Saturday, May 18, 2013

Will TfLs Nightmare Come True....It's all up to you.

Again the RMT has been the first to urge for a truly united trade to come together to develop a combined strategy in dealing with serious problems facing the trade. Before, their offers have been declined with some representative groups not even bothering to reply. 

But times are changing fast, and attitudes are beginning to change. A new hope has emerged in the form of an encouraging reply from the General Sec. Steve McNamara of the LTDA. The one thing TfL fear the most is a truly united trade. They have spent the last decade trying to keep the trade fragmented which has culminated in a biased, elitist engagement policy. PR scams such as the Cabbies Cabinet have proved to be no more than smoke and mirrors designed to stall for time. 

But at last the future looks brighter than it did a few weeks ago.

TfLs Managing director for Surface Transport Leon Daniels famously said, the London Taxi Trade needs to get its act together.

There is an old saying:
Be careful what you wish for, because sometimes wishes do come true!

Below is the post that has appeared on the New RMT Blog site.

RMT call for all trade group Law Commission Meeting. 

The RMT has convened a meeting to discuss the threat of the Law Commission and invitations have been sent to all the trade organisations.

We await responses.

We welcome the response we have received from the General Sec. Steve McNamara of the LTDA that although their view is that the Law Commission is not the threat we identify it as and therefore won't attend this time, we differ on that analysis but respect their right to hold that opinion.

He also stated that further meetings between all trade groups should be possible. This is a very welcome development and of course there will always be differences between us but the key in defending the trade is of course UNITY, without it we are done for!

No doubt alarm bells are ringing in Palestra, Windsor House and various PH enterprises, we are all aware of the facetious comment of Mr Leon Daniels of TfL and Olympic Lanes Tzar who stated that the cab trade 'needs to get its act together'.

Well Leon looks like your wish could become your nightmare as TfL's carefully constructed strategy of divide and conquer begins to fall apart as the cab trade looks at what unifies them rather than divides them and that TfL are the root cause of many of our issues.

So at last something 100% positive to report, time to put the past aside and move the cab trade onwards to a bright future, after all that's  where we are going to spend the rest of our lives.

Well done Steve McNamara, we look forward to a constructive dialogue.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Way to go Bromsgrove

Bromsgrove could get more taxi ranks near night spots

Read more: Bromsgrove could get more taxi ranks near night spots | Bromsgrove Standard

PLANS for Bromsgrove to have an extended taxi rank close to the town's two latest opening night spots will go before the district council's licensing committee on Monday (May 20).

The proposals will see the number of spaces reserved for taxis along Worcester Road extended from the three currently there to nine or ten.

The spaces will be conveniently placed for those revellers coming out of B61, above the Dog and Pheasant, which opens until the early hours of Saturday morning, and Love2Love nightclub, which is open until 4am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The move comes just three months after a story we ran in The Standard about residents in Station Street being angered at being kept awake by waiting taxis in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday morning. They claimed the headlights of the vehicles and the sound of their engines running made it impossible to get a good night's sleep at the weekend.

The plans were drawn up after letters to the council from Bromsgrove Taxi Association and West Mercia Police.

The association requested an extra seven spaces at least and the police's correspondence came after a meeting with representatives of the force, the district council and Worcestershire Regulatory Services.

The new spaces would be on the same side of the Worcester Road as the current ones, but the other side of Station Street, more or less opposite George House.

If approved on Monday, council officers will be given the go ahead to carry out a 28-day public consultation.

Source:| Bromsgrove Standard

Editorial Comment
London's licensing authorities should take a leaf out of Bromsgrove planning department. New night Venues and Licensed Taxi ranks should go hand in hand with planning applications.

Before entertainment licenses are granted there should be permission by the local council for a reasonable sized Taxi rank to be place along side the main exit.

Only then should satellite office licenses be considered. There must be no provision of space for minicabs to wait to become hired and only Pre booked PHV be allowed to pick up.

Pre booking cars need to be defined and we would suggest that a time span of at least 15 minutes must be implemented. With no on site straight away bookings.

Advances in technology is quite able to supply PH firms with equipment to ensure these rules are adhered to.

We predict that if this were the case in general the serious assault and rape statistics would drop dramatically. The only losers would be LTPH's coffers.

