Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe suggests cab drivers could help police ensure that the streets of London are safe

London cabbies urged to act as 'police officers'. Are they sure?
We've been reporting crimes in the form of touting and illegal plying for hire, taking place on virtually every street in central London, outside pubs, bars, restaurants and night clubs for the last decade....and the Met/CoL police have ignored us. Now they want our help
Below is an article taken from car website,

London taxi drivers are being urged to report the crimes they see whilst driving. The London Taxi Watch initiative hopes taxi drivers can be persuaded to pass information to Crimestoppers anonymously and alert the authorities of suspicious behaviour. 

(Something we've been doing for years that has been ignored )

Regan Hook, Crimstoppers’ London campaigns manager, said the drivers could become “everyday heroes” by reporting crime. He added: “Cab drivers may be aware of crime perpetrators including those involved in vehicle-related crime or may have information and intelligence about other serious crimes.” 

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe suggested that cab drivers could be in league with police officers when it comes to ensuring that the streets of London are safe. He said: “London’s cabbies are the best in the world. With police officers they are there all hours, all weathers and all places. They can be our eyes and ears and help victims of crime.”

Mr Hook agrees, saying: “[Cab drivers] can invaluably help fight crime by contacting the charity anonymously and play a part in making London safer.” 

(That's right. 25,000 pairs of eyes and ears could be a great partnership.)

The initiative was launched outside London’s City Hall at 10am on Thursday 28th November. 

What do you think about the idea? Agree with it or not? Let us know by posting in the comments below. 


Friday, November 29, 2013

BBC paid 'twice as much' for 350,000 journeys using minicabs instead of a Taxis.

   The good old days when the BBC used a majority of licensed Taxis

The BBC has spent licence fee-payers' money on 350,000 minicab journeys in the last year, as it is accused of paying up to double the going rate on £10 million of journeys.
Staff at the corporation, who use an internal booking system to arrange cars, have claimed the BBC is paying over the odds for journeys which would be considerably cheaper if booked with a local firm.

The BBC has already confirmed spending more than £10 million on minicab journeys in the last year, with 350,000 separate journeys booked for staff and guests.
A spokeswoman for the corporation defended the system, saying it was important the private hire firms used are "legally compliant, vetted and available when required".

The discrepancy was highlighted in the BBC's internal magazine Ariel, following a letter from staff member Marc Settle, a project producer at the BBC Academy's College of Journalism.

He said the organisation's workers are told to book cabs through internal website Gateway, which promises 'More money for programmes'.

Writing in Ariel this week, he said: "When you book a car via Gateway, you're greeted with a comforting strapline of 'More money for programmes'.
"Is this actually the case? I rang the number on Gateway to get a quote for a journey from Tonbridge in Kent to Gatwick and was told £87.

"That seemed high, so I rang a few local companies and, on average, was quoted £45.
"Another journey from Stanmore to Heathrow was £61 via Gateway yet a local company quoted just £25.
"I know that any receipts which are submitted need then to be processed, and that has a cost. Equally, a central booking system may have merits for auditing purposes.

"I would like to know, though, why minicab journeys booked through the central system seem to cost twice as much as those booked locally."

Another BBC worker, who asked not to be named, added: "When I get a cab when I'm just out on my own time I'll pay £20 to get home, but for the same amount of miles when I book through work it will come to £40 or £50.

"It's a complete waste of licence fee money that should be going on new TV shows, not doled out for expensive minicabs."
A spokesman for BBC Procurement replied to the complaint to say costs were higher in order to ensure the private hire firms were 'legally compliant' and that drivers were vetted properly.

He said: "Charges for cars may appear to be higher than booking locally and directly but, as the BBC completes over 350,000 private hire journeys a year, we have to ensure that the companies used are both legally compliant and vetted and this is done as part of the managed service provision.

"We also require a 24/7 service which ensures broadcast criticality, full transaction reporting covering all journeys, ensuring we are compliant and can report on our P11d (Expenses and Benefits not put through the payroll) obligations."

