Friday, March 07, 2014

'Unprecedented' complaints against TfL boss include sexual harassment and 45 accusations of bullying

Following on from the scandal where Sir Peyer Hendy was exposed as paying prostitute Rachael Grundy £140 an hour after surfing an adult sex website, now a senior Transport for London manager tipped as a rising star of the organisation has been accused of sexual harassment by one woman and bullying by a staggering 45 colleagues, as revealed in the Evening Standard.


The article states:
Staff have alleged that the man bullied and intimidated them, with one female also accusing him of sexual harassment.

Insiders called the mass grievance lodged against him as “unprecedented” at the company, with the accusations now threatening to derail his career.

They also claimed the company had been slow to act after concerns were first raised - so much so that police had even been dragged into the dispute.

A source told the Standard: “The staff have lodged a formal grievance collectively. It’s unprecedented at TfL because of the numbers.

“The allegations are that he is a bully. That he intimidates people. One of the complaints is sexual harassment. There is an investigation going on at the moment but it took so long for them to act over it that the police were called.”

Another source said: “The woman involved called police because she felt TfL management and HR were doing nothing about it.”

It is understood the manager has not been suspended but is currently not working in his post.

The grievance was lodged before Christmas, with the alleged behaviour going on “for some time”.

News of the allegations will be a disappointment to TfL boss Sir Peter Hendy, although after Hendy's adulterous indiscretion, which was quickly swept under the carpet, this now seems a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

The organisation allegedly takes a hard line approach to harassment, with staff told that they must not do anything “whilst on or off duty which could damage TfL’s reputation”.

Bosses are currently investigating the allegations.

They will then file a report, and the investigation officer will decide what sanctions, if any, to apply if the allegations are proven

Unions Unite and Unison are understood to be representing the staff complaining. A Unison spokeswoman confirmed it was currently involved in a “serious matter” involving members at TfL.

She said: “There is an ongoing internal investigation related to serious allegations at TfL. It is therefore inappropriate for us to comment any further at this stage of the process.”

A TfL spokesman said: “We take any allegations of harassment very seriously with firm policies and procedures in place.

“In this case an independent investigation is already under way.”

EDITORIAL COMMENT:
Intimidation runs from top to bottom at TfL.

Boris Johnson intimidated the Trade by using anti-terrorist laws, during the Olympic demonstrations.

Let's not forget the letter which was sent out, signed by Director of Taxis and Private Hire John Mason, to a number of drivers who took part in the Whitehall demonstration.
All representative orgs advised there respective drivers in receipt of Masons letter not to attend Palestra and I believe nothing ever came of it.

Last but by no means not least, Sir Peter Hendy recently intimidated and reported a bus driver out of uncontrollable anger

Unfortunately as we have seen in the past, TfL policy counts for nothing when it comes down to the crunch. 
After private hire company RD2.com was accused of gaining 18 satellite office licences contra to TfL policy, Taxi Leaks was told they could and would do what ever they liked, as policy was just guidelines and not laws set in stone.

So if history repeats itself, expect this story to disappear under a blanket of silence.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Licence Renewals: Just When You Thought It Can't Get Any Worse...by JimThomas

A friend of mine has now been waiting 90 days for his CRB check to come back. His licence has now run out and he is effectively out of work. I spoke to him last night and his last words to me was:

"How much worst can it get Jim?"

Then I received this press release this afternoon from TPH enquiries:

TPH notice 02/14 - Disclosure and Barring Service - Service Availability 7-12 March 2014
Please find attached a copy of TPH Notices 02/14 Disclosure and Barring Service - Service Availability 7-12 March 2014
 
Regards
 
Transport for London – London Taxi and Private Hire  

Disclosure and Barring Service Service availability between 7 - 12 March 2014

Important information regarding the Disclosure and Barring Service this weekend

We have been notified by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) that they are making changes to their IT systems and infrastructure and this will temporarily affect their ability to receive and process DBS applications from 7 March to 12 March inclusive.

This is part of wider changes they are making in order to modernise their service.

While you will still be able to make an application via the Post Office the following services will be affected: 

  E-numbers may not be available within 3 working days

  Online use of the Update Service and online tracking of applications using the DBS tracking service will not be possible between 17:00 on Friday 7 March and 08:00 on Wednesday 12 March

  Some disclosures may take a few extra days to be issued

We have been notified that the DBS call centre will remain open for general enquiries only during this period. Should you wish to contact them by telephone the number is 0870 90 90 811 but they have advised that they will not be able to answer enquiries about the progress of an application or to discuss the content of a disclosure.

Further information can be found here DBS Website
TfL has highlighted our concerns relating to this change and the DBS has

assured us that any impact will be kept to a minimum.

