Saturday, March 21, 2015

Another London Bus Bursts Into Flames.

Another double decker bus has been destroyed, when it burst into flames in south London.

The bus burst into flames at about 09:20 GMT on Forest Hill Road in Wood Vale near to Honor Oak Park. Clouds of thick black smoke could be seen for miles around. 

Luckily the route 172 bus was out of service when the fire broke out, with only the driver on board.

London Fire Brigade said the fire was quickly put out although after they arrived but there was extensive damage. No-one was hurt.

The Metropolitan Police said they suspected the blasé started with an engine fire and was not suspicious. 

Ken Davidson, Transport for London's head of bus operations said the fire was being investigated.




Special Compliance Assignment For New Man In The Job...by Jim Thomas.

Late last night, 2:45am to be precise, the new head of compliance and part time special constable John Strutton, organised his crack team to take part in a special mission. One of the upmost importance, designed to throw shame on previous incumbents of the job.

        

Picture the scene.
London's Mayfair:
Clogged to a standstill, a virtual car park. Berkeley Street, Dover Street, Regent Street, Conduit Street, Charing Cross Road and the area around Soho, awash with minicabs, double parked in places with the drivers accosting members of the public shouting "Taxi...minicab".
Shoreditch:
A tangle mess of cars lining the roads around the Old Street triumvirate, where touting is the order of the night. Spurred on by clipboard johnnies openly contravening the act of 1998, plus the more modem approach to touting, the sandwich board man, silently touting to the more literate.
Edgware Road:
Another hot bed of illegal plying for hire. Cars parked outside 24 supermarkets and Shisha bars offering uninsured cheap rides to unsuspecting tourists from the Middle East.

Meanwhile, somewhere in the City:
Our newly promoted head of compliance's hand picked undercover operatives, are on the case. We can rest assured as this highly trained crack team are out saving the public.

Their carefully chosen target.... Licensed Taxis, sitting outside Sushi Samba on Bishopsgate. 
(Some God forbid, not wearing a badge)

Just half a mile from the "Zombie Triangle" of Shorditch, our boys are safe in the knowledge that no compliance officer has ever been lost in the course of a Badge & Bill check.

No tackling of foreign nationals who could be armed terrorists raising money for the cause (not unheard of). 
No tackling the unlicensed sexual predators and crackheads out sourcing their next victim.
No Tackling drivers from outside London purporting to be licensed minicabs, now escalating to an epidermic level.

No, our new boy's brave team are out saving the cab trade (in their own words) from yellow badges and mechanics, working where they shouldn't. 

Well done to this covert brave band of brothers, well done to Sir Peter Hendy, visible policing with the enforcement budget being well spent....not.

Hendy, at the City Hall interview, spoke of matters in hand concerning enforcement...is this what he was talking about?

A spokesperson from Palestra said, "We counted them out....and we counted them back home again". 
Well done these brave officers of the compliance team.

News Flash:
Just been informed that one of the compliance team told a driver the main reason for the hit on Sushi Samba was that they had recieved complaints from bus drivers.

Shame there's no bus rout through Coventry Street. 8 police officers there last night and yet minicabs were allowed to illegally park on pavement and tout. Boris's bobbies turning a blind eye.


Amazingly, nothing is ever done about the thousands of complaints from angry Taxi drivers about the congestion caused by empty buses in the Piccaddilly area at night.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Project Kipper....Selling Out The Trade.




Massively out of touch’ Boris Johnson heckled by Taxi Drivers at People’s Question Time


Boris Johnson and members from the Greater London Assembly sat in the meeting held in the Dominion Centre in High Road, Wood Green at which members of the public got the chance to quiz them on a range of issues.


A Taxi Driver asked boris what he was doing about the increasing problem of minicab touting. Again, tired and misleading statistics previously used by Gareth Emmerson and Sir Peter Hendy were dragged out, as if Boris had been given a script.

One taxi driver asked Boris what he intended to do about the fact that private hire vehicle owners do not have to produce hire and reward insurgence at the NSL licensing inspection, in the same way licensed Taxi owners do.
There was loud applause from the audience. 


Another driver asked what he was doing about Uber, which bought lots of angry heckling, as mayor attempted to explain what he's trying to do, to address the Uber meter issue. 

