As posted over the weekend, the Met police served a section 12 public order restriction today's demo.
The order made it clear that we could demonstrate along a set rout around the Windsor House building from 2pm until 2:30.
Police go back on their word.
As the demonstration kicked off, Taxis hoping to join in were siphoned off. Instead of joining the demo from Victoria Street Eastbound, Taxis were diverted right onto Artillery Row. But not to be outdone, drivers doubled back until the road was completely blocked -another piece of Met planning making it worse :)- Taxis were then sent north onto Buckingham Gate.
Hurriedly officers from Bronze command, tried to distribute individual section 12 orders, in an attempt to intimidate drivers most of whom just left their windows up and refused to accept.
The order of the day was to kettle Taxis in the Broadway, Caxton Street and Buckingham Gate. The idea being, to keep Victoria Street looking clear.
Complaints were made on site at the actions on the Met Police event commanders, who it appeared were acting under orders to disrupt the demo as much as possible.
A Met officer with a camera was sent along to record the number plate of each driver actually on the protest rout. Another officer then approached drivers explaining if they failed to disperse precisely at 2:30, then a summons would be issued for contravening section 12 conditions. This was a clear case of intimidation and there was no need for this behaviour from the Met. I caught up with the officer and asked why he was harassing drivers, he then walked away back towards the main road.
Tow away trucks, hundreds of surplus police officers, Met film crews, riot police enforcements, Police helicopter, plus a mobile control wagon.....all this from a force who say they don't have the resources to tackle touting or to remove vehicles parked on Taxi ranks!
Even so, turn out was fantastic. Members of the public were given leaflets explaining our situation regarding TfLs woefully inadequate administration and appeared to give tremendous support to the demo.
I approached the Bronze command inspector and had words about the scandalous treatment his officers were imposing on peaceful Taxi drivers. He said that as there had been no arrests and no incidents, he gave his assurance that no drivers would be summoned.
The police went back on their word of allowing us our right of peaceful assembly and protest and treated us worse than they've ever treated terrorist groups marching across London in the past.
Time to take the kid gloves off?
Should we stop facilitating the police?
In future, I believe we will see more critical mass/flash mob style demos taking place, without warning.
Didn't see too many section 12s flying about at Palestra's critical mass die-in!
And finally, after:
•Tens of thousands of cars allowed by TfL to ply illegally
• Drivers without proper hire and reward insurance allowed to work as minicab drivers
•Drivers without proper background checks openly touting from taxi ranks
• Compliance and enforcement bigwigs from Operation Neon officers openly touted and broadcast on BBC radio, with no arrests, no licence revocation, no action taken
This, from our caring licensing authority.