Friday, December 13, 2013

Bias, Agendas, Malfeasance Or Corruption? Part 1. by Jim Thomas

Have you ever wondered what lengths LTPH (or what ever they call themselves now) would actually go to, to make it easier for Private Hire to gain unfair advantage in completing for business against licensed Taxis.

 Well we can show that in the past, under the auspice of the PCO just before the name change, they were seen to go to great lengths to facilitate Private Hire and allowed them to contravene the law, in order to gain work from the licensed trade.

Obviously we would not dream of making such a statement without having proof. 

So, below we would like to again publish an email train from 2006 that was found posted on the Internet in 2009, which we (The Anderson Shelter Taxi Blog) immediately forwarded to the respective trade representative groups. 

Unfortunately, even back then, our beloved leaders refused to take action which would/could be used to show TfL in a bad light. And so nothing came of the uncovered malfeasance that had taken place.

Remember at the time of the sent emails, it was forbidden for Private Hire Vehicles to use the Royal Parks, which was still under the Royal Parks  Constabulary. That was the law. 

A few years earlier, Mr Harvey Phillips was convicted of driving a Fiat minicab register to Addison Lee through St James Park contrary to reg 4(27) of the Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997 (the 1997 Regulations). The 1997 Regulations made it an offence to 'drive or ride any vehicle which is constructed, adapted or in use for the purpose of a trade or business except as specified in Part I of Sch 2 to [the] Regulations' within areas specified in the Regulations. 

But many drivers were perplex as to why the Royal Parks Police suddenly stop pulling over errant minicabs after the ruling. The Parks Constabulary seemed hesitant in dealing with the issue and in fact, turned a blind eye. Much as the Met police today seem hesitant in dealing with persistent illegal plying for hire. 

Were TfL intentionally and actively involved in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in 2006?
Are they still involved in this type of conspiracy today?

Did the PCO contact the Royal Parks Constabulary, to ask them to turn so blind eye in favour of Private Hire companies? First posted, 4th November 2010:
From emails posted on the Internet (Click here and read emails in full), it would seem that senior officers from the PCO, namely, Ed Thompson, Luke Howard and Peter Bentley were involved in an issue of "Turning a Blind eye" back in 2006. The PCO. If it were Taxis that were banned from these parks, they would not have got involved and would have been happy to see us nicked by the dozen every day, until we stopped using the parks.

The Anderson Shelter is concerned that the agency who is responsible for enforcing Hackney and Private hire laws, seems to be taking it upon itself, to ensure only laws that support its own agenda are enforced

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Deregulation in Northern Ireland, Belfast to Get One Tier Taxi Service:

Taxi Drivers Financial Uncertainty, 
Oral Answers to Questions 2:00 pm : Northern Ireland Assembly debates Monday, 9 December 2013

Photo of Dominic Bradley

2. asked the Minister of the Environment to outline the actions he is taking to assist taxi drivers who are currently experiencing financial uncertainty as a result of delays to the implementation of changes relating to affiliations and operator licences. (AQO 5191/11-15)

Photo of Mark Durkan

This issue was recently brought to my attention, and I instructed theDriver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) to undertake a review of the process for affiliating drivers and vehicles to a taxi operator licence.  That review has now been completed, and I am pleased to be able to advise that an amended improved process has been agreed and will be implemented within the next couple of weeks.  The new process will significantly reduce turnaround times for affiliating taxi drivers and vehicles to taxi operator licences.  Provided that the administration fee of £5 for each additional driver or vehicle added to the licence is paid, vehicles and drivers will be added immediately to operator licences.  That will mean that the Driver and Vehicle Agency will affiliate drivers and vehicles to operator licences within a target of three working days.

Photo of Dominic Bradley

Go raibh maith agat, a LeasCheann Comhairle.  An dtiocfadh leis an Aire a dheimhniú cén uair a thiocfas na cuspóirí atá aige deileáil leis na moilleanna seo go tapaidh, cén uair a thiocfas siad i bhfeidhm; agus cén cineál monatóireachta a dhéanfar orthu?  Will the Minister confirm when the new turnaround target will come into effect?  What level of monitoring will there be?