The question was also raised about the amount of touting and the lack of enforcement .

Boris said 
" We are ruthless against touts with over 8000 arrests".
This bought loud jeers from the audience some shouting out; 
"Liar"
"Only 34 convictions last year" 
"Lies!, more lies!" and 
"Scandalous". 

One Taxi driver asked him what he, as head of TfL, intended to do about their woefully inadequate running of the Taxi and Private Hire trades in London. Boris was obviously taken aback by the questions from the Taxi trade and looked uncomfortable, bumbling and unprepared.

A commentator on Twitter said "No taxis in London tonight, they're all in Haringey, heckling Boris".

On the ULEZ Boris said "We have secured huge funding for air quality from the government. I don't want to see taxi drivers forced to buy ultra clean cars" (freudian slip perhaps), he did not mention if any of the funding would be used in subsidising cleaner TAXIS.

Murad Qureshi of GLA said "BoJo has not addressed air quality issues in London. He's kicked it into the long grass for the next mayor."


The atmosphere seemed to be getting very heated towards Mayor Johnson and security staff were bought in to form a line between him and the audience.



He was unconvincing in his replies and seemed to have a tirade of statistics which bore no relation to the experiences of the people here on all the subjects raised.




Thursday, March 19, 2015

Exclusive : TfL Lease Building For Counter Services...Plus New Head Of Compliance


LTPH New Home:
News has been leaked to our editorial team, that TfL have finally leased a building in Blackfriars just up the road from Palestra, to house the much needed counter services.
 
There had been much talk of a move to Victoria's, Faith Lawson House, just behind New Scotland Yard. But many felt the building was unsuitable as there was no local parking, plus too small as a number of other agencies were to share the counter services.

More recently there has been unconfirmed rumours that the knowledge section would be leaving Palestra and relocated in a new home just off the Lambeth road. A perceived return to the dungeon of the 50's. But we now believe this plan has also been scrapped.

LTPH's new counter services (and possibly Knowledge testing section) will be housed at 230 Blackfriars Road, east side between Blackfriars bridge and Palestra  


The whole building has been refurbished to a grade A specification, providing good quality, highly efficient open plan office space. 
The available accommodation, is situated over ground and three upper floors.

New Compliance Chief:
We've also heard that TfL employee John Strutton, has taken over as Interim Head Of Compliance.

He will be responsible for assuring the compliance of London's Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle trades with the range of legislative conditions, thereby contributing to public safety, crime reduction and public reassurance.

  

John's credentials show he has been Community Safety and Crime Prevention Manager at TfL for almost 5 years. 

He is also co director of both Caribbean Crime Prevention International and UK Design Out Crime Association.

John first came to TfL in 2002, working as Crime & Disorder Partnership Manager for LUL, moving on up to TfL in 2005.

Let's hope this time TfL have picked the right person for the job. Someone who actually wants to achieve better results, than the scandalous 34 convictions for touting from last year.

It would appear John has the experience to do the necessary job, if only he's allowed to.  
 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Breaking News: Uber Banned In Germany...Again!

       IS UBER'S EMPIRE CRUMBLING?

BERLIN — A judge in Frankfurt on Wednesday dealt a strong blow to Uber, ruling that drivers for ride-hailing service nationwide must hold the official permits required of taxi drivers. The ruling reinstates one of the most severe legal restrictions faced by the company anywhere in the world.

The decision, by Judge Joachim Nickel, overturns a ruling from September that had lifted an injunction against the service, which had been sought by a taxi drivers’ trade group.

Uber allows drivers to connect with potential passengers using a smartphone application. The company, based in San Francisco, has faced legal challenges across the world since it was founded in 2009.

Judge Nickel found Uber to be in violation of Germany’s public transportation act, which requires any service carrying passengers for a fee to be operated by licensed drivers. There was no immediate comment from Uber.

The suit was brought against the company by Taxi Deutschland, a trade group representing Germany’s taxi drivers, which charged that Uber had violated completion laws. The group welcomed the ruling on Wednesday.

“The basis of Uber’s business model is in violation of the law,” Dieter Schlenker, the head of Taxi Deutschland, told the daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.


   Source NYTimes

Have Google Been Ubered : Budget 2015: 'Google Tax' introduction confirmed


Companies that move their profits overseas to avoid tax will be subject to a "diverted profits tax" from April, the chancellor has said.

