Tuesday, June 30, 2015

#Enough3 United Taxi Trade Demo at Palestra

Today's protest at Palestra was a complete success. 
Amazing support from all Taxi trade orgs, Mayoral candidate David Lamie, the GMB and even representatives from our French colleagues in Paris. 

Together, drivers formed a united front against TfL's refusal to fully enforce private hire regulations in regards to certain company's abusing the regulations and statutory legislation.

A big "Merci Beaucoup" to Milan who came over from Paris this morning to support his London brothers. A true case of 
entente cordial at its best.

The Police tried to cut off access to Blackfriars Road, therefore taking the string out of the demo by cutting off a constant supply of Taxis. 

But their tactics were outflanked by the Cabbies who realised what was happening.

Engines were turned off and the protest took the form of an impromptu sit in (if it's good enough for cyclists, it's good enough for cabbies)

Drivers sat under the railway arch out of the scorching direct sunlight, singing songs, while organisers spoke to traffic police, demanding to exercise their right to peacefully demonstrate. To our amazement, the police agreed not to employ heavy handed tactics and the tow away truck was removed.

Most of the officers in attendance were good humoured with words of support here and there. The officer I spoke with who was diverting traffic from Blackfriars Bridge said he fully understood our protest and if it were up to him personally, he would let the Taxis through. But unfortunately, he was carrying out orders.

It was also pointed out, that the white tape used to partition the carriageway was not put there by the police and we were told by a traffic sergeant that it could be removed to facilitate U-turns.

Conspicuous by their absence, were the usual posse of bus inspectors and as far as we know, no one was seen taking ID or plate numbers covertly.

TfL will no doubt employ the services of their propaganda department and state that a few hundred cabs turned up. But we know different. Using Google live, you could see that large parts of the surrounding area were bought to complete standstill with traffic in some streets not moving an inch for over an hour. 

Well done everyone who turned up. Let's keep this momentum going forward to #Enough4 Windsor house 14th July including the march to Parliament to lobby MPs.  


Statement from RMT's Mike Cash Re 7/7 Anniversary.

A week before 10th anniversary of London 7/7 terror attacks RMT warns of "dangerous complacency" over cuts

A week before the 10th anniversary of the London 7/7 terror attacks, the RMT has warned of "dangerous complacency" on the part of tube bosses who appear to make no connection at all between incident response times and staffing numbers on stations and platforms.

 The union is also pointing out that those London Underground staff who were hailed as heroes ten years ago, as they risked their own lives to evacuate stations and get help to the wounded, are the very same staff who now see their futures and livelihoods on the line and who are being forced to reapply for their own jobs as nearly 900 station staff posts face the axe through cash-led cuts.

 In the ten years since the 7/7 attacks tube passenger numbers have soared and overcrowding is rife across the network, compromising  rapid response times and making a nonsense of the on-going cuts to station and platform staffing.

 RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:
 “As we prepare to mark the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 attacks next week, RMT is reminding the travelling public that security goes hand in hand with having adequate numbers of safety-critical staff and it is frankly appalling that those same station and platform staff who were hailed as heroes on that horrific day are having their numbers slashed.

 “It appears from their statements that London Underground’s senior managers and the Mayor himself, make no connection at all between incident response times and staff numbers. That is a dangerously complacent position to adopt and flies in the face of the facts.

 “The bravery of the fire fighters, ambulance staff and other public servants, working alongside our members on the day of the 7/7 bombings, must never be forgotten. Every single last one of them is a hero and they shouldn’t be facing these constant threats to their livelihoods, and the services that they provide, a decade on.”

Editorial Comment:

In the same vein, as we approach the anniversary of the 7/7 bombings TfL compliance teams along with cab enforcement seem to make no connection between the attempted car bombing attacks on Tiger Tiger and Cockspur Street, with the lines of illegally ranked minicabs parked outside London's night venues.

Operation neon is a toothless dog!

A ticket on a car bomb parked on a Taxi rank will not stop it exploding. Enforcement needs to be total. Cars illegally park on ranks should be removed. 

While every emergency service has been told to be more vigilant, it seems TfL compliance has become more complacent. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two Top Uber bosses, Arrested And taken into custody in France Today.

