Saturday, July 06, 2013

Taxis and Private Hire License Fees Overcharge: Manchester show the way to go


Earlier this year, London taxi drivers complained that they were being overcharged by LTPH in respect of getting their vehicle plated by at the new NSL passing stations.

Although a new company had taken over the responsibility of licensing taxis and minicabs from SGS, the test had been redefined by TfL/LTPH  with a reduced fee. But LTPH kept the license fee artificially high for the first month (March 2013) of their operation. Plus any owner who booked an inspection for the month of April but made the booking in March was charged the old inflated price. 

The amount charged to both Taxi drivers and Private Hire for the month of March, was double the actual cost of the inspection. The excess part of the overcharged was kept by LTPH who claim that it was part of their forecast budget for the year which ended on April 1st. 

With the recent successful case against Westminster council by sex shop owners, it has been made perfectly clear in law that a licensing authority can only charge a licensee the true cost for the administration of the license. 

Our fellow Taxi and PH colleagues in Manchester, have taken action against their licensing authority (MCR), because they feel they have been made to pay unlawful charges. 

Below is a post from the Manchester Drivers Forum MR BlackCab on pro boards.



MCR Licensing Audit

You all know by now that, The National Private Hire Association, at the request of the Manchester trade, has been locked in an audit of the MCR Licensing accounts for the year ended 2012.

This process ended on 18 June, after 15 months.

The auditor agreed with the Association, that several aspects of the Council accounts revealed unlawful charges. The Auditor however refused to go to Court and obtain a public interest certificate.

This means we have to go to the High Court to obtain a judgment and to ask for recovery of any monies wrongly charged.

If successful, what would it mean to you, a Manchester Hackney proprietor ??

1. The £170 per licence, charged for the ‘Taxi Marshalls’ would have to be refunded, this could be back dated, by up to six years. That would mean anybody who owns a Hackney plate now, or in the last 7 years could receive over a Grand. 

2. Any re test fee’s, currently £35 each, which have been paid unlawfully in the last 7 years would have to be refunded.

3. A further £69,171 error has been found in accounts, only 30% of this is ours, the other 70% is charged to PH vehicles. That is still another £19 per plate for up to 7 years (6 years up to 2012, and this year 2013).

In total we have identified £812,238 of unlawful charges for year ended 2012 alone.

To get this money back, we have to go to the High Court, we have engaged a Q.C., we have pro bono solicitors. We need your cash. Please start to collect £50 per plate.

We can do it easily, if everybody chips in.

Remember what happened when the last whip round failed. All fears of Arrow Cars abuse of the Law, assisted by the Council, came true.

The abuse of the Hackney trade rose again at the recent Concerts held in the City, where the law was broken several times, with the assistance of the Authority you pay.

Quote from Irish History

“If you do not stand for something”
“You fall for everything”


Do not fall for anymore, chip in now and stop this abuse.


High Court Rules (Administrative) no 3.2, require that we issue a letter of Intent

That letter is being prepared now by our Legal team. It will be arriving on the Chief Execs desk very soon.

3.2 Before making your claim for judicial review, you should send a letter to the defendant. The purpose of this letter is to identify the issues in dispute and establish whether litigation can be avoided.

The letter should contain the date and details of the decision, act or omission being challenged and a clear summary of the facts on which the claim is based.

It should also contain the details of any relevant information that the claimant is seeking and an explanation of why this is considered relevant. A claim should not normally be made until the proposed reply date given in the letter before claim has passed, unless the circumstances of the case require more immediate action to be taken. 


To donate;

The National Private Hire Association.

0161 280 2800 between 10am and 3 pm, Mon to Fri

Ask for Karen and have your card ready.
------------------------------------------------------------------

If you prefer, pay by direct transfer to:

National Private Hire Legal Services LTD (NPHLS Ltd.)

Bank sort Code ; 30-91-48

Account Number;01011017

Your ref ; MCRHV xxxx (your plate number).

----------------------------------------------------------------------

This is the first opportunity to have this matter ventilated in Court since the 1970’s. Do not waste this chance, chip in now. TODAY !



