Saturday, August 03, 2013

Anti-smoking group blasts council's move to ban e-cigs from taxis



Anti-smoking campaigners have blasted a council's decision to ban passengers from smoking e-cigarettes in taxis.

St Helens Council decided to ban passengers from using e-cigarettes as they felt drivers would find it difficult to tell if they were smoking real cigs.

E-cigarettes are not covered by the smoking ban meaning they can be used in public areas unless a business or body introduces their own policy.

But anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health have described the decision as "regrettable" and are calling for the ban to be rescinded.

The ban is expected to provoke anger among sellers of the cigarettes who feel their use should be encouraged to help people quit smoking more harmful products.

A spokesperson for ASH said: "I think it is a regrettable decision as they are not tobacco products.

"Smokers use e-cigarettes to help cut down or even quit smoking so by banning them they are making it more difficult to those people.

"They wouldn't put a ban on people using nicotine gum or patches so why do it with e-cigarettes.

"No-one likes breathing in cigarette fumes and they are so pungent it is easy for people to tell the difference between them and e-cigarettes.

"I think they should rescind the ban because quite simply there is no problem with smoking these cigarettes in public."

The council is standing by its decision to ban the products while saying it would be "unfair" to expect taxi drivers to check what passengers were smoking.

A spokesperson for St Helens Council said: "The council's Licensing Committee has approved a clear and easy-to-understand policy for taxis that makes it easier to enforce the general 'no smoking' rule in cabs.

"It prevents the smoking of both tobacco and e-cigarettes by either passengers or taxi drivers.

"E-cigarettes are obviously designed to look exactly like tobacco cigarettes and it would be unfair to expect drivers to start checking exactly what their passengers were smoking if there was a dispute.

"We believe this is a responsible attitude to take, bearing in mind that e-cigarettes are completely unregulated and the long term effects are unknown.

"Accordingly we will soon be launching a new policy, covering our own staff, that brackets e-cigarettes with tobacco products.

"We are also producing similar guidelines for local businesses and employers to consider as part of their own smoking policies."

PC gone mad....or just another council with too much power?

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Green Party assembly member Jenny Jones is to be made a member of the House of Lords.

In today’s announcement by Government the former Deputy Mayor of London appeared on the list of new working peers.

Ms Jones, 63, grew up in Brighton and joined the Green Party in 1988, winning a place in the inaugural London Assembly in 2000.

She came third in last year’s London Mayoral elections, and twice stood as an MP, but the former chair of the England and Wales Green Party will now enter parliament as a member of the House of Lords.

Reacting to the news, Darren Johnson AM, the chair of the London Assembly, said: “I am sure I speak for all my colleagues in offering Jenny our warmest congratulations on the award of her life peerage.

“In the parlance of parliament this is a working peerage and I can assure Londoners that Jenny will continue working hard on their behalf both at City Hall and in the House of Lords.”

Others in the list of peerages include Doreen Lawrence, who was nominated by the Labour party for her work campaigning for justice, race equality and better policing since the death of her son Stephen.

Sir Charles Allen, who was a director of LOCOG and named as ‘Mayor’ of the Olympic Village during London 2012, was also inducted into the House of Lords on the Labour benches.

For the Liberal Democrats the former deputy assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police and mayoral candidate Brian Paddick was nominated, as well as Rumi Verjee, philanthropist and founder of Domino’s Pizza in Britain, and James Palumbo, co-founder and chairman of the Ministry of Sound Group.

The Conservatives nominated their former head of policy and associate editor of The Times, Daniel Finkelstein, as well as party treasurer Howard Leigh, the President of Westminster Synagogue and vice president of the Jewish Leadership Council.



Help for Heroes sticker ban row

A taxi driver said he was furious after the council tried to ban him from displaying a Help for Heroes sticker in his car.



Doncaster Council has now backed down over a threat to suspend driver Stephen Searston if he did not remove the stickers from his vehicle.

Mr Searston, aged 46, who has been a cabbie for 13 years, said he was threatened with suspension for displaying the sticker after alleged complaints from other drivers.

He said: “Not 25 minutes earlier I was given the all-clear following a visit by an official to St Sepulchre Gate taxi rank.”

“After he spoke to some of the other drivers he came back to me and said ‘you have to take the stickers down following other drivers’ objections’.

“I was only trying to support our lads in the Forces and I was told I couldn’t – it’s not right.

“It seems no one has had the nerve to complain to my face.”

