Saturday, February 01, 2014

A Bridge Not too far: Victory As Campaign Saves The Chelsea Tea Hut.

An overwhelming victory has been won by campaigners who have fought and saved the iconic coffee stall, once frequented by the Rolling Stones and The Beatles, now saved from losing its license

The future of Chelsea Bridge Coffee Stall, in Queenstown Road, was uncertain following complaints by people living in Chelsea Bridge Wharf over noise and litter.

But Wandsworth councillors voted last night to preserve the license, after a petition signed by more than 700 people to save the stall was presented.

Complaints were made to the council over noise, litter and anti-social behaviour by 27 members of the Chelsea Bridge Wharf Residents Association.

Neighbours said people urinated on stairs close to the river and customers were kicking balls against their lift.

The stall, which has been open since the 1940s, was a famous meeting spot for rockers known as the Chelsea Bridge Boys during the 1960s.

Renato Di Paola has been the license owner for about two years, with a 24 hour trading license being in place for over 45 years.

He said: "We do have a lot of residents in favour of us and haven't got a problem with us, there is some that have got a problem with us.

"We get all sorts, it is really there for the community. Police officers, underground workers, taxi drivers, young people that have gone out, ambulance drivers all come here."

    Campaigners Keith Garner and Brian Barnes, with Renato Di Paola centre

The original snack stall is now an exhibit at the London Transport Museum, but a stall has continued to trade in the area.

Hundreds of former rockers signed the petition, with people living as far away as Australia and Hong Kong getting involved.

Mandi Hayden, 50, who started the petition, said: "Every single bit of the old Battersea has gone. It has just moved.

"They can't keep taking everything, they have got to leave us something - there is history behind it.

"There used to be a massive community spirit in Battersea when I was growing up in the 60s to 70s, it has really brought that back.

"It is lovely that spirit is alive and kicking and that many people came forward."

Editorial Comment:
Taxi leaks have promoted several on-line petitions in the past which have come up against much criticism. 
This campaign shows how effective just 700 signatures can be under the right circumstances.

Well done to all who participated and well done for Ranato who will continue to offer us all a light refreshment  on the side of Battersea Bridge. 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Survey by the City of London Police:


The City of London Police is seeking your views about policing issues that affect you as a worker in the Square Mile. It is a very quick survey that should take less than five minutes to complete and your input is very important to us.  All completed surveys will be entered into a draw to win a pair of tickets to ‘The View from the Shard’ as a thank you for taking part. The draw will be made after 5pm on 31 January 2014.

The survey can be found he​re​.

To help us to get as full a picture as possible of the issues that affect City workers on a day-to-day basis, we would be grateful if you could also forward this survey on to your friends and colleagues in the City.  We will be sharing the results of the survey on our website in due course but if you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Business Engagement Team on 020 7601 2452 or at

Thank you for your participation.

The City of London Police
Business Engagement Team​

Correction to information given out by the LTDA in Taxi Paper

News about Swallow Street, from the LTDA's ranks and highways officer Richard Masset, has been published in the latest edition of Taxi paper. 
Unfortunately it's not 100% correct. As you can't change your info once published, we thought we would post a correction on behalf of Mr Masset.

Marshalled ranks
TfL has revised some of its marshalled rank arrangements. 
Marshals have been withdrawn from a rank in Bromley Town centre on Friday nights and moved to two touting blackspots in Regent Street. 
So far so good!

The original idea was to provide marshals at the rank near Swallow Street from 10.30pm and then move them to Heddon Street at midnight, when that rank comes into operation. 
Still good.

The feedback from drivers has been that the Swallow Street operation is extremely successful, and so the marshals will continue to be deployed there on both Friday and Saturday nights.
Now not so good. 
Having spoken to the company providing the marshals, I can announce they have only been authorised at Swallow and Heddon on Friday nights. 
TfL turned down the request for Saturday nights.

Something else you won't be reading in Taxi Paper.
After a series of meetings, including on-site observations at the invitation of Westminster's parking contractors (NSL), the RMT London Taxi branch have been instrumental in getting Westminster City Marshals and NSL parking wardens to patrol the stretch of Regent Street outside the Swallow Street arch, on most evenings. The Wardens also work alongside the Marshals on Friday nights. 

