Saturday, July 27, 2013

Good Samaritan Taxi Driver has teeth knocked out after stepping in to try and stop attack on mini-cab driver

The victim, a 57-year-old man was driving on Chatsworth Road, Stretford when he saw two men attacking the driver of a red mini-cab.

Labour demand answers from TfL boss over anti-Israeli contract....... BY MARTIN HOSCIK

TfL's Sir Peter Hendy has been asked to explain how the clause was included in the contract.

TfL’s Sir Peter Hendy has been asked to explain how the clause was included in the contract.

Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy has been asked to explain how controversial clauses furthering the UAE’s boycott of Israel came to be included in a contract between TfL and Emirates airline.

As previously reported, the UAE oweed airline’s agreement to sponsor the Thames cable car includes a clause allowing it to withdraw from the deal should TfL sell or assign the scheme to a “conflicting person”

The break clause went further than usual, extending the definition of a “conflicting person” to include “any person who is a national of, or who is registered, incorporated, established or whose principal place of business is in a country with which the United Arab Emirates does not at the date of this Contract or at any relevant point during the Term maintain diplomatic relations;”

The effect of the clause was to limit TfL’s commercial options by making the contract subservient to the foreign policy of an overseas Government.

It would prevent TfL from selling all or part of the cable car to an Israeli national or business or financing the scheme through Israeli-based banks should they require its assets be put up as security.

TfL bosses initially sought to defend the clause, however when he became aware of it Mayor Boris Johnson ordered them to renegotiate the contract. City Hall insiders said the Mayor was “furious” at TfL’s gaffe.

Appearing before the London Assembly on Thursday, the Mayor criticised the clause, labelling it “plainly inappropriate” and saying it had been “completely wrongly drawn up”.

Mr Johnson told Labour London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore: “I don’t believe in allowing any foreign policy considerations to intrude into the governance of London and that clause was plainly inappropriate and it’s been taken out.”

Mr Dismore has now written to Sir Peter asking him to confirm how the clause came to be included in the contract and to publish any legal advice TfL received about it.

Sir Peter has also been asked to confirm what steps he’s taken “to hold to account those responsible for this fiasco” and to outline what action he’s taken to ensure “there is no repetition”.

Asked to comment on Mr Dismore’s letter, a TfL spokesperson said Sir Peter would respond and that its past statement “still stands”.

Andrew Dismore’s letter to Sir Peter Hendy:

Dear Peter,

RE: Emirates cable car sponsorship contract

As you know, the Mayor has ordered the Israel boycott clause to be removed from this contract the Mayor rightly considering that the “clause was plainly inappropriate” and “was completely wrongly drawn up”.

I see from the evidence of Howard Carter to the Oversight Committee on 18/7, that the “Emirates want to have a discussion about whether something else replaces it”.

Could you please tell me what is being done to satisfy this request, and what the alternative wording is to be? When will you publish the reworded contract?

Could you also please tell me what is being done to review all other TfL contracts, to see if a similar boycott wording has “slipped through”?
Can you also explain how the original boycott clauses came to be included in the contract?

What legal advice was obtained on the contract and its implications before it was signed?

Was advice obtained from external lawyers or internal legal officers only?

Were the terms of the boycott clause brought to the attention of TfL before the contact was signed? If not why not?

Will you publish the legal advice you obtained on the contract? If not why not? What action have you taken to hold to account those responsible for this fiasco? What steps have you taken to ensure there is no repetition of these serious errors?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Andrew Dismore
London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden

Friday, July 26, 2013

LTC Restarts Production On Enhanced TX4: Current VM Engine To Be Retained: Press Release From LTC:


COOLANT: Getting the right mix

If any vehicle does not have its coolant concentration maintained at a 50% coolant and 50% water mix at all times – regardless of the season – oxidisation of aluminium components can occur which causes particles to slowly build up within both the heater and radiator matrices. This in turn triggers a sequence of events which can lead to blockages in the oil gallery, rising engine temperatures and eventually, engine failure. It is therefore vital that drivers understand the importance of maintaining a 50/50 coolant/water mix ALL YEAR ROUND.