Director of regeneration and environment Peter Dale said Doncaster Council fully supported the Forces, veterans and Help for Heroes and the authority understood that it was important for people to show their support for them.

He said: “All drivers are bound by our licensing conditions which state that they must seek approval from the council before displaying any adverts, notices or posters in their taxis.

“Although Doncaster Council is proud to support Help for Heroes, we must be fair to all and apply our licensing rules consistently.

“We met the driver to explain the correct process and, having completed this, he can now display the stickers.”

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO LONDON POLLUTION DEATHS AND FAILED AIR QUALITY STRATEGIES

This ePetition is for a Public Inquiry into the failed emissions strategies in London. Taxi Drivers are the worst affected by the pollution; how many drivers do you know who have heart or lung disease or cancer?

If there was an Public Inquiry into the failed emissions strategies it would not only include a full investigation of the unlawful and improper Taxi Age Limit, it would also mean that ALL of the improper strategies of TFL will be fully investigated.

The Phone Hacking investigation  started out to investigate phones being hacked and ended up with many people in the police, media and public office being charged with criminal offences for corruption, bribery and misconduct in Public Office. It will be the same if TFL are investigated

 

 

e-petition

 Click on link below

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/39537

 

PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO LONDON POLLUTION DEATHS AND FAILED AIR QUALITY STRATEGIES

Responsible department: Office of the Leader of the House of Commons

A Public Inquiry will expose all that has taken place and establish exactly why thousands of people have died.The Mayor/TFL have failed to comply with Public Law and to reduce emissions in London and as a direct result 4267 people a year have died. Thousands more suffer poor health and a diminished quality of life and continue to do so on a daily basis. Children walking to school and cyclists are breathing toxic pollution 
Every day thousands of Underground passengers and staff are exposed to vented street level pollution which exceeds healthy EU Air Quality levels. 
All London Transport workers are suffering. Government attempts to force action have been ignored. Many Assembly Members and Politicians have asked for action and none is taken; there has been no accountability whatsoever. The Mayor /TFL have tried to cheat Air Quality measurements The EU could impose fines of £300 million, Valid ideas have been ignored i.e. a peak time delivery ban or a clean up process for diesel vehicles.

Sign this petition click here

 

 

There are 4267 people a year dying in London from pollution (the Mayors own statistic in 2008). In the 4 ½ years that he has been in office The Mayor has implemented improper and failed emissions strategies which have seen no reduction in pollution. Tens of thousands of people are being exposed to harmful pollution on a daily basis, including all of London’s Transport workers (Taxi Drivers, Bus Drivers, Train Drivers, Station Staff),  passengers, commuters, cyclists and pedestrians. 
If 80 people a week, each and every week, were killed in a terrorist attack, a train crash or road accident there would be outrage and there would be an immediate Public Inquiry to prevent it ever happening again. It should be the same with the deaths from pollution and the only way action will be taken is if a Public Inquiry investigates why this has happened and why it continues.

 

Certain characteristics can be identified in those public inquiries that have taken place:

·         Widespread loss of life

  • Threats to public health or safety
  • Failure by the state in its duty to protect
  • Failure in regulation
  • Shocking events

1.       Allegations of serious misconduct and prima facie merit have been made against those acting, or purporting to act, on behalf of the state and

2.       Those allegations are sufficiently widespread and are being treated sufficiently seriously by those outside Government to undermine the public’s confidence in the integrity of the State and in the rule of law and

3.       The allegations relate to a sufficiently defined event or series of events to allow an inquiry to be given proper and clear terms of reference and

4.       An inquiry would represent the most effective means of establishing the merit of the allegations made and so of restoring public confidence.

This website gives a clear guide about the process

Terms of reference for judge-led Inquiry

To inquire into the culture, practices, and ethics of The Mayor and Transport for London including:

1.      The failure of The Mayor and TFL to comply with Public Law in their decision making process. Decisions are required (by Public Law) to be evidence based, rational , reasonable, proportionate, and consistent. (This includes Air Quality strategies and the policies relating to London Taxis). The Taxi Age Limit has put hundreds of London Taxi Drivers out of work, yet will do nothing to reduce pollution. The decision was improper and unlawful; it was not evidence based (no testing was ever done) and it has also been exposed that the Consultation process was improper as it involved the Taxi manufacturers. 
Tim Yeo , a senior Tory MP who initiated the Taxi Age Limit, is also the Chairman of Eco City Vehicles (the company selling the new taxis). When the improper involvement of his
company in the Age Limit consultation was exposed Tim Yeo and the CEO of Eco City Vehicles resigned, yet no action has been taken. In fact The Mayor has even denied their involvement in a letter to an MP. A High Court Judicial Review overturned a Taxi Age Limit in Newport Wales for exactly the same reason; an improper consultation process had taken place. The Department of Transport had actually advised against a Taxi Age Limit, as older taxis may be no more polluting than newer taxis, but the Mayor ignored this.