In his final Budget before the election, George Osborne said firms that aid tax evasion will also face new penalties and criminal prosecutions.

The so-called "Google Tax" is designed to discourage large companies diverting profits out of the the UK to avoid tax.

It follows rows over how much corporation tax some companies pay.

"Let the message go out: this country's tolerance for those who will not pay their fair share of taxes has come to an end," Mr Osborne said.

The Chancellor said his deputy, chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, would be announcing new legislation on Thursday outlining new criminal offences and penalties for aiding tax evasion.

It comes after last month's revelation that HSBC colluded with clients of its private bank to evade tax over many years.

Mr Osborne said he would also change the corporation tax rules to prevent contrived loss arrangements. 

He added he would also be closing tax loopholes that enabled businesses to take account of foreign branches when reclaiming VAT on their overheads.

Mr Osborne said the new tax measures he was introducing were expected to raise £3.1bn over the next five years.

He added he was also raising the bank levy to 0.21%, which he said would raise £900m. 

And he said he was closing a loophole in the law that allowed the banks to offset charges for mis-selling, including payment protection insurance, and other misconduct against their corporation tax bills.

Editorial Comment
Perhaps HMRC will now take the trouble to look at the Tax affairs of a certain technology company based in Holland, who swear blind they are not a Private Hire operator and yet applied for and were granted a Private Hire operators licence in 2012.

Uber have been riding roughshod over the Private Hire act with scant regard to any Taxi or Orivate Hire regulation. Backed up by a woefully inadequate licensing authority, it looks like Palestras house of cards is about to tumble. 

TfL top management are scurrying about trying to wash their hands of all responsibility over the licensing of Uber, with the ex Director of LTPH John a Mason, stating on "Twitter" last night that it wasn't him who signed approval of Uber's original licence aplication.

Taxi Leaks asked John Mason outright:
"Who in TfL authorised the rent a desk in More London, as an operating Centre?"

He answered:
"I said they met the legal requirements of licensing at the point of licensing
I may have been an employee but I didn't sign every application"

So a company operating from a "rent a desk" in More London, who:
• Did not/ does not take pre bookings over a land line 
•Used a device measuring both time and distance to calculate a fare
• Allowed its drivers to use their app without Hire and Reward insurance 
met all the legal requirements of licensing?

Who were the compliance team sent to check out Uber's aplication and set up...David Blunket and Stevie Wonder?

Private Hire Act 1998:

Sec 11Prohibition of taximeters.

(1)No vehicle to which a London PHV licence relates shall be equipped with a taximeter.

(2)If such a vehicle is equipped with a taximeter, the owner of that vehicle is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(3)In this section “taximeter” means a device for calculating the fare to be charged in respect of any journey by reference to the distance travelled or time elapsed since the start of the journey (or a combination of both).











Project Kipper : New Wheel-Clamp Style Stickers Available.

New wheel-clamp style stickers have started to appear at Taxi eateries. 


Please take a few and stick them on the windows of minicabs, parked on working Taxi ranks.


You will find a tin next to the stickers for small contributions. Please help to keep "Project Kipper" going, more to come soon.





And Now For The Good News : Police Raid Uber Paris Offices.

Police Raid Uber Online Taxi Service's Paris Offices

Police Raid Uber Online Taxi Service's Paris Offices

French police raided the Paris offices of the Uber taxi app company on Tuesday as part of an investigation into its controversial ride-sharing service, the company told AFP.

The headquarters of the French branch of the US-based firm was targetted at the request of the Paris prosecutor's office.

The enquiry centres on the UberPop smartphone application, which puts non-professional drivers with their own cars in touch with passengers via their mobile phones or a website, for rides at budget rates.

The company called the raid an "attempt at intimidation," adding that dozens of non-professional UberPop users had been fined since the start of the year.

Uber, which operates in about 250 cities in 50 countries, has become an object of scorn from traditional taxi companies fighting for survival against the rise of the Silicon Valley challenger, founded in 2009.

"We see this raid as a disproportionate action carried out on a very fragile legal basis," Uber France boss Thibaud Simphal told the website of L'Obs magazine.

Earlier this month hundreds of taxi drivers from Belgium and France brought central Brussels to a virtual standstill with their vehicles in a protest against the web-based Uber.