We've proved it works on many occasions, put Taxis outside clubs and the public will use them in preference to minicabs.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Midland WW2 veterans taking a taxi to D-Day anniversary commemoration

Picture of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France  

June 6 event marks 69 years since Allied forces invaded Normandy to battle Hitler's occupying troops.
Veterans at a service at Bayeux Cemetery on the 65th anniversary of the Normandy landings
West Midland war veterans are to retrace their historic steps to the site of the Normandy D-Day landings after 69 years – courtesy of Birmingham’s TOA Taxis.

The Birmingham taxi firm has volunteered to ferry 16 Second World War survivors by convoy to the D-Day beaches for the June 6 commemoration of the Allies’ invasion and the bloody battle against the Nazi occupiers.

The veterans, all from the Birmingham and West Midlands, are now in their 90s and will initially be driven to the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, near Lichfield, in four black cabs following a send-off by the Lord Mayor John Lines from Birmingham Council House.

The convoy will be accompanied to Staffordshire by the committee and members of the Normandy Veterans Association, including President Tony Martin, Chairman Les Reeves and Secretary Peter Lloyd.

Veterans will gather for a memorial service at noon at their NVA plot, led by the Rev Mike Charles, and followed by an act of remembrance where the Last Post will be sounded and a wreath-laying ceremony performed.

TOA Taxis Secretary Brian Lee said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the Normandy Veterans Association after the success of last year’s convoy to Holland, and we are honoured to be escorting the veterans and attending the memorial that will commemorate their heroic service to the country.”

President of the Normandy Veterans Association Tony Martin and Secretary Peter Lloyd said the trek to France could be the last for some of the survivors of the D-Day landings.

“We are usually in Normandy on this day, but we are saving our finances, efforts and resources for next year to take part in the various parades and services in Normandy for the 70th anniversary.

“This may be the last organised visit, bearing in mind the health and average age of the veterans,” they added.

Upcoming Event and Road Closures

You can find information about major public events and works in London that involve road closures and could therefore disrupt traffic on the TfL website. Live traffic news and disruptions taking place on London's major roads can also be found on the TfL website.

Upcoming events include: 

   Friday 17 May – Sunday 20 May 2013: Due to works outside Marble Arch Station eastbound vehicles wishing to access Oxford Street  will be diverted down Park Lane, Upper Brook street, Park Street and then back on to Oxford Street.

   Between 22:00 and 05:30 on Tuesday 21 May, Thursday 23 May and Tuesday 4 June Orchard Street to Oxford Circus will be closed because of Crossrail works.

   Friday 28 June 2013, The City of London Festival’s Children’s Parade takes place between 12.45-13.30. Roads closed to allow the parade to take place are Gresham Street, Old Jewry, Poultry, Cheapside, Newgate Street, Warwick Lane, Ave Maria Lane and Paternoster Square. The road closures will be between 12:00 and 14:00. 

   Saturday 3 August – Sunday 4 August 2013, RideLondon FreeCycle, Grand Prix, London to Surrey 100 and the London to Surrey Classic events all take place

Chelsea Flower Show
The Kipper season traditionally ends next week with the start of the Chelsea Flower Show, taking place between Tuesday 21 May and Saturday 25 May 2013 and as in previous years a taxi rank will operate during the event.
The taxi rank will be in two portions:
    1st portion is for 5 spaces and is in the bullring/entrance of the flower show 
    2nd portion is for 4 taxis and is on Chelsea Embankment, in the suspended bus stop
Drivers are warned by TfL not park or rank on the zig-zag lines when using the ranks.
Unsurprisingly, no warning has been issued to private hire from TfL or LTPH not to illegally rank, ply for hire or tout.

In a single word....nothing!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

BYD's electric Taxis hit Hong Kong roads with big ambitions


(Reuters) - Warren Buffett-backed Chinese carmaker BYD Co Ltd rolled out Hong Kong's first electric taxi fleet on Wednesday, marking a milestone for its all-electric battery car that highlights its promise and its limitations.

"We expect to increase the number of e6 taxis in Hong Kong to 5,000 in three years," said Liu Xueliang, general manager of BYD Asia Pacific sales, after the company announced it is making a push in the former British colony to encourage the use of its all-electric e6 taxi.

The Hong Kong Taxi & Public Light Bus Association said it is renting from BYD an initial fleet of 45 taxis for HK$8,000 ($1,000) each per month, although only six vehicles had licenses so far. The association is BYD's only Hong Kong customer to date.

The e6's use in Hong Kong's taxi fleet points to the technology's promise as a "zero-tailpipe-emission" vehicle, but its high cost has resulted in sluggish sales for private use, the very demand that BYD had been counting on to boost sales.