Photo of Mark Durkan

Go raibh maith agat as an cheist shiumiúil sin.  Tiocfaidh siad isteach i gcionn cúpla seachtain.  I thank the Member for that interesting question.  I hope that the new procedures will come in by mid-December.  I have instructed that the new procedures for affiliating the taxi drivers and taxi vehicles to operate our licences should be implemented by mid-December, and theDVA will carry out checks weekly to ensure that the new process is working satisfactorily.  I have asked for a report, by the end of March, on the operation of procedures to ensure that it is working as intended and that drivers and operators are seeing the benefits of this initiative.

Photo of Peter Weir

Peter Weir (DUP)

As the operator licence scheme will be part of the wider considerations of the wider reform of taxi regulations, what consideration has the Ministergiven to the unique situation in Belfast city centre, and does he intend to make any changes or variations in relation to that?

Photo of Mark Durkan

I thank Mr Weir for that supplementary question.  I am aware of the lobbying that is going on, particularly around the move to single-tier licensing in Belfast and the fears of the implications that that might have for the industry, particularly in Belfast and especially for public hire in Belfast.  That sector has been lobbying not only Mr Weir but parties right across the Chamber on this issue, and I have to say that I have a degree of sympathy with its fears.  However, I am doing my utmost to allay them. 

The demand for the services of Belfast public hire, or indeed any taxi firm, will be determined by the service that is being provided and the price at which it is provided.  Consumers will, and should, be able to exercise choice, and this is a matter for each consumer.  It is for my Department as a regulator to set minimum standards that all operators, vehicles and drivers must meet so that taxi users can receive the service that they expect and then to ensure compliance with those standards.  That is what I have relayed again and again to representatives of Belfast public hire. 

I have also undertaken to work with my counterpart the Minister for Regional Development around issues such as taxi ranks and, perhaps, access to bus lanes for wheelchair-accessible vehicles.  Currently, all Belfast public-hire vehicles are wheelchair accessible, so it is fair to assume that they will still use ranks and that they will still use the bus lanes.  I know that they are looking for some sort of guarantee that that might be for them alone.  I am keen not to alienate anyone —

Photo of John Dallat

The Minister has used up his time.

Photo of Mark Durkan

— in this process, be it any driver or any company.  I will be happy to work with Mr Weir and other members of the Committee to ensure that this is done right.

Photo of Anna Lo

Anna Lo (Alliance)

Some Belfast public-hire members have said to me that it will not be financially viable for them to purchase or maintain taxis with disability access if it becomes single tier.  Therefore, there will be a reduction in the number of taxis with disability access for the public.  Can the Minister explain what measures he is taking for this not to happen and for the current level of taxis with disability access to be provided?

Photo of Mark Durkan

I thank the Chair of the Environment Committee for her question.  This is certainly not what we envisage happening, and it is certainly not what we intend to happen.  Having met consumer groups, Disability Action and other representatives of consumers with disabilities, I know that it is not what they see happening either.  On the contrary, what I have heard from representatives in the taxi industry is that there may be a rush to purchase taxis with disabled access, thus rendering obsolete any advantage that one sector currently has.  This is about improving standards, improving accessibility and improving the service and the industry for consumers and also for drivers and operators.  As I said in an earlier answer, it will really be the market that directs this.

If drivers see that there is an advantage in having disability accessible cars, I have no doubt that they will pursue that avenue.

As regards other cost implications of the implementation of the Taxis Act, at the behest of the Committee, the introduction of the Act was put back from September this year until September next year.  I have looked further at this to enable drivers and operators to prepare for the implementation, and I am going to stagger the introduction of measures as part of the Act — for example, receipt printers will not now be necessary until 2016.  We have looked at the costs, and it is calculated that the cost to individual drivers will be somewhere in the region of £840 over five years.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Line a Has Been Drawn In The Sand. Do We Stand And Fight Together, Or Leave With The Women And Children?