Uber's director general, Thibaud Simphal, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore Coty, director for Western Europe, were both held for interrogation by police on Monday. Authorities said that they were being questioned over "illicit activity". 

Bernard Cazeneuve, France's miniser of the interior, has said that Uber's service is "illegal" and has ordered police to keep it off the roads. 

The arrests follow a raid on Uber's Paris offices in March, during which police took computers, mobile phones and documents.

Uber has faced rising anger in several countries, particularly in France where a taxi strike last week turned violent as drivers set fire to vehicles and blocked highways, creating a headache for thousands of tourists.

In March a raid on Uber's Paris offices as part of the investigation saw police seize cellphones, computers and documents.

UberPOP has been illegal in France since January, but the law has proved difficult to enforce and it continues to operate.

On at least two occasions in Strasbourg in eastern France last week, taxi drivers posed as customers in order to lure Uber drivers to isolated spots where they were assaulted by cabbies and their vehicles damaged.

Licensed cabbies say Uber is endangering their jobs by flooding the market with low-cost drivers.

San Francisco-based Uber, which offers several types of ride-sharing services, claims to have 400,000 users of its low-cost UberPOP service in France.

Legal woes

Uber has become one of the world's most valuable startups, worth an estimated $50 billion, as it has expanded to more than 50 countries.

But it has faced regulatory hurdles and protests from established taxi operators in most locations where it has launched as it moved from chauffeur service to more informal car-sharing.

Uber has been hit with court injunctions in Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and France, and has faced protests from taxi firms in numerous major European cities, including London and Brussels.

In France its UberPOP drivers do not pay social charges, do not need to undergo the 250 hours of training mandatory for French cabbies and do not require the same insurance as taxis.

The French investigation is also targeting Uber for allegedly keeping private data for longer than is allowed under a 1978 information law.

Uber has contested the probe and has filed complaints with the EU against France, Germany and Spain for trying to shut it down.

Hungary became the latest country to crack down on ride-booking app Uber, with the government confirming Friday that only licensed taxi drivers would be able to use the service from 2018.

Unacceptable violence

The taxi strike in France last week saw some 3,000 cabbies block access to the capital's Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports.

Ten people were arrested, seven police officers were injured and 70 vehicles were damaged in clashes between Uber drivers and taxi drivers.

US rocker Courtney Love was caught up in the chaos and tweeted that protesters "ambushed" her vehicle and "were holding our driver hostage".

The widow of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain condemned "unacceptable violence in a democracy, in a country like France" and said she would be "safer in Baghdad."

    Source Yahoo News And Telegraph online

Tomorrow's Demo At Palestra : A Quick Reminder From Dizzy.

Hi all, just a quick reminder that the Palestra Demo is tomorrow at 2pm. 

Come and show your displeasure at the way LTPH have virtually destroyed this trade. 

Be there and tell everyone you know too. 

For the first time ever this demo will be supported by All the taxi trade orgs. 

It's gonna be big. It must be big. It needs to be big! 

It needs every single one of us to attend and get this destruction of our trade STOPPED! 

Also please be aware that most of the TfL/LTPH senior managers have moved to 230 Blackfriars Rd, which is a few hundred yards up on the same side. Don't forget to let them know you're there! 

The posters and banners are made, the drums & horns are ready...Lets give it to them! 

See you there... 


Unsung Heroes And Exceptional Acts Of Kindness

It's almost ten years since the horrendous 7/7 bombings in which 52 lives were needlessly taken, leaving the lives of family and friends shattered beyond belief. The heinous acts carried out on that day touched the lives of many people. A colleague  of mine Harry, a London Taxi Driver from North London, lost his beautiful wife Sue. 

But what always amazes me, in times of great deserter, is the way ordinary folk step up to the mark and everyday heroes arise from within the carnage, performing exceptional acts of heroism and kindness, then disappear back into the crowd. Reports came in the next morning of how groups of Taxi drivers aided by radio circuits, had given a free service, reuniting walking wounded and hard working emergency staff with their loved ones.

The events of 7/7 touched the lives of many, including that of my late wife Christine, who was working for TfL at the time. Along with her colleagues, she volunteered to stay at her post and worked through the night on a 36 hour shift. Part of the service they provided that day/night, was to try to identify victims from belongings found at the scene. My Christine received a silver award from TfL for services that day, but never traveled on the underground again.

