Saturday, April 18, 2015

Shoreditch house, minicab on licensed Taxi rank.

Our final post today shows the attitude being developed by touts who illegally ply for hire. They truly believe they don't have to conform to any regulations now, as London has become a lawless free for all, with no enforcement from the authorities.

Unless of course you have the misfortune of being a licensed Taxi driver, then as we've seen, it becomes a different story of harassment and persecution. 

TfL, Totally Failing London.


More Bias From A Licensing Authority That's Totally Failing Londoners.

We've all seen this scene, outside Old Billingsgate, Lower Thames Street. We've even reported it to TfL.
Cars parked up illegally plying for hire waiting to be given a job by clip board johnnies.

All these cars are guilty of contravention 46: Stopped on a red rout or clearway where prohibited.

We've even seen the City of London Police turn up and harass Taxi drivers having to double park to pick up passengers who have run the gauntlet and made it to the road to flag down a Taxi.

This is a red rout, it has CCTV cameras. The touting minicabs are not only illegally parked on double red lines, they are also blocking the cycle lane completely.

The Private Hire operator which control the cars is RD2. A company that in 2012 acquired 18 new licence variations (satellite office licence), the same week the registered as a new Private Hire operator, contra to the PHV act rules and regulations which specify; 
" A new PH operator has to be in business for a minimum of 12 months before they can apply for a licence variation".

No PCNs have been issued by TfL at this spot, to the company which was given special treatment. Ex Director of LTPH John Mason and his deputy Helen Chapman, actually lied on three occasions about the circumstances in which this company was licensed (we still have all the emails John/Helen).

Yet TfL have started to issue PCNs to Licensed Taxis who are not fully on a rank with just the back wheels fouling the rank lines. This is unacceptable bias, from a "Woefully inadequate" licensing authority which is not fit for purpose.

People are being shepherded in cars illegally many of which in London that are driven by murderers and rapists that have not had background checks due to their asylum seeking status. In India, it is possible to buy a letter of good conduct from police stations at around £200, no questions asked.

We need to be taken away from this bias, incompetent agency. 

            TfL are TOTALLY FAILING LONDON.   

Unacceptable Behaviour From Door Staff And Minícab Drivers At Stringfellow's Club

A few weeks ago, Taxi Leaks posted a video of a Taxi driver showing commendable patience, while being insulted and verbally abused by an irate minicab driver, illegally parked on the Taxi rank outside Stringfellows Club, Upper St Martin Lane. 

The Taxi driver involved, now goes out of his way to regularly service this rank. The abuse and intimidation he has had to endure from both door staff and minicab drivers is unacceptable. 
Complaints have been lodged with both Police and TfL, but so far, nothing has been done. 

Below is the doorman at Peter Stringfellows trying to intimidate our driver, after he got a police woman to move a minicab obstructing him accessing the rank.


Below is another irate minicab driver trying to obstruct the Taxi driver using the rank outside Stringfellows. 


This type of behaviour from door staff and minicab drivers at these licensed premises is totally unacceptable. These complaints need to be investigated thoroughly by both police and TfL. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Daily Mail, Still Getting It Wrong.

One of our readers, made a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO), about the Daily Mail use of images of Taxis to illustrate an article about the BANNING of criminal record checks on foreign murderers and rapists who want to be minicab drivers if they have applied for asylum or refugees status.

This is the reply the driver received back from the Mail. It makes very interesting reading.


I am writing in response to your complaint to IPSO which was sent to us on 13 April.

Your primary concern relates to the use of the photographs of Black Cabs to illustrate the story, which focused on the possibility of refugees and asylum seekers with criminal histories becoming minicab drivers because of a loophole in the rules on criminal record checks. The use of the images of Black Cabs was intended to be illustrative, and while the piece focused on minicabs, we were in touch with TfL at the time which informed us that the same loophole also applies to Black Cab drivers. 

We have been back in contact with TfL following the complaint and they have confirmed this once again – their only addition is that it often takes up to three years for taxi drivers to pass the Knowledge, in which time they would have lived in the UK long enough to have further checks.

As above, the use of the images of Black Cabs was intended to be illustrative, but given that we have specifically focused on minicabs in the story, we have taken the decision to change the photographs to stock images of minicabs, rather than Black Cabs. 

We will also bear in mind your concerns for future reference in regard to stories on the same topic, and appreciate you taking the time to write on this matter.

I do hope that our action above resolves your concerns. Please let me know.

Best wishes

Scott Langham
Deputy Managing Editor.

After receiving the reply, our reader sent back this response...

Mr Langham,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my complaint. However, you seem to misunderstand the difference between a Taxi and a minicab. You have replaced the picture of a number of licenced London Taxi's, with either regional or foreign Taxi's, and not a TfL minicab. Just because these are not "black cabs" but cars, and the fact that it says "TAXI" on the roof sign, clearly demonstrates these are not minicabs. 

Private Hire in London, and the region's, are not allowed to call themselves Taxi or Cab in advertising themselves. By your organisation changing the photo to a car is still misleading the public, as it says Taxi on the roof. I have attached a photo to show what a licenced TfL minicab could look like. This image was freely available on the Internet. 