Now what does this mean for London
We would suggest that the extra charge of £52 made by LTPH for the vehicle license made in the month of March 2013 which affected approx 2000 Licensed Hackney carriages and 6250 Private hire vehicles in unlawful
We would suggest the all retest fees made by SGS were unlawful
We would suggest that any extention made to the license fee to cover the cost of Marshalling or enforcement is unlawful.

In a speech earlier this year Mayor Boris Johnston stated that TfL had put aside a million pounds from the license fees to help fund cab enforcement and Safer Travel Command. If this statement in true then this act is unlawful and all monies overcharged should be refunded to the vehicle owners.

If you are a member of a trade org, you should ask them to act on your behalf and demand an audit of LTPHs administration to a certain how much our trade has been over charged for vehicle and driver license with a view to legal action to demand refunds.

Recently I spoke to a driver who is not in any trade org, but is considering taking the former director of LTPH John Mason, to the small claims court over the overcharged license fee in March. 
Taxi leaks will keep you informed of this personal action as and when it takes place.

Friday, July 05, 2013

EARL’S COURT AREA ACTION GROUP PRESS RELEASE

BORIS JOHNSON BLIGHTS UK AND LONDON ECONOMY

5th JULY 2013

 

Despite the recommendations made by the Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat Assembly Members, and the objections from residents in the Earl’s Court area to defer his decision on the flawed planning applications for the Earl’s Court Masterplan, pending further study into the overall impact of the Masterplan—Boris did not listen.

 

Instead, the Mayor has nodded through these controversial plans, which included the demolition of the iconic Earls Court Exhibition Centre and the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estates—homes to over 2,000 residents.

 

Chief Executive of the Association of Event Organisers, Karim Halwagi said:

 

‘The Exhibitions industry generates billions of pounds per year to the national economy and the Earls Court Centre is a core part of that. We already lag behind our competitors with a lack of decent venues compared to the demand and now this important space, which also formed a key venue for the Olympics, is set to be demolished. It will be a major, major loss. It makes no sense.’

 

Local traders are already feeling the hit of an economic downturn, manufactured by the deliberate reduction in trade at the exhibition centre by the leaseholders CapCo whose plans the Mayor is choosing to support. Many local people are seeking real affordable housing and yet this plan offers no additional such units, but instead the majority of properties are designed for high-end purchasers—many of whom are likely to be ‘Buy to Leave’ overseas purchasers.

 

Paul Thomas, Retail Business Manager for the O’Neills pub chain and a local employer says:

 

“The impact to Earl’s Court events and functions that the Centres create on a regular basis will be extremely detrimental –both to local businesses and their employing power. We employ chefs and waiting staff to cater for Earl’s Court events and there will be a damaging economic knock-on effect to local employees and residents. The spending power within the Earl’s Court community will be reduced”.

 

 

At the centre of the site, the dedicated precision engineering team based at the Lillie Bridge Depot, keeps the London Underground in safe repair. This too is destined for destruction if the Masterplan goes ahead.

 

Boris Johnson has a serious conflict of interest—significantly he is Chair of TfL while he is also Chair of the City Hall Scrutiny Committee and the sole decision maker on planning applications of this type.

 

The decision to grant is premature and should be delayed until the outcome of the TfLfeasibility study due in December into the viability of relocation of this essential engineering works. Given that TfL is the major landowner with 55 of the 77-acres of the site, the full implementation of the Masterplan is dependent upon the Lillie Bridge Depot being dismantled.

 

On Monday, Assembly Members from the Greens, Labour and Lib Democrats had collectively signed a letter urging Boris to initiate a delay whilst further investigations as to the real impact of the Masterplan are undertaken – as well as the completion of theTfL Feasibility Study. Yet the Mayor paid no heed to this sound advice.

 

Darren Johnson, AM said:

‘The question is – why would Mayor Johnson behave in this way? Why is it only the Conservatives in City Hall as well as the controlling Tories in both London Boroughs affected are the only groups in favour of this plan, which is set to ravage a whole community and impact very badly on the economy of West London?’

 

CapCo lease Earl’s Court 1 and 2 from TfL furthermore the EC1 lease will revert to TfLin 28 years, with the remaining lease of 28 years for EC2. Why is TfL, as a public accountable body not exercising their own development rights — What a mess!

