Monday, March 30, 2015
Although I have responded, and as indeed our staunch friend Sparticus has sensibly advised us to do with caution, my personal and honest views on this Civil Service Bullshit is clouded with cynical scepticism.
Not only that, reading through the document, I find it incredibly patronising and can assure you that whatever the final outcome is, nothing will change the situation as us London Taxi drivers see it, night after night.
It is drafted as though somebody had just thought up a "mini cab service" in the capital, and TFL, unsure of what they should do, are requesting ideas of how it should be perceived to run ! That isn't probably too far from the truth actually !
As my closer colleagues indeed know, I have served with the Civil Service, to quite a senior level of command. And I can tell you, it is unfaithful, perfidious shite such as this, that eventually forced me to leave, and return to a more rational and authentic world.
When I was on the recruitment stage of joining, we had to attend a selection centre in a hotel not far from Gatwick.
Not only that, my life experiences in the military were of the prehistoric order of, if you can't do it, then bollox, your'e no good to us ! That's the sort of selection process I had been mainly used to, for most of my life !
So picture the scene then. I'm suited and booted, boned up for two months previously on what I thought I needed to know, and attend the hotel at Gatwick, hoping I'm one of the chosen ones.
After about 20 minutes, we are called into a room. We are split into groups of 10, told to sit in a circle, and for the first part of the "test", we are asked to try to guess the Christian name of the person sitting on our immediate right !! WTF !!!
I'm 45 years old on this day, married, 4 adult children and a 100 grand mortgage to pay for !! I'd previously spent 18 years deciding whether I would be correct both morally and legally to kill somebody in my cross hairs or not, and I find myself in this ludicrous situation in a hotel at Gatwick, currently resembling the Happy Little Monsters Playgroup School !
You think I'm joking don't you ? Well read on, there's more. Out of pure embarrassment, I guess the geezer next to me to be Peter or something, I cant remember. Anyway, we have to write it down on a bit of paper. We hand the paper in to the muppet taking the "exam" and he looks at them. We are then instructed to reveal our true names by showing the name badges that we were issued with on entry to the venue. If I thought I was embarrassed earlier, how embarrassed do you think I was when the "leader" announces that four of us in the room correctly guessed the person's name sitting next to them.
I WAS ONE OF THE FOUR MUGS WHO HAD NOT ONLY PLAYED THIS LUDICROUS RECRUITMENT SHITE GAME, BUT OUT OF PURE "LUCK", GOT THE BUGGER RIGHT !!
To make it worse, the four of us had to stand up, whilst the others clapped at our apparent David Blayne powers !! How much of a prick do you think I felt, for standing up and taking applause for that ? Don't get bored with me yet, please !! There is more to come, it is relevant ,and I am getting to the point !
Now, don't get me wrong, I am all for a little ice breaker when groups of people meet up for the first time. Have a laugh, a bit of team work and all that. It gets the pace going. But throughout my service with senior civil service (I got the job by the way) this role play bollox is not only rife, but is the foundation and yardstick on how candidates are selected, progressed and trained through the civil service system.
It is worth mentioning, that I adored the actual job itself. The role was important, safety critical and dangerous, but I loved it. But the shite that the system demands to "propel" professional standards these days, is a complete and utter nonsense. It is silly, ineffective, demeaning, embarrassing and utter bollox.
When I was completing my training at The Guards Depot in Pirbright, you either got over the wall with full kit on carrying a machine gun.........or you didn't ! End of story. No ifs, no buts no if onlys. You either got over the wall and progressed...... or you were home on the next train tomorrow. There are plenty of ex Guardsmen in our cab trade that will confirm this, just you ask them.
Anyway and I swear on my kids lives, a few weeks into the training, we were split into groups of three. The winning team of the day were actually given a lollipop each ! Yes, you read that right....a lollypop. One of those hard boiled sweet things on the end of a stick with a wrapper on it. Teams used to sulk if they didn't get one ! On my kid's lives....honestly, that is the truth !