Since this operation started the touts have been conspicuous by their absence and illegally parking in the bus lane has almost ceased. Not only is the traffic moving more freely, but most of the work from the clubs and restaurants in Swallow Street is now going in Licensed Taxi.

The operation has proved that with help from TfL marshals and local council wardens we can provided an excellent service. But without there help, it's chaos and a free for all, as we've recently seen in Charterhouse Street.

Richard Masset goes on to say:
There will be on-going discussions with TfL to ensure that the marshals are effectively deployed and we are hoping that the resources will stretch to the provision of more at Victoria Station, so that a formal rank can operate at night on the station forecourt.

Something Taxi Leaks and the RMT have been asking for since the building works commenced!

. .

Editorial comment:
Discussions have been on-going for far too long...meanwhile, the touts are having a field-day at Victoria station at night. What was the point of an exclusive engagement policy when important matters such as this have been left to fester for more than a year.

BT police are turning a blind eye to the touts and have recently warned Taxi Drivers about ranking on the old rank. Taxi drivers have had their numbers taken and told if they return, they will be done for a number of offences.

The situation at Victoria needs to be sorted with the greatest urgency, as tourists and commuters are being picked up and ripped off by unscrupulous minicab touts.

Victoria sees 73 million travelers per year and is London's second busiest station, after Waterloo.
We have, in the passed seen violence breaking out between Licensed Taxi drivers and Minicabs illegally waiting to tout passengers getting off the coaches and buses in Buckingham Palace Road.

By their non action TfL are putting the safety of Taxi drivers and members of the travelling public at risk.
Another failure from this already disgraced government agency.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

News From TfL's Legal Team. No Action, No Enforcement.

Following comments made to Peter Rose of Unite, by TfL Compliance Officers at Smith’s in Charterhouse Street (29/11/13), given in response to a question regarding the illegal parking habits of private hire, clarification was sort from TfLs Legsl Team. Here is their reply. 

"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”.

 This statement completely defies the Hackney Carriage Act, the London Cab Act and the Private Hire Act. 
It also show flagrant disregard to decades of case law.
It goes against the principle of the STaN report which originated licence variation operations (Satellite offices). 
The situation of Private Hire Cars (minicabs) forming ranks, waiting to become hired, is not allowed anywhere else in the country.
We believe this is proof that TfL are looking to make Private Hire ranks commonplace in Central London and coming to a street near you, in the very near future.

What mystifies most of the trade is:
Why have trade representative bodies (the ones who engage with TfL) said and done nothing about this situation or, indeed this statement?
Has the trade's silnce been bought, for less than the price of a new taxi"?

We of course offer space on this blog to any trade leader who would like to justify their non-action.

Save The Chelsea Bridge Tea Hut.

What a coat of paint could do!

One of London's best known points of interest, especially when it comes to the London Taxi driver, is of course the Chelsea Tea Hut. 
It's been a place of rest and refreshment for many a cabby over the years. Somewhere you can meet up with friends for a quick cuppa and a chat, with no fuss about parking or having the cab broken into. Used by bikers, car enthusiasts and the general public as long as I can remember.

Recently, it's become extremely popular with Middle Eastern men. I asked a couple a few months ago why so many Arabs were using the Tea Hut and they said its a great meeting place, easy to find plus most Arabs visiting Britain have been there and know where it is. Apparently it's referred to as "The Tea Hu"t in Saudi and Dubai.

In my early cabby years, on the last Saturday of the month, I would watch the Chelsea Cruise wind it's way along Kings road and over Chelsea Bridge. Hot rods, drag racers and cars with extensively modified, parading up and down passed the tea hut, which was always the focal point.

Building on the  success of the petrol heads, the cars were later joined by super bikes and people would come from all over the country just to be spectators. 

For most of the 40 years I've been driving a Taxi, I've regularly used the hut for a quick tea and a sussage roll in the middle of my night shift. 
But unfortunately our watering holes have been disappearing at a speed of knots, Broad Sanctuary, Tina's, Orange Square Peter's, even Sorhwark Bridge Road, all gone from the night trade. 

The Spirt of Chelsea could soon be  "A Bridge Too Far".
We've been told for years that this day would eventually come and now we've recently heard the council are seriously looking to close down this iconic kiosk. It seams that anything and everything attached to our life style in London, is under threat from people with no interest in tradition or our passed history. 