Potential further delays due to industrial action 

We have also been notified by the DBS that there may be further disruption due to industrial action by their suppliers on 6 and 7 March. The DBS has assured us they will do everything possible to minimise the disruption if the industrial action goes ahead as planned.

Helen Chapman
05 March 2014 Interim General Manager


EDITORIAL COMMENT:
Why are Taxi drivers having to suffer being put out of work, just to facilitate the modernisation of a system that used to work like clockwork and now doesn't. 

Temporary licenses are issued in every other licensing authority in the country, except for TfL where on the insistence of Commissioner Peter Hendy, they have been withdrawn.

How much more bias and incompetence has our trade got to endure from the hands of TfL, before the people who take money from us, who purport to represent our interest, finally start to earn their wages. 

We need action...and we need it now 

Our orgs must demand the issue of temporary licenses be reinstated. 

Don't wait till this puts you out of work

Phone up your respective org/union today and insist on immediate action.

Taxi trade overlooked, as Tenison Way Set to be transformed in £4bn roads overhaul: ...by Glen Alutto

Tenison Way, no longer to be a round about.


The IMAX roundabout at Waterloo is to be redeveloped, intending to create a better interchange facility at Waterloo station. The whole reasoning and expense behind the project, is to improved facilities for cyclists.

Boris Johnson, said: “Smarter design of our roads and public spaces, exemplified by our radical plans for Elephant & Castle, will play a key role in ensuring that London remains the best big city to live, work and invest.

“We’ve been hard at work putting the bold and imaginative blueprint of the Road’s Task Force into practice and we’re now seeing the fruits of that labour at key locations across the capital.”

The schemes will be delivered by TfL in partnership with London’s boroughs, developers and businesses.

Councillor Catherine West, Chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee, said: “These schemes, developed in partnership with boroughs, developers, businesses, and Transport for London through the Mayor’s Roads Task Force, should offer real benefits for local communities and road users.

“They will better address the needs of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, and have a positive impact on the quality of life for residents. We look forward to continuing our work with the Mayor’s Roads Task Force to ensure these major projects are a success for Londoners.”

Who and what is this Roads Task Force I hear you say?

As there are 26k of us we must have a strong influence on it surely?

Below is a list of it's members.



Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Forum To Discuss Plans To Make Baker Street And Gloucester Place Two Way, Still On The Cards.

Some time ago, Taxi Leaks posted an article about a proposal to make Baker Street and Gloucester Place two way, with a restriction in the middle of Baker Street for buses and cycles only.

    Cycles and Buses only between Geirge and Blandford

Most brushed aside as a hairbrain idea thinking it would soon be forgotten. Well believe it or not, it's still on the cards and there is to be a forum held at Westminster University for local residents to put their views forward about the scheme, which could see side streets bought to a complete stand still, as through traffic has nowhere to go.


This from the Marylebone Association Website:

An important traffic proposal is to be discussed at the next Marylebone Area Forum on March 6. The plan is to restore Baker Street and Gloucester Place to two-way traffic; rationalise the bus routes involved; introduce cycling measures and improve the public realm. The scheme is still at the design stage and the Forum will offer residents the opportunity to put forward suggestions before the final plans go out for consultation. The Forum takes place at 6.30pm on March 6 at Westminster University, 35 Marylebone Road, London, NW1. Click Here for Map

This Forum will also have a workshop on Westminster's smartphone parking app which helps motorists find vacant parking bays in parts of our area. Resident-only bays are not yet included, but shared use and disabled bays are.

Paul Neville, paul.neville@marylebone.org


    They obviously haven't learnt anything from the 
    supposed 'improvements' over at Euston Circus

Photos and info from Glen Alutto. 


Monday, March 03, 2014

Buses Are The Problem On Our Roads ( There's a surprise)


Jeremy Clarkson: 
Taxi drivers are very polite, some are extremely polite, car and van drivers are courteous. But there is one type of driver who's not courteous at all...the Bus Driver. All of these drivers think they're lord God almighty...

But then we already knew that.

Strange as it may seem, some choose to be ignorent of the truth.

Source: BBC Top Gear, video courtesy of Stormcab.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Massive loop hole: Suburban consultation online survey flawed...by Jim Thomas

It has been bought to my attention that there is a massive loop hole in the suburban consultation review (online survey).

Individual drivers or certain groups (serving a particular agenda) are currently able to submit multiple responses, rendering any result flawed.

By not submitting an email address it is possible to submit multiple responses using a false name, which I have done on multiple occasions, leaving a neutral response, remembering to clear cookie data after each attempt. On each occasion I have been sent back a different ID in reference.

Your response ID is ANON-BW95-BCRD-2.