Now, I am going to tell you something that you may find amazing. I am going to tell you something, that makes this Consultation paper that TFL have issued, more relevant. This will come as even more of a surprise to my 25000 self employed, self motivated, sole decision making, professional London Taxi driver colleagues, who have to think on their feet and make decisions daily.
This bullshit and bollox that the Civil Service use for recruitment, appointment, progress and training.............ACTUALLY WORKS !!
IT ACTUALLY EFFING WORKS, FOLKS !!! Unless you are me of course, or three or four of my civil service colleagues who were ex job from Firearms or other units, who could see straight through this juvenile, immature, short focused twaddle. IT ACTUALLY WORKS.
Now, with this inside information from me, your colleague Semtex, I urge you to take anything and everything that City Hall and TFL tell you, with a shovel full of salt. These "exercises" of nonsense, are designed and mapped by Civil Service spinners, to give the illusion of the aforementioned authorities, taking notice and actually wanting to improve things.
Their brief is : Give these nuisances something to get their teeth into They love the sound of their own speil. They will get stuck into this and fight over it between themselves. Soon as they take their eye off us and onto trying to have us over on this paper, start dismantling their trade behind their backs. In other words......Give them a lollypop !
All the while we are democratically conforming to the consultation, meeting up to discuss progress, meeting up to discuss the finer points.........barristers, advisors, commissioners and consultants working for the Men Who Have Come To Kill Us, are dismantling our trade to a point whereby our bridges back to safety have been blown up behind us.
Trust me, this consultation is more about shutting our trade up for the time being, than what they really want to do with mini cabs.
Remember The Cabby's Cabinet ?
Reading through this latest plan to stall us, one question on the consultation riled me more than many of the others. I quote it:
22 Do you consider that TfL should introduce a requirement for private hire driver applicants to be able to speak English to a certain standard? If so, what should this requirement be and what criteria should we set to determine how applicants meet this criteria?
To facilitate the provision of safe travel for those attending nightclubs and other late night entertainment venues, TfL has allowed private hire operating centres to be licensed for such venues.
There have been cases in which operators’ staff have accepted bookings and touted (approaching prospective customers) outside venues. TfL receive a number of complaints about PHVs parking and waiting in the vicinity of operating centres, particularly late at night.
Customers are typically unaware of the need for a PHV to be booked at an operating centre, and touting has occurred as they approach drivers outside venues as if they were offering a taxi service.
Since the 2010 Private Hire Consultation, TfL has introduced a number of additional requirements for operators particularly those operating from shared premises. These include a requirement for operating centres within shared premises to have a designated booking area and for operators to obtain the appropriate local authority planning consent.
13 What are your views on current arrangements for regulation of in-venue operators and how they may be improved?
For almost 400 years, London have had a proud and iconic Taxi Service, known and respected in every corner of the globe. For centuries, we have driven the public, sportsmen and women, film stars, personalities, business people, clubbers, revellers, professionals, diplomats, and even royalty......to their destinations in safety, comfort, skill and elite professionalism !
So why then do these two bob, crafty, manipulating, untrustworthy, lolly pop administering snides at TFL and City Hall, want to replace us with non-English Speaking, untrained, unaccountable, dangerous imposters ?
I will tell you. They are worth more money to them than we are. they are easier to control by virtue that most of them have so much to hide, that they daren't rock the boat and demand anything. As a result, min cab drivers and operators will by their sheer numbers put financial bonuses in the pockets of the hierarchy who license them.
As Virgil "The Turk" Sollozzo said to Don Corleone after he did his best to kill him. "Its only business, Vito. You know that, don't you?".
Fortunately for the proud and established Corleone family, they had the moral fibre and spunk to come back and get their retribution.
I wonder if we will ?............We shall have to wait and see, wont we?