A Church of England priest in Bristol, Julie Nicholson gave up her ministry soon after the attack and became known as ‘the vicar who couldn’t forgive’. Few would blame Julie for struggling to forgive the men who killed her daughter Jenny and 51 others on that day.

    Julie Nicholson. "is forgiveness always possible?"

As she mourned the death of her eldest daughter, Julie started to write down her thoughts, which later became the bestseller "A Song For Jenny", a reference to the madrigal A Silver Swan which was sung at Jenny’s funeral.

Below is an excerpt from her book that tells of an extraordinary act of kindness, performed by another unsung, everyday hero, when Julie came to London to attend the two minutes silence, held one week after the bombings.

She wrote:

This taxi drew up to drop someone off and as I went to jump in the back he told me he was going off duty. I begged him to take me to Paddington and I don’t know whether he saw the helplessness or the hopelessness in my face but he let me in. He asked me what I was in London for and when I told him he was very quiet for a little while. 

We pulled up outside the station and Paddington was very busy. 

He said, “Are you ready for this?” 

I replied, “I’ll be OK when I get on the train.” 

He then turned to me and said, “Why don’t you sit back where you are and I’ll drive you home.” 

And so he did. 

I was met in Reading by my sister and my cousin and when I asked how much I owed him he said, 

“You don’t owe me anything. Just remember there’s still goodness and kindness in the world. If you can do that then you’ve paid me.”

‘I never thought to ask him his name and I tried to find him for weeks. But I believe he wanted to be anonymous. This London Taxi driver, represented all the kindness that we as a family have received in bucketloads.’

A song for Jenny has now been made into a dramatic film which will be shown on BBC1 Sunday 5th July at 9pm.

That Was A Week, That Was ! by Semtex.

 Well, it sure has been a bit of a scurry within the catacombs of TFL's warren this week, hasn't it ?
For The London Taxi Trade, it is absolutely superb news that Sir Peter Hendy has gone at last.
If it wasn't apparent a while ago that this chap simply didn't have either the experience or skills to hold the reins of such an monumental remit.......then it certainly is now!

The moody announcements that Hendy's leadership has been so inspiring, that it would be criminal if his masterful talent wasn't passed on to Network Rail, and quote "take on the biggest programme of upgrades since the Victorian era" is City Hall's way of saying that it is a promotion, rather than announcing that under Hendy's guidance TFL have been criticised as WOEFUL AND INADEQUATE, and have become a lesson of how NOT to run a City Transport Infrastructure, all across Europe !
Part of the problem with Hendy and our trade of course, is a natural conflict of interest. It's understandable, but not admissible in the professional position that Hendy was in. He absolutely adores the Bus Network. He loves Buses. He has worked within the Bus world all of his professional life. He was even Knighted in 2013 for his love and commitment to Buses and services to transport, for goodness sake ! 
I would even wager that the stirrings beneath his silky Japanese Kimono would manifest themselves quicker, at the sight of a Routemaster, than the seductive vision of Rachel Grundy adorned in stockings, suggestively caressing a £10 Oyster Card.
Personally but not professionally, Hendy didn't  want to see the travelling public of London getting off his buses and into our cabs.....did he ? Course not ! And yet his crystal clear remit would require unfavourable views, one way or the other. That most definitely hasn't been the case though, and Peter Hendy hasn't just displayed favouritism for his buses, but blatantly shown a unhealthy respect for us.

His position bestowed upon him from original Taxi hater Livingstone in the first place, was from the outset, one of unhealthy conflict of interest. And rest assured, that was no accident.
I had to chuckle when Livingstone was unseated by Johnson, and Hendy made a statement to say that despite his allegiance with the Labour party and Livingstone, he felt he actually got along with Johnson better ! Ha Ha! 
If that wasn't a blinding attempt to save his three hundred and fifty grand a year salary, I don't know what was ! 

