Saturday, June 22, 2013

How To Lobby Your MP in Parliament.

       


The Law Commission is currently reviewing all legislation relating to taxi and private hire vehicles. Whilst this review, which officials claim is designed to simplify the legislation, could potentially deregulate the industry and as such is a threat to members’ livelihoods, it also presents us with a number of opportunities.

The interim statement of the Law Commission does not commit to legally defining plying for hire, however, it does acknowledge that a two-tier system must remain in place.

RMT is participating in a lobby of Parliament in order to ensure that MPs are aware of our views on any changes to legislation. This lobby is a joint lobby with both Unite and the GMB.

The rally will take place in Committee Room 10 from 4pm to 6pm on Tuesday 2nd July. Members are encouraged to arrange to meet their Member of Parliament on the day, in order to express their opposition to any further deregulation of the trade. In order to lobby your MP please arrive at 1.30pm.

What is Lobbying ?

Lobbying is about raising issues with and seeking to influence elected representatives. It can take many different forms and can be done by paid professional lobbyists or by grass roots activists and members of the public. 

Lobbying of MPs can take place in Parliament when it is sitting or in an MPs constituency. 

An MP should, and generally will, see you as a constituent rather than simply as a trade unionist and as such is meant to represent a constituent interest even if he or she does not agree with them. 

It is important that you, your colleagues, friends, neighbours and family contact your MP on important issues and concerns, the more contact's an MP has on the same issue the more likely that it is that they will do something about it.

How do we lobby MPs in Westminster?

In general, constituents and RMT members tend to choose to lobby their MPs in Westminster as part of a coordinated lobby day at Parliament often organised by the RMT the TUC or others. 

However, there is nothing stopping you working with members and officers in your region to organise your own lobby of Parliament. 

Lobbies of Parliament usually take place between Monday and Thursday when Parliament is sitting with Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons been the most favoured times as they usually present the best opportunity to catch the maximum members of Parliament. 

It is best to get in touch with your MP in advance of your visit Parliament, either in writing, by e-mail or by phone to make an appointment to see them on the day. 

However, if this has not been possible or your MP has not gotten back to you there are procedures in place to try and get in touch with your MP without an appointment. 

You will need to go to the main central lobby meeting area of the Houses of Parliament (Access is not normally allowed until after 2 PM) and ask at the desk to ”Green card” your MP, so-called because you are given a green card to fill in with both yours and your MPs details. 

Parliamentary officials will then seek to get noticed to your MP that they have a constituent waiting to lobby them. 

There is no guarantee that your MP will receive the message in time or be available to see you and you must sit and wait in central lobby for your MP to turn up or the clerk to give you a response.

Getting in touch with your MP

If you are not sure who your MP is then there are a couple of ways you can check this out:

Go to http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/ or via the “find your MP” link on the main Parliament website, all you need is your postcode.

The House of Commons information office and inform you who your MP is if you call them on (020) 7219 4272.

When you write or call your MP make sure you make clear they now you are a constituent as MPs are bound by Parliamentary rules to only help their own constituents. 

At this stage, don't go into too much detail about what you want to see them about, just simply stating of concerns and use local examples of possible and relevant.

When you see your MP.

When you see your MP, start from the bases of assuming they know nothing about the issues you raise, make sure you clearly set out who you are, identify yourself as a constituent, where you work and or the local services you use that could be at risk. 

Be sure to get the following points across in a clear, courteous and concise manner.

   • Thank the MP for season you and establish how much time you have to talk to them.

   • The background to the issue.
   • How and why it impacts of you, use examples if you can.

   • How it affects the MPs constituents, again use examples if you can.

   • If possible, offer an alternative solution.

   • Be specific on what your MP can do to help and what exactly you are asking them to do.

   • Ask them to update you on what they do following your meeting.

What you can ask your MP to do in Westminster.

There are a number of things you can ask your MP to do to pursue your concerns in Parliament:

   • Write to raise your concerns with the relevant government minister.

   • Signed an early day motion (EDM), a short written statement that come raise awareness and support of an issue. MPs also quite like to use EDM’s reform local press stories, so bear that in mind.

   • Raise issues through asking and writing Parliamentary questions.

   • Raise matters with the Prime Minister at Prime Minister's questions (MPs are chosen for this through a ballot you could ask your MP to put in for it.)

If they do not hold a government position you could ask your MP to put in for a backbench debate on a particular issue. 