OIL: Getting the right specification

Gone are the days when you could use any 20w/50 specification oil in your vehicle. It is now vital that you use a fully-synthetic, low SAPS (Sulphated Ash and Phosphorus-Sulphur), 10w40 specification oil in your engine. Failure to use the right oil can result in a number of issues, including bore glazing, bore polishing and, specific to Euro 5 vehicles, blockages in the Diesel Particulate Filter. As well as ensuring that an engine runs smoothly, the right oil will also keep your engine clean and free from contaminants.

SERVICING: Getting the right maintenance

Ensuring that your TX4 is serviced correctly and in line with manufacturer’s servicing schedule is vital in order to protect the integrity of your engine. Servicing your vehicle correctly dramatically improves vehicle and engine life expectancy; it acts as a preventative measure, as it provides an opportunity for mechanics to diagnose potential failures early and, therefore reduce or eliminate maintenance and parts costs.

The company has launched a campaign in order to drive home these fundamental principals of engine maintenance to new and existing customers, which will be supported by their Approved Service Dealer network. It will also be raising awareness of its range of oils (£5.95 for 1litre) and coolant (£4.45 for 1litre), created by Morris Lubricants, which are available from any London Taxi Company dealership or Approved Service Dealers.

Drivers can read more about the importance of coolant, oils and servicing at:

www.london-taxis.co.uk

ENDS

Taxi driver who knocked down pedestrians 'like bowling pins' in central Cardiff has sentence appeal rejected

Majid Rehman was jailed after driving his Taxi at six rail workers and two bystanders outside Cardiff Central train station in March 2012



A taxi driver who deliberately knocked down eight pedestrians “like bowling pins” in Cardiff city centre has had an appeal against the length of his sentence rejected.

On March 27 last year Majid Rehman drove his car at six rail workers and two “innocent bystanders” injuring them all.

One man was dragged under his cab and had to have skin grafts for burn and friction injuries to his body.

Following a trial at Cardiff Crown Court in November last year the 30-year-old married man was unanimously convicted of two counts of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, one count of wounding with intent and five charges of intending to cause grievous bodily harm with intent.

He had already pleaded guilty to one count of dangerous driving.

Judge Philips Richards subsequently jailed him for 15 years saying the lengthy term should act as a warning to any other person who considers using a car as a weapon.

Yesterday, at the same court, three High Court judges listened to his appeal to have his sentenced reduced.


Lord Justice Pitchford QC, Mr Justice Macduff and Mr Justice Jeremy Baker were told by Rehman’s barrister the sentence was “simply too long”.

Nicholas Gareth Jones admitted there were aggravating factors which could have led the original judge to hand out the 15 year term – including that Rehman had a previous conviction for criminal damage after he rammed his car into his employers over a dispute over wages – but added there were also mitigating factors.

“It was a single act, it was in isolation and there was a lack of any significant premeditation,” he said.

Rehman’s trial head how he had been provoked after he was involved in a dispute with the rail workers in which he had suffered racial abuse and had been punched in the chest moments before mowing down the eight men.

Mr Jones also cited a case from 2001 in which a man who rammed his car into a number of police patrol cars, injuring six officers, was jailed for five years.

But the panel of High Court judges rejected the appeal saying while the 2001 case had similarities, it was significantly different.

Mr Justice Macduff said: “There was, albeit to a limited extent, premeditation as there was a gap in time between the attack and the offence.”

He added: “It could have easily been the case that one person, if not more, could have died in this act. That is the measure of how serious this case was.”


Source: Wales OnLine.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Council Give Green Light For Camden To Become 20mph Zone.

Camden sustainability chief Cllr Phil Jones says a 20mph limit will increase safety and encourage people to walk and cycle.

Members of Camden Council’s cabinet have formally agreed the proposals for the scheme following a six-week public consultation.

Results showed 67 per cent of those who took part supported the reduced speed limit, while 32 per cent opposed the change.

But some residents and motorists have expressed reservations about cutting the speed limit – claiming few motorists will adhere to the rules, while slower speeds are not necessary on some main roads.  