Once again you see, an utter and clear display of absolutely no loyalty whatsoever! To the Labour Party, to Livingstone or to anyone else. 
Show me an example whereby Hendy has shown loyalty.......TO ANYONE ! 
To these people, it is about promotion, careers, salary, perks and personal gain. Loyalty and empathy don't come into it.
So it should be clear to all then, that this man should never have been in charge of The London Taxi Trade, simply because of a professional and personal conflict of interest, if nothing else. It would be like putting me in charge, wouldn't it ?  
Could you imagine, I hate buses and I hate bikes, so that would be them two gone ! 

But professionally, that isn't correct, moral or fair is it ? 

So it would be accurate to say, that my passion for our London Taxi Trade, would be a hindrance and a conflict of interest, if I were to be put in charge. And it would be !  

But worryingly, bus loving Peter Hendy has an enormous amount of clout, when it comes to knocking and pushing our trade about as and when he wants to. Well, at least he's gone now, and we need to concern ourselves about the views and aspirations of Hendy's sidekick, Mike Brown.

He worries me as well. Mike, like Hendy comes from more or less the same genealogy. London Tube Underground Director and a huge Operating remit for BAA, in charge of running Heathrow Airport.

Make no mistake, that is a huge brief, and Mike is obviously no slouch and I respect him. But again, isn't there a clear conflict of interest, in that the London Taxi Trade is made up of 25000 self employed business professionals ?

Where do you expect our pecking order to be in Mike's projections? 
Probably no higher than where we topped up in Hendy's, that's where.
I hate to be a doom monger, but although Hendy has gone, I wouldn't be too optimistic about our tenure security under Mike Brown's stewardship either.  But we shall see.
More dramatic news this week of course, when the Mayor appeared to have reneged over the 15 year taxi scrappage scheme. Taxi Leaks and our readers however, were tipped off about this a month ago.

And whilst we are on a roll, I would also like to say,  that Taxi Leaks reported by myself two weeks ago, that we would see the ferret go down the hole last week and were betting on who would bolt first from the TFL warren. 
Others are on the way too ! Keep watching !
As if that wasn't enough for our trade to digest this week, it appears that the French President fearful of more action from the bona fide French Taxi Drivers, has caved in and banned Uber. As you know, I have always supported a militant challenge and just cannot find comfort from endless democratic dialogue, coffee and biscuits, and drawn out blah, blah. Its a recipe for getting shafted in my opinion. 

So, you may imagine my pride of how the French trade not only conducted themselves.......but won ! 
Their Commercial Fisherman colleagues are of the same calibre too. Mess with them and you've got a ruck on your hands ! And the French Government know it !

In an ideal world, it is all very cosy and civil to approach Governments and Authorities in a polite, democratic and composed manner, of course. But when your livelihoods are in jeopardy of collapse, and you are under the control of a dubious, woeful and inadequate authority........a militant stance is the only viable option.

As an ex-serviceman in a unit who upheld this principle daily, it comes as second nature to me, and I have witnessed success by taking this stance, more times than I have failure.
One thing is for certain. Even with the Bus Lover gone, even with the erroneous smile of pseudo friendship from the betraying Mayor still very much prevailing, it is not a time to wipe our brows and think we are safe, cos we ain't !

City Hall and its murky Transport For London Department may be having a re-shuffle due to fear and panic, but that isn't enough to save the great London Taxi Trade from our scheduled and planned demise in the form that we all know it.
Uber still trade with impunity. Enforcement on London's streets is still a million miles away from satisfactory and mini cab roundels still pour out of the TFL like confetti. We are still very much at risk of oblivion.
It's been a funny old week in our London Cab Trade, that's for sure. We still need to take the challenge to the woefully inadequate though and when the shout goes up for unity, I would like to see as many of us lace our boots up to support a united show of passion and strength........just like the French did !
Be lucky all.
8829 Semtex

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Another day at the job centre by I'm Spartacus

'Hello, I saw an advert in the window for Chair of Network Rail'

'OK, what do you know about running trains?'

'Nothing at all but I can cause congestion by running half empty buses and umpteen private hire cars on the streets'

'Could be the kind of person they are looking for, what about looking after public money?'

'No problem there, I can offer up the cable car and the hydrogen bus as examples of wise spending'

'Ok, Start Monday.