As you know, both TfL and the Metropolitan Police work hard in educating the public with their "know what you're getting into campaign", and articles with incorrect images like this, are blurring the lines against what they are trying to achieve. 

It would be helpful if you and your colleagues could understand the distinct difference between the two trades, especially in London. A good start point would be to read the London Assembly "Future Proof" report (available online), on Taxi and Private Hire. By reading this, you'll understand the importance of not misleading the public.

I would appreciate it if you could change the photo to reflect the story asap.

Also, if you would like any further information to help you understand the difference between Taxi's and Private Hire in London, I would be more than happy to assist. 



Editorial Comment: 
To facilitate Mr Langhams search, here are some of Taxi Leaks stock images of minicabs. He is more than welcome to use these in the next update of the Mails article. 


News Flash
Just been informed that the Daily Mail have now update their image again on their website....finally they have got it right. Well done to the driver who kept up the protest. It goes to show that it can be done, they will concede.

The updated piece may now be seen here: 


Thursday, April 16, 2015

While TfL Are Happy To License Uber, Maaxi Get The Full Biased Treatment.

This letter has today been sent to all Maaxi App drivers.
Please read and then tell us, why we shouldn't demonstrate on Tuesday!

Currently, many drivers are tying black ribbons to their rear wiper arms as a protest to the woefull inadequate and biase treatment we have experience under the 
Administration of Peter Hendy, Leon Daniels and Garret Emmerson. 

The media will be made fully aware of this silent protest as a vote of no confidence in our licensing authority. 

Letters To The Editor: Serve Writ On TfL, GrundyGate and TaxiMeter Covered In 1907.

I'm Spartacus, has made a very well thought out and valid argument on immediate hiring as practised by LPH and seemingly condoned by TfL. 

A Demo will surely bring our concerns, at this seeming law-breaking practice, to the attention of the travelling public. However, this nefarious practice (and turning a 'blind eye') should also be brought to the attention of the London Assembly. If we firmly believe that we are being undermined by malfeasance or maladministration by those who administer our trade, then a better remedy is to take a much more powerful approach as well as a Demo. 

We should first determine what it is that TfL are illegally ignoring in their statutory duty, and serve a 'Writ' on them. This is decisive action and would carry the weight of the Law with it. 

They could not ignore this and just brush it to one side or under the carpet or play it down in their usual fashion. We seem to have been here before in the last couple of years, but if we have the courage of our convictions in our efforts at defending the licensed London taxi trade, we need to get organised and fund such an action. 

Let's get it right - once and for all, instead of our usual moaning and groaning to each other and going round in circles or NOWHERE AT 

Name withheld

Let's have a reality check, as long as Johnson supports Hendy then unless we get TfL at a judge led enquiry he will survive.

He survived 'Grundygate' after all.

Rumour has it many at TfL view some PH apps as plying for hire, Could it be that TfL don't want to enforce this as its too costly.

How can it be that they sought a legal opinion on the practices of one operator TWO YEARS after licensing them, that same operator strangely denies they are a PH operator!!

It stinks and the smell is getting worse!


London Cab and Stage Carriage Act, 1907 (s6)

………and the expression “taximeter” means any appliance for measuring the time or distance for which a cab is used or for measuring both time and distance which is for the time being approved for the purpose by or on behalf of the Secretary of State.

So why on earth do they need a court to decide that a mobile phone or any other mobile electronic gadgetry needs defining? Are they not appliances? Nowhere can I see in this act that it state that the appliance needs to be secured to the vehicle.


More Good News, As We Finally Get Signage For Rank At Jim Thomas

Well would you know it, the rank outside Novikos has been implement and signage has been issued.

There is a sign on the parking board, same as the one outside Hakkasan. The rank is kerbside and starts at 6:30 pm and is in force to 8:30 am.

It's now up to you to take this space back as night after night, touts will continue to illegally park on our rank here. 

If you see a line of touts outside Novikov's where our cabs should be ranking, call 101 the non emergency number and keep complaining until the police move them off. It's all about statistics, they won't like hundreds of complains over their system. 

This is a major working night rank. It's essential we continue to service and take back this space outside Novikov's. We also have to make sure the touts don't double park, blocking us in. 

We have been putting ourselves at risk here for too long. Police and compliance teams have given us plenty of stick and often moved us on. Cmlaints were made by bus drivers about being obstructed by unlawful Taxi ranking. 

Now we need to turn it around and get the police, compliance and cab enforcement teams to actually DO THE JOB WE PAY THEM TO DO and that's enforce the regulations that are there to protect our trade and the public. 

Again, a big thank you to the LTDA's Mike Calvey who parked the AddVan outside and bought drivers attention to the ranks implementation. 

Don't settle for second best double parking, be active and insist the touts move. The club have been informed they can oark their cars outside. If the touts won't move, call the police and insist they attend.

Editorial Comment: 
It has been made quite clear that both the GLA and TfL currently feel that satellite offices complete with clipboard Johnnies have had their day. At last they have started to wake up to the dangers involved with allowing lines of cars to pick up unbooked passengers with no record of the journey taken.