In Camden, all roads managed by the council will be subject to the new speed limit, excluding designated red routes which are managed by Transport for London (TfL), such as the Finchley Road, and private roads.

A report outlining the new scheme cites statistics from the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents which claims there is a 2.5 per cent chance of a pedestrian being killed when struck at 20mph, compared with a 20 per cent chance at 30mph.

Figures from the Department of Transport show there were 840 reported road accident casualties in Camden last year, including six fatalities and 108 accidents in which people were seriously injured.

It is also hoped slower speeds will reduce traffic congestion and encourage more people to walk and cycle.

Camden Council cabinet member for sustainability, Cllr Phil Jones, said: “Evidence shows if roads are slower more people walk and cycle and it’s also better for the environment.

“It also provides greater consistency for drivers. At the moment you can go from 20 to 30mph speed limits quite suddenly.

“Most motorists want to drive safely and they live in the borough with their families, so they also want a pleasant and safe environment for them to live in when they’re out and about.”

The cost of the scheme is estimated at £750,000-£1million, and it could be in place by the end of April next year. Police will be responsible for enforcing the new speed limit.

Source: Ham and High.

Editorial Comment:
Previous schemes have shown increases in congestion caused by limits set too low.  

Since the 20 mph limit was introduced on Tower Bridge we have seen congestion escalate on all approach roads. The lower speed limit on Upper Thames Street had to be reversed as traffic almost ground to a halt.

Cllr Jones has said nothing about the fact that modern catalytic converters and diesel particle filters do not function efficiently at low speeds. It is feared by many that as councils adopt the blanket 20mph limit, area quality will deteriorate significantly

Local councils in central London have done very little to reduce emissions and the 4267 deaths every year from pollution continue. That's 80 people each and every week dying in London and yet absolutely nothing is done to avoid those deaths. 

If it were a terrorist bomb going off every week killing 80 people something would be done. 
If a bus or train crashed every single week killing 80 people then there would be an immediate investigation
If these deaths were cyclists, London would be shut down.

All problems with the Mercedes Vito Taxi resolved? you wish!!....Vito Taxi Club


We’re definitely not there yet and there is still a very long way to go to achieve that goal. Our club will not rest until all issues regarding our taxis are resolved and members compensated. There is however some good news from Mercedes.

Parts availability 
Following our efforts to get Mercedes to stock all the additional parts that go into the Vito Taxi at their distribution centre in Milton Keynes, we are delighted to announce that Mercedes will have all parts in stock in a couple of weeks . There has been a holdup because of legal issues We will soon have a guaranteed 24 hour delivery to all dealerships in the UK. We are told that if a part is ordered at 4pm , it will be delivered by 8am next morning . The final details are being sorted out this week , no one can say MB rushes into anything . Dealerships will no longer have to go back to KPM or Penso for parts, so next time you get a dealership that tells you they can’t get the parts, ask again, and if they refuse, go to another dealership for your work. 
Over the next few weeks, Mike and I will be visiting the dealerships around London and we hope to get some feedback for you as to who is giving the best and worst service to our club members. 

Parts availability is of course a major factor in the running and maintenance of our vehicle, but its only one part of the puzzle. Turn around times on warranty claims and repairs are still as much of an issue as they were before. We in the cab trade have had amazing service from small independent garages who were able to repair cabs almost immediately, often within an hour or two. Other trades and the ordinary car owner have not had this luxury. Repair times are often quoted in terms of weeks, not hours or days. Mercedes garages have generally been in this category. If Mercedes wish to stay in the London cab market they have to change and do so rapidly, particularly as other makes of cab will soon be available in London. 
A major bone of contention from our members is the requirement to return to KPM for warranty work when it is patently clear that their workshops are unable to cope with the volume of work coming in. They have also recently announced that they are going into the hire cab market. This can only exacerbate their poor performance as we’re sure they will be putting their own cabs first. 
Hopefully now that taxi specific parts are readily available to all dealerships, repair times will come down at KPM and across the board.