Letter To The Editor : Parliament Lobby: EDM 142

Parliament Lobby: EDM 142 – Contact your MP, Location & Time


Trade demonstrations have been announced throughout the duration of July.

Tuesday July 14th will see a united day of action by the trade. As RMT will be descending on  Parliament for a rally inside the commons. This will be hosted by Harlington & Hayes Labour MP, John McDonell and will include a panel of guest speakers. Drivers will have the opportunity to invite their MPs to the debate and present concerns over the threat to their livelihoods.

Full details can be found below with help on how to contact your MP and arrange a meeting. Meanwhile here are the key times and locations.

2:45 pm

Meeting beforehand under RMT banner at Windsor House demonstration at 1:40pm. Procession will be leaving at 2:30pm.

A final meeting point will be outside Houses of Parliament at 2:45

Inside rally/debate will start at 3:20 in committee room 11
, so please allow time to get through security.

Contact your MP here and request they support Early Day Motion 142 and attend the rally.



Cabby Speaks To Ken Livingston In Waitrose : Plus #SaveTaxi Promotional Video.

    Cabby Dave Smith and Ex Mayor Ken Livingston

Dear Jim, 
I bumped into Ken Livingston in Waitrose earlier this week. Ex Mayor Ken had not heard of the Save The Black Taxi group...but believe me, he knows all about us now.

Ken didn't mind talking about the predicament the trade presently finds itself in and said Uber would not have been licensed by TfL in his time as Mayor and that he definitely would have banned them in line with other European cities.

Ken also said he couldn't understand why Boris and Cameron have let this situation happen, adding that there must be an underlying reason for this. 

Where does Boris get off, backing the London Taxi trade one minute, then in the next breath say there's nothing he can do about Uber?

                   With thanks to Kaya Seza

Please support the #SaveTaxi online petition. Get family and friends to sign. 

                 >Click This Link To Sign Petition<

Saturday, June 27, 2015

David Cameron and George Osborne have allegedly instructed Boris Johnson to lay off Uber by SMS

Political organiser and writer Bryn Phillips, has made a number of public statements on Twitter regarding political intervention from the Prime Minister and Chancellor in regards to the licensing of Uber London Ltd.

Earlier today, Mr Phillips put out this tweet:

George Osborne and David Cameron have instructed Boris Johnson to lay off Uber by SMS.

There have been many rumours about the involvement of no10 and the easy ride uber has been given by TfL and the Mayors office.

He then followed this up with another tweet:

The Prime Minister and the Chancellor have both directly lobbied on behalf of Uber. Legal threats most welcome. @the_lcdc @UnitedCabbies

Mr Phillips says he welcomes any legal challenges about his statements as he had firm evidence and will testify to that effect in court.

Bryn also stated that "Actually, Cameron lobbied on behalf of Uber in 2012. Osborne's SMS warning was more recent than that."

The United Cabbies Group also put out a statement today that on March the 18th they offered TfL a data base containing 8000 customer complaints. TfL ignored the offer.
On June 15th The UCG met with MP Tom Watson.
On June 16th TfL asked to see the complaints
On June 25th Hendy announces he's stepping down from TfL.

How are these constant allegations allowed to go unanswered ?

The LTDA recently stated they had put aside £1m for potential legal action. Perhaps now would be a good time to start spending this fund Bob.

We've been told for years about the wonderful legal back up our trade unions can offer their membership, with political clout from sponsored MPs. 
Now's the time for the RMT and Unite to put up.


Ray Hadley Radio Show : Ray Shuts Down Uber Driver Derek.

     >Click Here : for the-ray-hadley-show<

Australian Morning Show host Ray Hadley takes an Uber driver (Derek) to task. The driver says working for Uber has helped him keep his car, pay his rent and put food on his families table. 

But Ray points out that Uber operates unfairly and is a totally illegal service. 

In Queensland and New South Wales, Licensed Taxi Drivers and legitimate private hire drivers have to pay out, somewhere in the region of $14,000 in licence fees, insurances and permits before they turn a wheel. Where as all that's needed to drive for Uber is an iPhone.

Ray says either the government needs to have a level playing field where everyone operates under the same restrictions and regulations, or they should scrap the regulations deregulate all services. 