Around 100 French taxi drivers travelled to Brussels to take part in the protest.

UberPop is technically illegal in France, but the company has appealed a 100,000-euro ($113,000) fine it received last year.

Uber's American founder Travis Kalanick has said the system will create 50,000 new jobs in Europe this year, and help take 400,000 cars off the road by encouraging drivers to use taxis instead of their own vehicle. 

Uber Chief Financial Officer Brent Callinicos Steps Down

Uber Technologies Inc's Chief Financial Officer Brent Callinicos is stepping down, the online taxi service's CEO said in an email to investors.

The company has not named a replacement to Callinicos, but Gautam Gupta, "Brent's right hand on Strategic Finance" will be the acting head of the finance division, Chief Executive Travis Kalanick said in the email seen by Reuters.

Callinicos, a former Google Inc executive, will be an advisor to Uber.

"Brent has done a wonderful job here at Uber but has decided that it is time for his next journey, one where his wife and daughter take the front seat," Kalanick wrote in the email.

Callinicos, who joined Uber in 2013, served as treasurer and chief accountant at Google.

   Source : NDTV

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Letter To Editor Re Project Kipper.


Dear Taxi Leaks Re:
Project Kipper Update. TfL 768 officers 34 convictions...


Your reporter's footage improved as the film progressed, if you can improve it slightly more, capturing registrations and possibly a second microphone at the reporters wrist to hear clearly what the PH driver says it would be possible to then present it to the police or TfL with an "invitation" to prosecute. 

Complete a section 9 witness statement and make a formal complaint of a crime, plying for hire is still a criminal offence, the police cannot wash their hands of it. Better still get a friendly solicitor to make the complaint on your behalf, there are many on Twitter who appear to support the London Cab trade, they may even do it for free and it will be less likely that they are tried to be fobbed off.

The benefit is that TfL or the police cannot afford to be seen to be ignoring proper evidence of a crime, it is documentation of dereliction of duty, at the moment they can say “We take touting very seriously and robustly enforce the law when we find evidence of it”, when we as cabbies know they don’t look for that evidence, if presented with solid evidence they cannot hide.

As to the question of Uber from outside London operating in London, this is not unlawful (on paper) if there is an Uber operator’s licence in place in the area that the cars are coming from. It is lawful for a London operator (Uber London) to subcontract to a provincial operator (Uber Luton etc.) Of course Uber do not “Operate” at all as they do not accept bookings, it is the driver that accepts them from Uber’s nationwide platform.

It is unlawful however for provincial operators to subcontract to other operators outside their licensing area and surprise, surprise Uber do this too, as the YouTube video below clearly shows. 

A Leeds Uber picking up and dropping off a job in Manchester through the Uber platform (red bar on Iphone screen.



Regards, Manchester Black Cab Driver


Letter To The Editor : Peoples misunderstanding of uber : Why Wasn't Hendy Sacked?

Peoples misunderstanding of uber. 

Uber insist they are not a Private Hire operator, they say they are a tech company which allow mini cab drivers to use their software for a 20% charge of each ride. 

When you e-hail a minicab your phone sends out an algorithm which locates the nearest drivers to you. Its then up to an individual driver to accept the job. If they refuse they get less work, so they accept all jobs no matter how far away. 

As so many are unfamiliar with London they accept work in the heart of the west end without realising the traffic to get to you that's why there are so many cancelations.

Once a driver accepts your hail, your contract is now with the driver and not with uber. The driver is then given a set route to follow and can not change it as that is how the fare is calculated. So if there's traffic your stuck in it. 

They also don't like it when you change your destination as they don't know where there going so have to stop and type it into their sat nav. The danger is when drivers try to type while still driving, probably why we are seeing so many accidents involving Uber cars all over London.

Each driver is responsible for there own vehicle and insurance not checked by uber. 

Minicabs have always been in London nothing new there, the difference is these guys are being e-hailed and use a meter hidden within the app and also surcharge as and when they please.

Uber refer to the drivers as third party or partners and decline all responsibility. This is clearly stated in their terms and conditions found on their website. 