Again, this is decided by a ballot system but if successful a government minister will have to respond to the concerns represented in the debate.

After meeting your MP.

It is important that meeting your MP on this issue is just the start of it. 

Following the meeting you can:

   • Write or e-mail to thank you MP for the meeting, being careful to outline any agreed actions on both sides.

   • Keep in touch with your MP and what they are doing in support.

   • Feedback to fellow members in your workplace and local community.

   • Don't forget to let the union's political team know how you get on so that they can also follow your meeting up with MPs.

   • You could always invite your MP to come along to a branch meeting, or if that is difficult invite them to meet with a number of colleagues outside of the workplace. 

Speak to your union about organising some sort of local press stunt or photo opportunity, you may want to involve your MP in this depending on the outcome of the meeting.

Lobbying the House of Lords.

Members of the House of Lords have an important role to play. It is offered in the Lords that the government loses a vote on legislation. Members attend the house on a voluntary basis and only a few have an office or any staff. A full list of Lords can be found that www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/id/idinfo.htm.

You can write to a member of the House of Lords the below address:

Name, Surname and title

House of lords,

London,

SW1A 0PW

Posted on behalf of the RMT London Taxi Branch:

www.rmtlondontaxibranch.co.uk  


londontaxi@rmt.org.uk

Use this box to find your MP
Contact Your MP/MEP/AM
Enter your Postcode below:
 




Friday, June 21, 2013

EXCLUSIVE: Royal Oak To Move To New 24 Hour Premises.

The Royal Oak Taxi Drivers Canteen, is to move to new premises. 
But don't worry it's just a few yards away. 

Cabbie entrepreneur Johnny Anderson, has acquired a new lease on the old sports and assembly hall situated behind the current toilet block. New premises were necessary as the current porto-cabin and car wash buildings are due to be demolished.

The car wash will be re-sited next to the new canteen and will continue to operate a service 7 am- 7 pm.

The all new 24hour restaurant will seat up to 200 drivers and will have ample off street parking, front and back, which will be accessed from a brand new side road.

Speaking to John yesterday, he tells me he expects to move in to the new place on the 26-27 of July and will open  for business on the 28th

This is the space that will see facilities for 200 drivers with a bank of TVs hanging from the roof
The whole place is sound proofed so as not to disturb the residents of neighbouring apartments 

                                        And this is where the kitchen will be 

Johnny Anderson said although there is much to do, the boys are really going to town on this and I feel we will definitely be opening on the 28th of July. The New Oak will be just like the Old Oak and will be open 24hours. 

 

Uber To Target The London Taxi Radio and App Market.

Incase you haven't heard of it, UberX is a new e-hailing app from the Uber company based in San Fransico. They intend to relaunch for what they see as a major gap in the market, a "one stop shop" to book a London taxi, VIP car or normal minicab through their new UberX smart phone app. 

They see them selves as a serious competitor to Addison Lee and will be aiming to establish the future business model for the taxi, minicab, VIP and private hire industries in London.

They claim traditional rent/circuit fees charged by private hire and radio Taxi operators are far too high and Uber’s business model, given time, will disrupt and challenge such charges. They hope to appeal to all self employed Taxi and private hire owner drivers and ultimately feed through to the customer with better value fares. The success of Uber will lie in attracting both London taxi drivers and private hire drivers on to one platform. 

Uber believe that the infrastructure and investment they are making in building its network will make a very attractive proposition to both London taxi and private hire drivers. They also realise there are some serious challenges ahead.



Makes you think, they haven't done their homework....but have they?

On first sight, most Taxi drivers will dismiss this out of hand saying our trade will never work side by side with minicabs....but look around, wake up and smell the coffee...we already do. 
All the major radio circuits work in hand with private hire. 

Amazingly, as eHailing apps such as Hailo and Get Taxi have come along strangling the bread and butter work out of many PH circuits, instead of welcoming, emulating and joining forces with, the Radio circuits have drawn a line in the sand and stood shoulder to shoulder with their PH stakeholders. 

Many Taxi drivers on radio circuits complain that their work is being sold or given away en masse to private hire, but then, they do nothing about it and carry on regardless. 

How did the trade stand by and watch a major disabled account, once referred to as the jewel in the crown of the NHS transportation service, evolve into a minicab operation. Locals in Harrow alledge that the only way you can get a Licensed Taxi on the Taxicard account is to flag one down. 