Stay safe all. Be lucky, and for those like myself who believe in him....God bless.
Sunday, March 29, 2015
London Taxi and Private Hire
Private Hire Vehicles – have your say
Help us to shape the future of the private hire industry in London by having your say in our comprehensive regulations review of private hire services.
In recent years there have been a number of developments within the private hire industry, including advances in technology and changes to how people engage and share private hire services. We want to ensure the regulations that provide for the licensing of private hire operators, drivers and vehicles keep pace with these changes.
We have today launched a public consultation, seeking your views on the regulations. This consultation covers a range of topics and questions including:
• Should we have an English language requirement for drivers?
• Is it beneficial to introduce new training requirements for applicants?
• Should we review the current arrangements for vehicle insurance?
• Do you have views on what information should be captured by an operator as part of a customer booking record?
The consultation opens today and runs until 19 June 2015.
You can find it on our website:
27 March 2015 General Manager,
For previous Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph London Taxi and Private Hire
Concentrate on insisting on watertight insurance requirements, real pre booking requirements, abolition of scaballite offices and its vital that a PH vehicle can ONLY be driven by a PH driver.
Above all RESPOND!
A Watford cabbie who pulled a pregnant woman and baby from a burning car wreck has been honoured with a bravery award for his heroic actions, reports the Watford Observer.
Azhar Shah witnessed the horror smash in Watford while driving his taxi just days before Christmas 2012.
The 44-year-old was overtaken by a car speeding at about 60 miles per hour through the cross roads. He saw the car crash into another vehicle crossing the junction with such force that the second car twisted around in the air and dropped down in smoke in the carriageway.
With disregard for his own life, Azhar ran to help the family – freeing an eight months pregnant woman as smoke continued to escape from the car engine.
He said: “A car shot past me going at 50 or 60mph. I knew it wasn’t going to stop. Another car was crossing the junction at that exact time and it smashed into it. The car hit twisted around in the air and dropped, there was smoke.
“I jumped out of my car and ran towards it, smoke was coming out the engine. One woman was eight months pregnant, it was a miracle no one was seriously hurt I was expecting there to be fatalities from the way it was hit.”
But when the shocked woman was safely in his taxi, sheltered from the cold, Azhar heard her screaming “my baby, where’s my baby?” The child was still in the burning car.
Knowing the car could explode at any time, Azhar raced back to pull out the baby from the mangled wreckage.
Last week, the taxi driver from West Watford, was presented with a certificate from the High Sheriff of Greater London, who makes awards twice a year to citizens who have given outstanding service in helping the police carry out their duties, for his courageous actions and a cheque for £250.
The dad-of-four said it was an honour to be recognised, but that it was human nature and instinct to help.
Azhar said: “If I had thought about it, I would have thought that car could blow at any time – I need to get away from here myself. But I didn’t, I just saw it was something serious and ran to help – it’s human nature I guess. I think most people would have that instinct. I was just caught up in that moment.
“I don’t think I did anything amazing, but it’s good to think I made a difference. There was a reason why I was there at that exact moment.”
The speeding car driver was taken to court by the police and Azhar’s call to the emergency services, which had recorded a lot of what he did to help that night, was played to the judge.
The judge then recommended Azhar for the award.
Azhar continued: “My children are very proud of me, my wife is proud of me, although she was a bit scared something serious could have happened to me. But the people in the car needed help, so I helped.”
Sources: Watford Observer
Saturday, March 28, 2015
The 31-year-old victim was walking along the bridge close to Tooley Street when an N47 bus hit her just before 2.30am today.
She was taken to hospital by paramedics with serious injuries to her right leg, ankle and foot, a spokesman for City Police said.
Her injuries were later found to be "potentially life-changing", he added.
The road was closed southbound while officers investigated but has since been reopened.
Police today appealed for witnesses to the collision to speak to them after the bus driver failed to stop at the scene.