Rear steering. 
While replacement actuators are hopefully no longer an issue, and repair times come down, this does not however alter the fact that the problems with the steering has not changed. Work on resolving this problem is still ongoing at Penso and we hope to get some feedback soon.  Our members cabs are still breaking down on a daily basis and owners out of warranty are having to fork out thousands of pounds to replace faulty components with yet another faulty component. This cannot be expectable and its an issue that if left unresolved can only end up in a court battle. This is a course of action that we hope to avoid but will not shy away from if no progress can be achieved in the coming few months. We at the club remain steadfast in our opinion that its morally and possibly legally wrong for these vehicle (new or secondhand) to be sold with a known unresolved component issue that is arguably dangerous.

Loan cabs. 
Any warranty repairer worth their salt, whether it be a car, van or taxi should  provide a loan vehicle for you to use as a courtesy when your vehicle is in repair. You wouldn’t use a garage for your car if they didn’t offer this service, you’d find a garage that did.  The cab trade more than any other business requires this facility so why is it not being offered to us by the dealerships? 
We know MB are encouraging dealerships to accept loan cabs and have set up an arrangement with KPM to supply them . It is up to the dealerships to take up this offer . Mike and I will be looking into this matter further when we meet the dealerships and will recommend the ones that do to you.

Warranty issues. 
As we told you last time, replacement components that fail after the Mercedes three year warranty period expires, will only be considered for free replacement for up to six months after that date and then only if there has been a history of that part breaking down. If you remove the fuse on the rear steering and only address the problem at the time of your annual inspection then there will be little or no record of it breaking down and it will be unlikely that Mercedes will offer any additional help. This advice also applies to the side steps. 

We are still trying to get an extended warranty deal for our members and a couple of underwriters are looking at it. We will keep you informed of any developments. 
At our last meeting with Mercedes, it was agreed that an inventory/invoice would be issued by the dealerships for work carried out on your taxi, whether warranty or paid. This will enable you to have a complete record of your servicing, repairs and modifications to your vehicle. Please ask for this if it not automatically given to you. You can also ask for a full print out of the work previously carried out. 

On the subject of warranties, a serious issue is raising its ugly head regarding the purchasing or leasing of second hand Vito Taxis from KPM. They are offering a very attractive two or three year leasing deal with a two year warranty. What seems at first to be a good deal is already proving to be a less than ideal for some owners. Their two year warranty has nothing to do with Mercedes and is only valid at KPM. Drivers who are having component failures under this warranty can only use KPM who are regularly offering ridiculous repair times of three to six weeks into the future. We at the club recommend that if you are thinking of purchasing one of these deals, you wait until the situation at KPM has improved.
 
We are also having many complaints from drivers who have bought three year old cabs from KPM with a warranty that the owners say does not cover some very expensive parts. If anyone is thinking about one of these deals, they need to check the terms of the warranty very carefully, but be warned, its not easily understood.

Membership
Unfortunately we are gaining new members every day. I say unfortunately because this type of pressure group should not be necessary in this day and age. New vehicles are still experiencing the same component failures as the first ones sold four years ago and the new owners are still facing the same delays on warranty work. Admittedly, new taxis are a little better than the first ones produced but are still a long way from perfect.
 
If you are reading this email then I have your correct address. Unfortunately some of the email I send out bounce back which means that something is wrong with that address. If you speak to one of our members that have not received this update, please ask them to email me on:- 

vitotaxiclub@gmail.com so that I can update my record 

or call : Mike Canty 07973 739576 or myself, Irving Lomon 07973 393614

Lastly, please let us know of any ongoing issues you have or even if you have something useful to pass on to other members.

  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Boris Johnson Anti-Israel Cable Car Contract Referred To US And EU Authorities

Boris Johnson is facing scrutiny from American and EU authorities over accusations that companies working on the Emirates Cable Car could have been forced to unwittingly break the law.



City Hall came under pressure after it emerged Transport for London had agreed a controversial ‘anti-Israel’ clause with Emirates airline as sponsors, which effectively banned them from engaging in any deals with Israel.

The Mayor was “unaware” of this clause and asked TFL to look into it, according to his spokeswoman. Speaking at Mayor’s Question Time last week, Johnson said “I have read the clauses in the contract. I can see that they are capable of misconstruction by suspicious and paranoid minds”.