It makes you wonder if they would still be looking to close this hut if it was a general meeting place for cyclists?
Can't see the greenies standing for that.


Please sign our petition, it only takes a couple of minutes of your time.
Please help to preserve our tradition and heritage


Click Here

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Consultation begins on City’s 20mph speed limit

Following a vote by the City’s Court of Common Council last autumn, consultation begins on Tuesday [28 January] on the implementation of the City’s 20mph speed limit.  The consultation will last at least three weeks. 

The change is part of the City’s Road Danger Reduction Plan and it is estimated it will add only minutes to journey times whilst decreasing casualties by more than 30 a year; a 10% reduction.  It is supported by the Mayor of London, TfL and the City of London Police and forms a key part of delivering the capital’s wider “Safe Streets for London” road safety plan.

The creation of more area-wide 20mph speed limits was a key recommendation of the Mayor’s Roads Task Force, helping improve safety perceptions and encouraging pedestrians and cyclists.  The proposed scheme covers almost all of the Square Mile, and fits with many the surrounding boroughs, which have widely adopted 20mph speed limits and zones. 

At the same time, TfL will be introducing an “experimental traffic order” to set 20mph speed limits on two north-south corridors through the City.  These are:
• Blackfriars Bridge, New Bridge Street, Farringdon Street (up to Charterhouse Street) – which form part of the Mayor’s proposed North-South cycle route.  
• London Bridge, King William Street, Gracechurch Street, Bishopsgate, Norton Folgate (up to Worship Street) – which will tie in with a pedestrian improvement scheme currently being delivered outside Liverpool Street station. 
TfL’s trial will last 18 months, during which time it will gather feedback and monitor the scheme’s merits. 

Residents and commuters will have the opportunity to comment on both schemes on the TfL and City of London websites.  Subject to feedback, the new speed limits would look to be introduced during summer 2014. 

Michael Welbank, Chairman of the Planning & Transportation committee said, “Over the last 10 years, the road usage in the City has changed dramatically, with the number of cyclists tripling.  This is one of a number of steps we are taking to reduce the tragic numbers of pedestrian and cyclist deaths in conjunction with our Road Danger Reduction Plan, and this consultation is an important step in the scheme’s implementation.” 

Steve Presland, Transportation & Public Realm Director, said, “We have worked closely with our neighbouring boroughs and TfL to implement the 20mph speed limit effectively, and hope that this stage of the process will lead to a much-needed reduction in injuries and casualties.” 

Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL said: “Through the Roads Task Force, the Mayor has made a major commitment to invest in London’s road network, ensuring the Capital remains a thriving international city that supports economic growth and provides safe and attractive spaces for all. We have long supported 20mph speed limits on borough roads and more than 20 per cent – or more than one km in every five – of all roads in London are now 20mph.

“While some roads in London provide vital arteries for keeping our city moving; others represent places in their own right and therefore lower speed limits could be more appropriate. Our trials in the City of London will help identify other parts of our network where speed limits could be changed in the future to better support the Mayor’s aim to grow cycling, reduce casualties and to make life in London better while keeping London moving.”

Monday, January 27, 2014

Motor Sports Formula E Comes To Wembley:

Cities are being re-imagined to better tackle the big challenges they face including housing, transport, security and energy.

Motor sport’s world governing body the FIA (Formula 1) have spawned a new green-energy racing championship for cities, called Formula E. The new race is coming to London with multi-cultural Wembley specified as an ideal destination to host the UK’s first electric car competition.

Transforming the area surrounding Wembley Stadium into a circuit for the world-class zero-emission electric cars to race around, it will also be fitting to host Formula E in Wembley because situated there is the UK’s greenest building.

There are 10 teams involved including some celebrity power in the form of Monaco’s Venturi Grand Prix, a joint venture with US actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

The UK has 2 teams involved including Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Racing team. Germany’s Audi Sport ABT are another world-class team participating from Europe, Asia has teams from China, Japan and India’s Mahindra Racing team.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Zero emission world-class motor racing is a scintillating concept and I am hugely keen that London be involved in the birth of Formula E. It has the potential to highlight the impressive strides being made in the manufacture of electric vehicles and hosting a street race could also be of considerable economic benefit to our city.”