For the second time in just a few weeks, Uber's data system has been hacked. This time it's more serious as customer accounts, complete with valid passwords, have shown up for sale on the Dark Web for as little as $1 each.
One seller claims he has “thousands” of user logins for sale.
A username and password is all you need to access a user’s trip history, which may include personal details such as a home address. While full credit card information is not exposed, the last four digits and expiration date of the user’s card are viewable in a user’s account.
Over on AlphaBay, a recently launched dark web site, vendor "Courvoisier" has a listing for 'x1 UBER ACCOUNT - WORLDWIDE TAXI!’ For the meager sum of $1 each, anyone can anonymously purchase an Uber username and password.
Another vendor, "ThinkingForward", has a similar offer, but for $5. He states on the listings “I will guarantee that they are valid and live. Discounts on bulk purchases".
According to Courvoisier, once you’ve bought the login, it’s a simple step to ordering a cab.
“Log in on the Uber mobile website on your phone and book a cab :)” he or she told me in a private message.
A representative for Uber said the company has found no evidence of a breach.
A sample of names and passwords has proved to be available and verified that at least some of the accounts were active by contacting those users. The data includes names, usernames, passwords, partial credit card data, and telephone numbers for Uber customers.
One of the users whose email address and password up for sale, is James Allan, sales director for OISG, a technology solutions company.
Allan confirmed that the username and password seen were correct, as well as the expiry date on his personal credit card. He doesn’t actually use Uber anymore, and the last trip he booked was in December 2013.
“Bloody hell,” Allan said over the phone, when he was told what his password was.
He was “extremely surprised” by the revelation, he said. Allan also said that he doesn’t use the internet much for financial transactions, preferring cash “for this very reason.”
“Either someone at Uber has passed these details on for money, or they have very lax security,” Allan said. “Criminal proceedings need to be processed, I’d expect. That’s what I would like to happen.”
The second account holder, who didn’t want to have his name printed, was equally shocked.
“It’s terrifying that this information is out there. It’s a massive breach of privacy,” he said.
A third account holder, whose login information appeared to be valid, did not immediately respond to phone calls or emails.
It’s unclear where the data came from or the scale of the breach. These logins may indicate that Uber’s security was hacked or compromised somehow, although the company says it has found no evidence of a breach. It also might mean that these customers were breached individually by other means, and their Uber credentials harvested and put up for sale.
When Courvoisier was asked where the accounts he was selling came from, he replied, simply, “Hacked accounts buddy.”
“I have thousands :)” he added.
In a statement, an Uber spokesperson said:
“We are looking into this and do not have any information to share at this time. We use state of the art technology to prevent, detect, and investigate fraud. It’s important to note that attempting this type of fraud is illegal, and we take appropriate action when we confirm fraud, including notifying the proper authorities.”
Uber Update: Uber sent a second updated statement:
"We investigated and found no evidence of a breach. Attempting to fraudulently access or sell accounts is illegal and we notified the authorities about this report. This is a good opportunity to remind people to use strong and unique usernames and passwords and to avoid reusing the same credentials across multiple sites and services."
It’s worth remembering that the sale of this data may have consequences beyond any single Uber account. If an individual uses the same email address and password to sign up for other services—eBay, for example—then typing in those details on different sites may also allow easy access.
Indeed, that’s what Allan had done. “I did use the same password for Amazon only as I mentioned that I don’t trust the use of financial details on the web,” he said in a follow up email.
ThinkingForward had only sold a few accounts at the time of writing. The only bit of feedback left by a happy customer so far reads “quick and pro thanks mate.”
Courvoisier, meanwhile, has apparently sold over 100 Uber usernames and passwords, and has received plenty of positive reviews.
“Works perfect,” was the feedback left by one customer; “speedy delivery” was from another.