The e6 sells for 369,800 yuan ($60,200) in mainland China and HK$448,000 ($57,700) in Hong Kong.

When BYD launched the car a few years ago in China, the e6 was intended for private use on the mainland and in the United States, but never quite caught on. BYD sold about 1,700 e6 vehicles in China last year, according to industry data.

The e6's failure to prove popular among everyday consumers is not only bad news for BYD, it illustrates how China's policy goal of putting 5 million "new-energy" cars on the road by 2020 is not going as planned.

China's central government defines new-energy cars as either all-electric battery cars or heavily electrified plug-in hybrid vehicles.

To make up for slow sales of the e6, BYD executives told Reuters last month it planned to start promoting conventional gasoline-electric hybrid technology. They said BYD might stop over the next few years making all-gasoline cars and sell only electric-assisted cars such as conventional hybrids or all-electric vehicles.

Liu said on Wednesday that two to three new cars in the pipeline would be hybrids, but he gave no date for their release.

In addition to promoting the e6 as a taxi, BYD is also offering the e6 to private consumers in Hong Kong, just an hour by car from its headquarters in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

"If Hong Kong's 18,000 taxis and 12,000 diesel-fuelled buses are all replaced with electric cars, the reduction of emissions will be equivalent to that of 800,000 private cars and it will reduce Hong Kong's emissions by 50 percent," said Wang Chuanfu, the billionaire engineer who founded BYD.

The launch of the fleet comes as Hong Kong is seeing increasingly high pollution readings, due in part to the rising number of cars on the city's already congested roads.

Shares in BYD have tumbled about 60 percent since a late 2009 peak. The stock was up nearly 5 percent on Wednesday at a two-year high of HK$33.30, beating a 0.4 percent gain for the benchmark Hang Seng Index.

($1 = 6.1428 Chinese yuan)

($1 = 7.7615 Hong Kong dollars)



There has been a dramatic overnight development.  EU competition authorities have ‘raided’ the offices of some Oil companies and the office of at least one company that supplies Oil pricing information to the market on suspicion of market manipulation.

This EU investigation offers the hope that we will finally be able to answer the question – 
have we been systematically ‘ripped off’ over the years or not?  

At the moment, it’s an investigation and we don’t know what the authorities will find.  However, the fact that they have seen fit to launch the investigation shows the urgent need for greater transparency in how the Oil market works.  If wrong doing is uncovered, it promises to be as big a scandal as the Banks fixing the LIBOR interest rate.

News that EU competition authorities have raided some Oil companies and the offices of those companies that monitor and report the price of Oil is a dramatic development. At this stage, we simply don’t know where this will lead. At the very least, it clearly shows that the Oil market must be made more transparent so that we can be confident that it is working fairly. At worse, it raises the spectre that we have indeed all been ‘ripped off’ in spectacular style.

Earlier this year the UK Office of Fair Trading did an’ inquiry into whether we needed an inquiry’ in relation to the petrol/diesel market. We were extremely disappointed that based on their initial work, they decided not to carry out a full scale investigation. Our Quentin Willson also wrote to the UK Financial Services Agency asking them to look into ‘whistleblower’ claims that the Oil market was being manipulated. Again, we were disappointed by their response. At last, someone has appears to have acted decisively and we now have a real chance of getting to the truth.

Personal Comment from Quentin Willson

'News today that European investigators have raided oil company offices comes as no surprise to us. I wrote to the FSA last year asking for an enquiry into oil price manipulation and FairFuel had meetings with the OFT asking for the same thing. Neither official body thought an investigation would be appropriate. Yet we knew that the spikes in the price of oil last year couldn't possibly be due to supply and demand since the major global economies were in recession and everybody was consuming less oil and buying less fuel. We voiced our concerns and nobody listened.

 The whole oil market needs much greater scrutiny. I've said before that its an opaque market without any real accountability and badly needs an official watchdog with teeth - empowered to levy draconian fines. But if these allegations are true and the European Commission do find robust evidence, this is a price fixing scandal that will make Libor look like overcharging in a sweet shop. Its not just oil companies that will have been involved but banks, commodity houses, oil traders and stock brokers. For years the financial markets have been trading oil aggressively and pushing up prices across the globe. There have been financial institutions with more oil floating on the oceans in tankers than the oil majors. They wait for a hike in price (which may have been manipulated) and then sell for hundreds of million dollars of profit. Easy work.