 

Campaigners will now join with the increasing number of opposing politicians and approach the Secretary of State Eric Pickles in the hope of persuading him to put a stop to this folly.

 

JOS BELL

07977 090972

 

BELLA HARDWICK

07834 211 757

 


The Earl’s Court Area Action Group is not aligned to any particular party or political movement and is comprised of:

The Association of Event Organisers
The Friends of the Brompton Cemetery
The Hammersmith Society
West Kensington & Gibb’s Green Estates residents
And concerned residents of Earl’s Court and North End Wards

 


RMT Seek Clarification In Respect Of The Law Commission's Interim Statement




Thursday, July 04, 2013

BORIS: A Mayor Who Has Turned His Back On The Trade That Helped Get Him Elected.


When it comes to air quality in London, the Taxi trade always comes in for a lashing from both the media and the greenies. Scientific evidence is overlooked and the iconic London Taxi is always put in the frame. 

The Mayor has spent over a hundred million pounds on his bike scheme (each Boris bike cost £16,000 overall in set up costs), several hundred million on a new London bus (600 Boris buses costing £355,000 each), plus he is also committed to spending another billion pounds on expanding cycling across London.

But Boris has turned his back on the Taxi trade that helped get him elected.
Without spending a penny in compensation or producing any reliable evidence, a15 year age limit was placed on Taxis which has seen thousands of Taxi drivers plunged into financial hardship. After 18 months and the removal of over 5,500 older vehicles, the air quality remains increasingly poor.

Now, without research to back them up, three major London council leaders are trying to influence the Mayor to reduce the Taxi age limit to 10 years. Plus these same councils are considering following Islington's blanket 20ph speed limit. Any engineer worth their degree would willingly explain, modern catalytic converters do not function properly at lower speeds, most need to obtain much higher speeds for a consistent duration to regenerate or they clog. 

Are these self-elected environmental police, are chasing the wrong criminal?
Lets look at the evidence.

Energy select committee chairman Tim Yeo, resigned from the company that modifies new replacement Taxis, in a conflict of interest scandal. Yeo was also the first to introduced the idea of a Taxi age limit at a Tory conference.

We've recently been informed by the  DEFRA report, that new Taxis from both LTC and Mercedes are more polluting than the older ones Boris has forced of the road.

TfL, refused to allow retrofitting Diesel Particle Filters to existing older Taxis, so why do they insist they are fitted to brand new LTC vehicles?

TfL to now take away the incentive for motorists to buy less polluting vehicles such as Hybrids by removing congestion charge discounts and exemptions.
    
Not once has Boris put visible pressure on Taxi manufactures to come up with a cleaner hybrid engine. DPF filters are fitted to current TX4's to bring them into Euro 5 standard even though DPF filters do not function properly under urban stop start usage.

How hard would it have been for Boris to say to manufacturers, 
"Unless you produce a hybrid vehicle, it won't get plated"?

No choice.
London Taxi drivers are the casualties that no one gives a damn about. We are expected as usual to just take it on the chin. Time and time again, we are vilified as the biggest contributing factor behind the 4,500 annual deaths, attributed to poor air quality in the capital.

TfL tell us what vehicles we can buy. 
With older, less polluting vehicles being taken off the road, we are being forced to buy new vehicles that are killing people quicker.

Questions should be asked of the Mayor as to why such polluting vehicles were chosen as an alternative To the TX4, in preference to other vehicles that have greener credentials.

Taxi drivers in York are being offered £3,000 towards the price of a low emission taxi as well as half-price taxi licensing as the City of York Council looks to reduce air pollution.To qualify for their grant, drivers must be registered to work in York and choose a hybrid or electric car that emits under 100g/km CO2.

Councillor Dave Merrett, City of York Council’s cabinet member for Transport, Planning and Sustainability, said: “We are determined to address the traffic-related air quality problems we have in York This incentive is an innovative step forward. 
The cars will be a regular sight at what is the UK’s first ever ‘green’ taxi rank, reserved purely for hybrid vehicles.

Perhaps the Mayor should take a leaf out of the City of York's book and introduce a viable scrapage incentive scheme to encourage Taxi drivers to buy less polluting vehicles. But that's currently impossible because there are no suitable vehicles available to London's Taxi drivers under the current conditions of fitness.