Host cities and schedule:

Beijing, China – 13 September 2014
Putrajaya, Malaysia – 18 October 2014
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 15 November 2014
Punta Del Este, Uruguay – 13 December 2014
Buenos Aires, Argentina – 10 January 2015
Los Angeles, USA – 14 February 2015
Miami, USA – 14 March 2015
Monte Carlo, Monaco – 9 May 2015
Berlin, Germany – 30 May 2015
London, United Kingdom – 27 June 2015
I’m personally excited about the Formula E, it will no doubt attract a new breed of fans who support advancement of environmentally friendly mobility and green-energy.

Formula E is a new FIA championship featuring formula cars powered exclusively by electric energy. It represents a vision for the future of the motor industry over the coming decades, serving as a framework for research and development around the electric vehicle, accelerating general interest in these cars and promoting sustainability.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Camden Council's Phil Jones, Sets Out Nightmare Plans For the Future.

There is a chance to meet with Phill Jones, Camden's Cabinet Member for Transport, on Feb 19.

Imagine what might happen if a few hundred cab drivers turn up at that to discuss Transport & put him on the spot. If he won't talk to the people who represent us, maybe we should pay him a visit?

Details of the meeting:

The meeting is to be held at 7pm, on the 19th of Feb, at the Castlehaven Community Association, Community Centre, 21 Castlehaven Road! London NW1 8RU.

Article Below from the

14 new things Camden’s transport boss told me when I interviewed him about cycling

Today I interviewed  Phil Jones, Camden Borough Council’s cabinet member for transport. Here’s what he told me about cycling in one of central London’s key boroughs:

Royal College Street has seen a 40% to 50% increase in cycle traffic since its cycle track was upgraded

The new Royal College Street cycle track - image from Sustrans

The new Royal College Street cycle track – image from Sustrans

The flagship cycle route has also seen a reduction in motor traffic speeds.

I think it’s been very successful. That’s proved in terms of the volumes of cyclists going through there. I can give you the precise figures, but it’s something around a 40% to 50% uplift on the flow of cyclists using that street – it’s different on different parts of the street. Also, the traffic has slowed down on that street as well, the cars. Now the road is more narrow the traffic is slowing. So on those two key measures it’s gone well.

Westminster City Council are deliberately blocking 20mph speed limits on borough boundary roads with Camden

When Islington brought its 20mph limit in, Camden said it was fine to apply it to boundary roads.

When Islington brought in [20mph limits], they asked whether we could have the boundary roads between the two boroughs as 20mph, we said yes, and then we brought in our own 20mph borough limit in December. Whereas Westminster have refused to have their borough boundary roads as 20mph. It’s a difference of philosophy.

Camden won’t rule out a rush-hour HGV ban

But they’re not exactly pushing for one either

If there are proposals then we’ll definitely look at them, because we know it’s important. So I wouldn’t rule anything out, and I wouldn’t rule anything in. I think Camden would always want to err on the side of cycle safety, but there do have to be deliveries, there does have to be traffic going through central London. It’s not feasible to say that it can’t, and it becomes a practical measure about what you’d do, and we’d have to look at the evidence.

The planters on Royal College Street are getting flexible bollards to protect them

Some of the planters on Royal College Street have been damaged by motorists - image from Alternative Department for Transport

Some of the planters on Royal College Street have been damaged by motorists – image from Alternative Department for Transport

The council will also be repairing damage done to them by motorists.

“There’s been some damage to the planters … by the end of this month they should have all been repaired. I don’t know what it’s going to look like actually on the street, but we’re going to put in, I’m told, a flexible, kind-of bollard in front of some of them which are in vulnerable positions, and put in more visibility on some of them so that it’s less likely to be hit. “

The council will extend the Royal College Street track north to Kentish Town, west through Delancey Street, and south

Pending a consultation, which will be done by the end of March.

We’re going to do consultations on the extensions of the scheme. So it’ll be to the north, up to Kentish Town, and down south, and hopefully over Camden High Street as well towards Regent’s Park, because we need to improve the East-West connectivity in that area. Delancey Street. The consultation should be this financial year. [In the next two months, ends March 31st]

Here’s what the extension could look like on a map when it’s finished:

Royal College Street extension plan - original image from Google Maps

Royal College Street extension plan – original image from Google Maps

Camden is planning ‘armadillo’ light segregated lanes for Gower Street

There won’t be planters, but there will be two-way cycle tracks.

