a letter for not wearing his badge at a station one night.

He doesn't work nights and always wears his badge.

Phones PCO and asks for the reg of the cab which they only supplied him with the last three letters.

It wasn't his cab!

We have known for almost 3 years that high quality forgeries of Bills, IDs and even badges are out there. There is concern that they are now being produced and sold at an alarming rate. Allegedly, some of these forgeries are good enough to fool compliance teams.

The issue first came to light after a bad accident in Victoria between a TX2 and a Toyota minicab. Three elderly passengers were cut from the wreckage and hospitalised, as the driver of the Taxi did a runner. It later transpired that the vehicle had been hired from a Taxi garage, using a fake copy bill.

The second fake to show up was presented to a City of London Police station and although director of LTPH John Mason played down the incident saying it was just a cheap copy, even though it was good enough to fool a police officer dealing with the incident.

Initially it was thought that the counterfeit documents were in fact genuine and had been purloined by a corrupt member of staff, during the move from Penton Street to Palestra. In an email from the deputy director of LTPH, Helen Chapman, it has been claimed that the stock of blank bills have all been accounted for.

No Warranted Powers For Compliance Teams.
LTPH compliance teams have no power to stop vehicles. Their only available weapon under the present administration, is to perform Badge and Bill checks at major Taxi ranks. This procedure is woefully inadequate and is failing to net significant numbers of forgeries. At present, according to TfL's own statistics, just over 2 drivers a month are being caught. You don't have to be a criminal mastermind to work out, if you don't rank up at a station, you won't get checked.

After nearly 3 years of Badge and Bill checks, the problem has reached epidemic proportions. Last year saw just 27 drivers arrested for use of fraudulent documentation.

What happened to the so called unforgeable new digital license and IDs, which were supposed to be issued to all drivers by March 31st? Unfortunately, some would say the new Taxi drivers Bills are easier to clone than the old one!

This issue is serious and need to be dealt with some urgency!
Someone at TfL has to stand up and admit that the present administration's handling of this problem has been an embarrassing failure. How much longer do we have to put up with LTPH's poor performance, which would not be tolerated in any other form of business administration. Where does the buck finally stop.
Three years of failure is enough!
Surely the only way forward is with new direction from new leadership.

Simple Solutions?
Compliance teams must work in conjunction with uniformed warranted police (cab enforcement) officers and reassume the roadside checkpoints we had back in 2011.

It is also essential for compliance teams to visit all garages who rent vehicles and examine closely the copy bills left with Cab proprietors.

Tighter controls on the approval of License variations (Satellite Offices)
There has to be better observation of the working practises of satellite operations as many are abusing the terms and conditions of their license. The need for planning permission before any license can be issued, has to be reinstated.

It is alleged that last year, managed to acquire 18 satellite office licenses, even though they'd only been in business for a few days. TfLTPH's regulations state a PH company must be in operation for minimum of one year, before they can apply for a license variation.
Although complaints have been made about the issue, no statement has been made by LTPH.

Below are some of RD2.coms vehicles, clearly working from a Taxi rank in Gresham Street in the City.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Who Are Addison Lee's New Owners?

The Carlyle Group
An American-based global asset management firm, specializing in private equity, based in Washington, D.C. The Carlyle Group operates in four business areas: corporate private equity, real assets, market strategies and fund of funds, through its AlpInvest subsidiary. In its 2010 annual report, Carlyle reported assets in excess of $150 billion under management diversified over 84 distinct funds. The firm employs more than 890 employees, including 495 investment professionals, in 20 countries with offices in the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and its portfolio companies employ more than 415,000 people worldwide. The firm has over 1,300 investment partners in 71 countries.

According to a 2011 ranking called the PEI 300 based on capital raised over the last five years, Carlyle was ranked as the third largest private equity firm in the world, after TPG Capital and Goldman Sachs Principal Investment Area. Carlyle had been ranked first in the 2007 listing.

In 2010, the Financial Times announced that Carlyle Group is the private equity firm of the year.

Carlyle has been profiled in two notable documentaries, Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 and William Karel's The World According to Bush.

In Fahrenheit 911, Moore makes nine allegations concerning the Carlyle Group, including: That the Bin Laden and Bush families were both connected to the Group; that following the attacks on September 11, the bin Laden family’s investments in the Carlyle Group became an embarrassment to the Carlyle Group and the family was forced to liquidate their assets with the firm; that the Carlyle group was, in essence, the 11th largest defense contractor in the United States. Moore focused on Carlyle's connections with George H. W. Bush and his Secretary of State James A. Baker III, both of whom had at times served as advisers to the firm.

A Carlyle spokesman noted in 2003 that its 7% interest in defense industries was far less than several other Private equity firms. Carlyle also has provided detail on its links with the Bin Laden family, specifically the relatively minor investments by an estranged half brother.

In his documentary The World According to Bush (May 2004), William Karel interviewed Frank Carlucci to discuss the presence of Shafiq bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's estranged brother, at Carlyle's annual investor conference while the September 11 attacks were occurring.

The Iron Triangle also talks about links with the Bin Laden family; the documentatry makes claims that Carlyle bought political favor to get investment dollars and arms sales to the middle east.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Scotland Yard pays £68,000 (the equivalent of two constables' salaries) to move iconic sign just 15 yards Read

  • £68,000 is more than twice the initial estimate for moving the sign
  • Metropolitan Police is supposed to be making £500 million cuts
  • Moving the sign aimed to ‘reduce pedestrian conflict’ on the pavement
  • The sign is refurbished every 15 years at the cost of £7,000

The Metropolitan Police has come under fire for spending £68,000 moving New Scotland Yard’s world-famous revolving sign – just 15 yards.
The move comes as the force, which has to make £500 million of savings by 2015, plans to sell the building anyway.
The staggering sum – the equivalent starting salary of two constables – is understood to be more than twice the initial estimate for the work.

The work went ahead last spring as part of a revamp of the HQ, despite senior Met officials expressing concerns about the negative reaction it might provoke.
The force even prepared responses to questions such as: ‘Isn’t this a waste of money?’
Details of the spending were uncovered by The Mail on Sunday using Freedom of Information laws.
The revolving sign was installed outside New Scotland Yard in 1968 after the Metropolitan Police moved its headquarters from the Victoria Embankment.

It was created by the late graphic designer Edward Wright who taught at the Royal College of Art. He also designed the foundation stone for Churchill College, Cambridge.
The sign, which revolves 14,000 times every day, is refurbished every 15 years at a cost of £7,000.
Brian Paddick, a former Met deputy assistant commissioner, said: ‘Bearing in mind that the force has got to make cuts, they could have saved money on redesigning a building that they’re not going to use any more and spending £68,000 on moving the sign.’

A TaxPayers’ Alliance spokesman added: ‘It’s utterly astonishing that the Met would waste so much taxpayers’ money moving a sign just a few metres.
‘It’s difficult to believe this was actually allowed to happen.’
The redevelopment comes after the Met purchased New Scotland Yard for £120million after 41 years of renting.
Council officials gave the green light to proposals to demolish an unsightly derelict Italian restaurant and overhaul the building’s frontage, including moving the sign.
The changes were aimed to ‘reduce pedestrian conflict’ over the narrow and busy pavement outside the entrance.

Source: Mail on line.