Most account clients that use Taxis, do so because they want to use Taxis, it's as simple as that. 
They want a proffesional driver with knowledge they can trust and rely on. They want their staff taken home in a safe, fully insured, licensed Taxi. Those who want a cheapskate deal already use minicabs. But many account clients have made their way back after months/years of poor service, bad driving and finding its not always cheaper in the long run to use PH.

There is no way that our major radio circuits could turned over completely to PH, they would lose enormous chunks of their account base, which would mean possible financial suicide.

Most Taxi drivers can work independent of radios and apps, you have the last word because you don't need them as much as they need you. Without you, they cannot sell your services, they cannot earn. But without them...you can still get a living. 

The major players have stated that they are just giving the customer what they want and if drivers covered all the work regardless, they wouldn't need PH---that's utter tosh---they use PH because they earn money from doing it, it's as simple as that.
FOLLOW THE MONEY, remember!

Trouble is, there are too many drivers out there with no moral fibre, no trade loyalty, who are willing to work with and alongside private hire just to get their hands on a pound note. Many too frightened of being without a radio. This is the result of a grooming process which has taken place over a number of years. This trade has been fed propaganda by empire building entrepreneurs for many years. Some never having done the knowledge or driven a Taxi. 

We also see a new breed of driver out there with utter disrespect of their colleagues. You only have to sit and watch as they selfishly pick up beside ranks, full with waiting Taxis. No etiquette, no sense of trade loyalty, no shame.

Uber believe the infrastructure and investment they are making in building its network will make a very attractive proposition to both London taxi and private hire drivers. But there is a serious challenge ahead. 
And that challenge, is us.

Our loyalty, our values and tradition will be under attack. 
This is one battle we really need to unite on, one battle we really need to win.
While drivers are willing to say nothing and work side by side with private hire, Uber has a chance of realising their dream. Their success or failure, is completely in your hands.

No venture capital outfit could ever make it attractive for me to work hand in hand with PH. I would never sell out my trade at any price, I'd rather go on the dole.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

Minicabs must stay out of Reading’s bus lanes

Private hire vehicle operators have lost their battle to use bus lanes around Reading.

Bus companies and black cab drivers convinced Reading borough councillors it would result in congestion.

 

Members of the traffic management sub-committee did agree to extend the current trial allowing private hire cars to use the King’s Road bus lanes.

Operators of minicabs have long been pushing for the use of bus lanes, which are restricted to buses and hackney carriages.

John Purvis, speaking on behalf of Reading Private Hire Association at the sub-committee meeting last Thursday, said he was confident bus services would not suffer.

He said: “We have provided proof with the King’s Road west-bound bus lane where we are aware of no concerns regarding congestion before the hackney carriage association’s response to these consultations.

“There are 414 private hire vehicles in Reading, not all operating at the same time.

“It is estimated that 80 to 100 are operating at any one time, which increases slightly on Friday and Saturday nights.”

Asif Rashid, of Reading Taxi Association, said allowing private hire vehicles to use bus lanes would hold up buses and hackney carriages and he called for more camera enforcement to tackle abuse of bus lanes by private hire cars.

Reading Buses, Stewarts Coaches, First Group, Thames Travel and Arriva also sent in objections.

Tony Pettitt, director of resources at Reading Buses, told the sub-committee: “Reading Buses has derived considerable benefit from bus lanes and bus priority measures provided by Reading Borough Council over many years.

“They contribute to reliable journey times, which encourages passengers to use the service more.”

He continued: “If there are other vehicles, then this lessens the benefits. Our considered view is shared use is not a good idea and not something we would be able to support.”

Reading Motorcycle Action Group and Cyclists’ Touring Club said the proposals would mean additional hazards to cyclists and bikers.

Councillor Ricky Duveen, Liberal Democrat group leader, spoke up for the private hire operators.

He said: “The idea taxis should be allowed to use bus lanes and private hire vehicles should not is bizarre. They are both forms of public transport and should both be allowed access as a level playing field for competition.”

Green Party leader Cllr Rob White agreed.

He said: “Many of the people who have responded to the consultation have an economic interest in keeping private hire vehicles out of bus lanes. Asking your competitor what’s best for your business isn’t necessarily going to get the best answer.”

However, sub-committee chairman and transport boss Cllr Tony Page said: “The concerns which have been expressed by all bus operators are ones we have to take seriously.”