Ray went on to say : when I put one of my daughters in a cab or private hire car, I want to know that the driver is checked, safe and has all the required paper work. I don't want her getting in a car with a rapist. 

Ray also makes comments about the troubles this company is having world wide, running roughshod over Taxi legislation, plus the difficult of contacting the company with any form of complaint.

Definitely a must listen. 

Hollande demands ban on Uber taxis : UCG condemns Paris violence.


French President Francois Hollande has called for the Uber taxi service to be shut down and its vehicles seized.

But Uber is refusing to stop the service until a ruling by the country's top court.

The stand-off, and a violence-marred taxi strike in Paris, reflects wider tensions in France over how to regulate fast-moving technology and stay globally competitive while ensuring labour protections.

France's top security official, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, said today that Uber is facing multiple investigations. He spoke to RTL radio a day after striking taxi drivers attacked Uber livery cars and set fire to tyres on a major artery around Paris.

Some taxi drivers continued the protest today, but the strike did not appear to seriously disrupt morning travel around Paris, and no violence was immediately reported.

Uber's cheapest service, called UberPop in France, has been banned, but Uber officials insist they will continue their activities until France's highest court rules on the service.

Mr Cazeneuve called that "cynical and arrogant".

Mr Hollande said today: "The UberPop group must be dissolved and declared illegal, and the vehicles must be seized." But he said the executive branch cannot do that without further action through the courts.

The president, speaking at an EU summit in Brussels, accused Uber of not respecting "social and fiscal rules". 

Uber argues that the French taxi system is outdated and needs reform to keep up with apps and geolocalisation, and that traditional taxis are just trying to quash competition.

The company faces similar legal challenges and criticism from taxi drivers' associations around the world.

Furious taxi drivers in France say the low-cost UberPop service is ruining their livelihood. Uber drivers have been repeatedly ambushed, sometimes with customers inside.

There were reports of groups of taxi drivers “hunting down” suspected Uber drivers at Charles de Gaulle and Roissy Airports.

Limousines allegedly operating for Uber were overturned at Charles de Gaulle and Porte Maillot, on the outskirts of the French capital. Other areas of Paris and other cities were also affected, as taxi drivers struck out against unfair competition from the UberPOP service.

French riot police push an overturned car upright, as striking French taxi drivers demonstrate at the Porte Maillot to block the traffic on the Paris ring road during a national protest against Uber, in Paris, June 25, 2015

The Uber company has been facing large setbacks in Europe, with similar problems in Italy, Germany and Belgium.

The app has already been banned in the Netherlands and Spain, and is appealing bans in France and Germany. 

Back in May, Uber launched it's 160 euros a pop ‘hail’ helicopter service at Cannes Film Festival

The Uber app offered helicopter taxis during the Cannes Film Festival. 

The first of its kind service in France allowed guests to catch a helicopter ride from Nice-Côte d’Azur airport to Cannes for about 160 euros.

The company signed a deal with the French helicopter firm Helipass to offer Sky Taxis throughout the Cannes Film Festival, according to French news channel BFMTV.

The flight service was included in the Uber app as a separate icon on the first day of the festival. 

Meanwhile in London: 

Tension has risen in London over Uber

Black cab drivers have criticised Mayor Boris Johnson for failing to regulate the taxi trade effectively.

Cabbies also claim Uber does not pay UK taxes and is not subject to the same restrictions as traditional Taxis or Private Hire operators

UCG Condem Paris Uber Protest Violence: 

The United Cabbies Group, the fastest growing trade body for the black cab industry, condemn violence at the Paris "Uber protest".

The UCG, who will stage peaceful industrial action outside Palestra, the headquarters for Transport for London (TfL), next week, have condemned the recent violence at the Paris protest against the $50 billion American company as "horrendous and unacceptable." 

Len Martin, Chair of the UCG, said on Friday night:

"What this minority of Paris drivers have done by turning to violence is 100% unacceptable. Violence is never the way. That's why we're calling for a parliamentary inquiry into TfL - amid rumours of institutional corruption. 

Sir Peter Hendy may have disappeared in a puff of smoke yesterday, but we will not."

The UCG stress their strategy of non-violent protest is an action of last resort and call for "reasoned debate" with political leaders from across the spectrum in order to avert further industrial action.