A BBC source added the sum spent on the Gateway service also encompassed administration fees, and cars for guests on radio and television shows.

In 2008/9, the BBC spent £15.1m on private hire, with a further £13.3m in 2009/10, £12.5m in 2010/11 and £11.3m in 2011/12.
A spokeswoman for the BBC said: “The BBC is a 24-hour organisation with offices across the UK, and, in common with many large businesses, it will incur travel-related costs.

"However, we are mindful that we are spending public money and we have policies in place to ensure spend on travel is proportionate and appropriate. The cheapest method of travel is always encouraged however on occasion minicab journeys are permitted in exceptional circumstances or where there are time constraints.”

When asked about the reasons for using the internal booking service rather than asking employees to book local firms, she added: “It is important that we have contracts in place with preferred suppliers as we have a responsibility to ensure that private hire companies used by BBC staff, freelancers and guests are legally compliant, vetted and available when required.”

Source: Telegraph.

Question from Taxi a Leaks: 
Why did the BBC stop using licensed Taxis?
Every vehicle and driver properly vetted and legally compliant.
No fluctuation in costs, every vehicle fitted with Taxi meter.
Special fixed prices available on most journeys. 
See; Dial a cab, Com Cab, RTG, Hailo and Get Taxi Simple!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Cyclists caught jumping red lights in London taxi drivers' hidden camera footage

Cyclists were filmed jumping red lights by hidden cameras set up by London black cab drivers.

Their footage shows 194 out of 364 riders went through stop signals during the rush hour — just over half.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said it set up hidden cameras after a series of “near misses and confrontations” between its members and cyclists. The association said cabbies put two cameras at what they said were “average” crossroads in the capital.

One was the junction of Hackney Road, Queensbridge Street and Horatio Street in Hackney, the other at the junction of Fortess Road, Highgate Road and Kentish Town Road in Camden.

Cyclists whizz past as a woman pushes a buggy across when the green man is showing
The LTDA, which has 10,000 members, said each camera filmed between 7.30am and 8.30am at the end of September. In Hackney, 108 out of 170 cyclists jumped the lights, while in Camden, 86 out of 194 bikes rode through at red. LTDA general secretary Steve McNamara said two hour-long versions of the footage were available “ 100 per cent unedited” on YouTube.

He said: “We are constantly hearing  from the cycling lobbying groups that cyclists who ride on the pavement, weave in and out of traffic and fail to stop at red lights are a small minority or a small rogue element. This was in stark contrast to what we and most Londoners witness every day.” Mr McNamara, who cycles in the rush hour daily, added: “What we found shocked even us. We’re not anti-cycling, we’re against the unlawful cycling brigade.”

Two cyclists jump a red light at the same time
Anyone caught jumping a red light risks a £50 penalty ticket from the police. In an online survey of 1,600 cyclists by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, 57 per cent admitted jumping a red light at least once, with 14 per cent doing it regularly. The reason they gave was that they felt safer getting ahead of the traffic flow.

Mike Cavenett, spokesman for the London Cycling Campaign, said: “ Evidence shows that red light jumping causes a tiny proportion of collisions. This view is backed up by police data showing that only two per cent of London’s cycling collisions are attributable to cyclists going through red lights, while the same data shows that 68 per cent of cyclist-motorist crashes in central London have their main cause attributable to bad driving.” 

Source:Evening Standard

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Appeal to trace man after Luton taxi driver dragged along the A40 at a Hanger Lane, following collision

Traffic officers investigating a fail to stop collision on the A40 near Hanger Lane that seriously injured another driver are releasing images of the car whose driver they are trying to trace, and are appealing for any information regarding it.

Officers are also appealing for any witnesses to the collision that haven't already contacted police.

On Thursday 14 November at around 21:15hrs, a 59-year-old taxi driver was driving his black Ford Galaxy people carrier (registration number: LR12 OSG) eastbound along the A40 towards central London.

A short distance prior to the Hanger Lane underpass, it is believed the taxi hit the central reservation causing one of its tyres to deflate. The driver stopped in lane two and put his hazard lights on. 