But he said the King’s Road experiment had been effective and believed it should continue.

Councillors voted not to permit private hire vehicles in bus lanes but to ask the Department for Transport to allow the King’s Road trial to be extended.

Source: get reading co.uk

EDITORIAL COMMENT

Lord Dyson (Master of the Rolls) plus 2 heard the Addy Lee appeal, last submissions were made on Apr 24th, taking the 15 weeks as a bench mark, the Addy Lee judgement should be announced next  week. 

Taxi Leaks Call For Inquiry Over Unlawful Licenses And An Apology From LTPH.

There are just under three weeks to go and RD2.com will be able to meet TfL's requirements and apply for license variations which will make them eligible to operated satellite offices in various venues around London.

Hang on you say, they already do this, operating 18 satellite offices in major London night venues and have been operating openly for nearly a year.

And you would be correct. 
RD2 have been operating satellite offices at top London clubs and venues since 08/07/12. 
They were issued with 18 new five year licenses by LTPH, even though they did not meet the requirement of being in business as a stand alone Private Hire operator/provider for the minimum period of one year. In fact they were issued with licenses just 2 days after they registered as a company.

Who knew about this?
Well, for a start Taxi leaks knew after we were told by a concerned member of staff at Palestra and now, after our articles on the subject, so do most of the Taxi trade. 

Have we complained? 
We first complained nearly a year ago, when the whistle blowing member of staff at Palestra became suspicious that something wasn't right and contacted the blog. We spent a good few days investigating the claim and have since posted most of the evidence we gathered from Company's House and various online related websites.

Did you get any response from LTPH?
First we were told this was not a new company but just a name change.
We investigated and found that this was not the case. RD2 was a new company.

We complained again.
This time we were told it was the same director and he had been in the PH business for many years.
We investigated and found that, although the surname was the same, the date of birth and first names were completely different. The new company's CEO was a much older person. We also  check his list of company directorships and found he had never been a director of a minicab firm before.

We made a further complaint.
We received an email stating that LTPH's licensing team were investigating the issue.
That was well before Christmas 2012 and since then we have not received any update, even though we sent further emails, it would seem LTPH are not answering questions about this particular company and are just ignoring the situation.

We published some of our findings on Taxi Leaks, in an article entitled: 

"Bill-Gate"... How Much Longer Can these people survive?

We received word from John Mason Director of LTPH that this post was misleading and slanderous. We were ordered by TfLs legal team to take down the the article or TfL would complain to Google and have them remove the whole blog.



We complied with the request but have since backed up the statements made with evidence which is part of a dossier in our possession. Follow up articles laying out most of our evidence have been posted on Taxi Leaks without one word from Mr Mason or his legal team. 

There is always the possibility that we could be wrong! 
There could be a perfectly plausible reason why the licenses have been issued, but so far LTPH have offered no evidence and continue to say nothing. TfL/LTPH are not a private company and as a public authority, have an absolute responsibility to conduct themselves in a clear and transparent way. 

So it would be fair to assume by their silence, they agree that the serious allegations aimed at LTPH are correct.

In conclusion 
We therefore feel its time TfL publicly apologised to the editorial staff of Taxi Leaks who have been harrised and threatened by John Mason and TfL's legal Team.

 We are also demanding that the alleged unlawful licenses issue with RD2.com be investigate by an independent complaints committee. If there is evidence of malfeasance or corruption involved in the issue of these licenses, we would ask that the staff members involved be sacked, as was the Brazilian national Marcos Gurgel, who was convicted of fraudulently obtaining cash for license renewals. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Insanity Of The Cab Trade...Wayne Casey


carlisle7The great Albert Einstein once gave his own definition of insanity he surmised; Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In many respects, this approach epitomises the cab trade.

The one thing people don’t appear to be considering is the future. A reasonable stance might be to try to look at the cab trade from the outside. So imagine that you work for the Law Commission, as many of you will know they are still drafting their bill that will determine the future of all in the taxi and minicab business. You’d see something quite remarkable.

Firstly, you’d notice how quickly your controversial papers of a matter of a mere few months ago have been forgotten. Your simple statement given suggesting you feel locals are best placed to decide taxi numbers has effectively pacified the majority of the loudest voices who were protesting against you.

The other perceived dangers like cross border hiring, which will arguably have more of an adverse affect on the taxi trade than deregulation, wasn’t seemingly ever a serious consideration by the taxi trade hence the relative silence – after all – the obvious thing that really counts to some are plate values, the cross border thing was a mere annoyance by comparison.