This isn’t the first time that Uber has had data leak in some form. As many as 50,000 of its drivers may have had personal details exposed. Uber said that in September 2014 one of the company databases “could potentially have been accessed by a third party,” according to Slate, and Uber said that only the drivers’ names and license plates could have been accessed in that breach. The twist is that Uber reportedly left the key for that database on a publicly accessible page on Github.
In another incident, Uber accidentally left part of its internal lost and found database—which included driver and customer names and some numbers—public on the open internet.
On the internet, it’s possible to purchase all sorts of digital goods: credit card numbers, PayPal accounts, and now Uber logins, all for as little as a few dollars. This item is just the latest in the long history of buying stolen data with the click of a mouse.
Editorial Comment: Our legal team asked us to advise you, dear reader, that buying stolen login info from the internet is illegal and you should definitely not do that, so don’t.
We have also been told that just deleting the app will not protect you from fraud. With Uber, it's almost impossible to delete your account data. We got this from WikiHow.
Über a non British, non UK taxpaying company, has a labour force that through the tax credit and housing benefit system, make any meaningful comparison with our price and cost model meaningless.
Just you try and pop down the DSS or whatever it's called today, probably Übercash and say 'I am a London taxi driver struggling to make ends meet can you help?', expect to be slung out immediately.
So before we all join in the well known motto of the cab trade 'well what can you do', maybe there is something.
We start a campaign to have the HMRC and benefit rules adjusted so that if you're a PH driver you cannot access working tax credit or housing benefit.
Why should we (the British Taxpayer) living in a country where old people are dying for want of social care, along with recent proposal to tax the disabled, stand for it any longer?
Why should we subsidise a foreign registered sweatshop?
Why should we standby and watch these pirates raid the public purse?
This is a campaign that all of us and the public will get behind.
Friday, March 27, 2015
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Assembly member Valerie Shawcross, has called for more to be done to stop illegal touting by unlicensed cab drivers.
Assembly Member Val Shawcross celebrating St George's day
The Labour assembly member said touts are "getting away with it all the time", adding: "There are two cab-related sexual assaults a week and touting is all part and parcel of that risk."
This number as this blog has pointed out many times befor, is just the reported cases. Met police estimate that up to 90% of attacks go unreported, which could equate to as many as 20 minicab related sexual assaults weekly.
She also complained the problem is "massively under-enforced, with only 14 TfL compliance officers on duty at night".
Worst still were the reports from the Chairman of the LCDC Grant Davis, that one particular Saturday night when he was working, there were only 2 cab enforcement officers available on duty.
Speaking at the a mayors Question Time at City Hall yesterday, Mr Johnson said she had made "a valid and powerful point" and insisted efforts would not just be redoubled but "multiplied many times" to improve matters. Unfortunately a broken promise heard many times before from Boris.
"I'm going to put my hands up here and say we need to be doing more," he added. (Didn't he say that last month/last year/the year before?)
Helen Chapman, general manager of taxi and private hire, said the English language test was being examined as a possible way of improving minicab services for Londoners. How on earth can TfL justify licensing a person to deal with the general public who doesn't speak the countries language, it's unacceptable and scandalous.
She said: “There is currently no statutory requirement for private hire drivers to speak a specified level of English, although all drivers must undertake a map reading test conducted in English. This statement doesn't hold water as TfL can evoke their powers to reject any applicant under the fit and proper person requirement.
"We are always looking at ways to improve the service we offer to our customers and we are putting forward a proposal to introduce a new English language requirement that all drivers must meet before becoming licensed.
It's amazing how quickly amendments were made to the London cab act to put IDs on the statute, yet this argument has been dragging on for years. Presently, there seems no political apatite to solve this issue.
"This is one element of a wide-ranging consultation on Private Hire Regulations that we expect to launch in the near future. And that's the key words "In the near future", a term that neatly always means...it's been shelved. More proof that the present directorate at TfL have been and still are woefully inadequate.
There are rumours that a knowledge examiner has been suspending for refusing to see knowledge students using interpreters.