Your response ID is ANON-BW95-BCG9-C.

Your response ID is ANON-BW95-BC9W-V.

Your response ID is ANON-BW95-BC9S-R. 


We have had reports that certain groups of drivers have been sitting in cab shelters and caf├ęs with iPads and smart phones, encouraging other drivers to make multiple entries. 

This can't be justified under any circumstances.
It has to be one badge, one vote. Responses to a consultation, have to be seen as fair and aboveboard, otherwise any result would be corrupt. 

I therefore suggest, all representative trade organisations urgently contact TfL and demand the review response be withdrawn, until the loophole has been rectified. 

I have written to my trade representatives and have asked them to submit a complaint to TfL on my behalf and that of our members. I strongly urge every driver to do the same. 

In its present form, it is a massive threat to the knowledge of London and the working practices of the licensed taxi driver for both suburban and all London Drivers.

Typical incompetence again, on the part of TfL.
Any published results could legally be challenged in its present form and would be a complete waste of our licence fee budget, which could have been put to better use (new ranks, enforcement etc.).

It's like the Private Hire Licensing Act all over again!
An act that was and still is, brimming full of loop holes.
An act signed off by our main representative groups at that time, who obviously hadn't taken the content of the act too seriously, which since has had dire consequences, devastating the Licensed Taxi industry over the last decade.

QUESTIONS THAT REALLY NEED ANSWERS:
Why have TfL put this consultation on-line?
Why wasn't the consultation response request posted to each licensee?  
Why wasn't the consultation about the Cabbies Cabinet put on-line?
Does TfL know the loop hole exists?

We will of course offere TfL the space on this blog to answer the above questions

China's Geely buys U.K. electric-car startup

By Colum Murphy

SHANGHAI--Chinese auto maker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. said it has acquired British electric-vehicle startup Emerald Automotive for an undisclosed sum.


   Emerald Automotive CEO Andy Tempest.

Victor Yang, a spokesman for Geely, said Saturday the purpose of the acquisition was to help the company boost its ability to generate "next generation" taxis, including electric taxis.

The deal was signed Friday in London.

In February 2013, Geely acquired the principal assets of Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC--owner of the London Taxi Co., which manufactures the city's black cab--for around $18.5 million.

Geely bought Sweden's Volvo Car Corp. in 2010.

While the investment amount for the Emerald deal wasn't revealed, a statement from Emerald said Geely had committed to investing a minimum of $200 million over the next five years to develop Emerald's range of electric vehicles.

Emerald currently has developed prototypes of two models of electric delivery vans, which the company has plans to build at a plant in Hazelwood, Mo.

With the acquisition of Emerald, Geely agreed to "maintain its loan" commitments, including those pertaining to a proposed plant, Geely's Mr. Yang said.

Gary Marble, a spokesman for Emerald, put that amount at around $5 million for loans previously secured from the state of Missouri and the city of Hazelwood.

Mr. Yang played down the idea that Geely would build vehicles in the U.S. immediately, but suggested it might be a possibility in the "very long term."

In a statement, Andy Tempest, Emerald Automotive's chief executive, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity which will allow us to expand our current vehicle development work in line with Geely Group's global vision." He added that the deal would secure Emerald's long-term future.

Mr. Yang said Geely had plans to develop new energy vehicles for London Taxi first and would look to targeting taxi fleets in other markets in the future, including China.

"As people want a better standard of living, they demand better service, " he said, adding that in China, taxis were still in the early stages of development. "We need better cars and better taxi services," Mr. Yang said.

China's government wants 500,000 hybrid and electric vehicles on its roads by next year and five million by 2020. The rate at which the market has adopted them, however, has been slow. In 2013, only 17,600 such vehicles were purchased in China, including hybrid and pure-electric cars and buses. It is likely that the current total number of vehicles is no more than 50,000.

China's local authorities are planning to speed up the construction of charging stations for electric cars in urban regions, Xinhua reported Saturday. Beijing said it would add 1,000 electric chargers by the end of this year, according to the report.

As central and local governments in China come under increased pressure to reduce air pollution and ease traffic congestion, more are looking to expand the use of new energy vehicles in public transportation, including taxi fleets.

Companies such as car maker BYD Co., which is considered a pioneer in the country's electric car industry, have been increasingly looking to public bus and taxi fleets as an important markets for building demand for electric vehicles, in China and overseas. BYD's electric cars form part of the taxi fleet in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. The company also has a small-scale manufacturing plant in Lancaster, Calif., that produces electric buses.

Corrections & Amplifications Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. acquired the principal assets of Emerald Automotive in February 2013. An earlier version of thie story incorrectly said the deal was completed in February 2012.

Write to Colum Murphy at colum.murphy@wsj.com

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