Subsequently, a car believed to be a silver/grey coloured Suzuki Ignis (registration number believed to start CA04) collided with the back of the taxi.

An argument between the two drivers ensued. The driver of the Suzuki then decided to leave the scene. The taxi driver attempted to stop him but the Suzuki driver held on to the taxi driver and accelerated away into the Hanger Lane underpass.

The taxi driver was dragged approximately 200 metres before he fell onto the carriageway a short distance from the exit of the tunnel.

The taxi driver, who is from Luton, was taken to hospital suffering serious injuries. Fortunately they were not life-threatening and he was later discharged from hospital.

Detective Sergeant Cheryl Frost who is leading the investigation for the Road Death Investigation Unit from the North West Traffic Garage said: "We would like to speak to the driver of this vehicle or anyone, who may have knowledge of the vehicle involved in this collision. We believe that this vehicle will have damage to its front offside headlamp. 

"We are also appealing to witnesses to the initial collision or the events after it, who have not yet spoken to police, to contact us."

Any witnesses or anyone with any information that could assist police are asked to call the dedicated witness line on 020 8842 1817 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Brighton and Hove taxi driver jailed for speed camera lies

A Brighton and Hove taxi driver has been jailed for lying about who was driving his car when it was seen speeding.

Samih Salib, 34, of Linthouse Close, Peacehaven, was licensed as a taxi driver by Brighton and Hove City Council when he was repeatedly caught by a speed camera.

But he ignored notices sent to his home, Sussex Police said.

And when he was handed them by an officer he claimed to have sold his car and created a fictitious person to blame the offences on. He then claimed his wife had been driving.

Salib was convicted of perverting the course of justice at Lewes Crown Court on Tuesday 12 November.

He jailed for six months, banned from driving for a year and ordered to pay an £80 victim surcharge.

Earlier this year dentist Priti Barua, 46, of Highcroft Villas, Brighton, was sentenced for a similar scam after being snapped speeding.

Barua was convicted of perverting justice after claiming to have left her car at Halfords and blaming the company’s staff for two separate speeding offences. She even created fake receipts to try to support her lies.

She was given an eight-month suspended prison sentence, banned from driving for a year and ordered to pay £1500 costs.


They were among seven cases highlighted by Sussex Police today (Tuesday 26 November).

The force said that detectives were working with safety camera teams to hunt drivers who tried to dodge justice by lying about speeding.

It said: “CID officers are investigating motorists who have been sent tickets after being caught breaking the speed limit but have then spun a story to try to hide their guilt.

“So far seven drivers in Sussex have been convicted of perverting the course of justice while a string of others are being investigated.

“The partnership works by camera inquiry officers from Sussex Safer Roads Partnership putting together files on drivers who they believe could be lying to avoid speeding fines and points on their licences.

The files are then passed to detectives who question the suspects and charge them if there is enough evidence that they are deliberately lying.

Inspector Chris Collins, from the central ticket and summons unit, said: “We believe these drivers are just the tip of the iceberg and that many more motorists have lied about speeding and got away with it.

“We do not take the decision to prosecute drivers lightly and this is not about targeting motorists or pursuing people who have made genuine mistakes in their paperwork.

“Each and every one of the drivers we have caught deliberately lied about what they had done to try to get away with it and they have had to face the serious consequences of their actions.”

Detective Inspector Gavin Patch said: “If you think you can get away with speeding by giving us false details or making up a story, think again.

“Our staff are experts at spotting lies on forms and will find you out.

“Being convicted of perverting the course of justice will cost you more than being caught speeding and could even see you jailed.”

source: Brighton and Hove news

Tuesday Night, 10 till Midnight, After Dark With Rachel

Willy Wonka And The Swallow Street Golden Ticket.

Saturday night was a complete nightmare in London's WestEnd, most of which became a car park for most of the night. 
Stuff happens!
This, hopefully was a one off, something that we can't avoid.