The other little bits you added, such as non-transferable licenses and more to the fact, what this may balloon into, doesn’t appear to affect the incumbent trade, so that gets ignored as well.

I would have personally thought starting campaigns about such things as license fees was at this stage a massive diversion. If the 1976 Act was a football match – a reasonable person may suggest its now in the throes of injury time. To start making waves – and more importantly distracting people from the real issues at this stage of the game, is in my view, nothing short of insanity.

I did actually write an article a number of years ago covering the issue – I spent a good few months obtaining fees from local authorities – the article can be found in an old issue of taxitalk magazine (April or May 2010) or on the website – http://www.taxi-driver.co.uk/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=13643. Suffice to state, you can now probably see the problem I have – its not a new issue, its one that’s been around for many years.

So whilst peoples sudden interest in license fees and what functions the fee should fulfil is comforting, in all too many respects, it’s around 40 years too late.

I look at this and ask myself if I’m being overly harsh. I don’t think I am, the recent case brought by the district auditor in Guildford points out exactly what the licensing function can and cannot fund (and by recent we’re going back almost 4 years).

When considering fees perhaps the cab trade needs to take a broader view, and to take a broader view may actually mean considering arguments from all sides. You see, whilst it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that perhaps all licensees should maybe fund things like test purchasing and swoops on illegal plying for hire. It is almost certain, a council cannot charge all licensees for this. So facing facts, those that will be paying will be those where the act allows for it. It could therefore be the case that some in the licensed trade will face large increases in fees – where others may face reductions. In many respects – you should be careful what you wish for.

Going back to the Law Commission, and its if you can be bothered (and I have no reason to presume you are), peek at the government response to the early position of the Law Commission. It is broadly the opposite of everything the taxi trade wanted, therefore even though the Law Commission may have (bravely) changed their minds on one or two initial views, there is no reason whatsoever to believe the government will do the same.

There is a whole caboodle of things I am unhappy about and the cab trade don’t exactly help me out of this state of mind because they appear to be led by lunatics.

The possibility of fines (or fixed penalty tickets) is one obvious case in point. The insanity of some is such that they appear to believe they can dictate who gets what from the income raised via the fine. The government can have 50% and the local authority licensing department the other 50% – everyone will then be happy. That’s everybody apart from the poor sod paying the fine. Oh, and please be aware, the figure mooted by one person was £200 per FPN.

Naturally, when someone such as myself points out that licensing officers like the easy jobs – therefore catching a cab via CCTV for the offence of over ranking is more likely to happen than something that may mean an officer physically leaving the office – I am cast asunder. Similarly, my assertion that if fines are needed as a source of licensing department funding – the licensing department will go out and fine everybody – like their wage depends upon it – isn’t seemingly a consideration.

Of course, those that need to be afraid of fines are those foolish individuals who actually drive taxis, broadly speaking, this isn’t a position many trade representatives, at least nationally, find themselves in.

If the cab trade had any semblance of being a broadly sane business, it should be busily warning everyone about the dangers of cross border. It should be attempting to persuade the government that their initial response to the Law Commission was wrong.

Indeed, if cross border is to be legalised then how local authorities fund taxi licensing will be a major issue. At the moment for example approximately 200 vehicles licensed in Rossendale work in Manchester – whether the good folks of Manchester like this arrangement or not isn’t really open to debate – the effect of the flag of convenience that is Rossendale councils somewhat laid back attitude to the problems their vehicles create – is one of Manchester Council being denied funding.

Two hundred vehicles at a minimal cost of £100 per license and £50 per drivers license (for arguments sake) is denying Manchester Council around £30K in license fees. Law Commission plans will see Manchester council being able to stop and check Rossendale vehicles – yet nobody is absolutely certain who’ll pay Manchester Council to do this. Before you Mancunians start shouting rude things I do realise there’s serious questions being asked about license fees in Manchester.

However, there are many questions that need asking towards what our future holds – I therefore find it astonishing some are looking with both eyes to the past – but then again – I was the one supposed to be a luddite.


Posted with kind permission from Wayne Casey. 

Unlawful minicab advert at the O2



Phone network operator O2, have invested in a national smart phone app for the minicab company, Minicabit.com. The app advertises unlawfully as a  "Cab Network". 