2.      The Mayor/TFL have failed to reduce emissions in London. Their Air Quality strategies have failed miserably and as a direct result 4267 people a year have died (19201 in the last 4 ½ years) from pollution related illness and many more suffer poor health and a diminished quality of life. The Mayor and TFL have failed in their Duty of Care to implement effective strategies to protect the health on Londoners.

3.      The Metropolitan Police have refused to investigate allegations of fraud, corruption and Misconduct in Public Office. In 2008 a High Court Judge ruled that TFL had made unlawful decisions ( which constitutes Misconduct in Public Office) and no action has been taken. The Local Government Ombudsman and the Standards Committee have also chosen to ignore or refused to investigate any complaints.

4.      The Environmental Audit Committee published a damning report in November 2011 which was extremely critical of the failed Air Quality standards in London and yet the Government has taken no action. The Mayor and TFL have not been held to account by any agency.

5.      The Mayor and TFL have tried to cheat Air Quality measurements by spraying dust suppressants at Air Quality measurements stations. This is a clear fraudulent attempt to hide the pollution problems and a clear admission that ALL Air Quality strategies have failed miserably.

6.      The EU could impose fines of £300 million for London’s failure to comply with emissions standards, which will be passed on to Londoners.

7.      The Mayor and TFL have unreasonably ignored any suggestions of valid ideas to improve emissions i.e. a peak time delivery ban or a clean up process for diesel vehicles.

8.      In 2009 The mayor ignored attempts by the Labour Government to force him to take action to reduce emissions.

9.      The Mayor and TFL have no effective and robust strategies in place going forward, so there is no likelihood that the situation will improve. In his recent manifesto The Mayor did not even mention any proposals to reduce emissions in London, which would suggest he has no intention to do so.

During the Mayoral election all of the candidates (except Boris) formally supported a call for a Public Inquiry into the failed Air Quality and 34 London MPs   wrote to the Environment Secretary to challenge the ‘Public Health Fraud’ because TFL were using dust suppressants at the measurement locations to cheat the readings.
The Leveson inquiry has exposed the serious issues of corruption in the media, the Metropolitan Police and Public Office and a similar Inquiry will expose the reasons why The Mayor and TFL have failed which has resulted in thousands of deaths.

The Mayor and TFL knew in advance that there were thousands of people dying from pollution and also that their proposed strategies would not reduce emissions at all, yet he continued to do nothing.

In 2009 the Labour Government tried to force the Mayor to take action to reduce emissions and this was ignored.

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2172187/boris-johnson-resisted-labour-appeal-tackle-london-air-pollution

 

In September 2010 TFL/ The Deputy Mayor were sent details of an engine clean up process, which would have reduced the emissions of all 21000 London Taxis by 30-50% and would have been extremely cost effective. This process could have been used for ALL diesel vehicles in London ie taxis, buses, trucks etc (which are the biggest polluters) yet it was completely ignored.

On June 6th 2010 the Mayor was sent a document which outlined effective ideas for emissions reduction. It also gave technical details of why past and future proposed strategies had and would fail;

1/ The failed taxi emissions project

2/ The failed LEZ project

The Mayor has continually been given solid technical evidence as to why his strategies are not effective. He has ignored this evidence before, during and after these strategies have been implemented.

He has ignored or sidestepped ALL questions that have been asked on many occasions by MPs and Assembly members.

 

The evidence that ALL of the Mayors strategies have failed is unarguable. The Environmental Research Group at Kings have said there has been little or no reduction in emissions in 10 years.

.

If the Air Quality had improved then why would the Mayor find it necessary to cheat the measurements by spraying dust suppressants?

 

A Public Inquiry will expose all of the reasons why there has been no action taken  and establish exactly why thousands of people have died and continue to do so.

It is alarming that despite the obvious failings of his previous tenure the Mayor has made absolutely no proposals to improve emissions going forward. (his manifesto did not even mention pollution let alone suggest any method for improving it)

 

Many letters have been sent by MPs and many questions have been asked by London Assembly Members in relation to failed emissions strategies. The Mayor has completely ignored, sidestepped or failed to answer all questions and has flatly refused to conduct any emissions conformity testing whatsoever. It should be the case that all London MPs and London Assembly Members give formal support and call for a Public Inquiry.