But in spite of the gridlock, the touts at Swallow Street managed to have a field day (in between visits from NSL wardens). 

Every time I managed to fight my way to the Rank (via Vigo Street), I was greeted by the site of dozens of minicabs illegally parked, illegally plying for hire, servicing the three self appointed minicab controllers inside the Swallow Street Archway. Not content with parking in the bus lane, they now park on the licensed Taxi rank at Heddon Street and also on the rank/loading bay in Vigo Street.

We have to remember, LTPH have helped and encouraged certain PH operators to evade TfL policy. 

There have been many untrue misleading statements from our licensing authority over the passed eighteen months, culminating in the moving of goal posts and a cover up concerning licence variations. 

TfL's on-line PH licence checker has been revised to only show operator and driver licence details. Licence variations have been removed, possibly over the RD2 scandal. It is now impossible to ascertain how many licences each company holds, or when they were issued.

Why would TfL do this if it wasn't to cover up dubious activities?
Last year (2012) saw RD2 issued with 18 licence variations, within a few days of the company first registering as a completely new operator. New company, new director, new premises.
The issuing of the new licences was at that time, totally contra to TfL policy, which states an operator must be in business for a minimum of one year before they can apply for licence variation.
When asked why this company had received special treatment, both John Mason and Helen Chapman statements proved to be misleading and untrue. Let's not forget that this company has since been granted a licence variation for New a Change, even after an application for a Licensed Taxi Rank was refused.

RD2 has a satellite office licence for the Goucho Club in Swallow Street. Is this the major factor in the lack of enforcement at this location?
We have been informed by LTPH that in the last year, Swallow street has been visited some 320 times by compliance officers. Yet the touting and illegal plying for hire problem is now worse than ever, with regular confrontation of Civil Enforcement Officers from NSL taking place nightly.

Drivers and controllers openly tout on the pavement and there is as much evidence as you would need to revoke the operator's licence, issued in this location.

Why has nothing been done at Swallow Street?
Is there some sort of Willy Wonka at TfL, giving out golden tickets...or has there just plain old wongalust at Palestra?

Unless drivers literally put themselves out and make a concerted effort to service this rank and the rank at Heddon street, all the hard work already put in, will be for nothing. No one from our licensing authority seems the least bit interested in resolving our problems with the touts.

"Why should I drive passed hands up in the street to put on a rank?"
Every driver has to do whatever they feel is best to earn their living, no one can tell you what to do and that's the beauty of this job.
Sitting on the Swallow street rank at night, I see Taxi after Taxi drive by me with their light on, circulating.
Surely drivers can spare a few minutes on the rank. 
You don't have to sit there for ages, if you don't get off in five minutes, pull away and just continue up Regent Street, but at least you will be helping to providing a presence.

A few minutes sat on the rank could present you with a job, a job a tout won't be putting in his car.

It took the RMT over a year to get meetings through Westminster's Martin Lowe, with top officers within NSL and City Parking Marshals, which resulted in a warden based operation at Swallow and Heddon Street.
The fight is still ongoing as we now look to get action from the Met and GLA. 

Still dancing to Daniels tune.
The massive workload put in by members of the RMT could have been made much easier and more productive if the Joint Ranks Committee of the United Trade Group would work with us instead of against us.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Addison Lee Driver Filmed Smoking Crack Cocaine

A minicab driver from Addison Lee, was secretly filmed inhaling crack cocaine as pedestrians passed by only inches away. 

A shocked witness watched as he pulled kitchen foil from the boot, sprinkled on coke crystals and heated them from underneath.

He then used a makeshift tube to inhale the fumes. 

The man described as Asian clean-shaven and aged about 30, leaned back as he felt the hit before driving off minutes later. 

The Minicab filmed in Plastow East London, carried the Addison Lee livery on the roof and rear windscreen. 

A spokesman from Addison Lee thanked the Sun on Sunday for drawing their attention to the video evidence.

He added "we have referred this matter to the police and transport for London. The driver has been suspended by Addison Lee and will no longer be providing his services.