Vehicles licensed in London will have the little round sticker in both the front and rear windows.  At present, there is no requirement for hire and reward insurance when the vehicle is presented for licensing at NSL and unlike Licensed Taxis, there is no requirement to display valid hire and reward insurance in the vehicle. So, there's no guarantee that any PHV vehicle will have adequate insurance. 

Presently, there is a worrying trend where cars using the Uber app have been spotted without the TfL roundel. On checking these vehicles do not show up in the TfL PHV licence checker. One explanation is these cars are coming in from areas outside of London. We have heard of one Uber driver who regularly comes down to London from Birmingham to work at the weekend.

It has become very fashionable to summon an Uber on your smart phone and the company have turned ordering a car into a quasi computer game by asking both customer and driver to rate each other. 
Many customers are not making complaints for fear their rating may drop.

Regards Eddie 

Three Judges Fired For Watching Porn At Work

Three judges have been fired for allegedly viewing pornography at work - a fourth would also have been sacked but resigned first.

A spokesperson for the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office confirmed that District Judge Timothy Bowles, Immigration Judge Warren Grant and Deputy District Judge and Recorder Peter Bullock have been removed from judicial office.

Their sacking follows an investigation into an allegation that they viewed pornographic material on judicial IT equipment in their offices.

The spokesman added that the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice were "satisfied that the material did not include images of children or any other illegal content".

Nevertheless, the body had "concluded that this was an inexcusable misuse of their judicial IT accounts and wholly unacceptable conduct for a judicial office holder".

A fourth judge, Recorder Andrew Maw, was also found to have viewed similar inappropriate material via his judicial IT account, the JCIO said, but resigned before the disciplinary process concluded.

The judges were not linked in any way.

           So, WHY WASN'T HENDY SACKED

              
            
   

So these three judges were sacked, yet Hendy got a knighthood and a £300,000 bonus!

Regards Anthony 



Petition To Ban Uber Minicab App.

The London black taxi trade is under a serious threat from Uber London Ltd. 


The London taxi has been an iconic part of London for decades and if uber continue to grow at the present rate, the London taxi trade will be no more. 


It take years to learn the knowledge to be able to pick passengers up from the streets of London as instant hails. 


Private hire requires passengers to book through a third party operator, giving the driver time to look up the destination and rout.


It is a danger to all road users for minicab drivers to pick up instant hails, using a sat nav as they drive, but Uber drivers are doing just that. Uber are also singing a meter to calculate fare using both time and distance travelled in contravention of the private hire act. 


It has also come to light that many Uber drivers do not have the required Hire and Reward insurance cover. In the unfortunate event of an accident, the paying passenger would not be covered by the drivers personal insurance.


Uber have just lost a court case to TfL for allowing its drivers to use the app without proper insurance.  


Please take a minute to sign this petition asking Boris Johnson to Ban Uber Minicabs. 


>Click here to sign<




Monday, March 16, 2015

Project Kipper Update. TfL 768 officers 34 convictions in 12 months. Our 1 man 6 touts in 1/2 hour

OPERATION KIPPER: 
The Good The Bad And The Ügly.

Watch as our undercover researcher approaches Uber drivers to see if they will take a walk up, immediate hire. 

The first driver approached is asked for the Marriott Hotel on the Bath Road at Heathrow and amazingly asks for the post code. Even through he has no idea where the Hotel is, he is still willing to take the job for an estimate of £50/60.

Second driver is asked are you free, "I'm free' he says and even though he also has no idea where the hotel is, quotes £40.

The third driver obviously knows the Hotel and suddenly the estimate doubles to £80.

Fourth driver advises that our man downloads the app. But then explains as surging is currently in operation, price will be £145. 

One driver didn't know Palestra when our man asked saying he had important meeting with Sir Peter Hendy. 

And the last UberX driver explained Uber is not cheaper than black Cabs.

                 A MUST WATCH.


Within the space of half an hour, our undercover reporter approach six Uber drivers who were willing to illegally take him as an instant hail. 

Last year a force of 68 cab enforcement officer, backed up by 400 met officers and 300 female undercover officers (statistics from Sir Peter Hendy, City Hall, 25 February 2015) convicted just 34 private hire drivers for touting.

This statistic from the mouth of the TfL commissioner is scandalous. A force of 768, result 34 convictions....value for money?

I think it's time the trade woke up, TfL have no intention of enforcing touting