 

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/39537

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Have The Lunatics Taken Over The Asylum At Palestra? By Jim Thomas


Insurance Write-offs
A recent post on the LTDF forum has pointed out, that a certain car company in East London with strong connections to private hire, is selling accident damaged, category C insurance write-offs to any one who wants to buy a cheap, fully PCO licensed minicab.


Allegedly, cars similar to the one in the advert have been available for purchase from Gumtree, Auto Trader, Top Marques and Car Giant for quite some time.

According to our source, the temporary General Manager of LTPH Helen Chapman was made aware of this advert and to his surprise, said there was nothing LTPH could do about this.

So now we have a situation where minicab drivers and sexual predators can easily buy, extremely cheap insurance write-offs, that are fully LTPH licensed, find a club or bar and tout with impunity. 
And unbelievably, there's nothing LTPH can or want to, do about it.

While Taxi drivers are subjected to continual harassment, trying to find a place to rank (as Taxi ranks disappear wholesale), minicab touts park up and illegally plying for hire wherever they like.
Also, while taxis are inspected and pulled apart in roadside stops, minicab touts are allowed to drive insurance write-off cut and shuts.

PH Apps And Contravention of the London Cab Act 1968 and Private Hire Act 1998.

For over a year, members of Taxi leaks editorial staff have been complaining about the misuse of the words "Taxi, Taxis, Cab and Cabs" by PH companies advertising their services contra to legislation. 
So far, we haven't had an acceptable response from any complaint lodged with LTPH.

So, not only do they turn a blind eye to touting, illegal plying for hire and insurance write-offs, they appear to take no notice or action agains PH breaking legislated policy/guidelines on Internet advertising.

It seems that any minicab operation can use the words Taxi or Cab and get way with it.... LTPH have no appetite to investigate or enforce, as they appear to be too busy harassing working Taxi drivers.

Even though multiple complaints have been made, one minicab firm in Ruislip Manner have been unlawfully using the word Taxi in their operating centre window, for over 2 years.

Unlawfully Age Limit.
Over recent months, Taxi Leaks has carried numerous posts showing evidence, to back up allegations that the Mayor's Age limit is corrupt and unlawful. Our source, Dave Davies of Eco Power has contacted TfL/LTPH on many occasions. But recently LTPH have informed him they will no longer communicate on this issue. 
Below is part of the latest Email received by Mr Davies 

"Despite our previous responses to you it is clear that you feel there is clear evidence that the introduction of age limits for taxis was unlawful and that you intend to expose this through the Courts.  That would have been the appropriate route for you pursue this matter but you failed to raise any challenge at the proper time and as such we do not intend to respond further to your continuous unfounded allegations."

 

Regards

Helen

 

Helen Chapman

General Manager.


So LTPH are to put their fingers in their ears and refuse to take notice of reports from DEFRA and Kings Collage London.


Over the last few months we have seen;

  * SGS staff accused of issuing PH license roundels without inspecting the vehicles

  * Palestra Staff prosecuted for fraudulently accepting cash for licence renewals

  * Unlicensed drivers, driving licensed Taxis, arrested for being in possession of counterfeit licences, IDs and metal badges

  * Unlawful licence variations issued in contravention of TfL policy

  * Unlawful licences issued to a company in liquidation

  * Licence variations traded like commodities between PH operators

  * Officers from TfL/ LTPH with cameras spying on licensed Taxi drivers 

  * Officers from TfL/LTPH spying on drivers social media



Private hire do not have to put up with continual on-road inspections and are not dealt with over illegal plying for hire.


Because of an unpalatable proposal, that would have seen the recruitment of cheap labour from abroad dry up, senior Private Hire bosses wrote to Boris Johnson and the Director of LTPH was moved sideways, over to congestion charging.  


How much longer do we have to endure this treatment before Sir Peter Hendy and Mayor Boris Johnson finally realise that LTHP are not fit for service.


 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Taxi Leaks Roving Reporter Looks At Bavarian Taxi Trade.

Had a few euros unspent from my Rome sojourn so headed off for a break to the beer and Wurstsalat (Sausage Salad) of Bavaria.
 