And the actual cost to businesses and consumers over the last decade could, if these allegations are true, run into many billions of pounds and have actually accelerated the global financial meltdown of 2008. That I know is an apocalyptic statement but if you look at the numbers back then the price of crude rose to such levels that it destabilised the global supply chain and added huge extra costs to almost everything. The high price of oil has been a major factor in reducing global growth in the last five years and if it does turn out that prices have been artificially massaged then both the oil industry and its practitioners should be held to account. I want a full, root and branch investigating into the way oil prices are reported and a proper watchdog to make sure price fixing can't happen.

FairFuel and I don't want to sound smug, but we did warn the Government about this on numerous occasions and they did nothing."


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mayfair Hotel Concierge And Night Porter Jailed For Raping Guests.



MAYFAIR, CENTRAL LONDON;  A concierge at a five-star Mayfair hotel faces jail today (tues) for trying to smother an advertising executive with a pillow after sneaking into her room to molest her. Paul Abercrombie, 24, pounced on the American, punching her repeatedly before dragging her onto the bed and sexually assaulting her at the Westbury Hotel in Conduit Street. The woman, who lost a tooth and suffered a black eye, feared she would die as Abercrombie tried to smother her but bravely fought back until he fled, Southwark Crown Court heard. A jury of eight women and four men took almost 13 hours to convict Abercrombie of attempted rape, sexual assault, committing an offence, namely assault occasioning actual bodily harm, with intent to commit a sexual offence and trespassing with intent to commit a sexual offence.

Soby John: Hotel porter who raped TV star in her room jailed for 10 year
He took advantage of the celeb because she was so drunk she could hardly stand and then took intimate photographs of her on mobiles 
Guilty: Rapist Soby John
A night porter who raped a TV star in her hotel room after a friend’s birthday party was jailed for ten years today.
Soby John, 25, took advantage of the woman celeb because she was so drunk she could hardly stand and then took intimate photographs of her on her iPhone and on his mobile.
The court heard that Indian-born John was in Britain on a student visa which had expired.
However, although he was due for deportation, he was allowed to work as a night porter at the five-star hotel in west London.
Jailing him at London’s Southwark crown court, Judge Alistair McCreath said the trauma had forced the victim to become anxious and lose trust in men.
He told John: “This victim was highly intoxicated and I have no doubt at all that you raped her for precisely that reason.
John had taken a picture of her semi naked on her phone and had used it to send text messages.
In addition, he took pictures on his phone, which has never been recovered, and made it appear that they had exchanged their personal numbers.
Peter Higginson, defending, told the court that John was a “naive young man floundering in a culture which he hasn’t quite come to terms with.”
Judge McCreath ordered that John be deported when he has served his sentence.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Disabled account users feeling ‘frightened and unsafe’ after problems with minicabs on Taxicard scheme

Disabled TaxiCard passengers in Harrow who have specifically asked for a Black cab are complaining, despite frequent requests for Taxis, they are still  sent cars.
Taxicard scheme user Brenda from Sudbury Town, suffers from Arthritis and Fibrosis. She has great difficulty getting in and out of cars. When she phones ComCab on the TaxiCard account, she always asks for a Taxi.

But for months now, they have only been sending her cars. Her friend Maureen said "I thought it was illegal for minicabs to advertise a Taxi service, they can't use the word Taxi or cab in adverts, my friend is a Taxi driver and he told me its against the law. If they don't supply a Taxi, then they should be made to change the name of this scheme to MinicabCard."

Brenda said "The only way you can get a real Taxi on this scheme, is to flag down a ComCab and then let them swipe your card. My brother, a proper London Cabby, told me local Harrow drivers lost out big time when ComCab was sold to a minicab firm. He was on ComCab for years, but left soon after the take over. He's on this Hailo phone app thing now. It's better for him, but us poor sods have to use these bloody minicabs, we got no choice."

Brenda also said, "I recently had a course of treatment at Harefield  Hospital. I phoned ComCab and told them I needed a Taxi because of my arthritis. But when the transport turned up, it was a minicab. Its not right treating us like this."

Fellow TaxiCard user Yvonne, also from Sudbury said "Taxis always went the best way and you knew exactly what the fare was, it was on the meter. Worst of all, these minicab drivers keep taking their eyes off the road to look at their video thingy telling them the way to go. One driver told me he regularly does 12-14 hour shifts, now that can't be safe. I used to love talking to the Taxi drivers but these minicabs frighten the life out of me."