The words Taxi, Taxis, Cab and Cabs are protected by law and may not be used by private hire operators to advertise their services either in advertisements in print, online, or on their vehicles. 

TfL, as the authority responsible for both Taxis and Private Hire have a duty of care to make sure the laws governing our trades are respected. But in the past they have ignored many complaints by Taxi drivers over this issue.

O2 are already advertising the app all over the O2 Greenwich venue. 
In a scrolling advert above an exit it clearly contravenes the law by advertising this company as a "Cab Network".

Below is the advert being displayed at the O2

THIS ADVERT IS UNLAWFUL AND IN CONTRAVENTION OF THE LONDON CAB ACT AND THE 1998 PRIVATE HIRE ACT AND SHOULD BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY BY O2




COMING VERY SOON:
The money men at O2 have investigated life after the Law Commission Report. 

They have decided to put their money into a national minicab app. 

We can now expect to see more of these apps which offer a one-tiered booking platform that can dispatch both a minicab or a Taxi.



Their only obstacle is the Taxi trade. They just need to find a way to make working side by side with minicabs attractive to Taxi drives. Not quite the impossible task that you may think. Drivers on radio circuits have been fed propaganda for many years that they are in a service industry and this is what the customer requires. So working with a minicab/Taxi app will just be like being on a radio circuit.

In reality we are Taxi drivers in a Taxi industry and radio Taxi circuits should be in the business of providing Taxis and nothing else.

These apps will be looking towards a nationwide service with no restrictions on cross boarder hirings.
The model is already up and running in Northern Ireland, where the only restriction to working from Taxi ranks, is wheelchair accessibility. 

Both Taxis and minicabs in Belfast are to be allowed to ply for hire on the streets.  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

POLICE TURN A BLIND EYE. WHILE TfL HAS RULES FOR US AND JUST GUIDELINES FOR PH

Paddington Over-ranking 
Paddington Station is one of the busiest stations in London with a lot of the passengers from the station continuing their journey by taxi. Because of the poor layout of the station rank, Taxis have to queue along the Harrow road. The roads around the station are sometimes very busy and unfortunately complaints have been received about taxis queuing in the Paddington Station area, specifically at the rear entrance in Praed Street and beside the flyover, along the Harrow Road. Some drivers joining the rear of the rank are physically closer to Marylebone Station than Paddington.


   

The complaints include: 
Emergency service vehicles being obstructed and delayed, particularly by taxis stopping and parking around the Praed Street/London Street junction. The junction at Praed Street/Edgware Road being blocked and Buses being obstructed. Taxis parking in the cycle lane and Advance Stop Line (ASL) area on Praed Street. Construction traffic from worksites in the area being obstructed and delayed. Road users being delayed on Harrow Road
 
The problems are primarily as a result of taxis: 
Stopping and parking in Praed Street outside the station exit/Hilton Hotel, plus Taxis over-ranking along Harrow Road, Edgware Road back to Praed Street
 
Although the taxi rank at the station can become very busy, over-ranking at the station and waiting in the surrounding roads is causing a serious problem and the police have informed TfL that they will start on-street compliance activities in this area if the problems continue.
 
This on-street enforcement action will include issuing Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) to drivers plus camera enforcement in this area will also commence.  They say that Taxi drivers should take all possible steps to avoid over-ranking or causing obstructions, otherwise they risk being issued with a PCN. When dropping off or picking passengers drivers should also try to avoid stopping where it will delay emergency service vehicles, (specifically, the rear of Paddington at the Praed Street London Street Junction).

What About PHVs Ranking And Causing Congestion?
Is it rules for us, but just guild lines for them?

Missing from this police statement is any reaction to the massive increased instances of illegal plying for hire by private hire vehicles, escalating outside virtually every busy restaurant, night club and bar. Every time there is a major event in Central London, private hire vehicles turn up in droves looking to blag jobs on the pretence they are pre-booked. 

Many of these lines of cars cause congestion bringing two lane main roads down to one lane. Funny how the buses and emergency vehicles appear blind to these obstructions.

Last night, a Wednesday, Taxis wanting to rank at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane found coaches park on their rank. When the coaches were finally moved, their place was taken by private hire vehicles.
   

As is the norm, the TfL enforcement  CCTV camera on the corner of Mount Street was turned away from the rank. Again we saw TfL turning a blind eye to the minicabs blatantly flouting the conditions of their license. 