As ever I spent "Eine Moment" looking at the Taxi Trade, The small town I was staying in had two cab firms (there is no PH in Bavaria) with the following features:
 
  • Each 'firm' is in fact a cooperative wholly owned by the drivers who share the costs (despatcher, advertising etc.). There is no 'Herr Ober' creaming off the top!
  • Work is despatched by voice in the fashioned way but you can book on line etc.
  • Outside the city limits (about a 2 KM/ circle, customers pay the run in and if in the city limits clock is down on arrival)
  • Cars mostly the famous Sand Coloured Mercedes Taxi specific model with a few other Opel's etc. but all in the Taxi colour with roof sign and 3 level meter (much as ours), cabs were spotless and fares about 10% more then us.
  • The town was busy, all the shops let with quality retailers not the sad collection of payday loan, bookies and charity shops that seem to be the norm in UK.. The Cabs rank up at either end of the pedestrian precinct.
  • Roads are pothole free despite having red hot summers and snowy winters,
  • Drivers seemed knowledgeable and were invariably from the town by birth and they said there was a strong verbund (Union).
  • Diesel is cheaper than UK and the TAXI TRADE GET A TAX REBATE ON FUEL DUTY.
  • Bilkers and other nuisance customers are dealt with by the police severely. there is no touting even in Munich.


As ever its a case of when I get back home, I scratch my head as to how WE and yes its WE, have allowed our trade to trickle away, we still get a living but we are doing ever longer hours for the same money, Its not a good outlook is it?
 
Lets take some lessons here, of course there is no paradise but my trips into Europe seem to indicate a trade prepared to look after itself and ensure it has a future and a refusal to be undermined by social dumping etc..


 
Who knows where next?
 
Icn Kann Nichts Mier!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Environmental Research Group at Kings College London conducted testing last year on 15000 London Taxis to show the real life drive cycle emissions.


Conclusions & Recommendations 1

An accurate Emission Factor database for Black Cabs is needed. This will enable informed & appropriate policy and abatement technology development

Primary NO2 emissions need to be directly measured, and regulated, particularly from Diesel vehicles with high annual mileages. This can tackle London’s NO2 problem more efficiently than a LEZ.

It can be inferred that Emission Factors for all vehicle types are likely to be inaccurate, and should be reviewed and updated accordingly. Onroad measurements, such as the method used in this study, are cost effective and accurate approaches for quantifying emissions. 

Conclusions & Recommendations 2

The Mayor’s strategy to remove the oldest Black Cabs from the London Fleet is unlikely to have a significantly positive impact on the air quality in London. This is due to:

i. The relatively small number of EURO 1 Cabs in operation (2% of the cabs from RSD database; 5% estimated by the GLA)

ii. The emission levels from EURO 1 cabs not being significantly different from other EURO classes, with NO being reduced only by 39%

iii. Newer Cabs emitting higher levels of primary NO2, whilst London has annual NO2 Exceedances

As there is little difference between cabs of different ages, there has been a moderate reduction in NOx , older cabs emit substantially less NO2, but newer models emitting less of the other species, there is a need for R&D into-different fuel sources and technologies for Black Cabs, instead of omitting certain vehicles from London’s vehicle fleet



The Defra report which was released in May showed that newer taxis are no cleaner than older taxis (in particular for NO2 they were creating more pollution.


·         The NO2 issue is more clearly seen in the f-NO2 ratio plot.




The Mayor and TFL conducted no testing whatsoever to prove that scraping older taxis was a valid strategy.


In fact it is a requirement of Public Law that the decisions of the Mayor and TFL are evidenced based.

 

What the Defra report did not contain was the results for the Eco-Power test taxi, a 1999 TX1 .


(TFL INSISTED THAT THIS PART OF THE REPORT WAS  REMOVED AND NOT PUBLISHED)


This taxi was measured in exactly the same way that the other 15000 taxis were measured, with the exception that it was driven through the test location many times.


The test results show that this 14year old taxi was cleaner than the brand new taxis (both TX4s and Vito’s) for Particulate Matter and as clean as the new taxis for all other emissions.


This test taxi was fitted with the EcoPower emissions system which had its approval withdrawn by TFL following a rigged test.


This test shows that the older taxis could have been fitted with an emissions system and achieved better emissions standards than the new taxis.

 

THE 1999 TXI -T366 WAS AS CLEAN AS THE NEW TAXIS FOR MOST EMISSIONS 

AND WAS CLEANER THAN NEARLY ALL TAXIS FOR PARTICULATE MATTER.


With thanks to Dave Davies for information supplied.