However, London Labour assembly member Andrew Dismore has written to the chairman of the US Foreign Affairs Committee, the U.S Department of Commerce and the European Union Trade Commissioner asking them to investigate the Mayor’s “discriminatory” contract. The “anti-Israel” clause would have put any company working with TfL and also in the USA over the last two years at risk of prosecution and fines of up to $250,000, according to Dismore.

Logistics company Mace, which built and maintains the cable car, has major American business interests and carries out work for the US Government. TfL business partners are at risk of breaking the US Export Adminisration Act, forbidding any US-based operation from taking on any contracts with Israel boycott clauses, and the EU-Israel Association Agreement.

Labour London Assembly Member Andrew Dismore said: “TfL has put major companies and itself at significant risk of prosecution due to this contract fiasco. The US government is very clear that businesses operating in the United States are not to be involved in a boycott of Israel and if found to be dealing with a business that is so involved, face a fine up to $250,000.“

This is what happens when the Mayor has a vanity project and does not read the contract. 
The offending clause, is clause 1 of the contract so it’s not even in the small print. 

At last week’s Mayor’s Question Time Boris said this deal only looked suspicious to those with ‘paranoid minds’ I don’t think it’s paranoid to question why a clause was included in a contract signed by a public body like TfL, which is under the Mayor’s control, that blacklists an entire country and its people.

"Discrimination is completely unacceptable in all its forms, and for the Mayor to have accepted in the formal terms of this contract such an anti-Israeli boycott in this way beggars belief.”

TfL's head of the Emirates Air Line, Danny Price, said: "We have already agreed to remove the text in question from the contract. The intention behind it was always to give Emirates the option to withdraw their sponsorship should we sell the Emirates Air Line to someone else, something which is common in such contracts.

"The clauses as they stood would not have constrained how TfL do business, however to avoid any confusion they will be rewritten and we will publish the alternative wording. For the avoidance of doubt, we cannot foresee any circumstances in which we would sell the Emirates Air Line."

Source: Huffpost

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An Open Letter To TfLTPH: Oh what a tangled web we weave! By Jim Thomas.

Just under a year ago, Taxi Leaks came into possession of a communication from a member of staff at LTPH, informing us that a certain Private Hire operator had apparently received special treatment in relation to obtaining 18 new satellite office variations to an operators licence, they had not held for the required time period under TfL policy.

We checked this out on line, using company check websites including TfL's own website and we found a new company, with new business premises and a new director, who had never;
a) been in the private hire business 
b) held an operators licence 
c) held a PH drivers licence before. 
But even so, this new operator had been issued with 18 new licence variations just a couple of days after registering as a new private hire operator.

We complained to both Director of LTPH John Mason and also to deputy Director Helen Chapman. 



The replies we received stated that this was not new company, just a name change...
This we investigated and again, proved wrong. 
The records we found showed the old company had been liquidated and no longer exists. 
The company that had been issued with 18 new licences was a newly registered company trading from new registered premises, with a new director.

We were told the director of the new company was the same person who was director of the company that had gone into liquidation... 
This again we investigated and can prove to be wrong.
 
The new director, although having the same surname, has a different christian name and different date of birth, which would point to the fact this person was not the previous company director.

We sent our findings along with the evidence we had uncovered to TfLTPH but received no reply or explanation for approx seven months.

The company involved have recently reincorporated the name of the old company name into the website of the new company, giving the impression of just a name change. Wonder who advised them to do that?

After exposing this issue on the Taxi Leaks blog on three separate occasions, we gave up on waiting for a reply from Mason and Chapman and wrote to a number of top TfL officers including Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy, Managing Director Leon Daniels, plus MPs and assorted GLA Assembly Members.

The ensuing bad publicity and reaction from TfL partners and stakeholders, seems to have pushed TfL to finally reply.

As we expected the web of deceit continues to be spun.

The first paragraph of the reply states "For data protection reasons we will be unable to provide with full details of the case file"... Really? there's a surprise.

The details of the licence variations and the company records are all in the public domain and are freely available for inspection on various websites including TfL's own site and companies House.