And it's not just in Harrow. Below is an article from the Ilford Recorder:
Evelyn Jones, of Tudor Crescent, regularly used her Taxicard – a discounted travel service for people with serious mobility impairment – until recently after private hire vehicles (PHVs) were introduced.
The scheme, run by London Councils and funded by Transport for London, included PHVs three months ago. But many users struggle to get into normal cars.
Evelyn’s daughter, Linda, 62, said: “My mother has rheumatism and gout in both her legs and is unable to bend her knees. She can’t really walk unaided.
“Low-down minicabs really cause her, like many of her friends, a problem – she just can’t get in.
“She is used to getting picked up in black cabs which she recognises and trusts and are designed for those with mobility problems. She feels safe in them.”
Linda added: “I have informed them but it hasn’t made a difference.
“It is just so wrong to ask an elderly or infirm person to try to get in a car that isn’t suitable. It is preventing her from going out.
“My mother feels frightened when using minicabs as police are always warning them just to use black cabs.”
Janet Poole, 66, of New North Road, Hainault, has suffered the same problem.
She said: “I think it is ridiculous to ask those with mobility issues to use cars that aren’t suitable.
“I have a mobility scooter, and like many, need help when using transport – which many minicab drivers are not used to dealing with.”
A spokesman for London Councils said: “It is a contractual requirement of the scheme to increase the number of vehicles available to members and to reduce the cost of travel. We provide our contractor with details of any members who can travel in either a taxi only, a PHV vehicle only or both, therefore safeguarding individuals’ needs.”
Editorial comment:
The Taxi trade has stood by and watched the TaxiCard disabled account, once referred to as the jewel in the NHS transportation crown, evolve into a major minicab account. Is this an example of TfL pushing work towards an over subscribe private hire trade at the expense of suburban drivers, in order to keep the license fees rolling in?

At the drivers expense, a Licensed Taxi has to be wheelchair accessible, have a working ramp, special seat belts to accommodate and secure a wheelchair and a special disable swivel seat. After all this extra expense, TfL give the disabled account work over to private hire. It's an insult to the whole Taxi trade. 

How can it be right for Boris to spend £200 million of our money on his folly, of a new over priced hybrid bus and then TfL scrapes the barrel when it comes to the needs of disabled Londoners. 
Each one of these 600 buses will go on costing an extra £60k (£36m a year) to pay for the extra staff needed, whose only role will be to ring the bell.
And also, lets not forget the £124 million spent on the Boris bike scheme, a scheme that Paris got fully subsidised by the commercial sector which didn't cost the Parisian tax payers a single cent.

Made In Chelsea star Rosie Fortescue misses Bafta night after ‘minicabdriver falls asleep at wheel and crashes into four cars’

Made In Chelsea’s Sunday night Bafta victory was bittersweet as one of the show’s stars was unable to attend after being involved in a horrific car crash.
Fashion blogger Rosie Fortescue has been resting and recovering at home after suffering severe whiplash and heavy bruising after a routine minicab ride turned into a near death experience.
The 23-year-old reality television star was left shocked and scared after her minicab driver reportedly fell asleep at the wheel and ploughed into four cars.
A representative for Rosie told MailOnline: ‘She has whip lash from the impact, but is now recovering at home.’
Rosie had been out on Friday night partying with friends in central London and decided to get a pre-booked minicab home.
The car was travelling down the Fulham Road back to her Chelsea home in the early hours of the morning when the accident happened.
While speaking on her mobile phone to her twin sister Lily at around 6am, Rosie realised there was something not right as her cab began to veer dangerously close to other vehicles.
A source close to Fortesque told MailOnline: ‘The driver fell asleep at the wheel and veered into four cars outside Maggie’s nightclub.
‘Rosie was encouraged to wait for police by onlookers, but hopped into a black cab and continued home.’
Although extremely terrified and shocked by what had occurred, she was able to call back her sister and explained why she had abruptly ended their conversation. Putting their differences aside: Louise and Lucy posed together despite their turbulent relationship in the show
Putting their differences aside: Louise Thompson and Lucy Watson posed together despite their turbulent relationship in the show
The source added: ‘She was on the phone to her sister Lily at the time who naturally was massively upset by the whole incident.’
Rosie has since been in contact with the minicab company who are processing the complaint but nothing has yet come of it.
The source told MailOnline: ‘Rosie is currently looking at legal options.’
After gathering her composure following the crash she said on Twitter ‘Never use Express Way cars if you don’t want your minicab driver to fall asleep at the wheel. F***ing offensive!’
A source close to the cab company told MailOnline: ‘The driver in question has since been sacked. He was self-employed, and no longer works there.’

Best Music Video....Ever!