No, this is not the Alamo. This is not Rorkes Drift. Just the licensed Taxi trade, fighting for survival.

Last Friday, a compliance officer made a statement to a trade representative that has raised a red flag. His statement and the subsequent statement made by TfL should not be ignored.
This is not going away
This is not going to get better
This needs to be addressed NOW by a united trade response.

Statement made to Unites Peter Rose by compliance officer outside Smiths Restaurant in Charterhouse Street.  

"WOW! Just been told by TfL Compliance team that Satellite Offices are allowed to have a 'certain' number of vehicles waiting outside, just as if it was a 'minicab office'. This has been confirmed by TfL legal apparently. This is no reflection on the Compliance team themselves, they only do as they are instructed to do."
After Mr Rose posted this remark on Twitter, many drivers sent off emails to TfL demanding clarification on this issue.

Peter Rose has been first to receive reply from TfL and his published this on his personal blog.

"When licensing an operating centre to accept private hire bookings, whether it is a ‘normal minicab office’ or an operating centre in a late night venue (what you refer to as a ‘satellite centre’), we expect any private hire vehicle that is serving that operating centre to comply with local parking restrictions and we do not condone illegal parking. 

However, if the vehicles and drivers are legally parked in the vicinity of an operating centre run by the operator they work for, we will take the view that they are legitimately at the location waiting for bookings from that operator.

Where this is not the case and we or the police find drivers acting unlawfully we will take appropriate action. For example, where un-booked private hire vehicles and drivers are found making themselves available for immediate hire we will take action on the grounds that the driver is illegally plying for hire. This may result in prosecution and/or revocation of the private hire vehicle driver’s licence. We have no power to enforce parking restrictions which remains the responsibility of the local authority”. End.

This statement is the most dangerous statement ever to come from TfL and has got to be challenged immediately by all trade representative orgs. 

Legal costs should not be a problem as Unite is the biggest union in the country with over a million members. The LTDA have over 10,000 subscribers plus a man on the board of TfL.
I would also point out, the RMT have a legal department and over 80,000 nation wide members.

What next?... Satellite offices at Rail Stations with ranks of minicabs waiting to become hired....of course this is illegal and we have decades of case law to back it up.

The reply on Mr Rose's blog was unsigned. So, to theTfL employee who made this statement;
"However, if the vehicles and drivers are legally parked in the vicinity of an operating centre run by the operator they work for, we will take the view that they are legitimately at the location waiting for bookings from that operator."

We would like to bring your attention and that of your legal team to sec.35 of the Hackney Carriage Act of 1831, which states the following:
"Every hackney carriage which shall be found standing in any street or place, unless actually hired, shall be deemed to be plying for hire"
A hackney carriage is a vehicle that is not necessarily a taxi, although a  taxi is a form of hackney carriage. Private Hire Vehicles (minicabs) are also a form of Hackney Carriage.

We would also point out that under Metropolitan Public Carriage Act, 1869 (32 & 33 Vict c 115), s 7. The operator or vehicle owner is also liable to a charge of illegally plying for hire by the driver. 
The contravention also carries a level 3 penalty.
  • Mr James Button President at Institute of Licensing Ltd, has also made this position very clear by stating Private Hire Cars can not stand and wait to become hired. 

The official statement made by TfL is wrong and would not stand up if legally challenged. 

But will those who purport to represent us, actually represent us this time?
Previous cases:
Rose v Welbeck (29/31 May 1962)
Alker v Woodward (16 /17 February 1962.)
Case law used in judgements.
Hunt v Morgan (23 Nov, 1 Dec 1948)
Cogley v Sherwood, Car Hire Group (Skyport) Ltd v Sherwood, Howe v Kavanaugh, Car Hire Group (Skyport) Ltd v Kavanaugh, (1959)
Gilbert v McKay (1946)

Monday, December 09, 2013

Why Do We Campaign So Hard Against PH Satellite Offices.


No action, no enforcement, no prevention

So why do we complain? 
Why do we campaign so hard?
Why do we keep going when it seems no one is listening?