The reply goes on to say:
"All applicants are licensed in accordance with the legislation and policy in force at the time and we can confirm the licence issued to RD2.com was approved in the same manner."
The reply then goes on:
"The one year rule is an administrative requirement to ensure that the operator is competent to manage at late night premises." 

We also have confirmation in an email from Helen Chapman that it is in fact TfL's policy that an operator must be in business for the minimum period of one year before they are eligible for a licence variation.
The email actually says:
"You are correct that it is now our policy that operators must have been licensed as a standard operator for at least one year before we will consider a variation to operate from a late night venue."

So that's two different sources confirming TfL's policy.

However, the reply then goes on to contradict itself.
"The decision as to whether to issue licences to operators for late night premises prior to the one year of holding an operators licence remains at the discretion of the Licensing Authority and is not a legislative requirement. "
Funny, remember in the previous paragraph they said
"All applicants are licensed in accordance with the legislation and policy in force at the time"

This statement from TfL has very serious implications.
So basically what they are now saying is, TfL's legislation and policy for Private Hire, isn't worth the paper it's written on.

This now brings into question, if there is no legislative requirement for satellite offices, what legislation legitimises their operation?
Or, as we have always believed, are satellite officers not legal.

If there's no amendment to the Cab Act then licence variations can't be legally issued.

Are we dealing with a government agency charged with the responsibility of ensuring public safety by licensing private hire under the Act of 1998? 
Surely they have a duty of care to be fair open and transparent and not use the Data Protection Act as a smoke screen.

Why are TfL acting like a bunch of Del-boy Spivs, frequently changing and making up rules and policy to meet their own agendas at the expense of the licensed Taxi Trade?

We have seen policy issues before. 
  * Before his departure, Director of LTPH John Mason, gave special exemption to two minicab firms, allowing them to have liveries which are not allowed for other PH companies under the 1998 act. 
  * Also, when back window adverts were first introduced, they/we were told by TfL notice only 1/3rd of the rear screen could be covered. But soon most companies, led by Addison Lees example, were coving more than the allowed space. After complaining about this abuse, we were told there was no actual legislation coving this, just guidelines and LTPH were powerless to enforce. 
  * Then we had the rear wiper arm episode where Mason gave Addison Lee 9 months to get all their vehicles refitted with the wiper arms they themselves had removed. 

Back to the reply.

Our complaint also covered the issue of 19 satellite office licenses issued to a company, Rides 2 ltd in liquidation. The licences run from 8/7/2012 till 8/7/2017. 
How can this be, as this company no longer exists?
How can these licences still show up on the TfL website if the company doesn't exist?

This part of our complaint has been totally ignored and overlooked by TfL and LTPH. Neither agency has said one word about the licences issued to Rides2.


The reply goes on:
"The nominated company representative and licensee of the new company had over 12 months experience as a director and consideration was given to the previous operators compliance history of holding such a licence. This provided satisfactory evidence to the licensing team that the new company were competent to hold a licence with late night premises and so did not require the 12 months as per new applicants."

This statement is false:
In this case the new company director and nominated representative has not had experience in the field of private hire. 
The company director was in fact previously the director of a photographic studio, Bettaprint (dissolved) and also a number of real estate companies, including director and company secretary of RSSB Southall Ltd (resigned 23/10/1998) and director and company secretary (dissolved) Timetell Ltd, but has never been director or company secretary of a licensed Private hire company, prior to July 2012.

This last statement is the most dangerous, as it appears to show if your company goes into liquidation and the director is found to be unfit to run a company, banned from being a company director, or qhas a criminal record, you can just nominate a company representative with no experience as long as they have a clean record.

This example is just one case out of many thousand private hire operator licence variations. How many more examples of policy exemptions are out there?

The reply from TfL, sent to Taxi Leaks came unsigned by any employee.

Below is a photo of part of RD2.coms home page, which clearly depicts a company that no longer exists. It also shows silhouettes of London Taxis with rooftop for hire signs. This could be misleading to the public who may believe they were booking Licensed Taxis (Black Cabs)




Below is the Email in full, sent to me personally, which you can plainly see is unsigned by any employee of TfLTPH.