Illegal plying for hire  appears to be ok as far as the police and TfL are concerned and they regularly ignore the problem. But the lines of cars are hiding a different more dangerous problem, that of the sexual predator. Unbooked minicabs are known to be a factor in the many serious sexual assaults that frequently occur when young people, the worse for drink. In return for just a few pounds, clipboard johnnies shepherd the unsuspecting victims into the touting minicabs outside Hotels, clubs and bars.

It is alleged by the police themselves in the award winning Wandsworth POP report, that by their own calculations on average 25 minicab related serious sexual assaults including rapes take place every week. This figure is Ten times TfLs official statistics. It is felt by many in our trade that by their inaction, the police and TfL/LTPH are happy to view these figures as just collateral damage in a bid to clear the streets at chucking out time. 

Will TfLTPH be acting in a fair and transparent manner across both sectors of Taxis and Private Hire?
Will they now be insisting that local councils and police, enforce parking regulations concerning Private Hire vehicles illegally ranking outside night venues, causing unnecessary congestion and obstructing emergency vehicles? You can bet your bottom dollar they won't!

Will CCTV camera enforcement include Regent By Swallow Street, where lines of illegal touts wait night after night, obstructing buses and emergency services, or Charterhouse Street where cars regularly illegally ply for hire by parking fully on the pavement, blocking fire exits? 
Again these cars have got more chance of winning the lottery than getting nicked.

Why are the Police, Council and licensing authority continually turning a blind eye?
If the Met's own estimates are to be taken seriously, over 1,300 young lives and the lives of their families are shattered every year as sexual predators hide within the lines of unbooked illegally plying for hire minicabs. 

This is not a victimless crime
Rape isn't just for Christmas...It's a life sentence to the victim and their families, many will never be the same person again.


                                RD2.com using our Taxi Rank in Gresham Street

LTPH have stated that the Private Hire act of 1998 isn't clear enough when applied to illegal plying for hire by minicabs. Of course it isn't, it's not covered by the Private Hire act, because its covered by the a Hackney Carriage Act of 1854, Illegally Acting As A Hackney Carriage. 
Only Hackney Carriages are allow to stand and ply for hire (rank), PHVs waiting outside venues to become hired are illegally acting as Hackney Carriages. 

RANK SUSPENSIONS:
Ranks are a very important part of the Licensed Taxi trade. 70 years ago, there was one rank space for every Taxi in London. Today there is one rank space for every 65 cabs.
Surely it is better to provide rank spaces for Taxis instead of them driving round spewing out toxic fumes from their exhausts, adding to London's poor air quality.

Recently there has been instances, where working Taxi ranks have been suspended in favour of a commercial enterprise. This has got to stop. No commercial business should have the right to suspend a working Taxi rank in order to promote their products.

It should be about balance, fairness and the right to work, not about product placement. As a licensing authority and receiver of our fees, LTPH have a duty of care to protect our right to ply for hire. They have no right to promote a commercial event at the detriment of the Licensed a taxi Trade. The trade puts good work into gaining, protecting and servicing the ranks and because of that commitment, any suspension should only be granted for necessary and legitimate reasons.

Why are Temporary ranks not imposed in the same order as suspensions?
When TfLTPH or local councils suspend Taxi ranks because of road closures or public events, attached to the suspension should be provisions for a temporary rank within a reasonable distance from the original. This should be standard practise.

At a recent Taxi drivers forum at Palestra, Helen Chapman said she doesn't have the power to impose Taxi ranks.
But that didn't stop TfLTPH suspending and imposing temporary ranks for the Olympics last year! 
It also didn't stop LTPH sanctioning and imposing FREE TAXI RANKS for a computer company, using private hire Vitos to ferry people home from set points in the West End. 

Peter Hendy has the ability to amend the London cab order as we have seen in the passed when he did such a thing to impose the mandatory displaying of ID badges on every Taxi. 

It's not hard to sort this out, its just a lack of appetite to do so by TfLTPH who should be liaising with local councils. It needs to be high on the list at the next  joint ranks committee, that if a rank, any rank, is suspended, a temporary rank is imposed within a reasonable distance of the original. How hard can that be to set up?

In Westminster, they have set up a dynamic traffic management order which means they don't have to get a separate one for each rank and any new rank is immediately enforceable. 

So where's the problem?
Temporary ranks must go hand in hand with suspensions. No Temporary rank...no suspension.