We hope to introduce light segregation on Gower Street in Central London on both sides of the road. There’s not width there for planters but we can fit in two armadillo tracks on each side of that road, that’s a key north-south route, and we’re planning to do that as part of the changes to that area.

The Council is considering segregated lanes on York Way, to King’s Cross

It would link with Cycle Superhighway 12.

We were wondering about segregation in terms of York Way … [you’d have] the north-south superhighway coming up to King’s Cross, and then segregation going up York Way.

Here’s what it currently looks like:

York Way, north of King's Cross - image from Google Streetview

York Way, north of King’s Cross – image from Google Streetview

Camden are looking at the option of segregated cycle lanes on Theobalds Road/Clerkenwell Road

The council has allocated £300,000 to develop a long-term plan for the road, but no decision has been made.

The ideal situation would be to remove the gyratory, improve it for cyclists. Whether you can put segregation down, it would be nice – I don’t know if we can, it’s going to require a great deal of modelling, investigation, and quite a long time. We’ve put aside £300,000 to do work to look into it and so that’s what we’ll be doing over the next year … It’s very much at the stage of considering what is the best thing to do at that street.

Bus drivers were against cyclists using the Theobalds Road bus lane

Jones argues the ban on cyclists using the lane wasn’t “anti-cyclist”.

I think sometimes people get the wrong idea about this. The fact that cyclists were banned from there wasn’t an anti-cyclist thing, it was because people, there was concern from bus drivers in particular, that cyclists overtaking them might get hit by oncoming traffic, and these things used to happen to some cyclists. There has been a new safety assessment done by the police, and the council has made a traffic order, which is going to come into force.

Camden is happy to sacrifice on-street car parking for cycling schemes

Jones says there’ll certainly be no increase in parking spaces.

Cycling is a priority above on-street parking. The amount of traffic going through Camden in the last ten years has gone down very significantly. … Over time road space has been allocated away from parking to other things. We do get a lot of hostility from residents who do park to removing parking spaces … we certainly wouldn’t be increasing parking spaces. If there was a big scheme that needed some parking to be removed then it certainly wouldn’t be a barrier to doing it but we’d have to look at it in detail given the local circumstances and given the nature of that particular road.

Camden supports removing through motor traffic from the Regent’s Park Outer Circle

The Royal Parks aren’t necessarily so keen.

Yes, [removing through traffic from Regent’s Park Outer Circle] is something [we’re in favour of] and I’ve met with the Royal Parks, and it’s the Royal Parks Paving Commission, I believe, that controls that road. We definitely think that there’s a strong case to restrict traffic through there – it could be great.

The route is included in the Central London Grid; at that time when I met with them a few months ago, they were willing to consider it and talk about it, but it wasn’t clear that they were going to make any firm moves. But I have seen that it’s one the Central London Grid network, so hopefully that will make some progress.

There’ll be a bike counter on Royal College Street by the end of February

The bike counter on Goldsmiths Row in Hackney

The bike counter on Goldsmiths Row in Hackney – image via Oliver OBrien

The counter will be similar to the one installed in Hackney’s Goldsmiths Row.

I’m actually going to put a cycle counter in there, I think they’ve put on in Hackney already. We’re going to put one of those in in a couple of weeks time.

The council wants Boris bikes in Kentish Town

But TfL doesn’t look like it’s going to fund an expansion.

The next logical place where [Boris bikes] should go should be Kentish Town, and we’d very much like to see it there. We’ve called for that again and again. They’re not providing any funding for that though, so I don’t think that it’s likely to happen quickly.

Boris bike ranks at busy stations are likely to be enlarged soon

TfL wants to expand the most popular sites rather than spread the scheme out further.

What we are doing is that they want to meet with us quite soon to look at expanding some of the existing cycle hire stations around busy locations, so for example the King’s Cross type area, around the major stations. So the focus at the moment, from TfL’s point of view is expanding the popular ones that exist rather than giving any big new expansions to the north.