London needs to follow in York’s footsteps soon and catch up with other countries that already promote eco-taxis.


BORIS WE NEED A CLEANER ENGINE OR A DIFFERENT VEHICLE WITH A CLEANER ENGINE.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Mayor Urged To Defer Decision On Demolition Of Earle's Court And West Ken Area.

The Mayor is due to decide the joint planning application from Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea before the 4th of July.

Letter from Darren Johnson AM, Nicky Gavron AM and Stephen Knight AM:

2nd July 2013

Boris Johnson
Mayor of London
City Hall
The Queen’s Walk
London SE1 2AA

Dear Mr Johnson

Re: Earls Court Exhibition Centres redevelopment plans (which include Lillie Bridge Rail Depot and West Kensington and Gibbs Green Housing Estate). Ref: PP/11/01937 & 2011/02001/OUT

We are writing to strongly urge you to defer your decision on the Earls Court redevelopment until you have carried out a full independent economic impact assessment on what the loss of the Centres will mean to the local and national economy. The decision should also be deferred until Transport for London (TfL) has finished its assessment of the demolition and relocation of the Lille Bridge Depot, which is due in December 2013.

We believe that the economic case for retaining the Earls Court Exhibition Centres has not been properly considered and in fact understated. This is particularly concerning as these successful and established international Exhibition Centres attracts 1.5 million visitors, 15,000 exhibitors and 300 events each year, are estimated to be worth £1.25 billion to London’s economy and supports around 12,500 London jobs. According to the Association of Event Organisers the Exhibition Centres play a key role in delivering the events economy and their loss would relegate the UK’s position as a world leader in the exhibition and events industry at the very time competitor nations are subsidising and expanding theirs.

There is a very strong case for retaining the Lillie Bridge Depot which employs up to 550 people manufacturing bespoke track components essential to London Underground’s unique requirements. It is imprudent to forge ahead without a proper assessment of what the loss of Lille Bridge would mean to London transport, and before a suitable location has been identified. Until TfL’s feasibility study looking at alternative locations and general impacts has been completed and considered, making a decision could compromise passenger safety and lead to delays to essential London Underground repairs, additional costs and job losses.

For the reasons set out above, it is imperative that you defer your decision.

Yours sincerely

Darren Johnson AM, London Assembly Green Party Group
Nicky Gavron AM, London Assembly Labour Party Group
Stephen Knight AM, London Assembly Liberal Democrat Group

Source: MayorWatch Blog.


Ford Transit Eco-Friendly Taxi Ready To Hit The Streets.

A CREWE manufacturer has added a new eco-friendly taxi to its specialist vehicles line.

Voyager MPV, based at Groby Road, offer a range of vehicle adaptations, including minibus and mobility vehicle conversions.

The company provide many of the famous wheelchair accessible black cabs on London's roads.

Their new Ford Transit Taxi, unveiled at Manchester's Taxi and Private hire show back in May, has an eye on helping drivers increase their earnings via a number of eco-friendly features to reduce running costs.

Oliver Lee, operations manager, said: "We are always looking for ways to improve our service offering to taxi drivers, and the new Transit Taxi is a great way to do this.

“It is an exceptional vehicle that will help drivers increase their earning capacity while putting passengers at ease with impeccable levels of comfort and outstanding safety credentials.”


Source: Crew Gaurdian 

Monday, July 01, 2013

Police Seek To Speak To Taxi Driver, After Woman Raped By Man She Met In Night Club

Police are searching for a man who raped a woman in the back garden of a house after a night out in Aylesbury.

The 49-year-old woman was introduced to the attacker and danced with him in Mendoza’s on Saturday night.

                      

They then left together before getting in a maroon coloured taxi from the top of Market Square.

They got out of the taxi in the area of St Hilda’s Court and St Anthony Close, where he raped her in the back garden of a house.

The man is believed to be of Albanian origin, in his 40s, around 5ft 6ins, slim, with mousey brown short hair. He was wearing a short sleeved top, jeans and black footwear.