Between now and New Year's Day, according to statistics taken from a Metropolitan Police report on Problem Orientated Policing, many young lives and the lives of their families are going to be shattered. 
Revellers, will leave bars, night clubs, Christmas parties and be shepherded by unscrupulous clipboard johnnies into cars, illegally plying for hire outside. 

According to the Met's report, in the next few weeks, over 100 vulnerable people from this group will be seriously sexually assaulted and some will be violently raped.

Only 10% of victims will report their attack.

"Taxi leaks", formally known as "the Anderson Shelter" has been campaigning since 2008, about the illegally plying for hire taking place outside night venues. 
We were the first to publicise the set up of a Private a Hire Rank, by Westminster Council, on a Bus Stand least for the purpose from TfL.
This cause the trade to unite for the mass demo of 2009.

Following the demonstrations that accompanied the killer on the knowledge story and in an attempt to regain the moral high ground, TfL top brass decide to have a reshuffle. 
What followed was to be catastrophic to the future of the Licensed a Taxi Trade.

The new directorate at LTPH along with their new middle management, decided on a plan to divide the trade, insuring no more united mass demos. And so it came to pass, the engagement policy was born. But membership came at a price, anyone rocking the boat wold not be eligible. 

LTPH's new team then set about escalating the agenda contained within the STaN report and satellite office licences were issued like confetti.

Cause and affect.
Although the Whitcomb Street rank is long gone, the lack of enforcement from LTPH saw illegal minicab ranks spring up outside virtually every bar, club and restaurant in the West End. 
Sexual predators have been using these lines of cars ever since they first appeared, to obtain fresh victims. Every week, new alternatives are gifted to the predators as blind eyes are turned to the victims of sexual assaults and rapes. 
Collateral damage?

Our complaints to the licensing authority, police forces and local councils have constantly fallen on death ears. To add insult to injury, the Cab enforcement unit has been cut back to a state of virtual non-existence. Compliance officers regularly show no knowledge of Hackney Carriage, private hire acts/laws whatsoever.

Now as the trade waits for the final nail in the coffin from the Law Commission, who say they will not push to define in law our sole right to ply for hire, TfL pull the chain and the engagement, policy having done everything TfL hoped it would, is flushed away.
Over the last week, there has been much comment on twitter and the forum about a statement made by a compliance officer to Peter Rose of Unite. Mr Rose was told by compliance staff, they have been informed by their legal team that it's perfectly legal for satellite offices to have a certain amount of cars waiting outside, just as if it were a minicab office!

The RMT has written to the new director of on street enforcement, Steve Burton and asked for a statement plus positive legal proof, to back up the statement from his compliance officer. 

So far there has been no reply from Mr Burton or his team.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Nissan launches #hailyes campaign to show it has the best taxis in NYC

Nissan has launched an interactive, multi-platform campaign to show its NV200 taxi is the best in New York City.

The ‘#HailYes’ campaign, created by TBWA New York, centers on capturing New Yorkers' opinions on the NV200 taxi’s unique features, including the USB charging, anti-fatigue driver’s seats, sky views of the city, reduced odors, improved leg room, more cargo space, and increased passenger safety.

“Nissan’s #HailYes campaign will engage the more than 600,000 passengers that New York taxis transport every day, creating a conversation among New Yorkers about the city’s need for a better taxi experience,” said Jon Brancheau, vice president of marketing for Nissan North America. “But the solution for an improved taxi isn’t a pipe dream, it’s already here. The Nissan NV200 taxi is the first taxi designed and built expressly for New Yorkers with more custom content for riders and drivers than ever before. We’re confident they will agree by showing their support with a #HailYes for the NV200 every time they ride in a taxi.”

The car brand has used a variety of channels to push its message, including TaxiTV – New York City’s in-taxi broadcast channel – where passengers receive a video message from Nissan urging them to use the #HailYes hashtag on social media.

Digital activity has seen banners run on different properties that New Yorkers trust for news while Two #HailYes OOH billboards are now up above the streets of Manhattan.

Source: The Drum.