Police were called at 2.40am on Sunday morning and officers want to speak to anyone who saw the man in the club, in Market Square, or in the area where the assault occurred. They are also keen to speak to the taxi driver.

Anyone with any information should contact Det Insp Deborah Goff via the 24-hour Police Enquiry Centre on 101.

If you don’t want to speak directly to the police, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org

THE LAW, THE LAW COMMISSION AND THE TAXI TRADE....by Mike Holder.

THE LAW

Which laws govern taxis?

The Hackney Carriage Act 1831 was the first major legislation governing taxis and has been renewed and extended since – below are some other Acts of Parliament that apply to the trade:

  • London Hackney Carriage Act 1843
  • Town Police Clauses Act 1847
  • Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869
  • London Cab Act 1896, 1968
  • London Cab and Stage Carriage Act 1907
  • London Cab Order 1934, 1973
  • Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976
  • Transport Act 1980
  • Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

The law commission are seeking to repeal all these acts, bin them and start afresh

Under section 5 of the interim report the Law commission will not be seeking to define in law Plying for hire.

In reference to section 5 of the report:

''We suggest moving away from the out-dated concept of plying for hire and use instead a more modern definition of the limits to the way private hire services may be offered, using the concept of pre-booking (which would be statutorily defined) through a licensed operator''


This will lead to a nation standard for Private Hire and Taxis.

If the Law Commissions recommendations make it through to legislation, minicabs, illegally plying for hire will not be reportable as an offence, as in the eyes of the law, they will just be parked cars.

A minicab flagged down could then take the more modern concept and enter into a pre booking arrangement by handing the passenger a phone to record details with a licensed operator.





Touting however, is one of the hardest offenses to bring to court as you have to prove solicitation. Hense the minute amount of cases that actually make it to court ( just 6 in the first quarter of 2013) compared to the huge problem witness most nights across Lonon.


The authorities use word play to to disguise the enormity of the problem refering to licensed PHV touts as UNLICENSED MINICABS.


The police in general turn a blind eye to touting, as the problem is too huge for them to tackle. 

Wandsworth Met actually recruited touts and advised them to work for local minicab firms and encouraged the proliferation of satellite offices with clipboard johnnies borough wide. 

What exactly is a taxi tout?

A tout is someone who acts “in a public place to solicit persons to hire vehicles to carry them as passengers”. Typically they operate in mainline railway stations, airports or other busy public places, and offer a cheaper than standard fare – although invariably the fare finally paid is many times the standard rate. 

Also touting may invalidate any insurance they may have – and as the touts and drivers are acting illegally it is unlikely they will have specialist hire-and-reward insurance cover. Touting was made a criminal offence in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which the Law Commission are seeking to repeal.

So, who's got your back?

Trade organisations actively engaged in action to demonstrate disapproval of the report equate to less than 8% of the total Taxi trade. 

Funny though, the LTDA with their enormouse 9000 membership base, don't see any danger in the Law Commission recommendations and have refused to meet with other trade orgs to discuss the issue on numerous occasions. 

If you are a member of the LTDA, actively paying their wages, how do you feel about their capitulation to the Law Commission report.

Meanwhile the majority of the trade have their heads in the sand. They will be the ones shouting the loudest when the muck finally hits the fan and they become no more than glorified minicabs.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

LTDFUC ANNUAL OUTING TO SOUTHEND.

2013 SOUTHEND-ON-SEA OUTING
27th June 2013


Our '85th anniversary' outing to Southend-on-Sea took place on Thursday 27th June and was a brilliant and huge success, with 300 'special needs' and underprivileged children being treated to a day they will remember for a long time.

The weather was great and the smiles on the children's faces and continuous laughter from them all day was a joy to behold. 

 


In the meantime in case you missed the ITV news coverage, please click on the link below.

 

http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/update/2013-06-27/seaside-taxi-trip-for-300-children/


 

A group of taxi drivers have taken three hundred children on a trip to the seaside today. A brave thing to do, but the kind-hearted cabbie's organise the trip every year. They do it, to take children out of London to enjoy a day out in Southend as Jenny Line reports.


The Hon. President, Hon. Chair and Committee would like to give sincere thanks to all the drivers, helpers, sponsors and entertainers for making the day possible.