This will of course put more floating PH drivers in the position of looking to an app to acquire work. 

The corruption and fraud of certain smartphone app operators, shown in the media over the past few weeks, is at last starting to have an affect on the public's use of eHailing apps. 

As our customers start to drift back, we must make sure we have a visible presence and provide the first class service they've come to e left from the "World's Best Taxi Service". 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sir Peter Hendy, Pigeonholed

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, writes to TfL Transport Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy.

Dear Sir Peter

I am writing following your letter of 10 March regarding legal advice received by TfL concerning Uber London Limited (ULL).

As your letter acknowledges, aspects of Uber London Limited’s operating model and the manner in which the licence was granted are issues of considerable concern. This is true not only for the licensed taxi and private hire trades, but for the wider travelling public and for the Transport Committee. There have been reports, both online and in the media, regarding incidents in which passengers have been placed in physical jeopardy or subjected to unwanted sexual advances. The Committee has heard evidence of a number of further issues, including:

  • Uber London drivers cancelling scheduled journeys at short notice and charging a cancellation fee to the passenger;

  • Passengers being charged high fares for excessively circuitous routes or taken to the wrong destination;

  • Uber London drivers touting and forming illegal ranks at locations including Heathrow Airport; and

  • Registered Uber London users being charged for journeys they have not undertaken

We are of course aware that there are examples of poor individual practice to be found elsewhere in the private hire industry and in the licensed taxi trade. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of publicly accessible complaints about one specific operator does suggest some wider systemic issues with how this particular business model is operating within London and poses some important questions for how TfL oversees complaints made against operators in general.

We welcome TfL’s commitment to review the regulations that govern private hire activity in London. Nevertheless, we are aware that this review process may take some time and that, in the meantime, passengers will continue to face these unacceptable problems.

It seems to us that TfL has contributed to the current situation by failing to fully consider the implications of licensing Uber London without establishing a clear legal grounding for this decision.

Your letter and accompanying documentation indicates that, while Uber London Ltd has been licensed by TfL since 31 May 2012, ‘a decision regarding the legality of Uber’s operational model was made on 3 July 2014’, over two years after the licence had been granted. We therefore request 

urgent clarification on what, if any, legal advice regarding the legality of Uber’s operating model was sought as part of the pre-licensing inspection undertaken in advance of the decision to grant ULL’s licence in May 2012.

We would be grateful if you could you confirm the date on which ULL’s existing licence is due to expire. Please could you also confirm whether ULL’s licence was granted with any attached conditions and for the full five year term, as discussed in your operator licensing guidance.

On the issue of taximeters, the relevant section of the legal note which accompanied your letter is a procedural update and explicitly excludes, at point 32, discussion of whether or not Uber London Limited is in breach of Section 11 of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 which precludes private hire vehicles from being ‘equipped’ with a ‘taximeter’. Please could you provide us with a copy of any further submissions that have been made by TfL counsel that address the legal issues relating to Section 11.

Your letter also indicates that the advice given to TfL by Martin Chamberlain QC was given in conference. We would be grateful if you could provide copies of any written documentation of the discussion and of the advice received in conference, including minutes, notes or transcripts of the discussion of Mr Chamberlain’s considered position on this case.

TfL as a regulator should take all possible steps to ensure that any licensee is compliant with the legislation as it stands. Where the law is open to alternative interpretations, it is surely in the interests of all concerned to err on the side of caution and ensure that the physical and financial safety of the travelling public is not compromised. We would be grateful if you could reply to the points raised in this letter by 8 May 2015.

Yours sincerely

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM

Chair of the Transport Committee 

New Rank For 6 Taxis Outside Hakkasan In Bruton Jim Thomas.

And now for the good news, yes that's right, there is good news.

Last night the LTDA AddVan, supported by drivers from Twitter, parked outside the Hakkasan restaurant in order to highly the fact a new (time restricted) standing for 6 licensed Taxis has been approved, kerbside directly outside the restaurant in Bruton Street. 

The rank will be active from 6:30pm and runs till 8:30am. 

Although the rank is not marked in the traditional fashion, the solid yellow line has been extended from the bus stop, along a six cab length of kerbside, to two parking bays just before the zig zags of the pedestrian crossing.

The notice on the parking board is quite small but clearly states; 

"These bays are for taxis only, 6:30pm-8:30pm everyday"

Should be clear enough for any warden or police officer if needed.

One thing we must stress, 


Dus drivers will complain en masse and unlike our complaints, TfLTPH will act on complaints from bus drivers, as we've seen in the past.

This has been a long time coming and the Taxi trade has is the past lost a tremendous amount of work that door staff shepherded into illegally ranking minicab touts. We have seen no record of any TfLTPH compliance or cab enforcement action at this spot despite hundreds of complaint made through the TfL report a tout webpage. So much for intelligence based enforcement.

                   TfL, intelligence base enforcement, Tout complaint desk.

This is a good rank and moves at a similar pace to Nobu and Novikov's just round the corner in Berkeley Street. 

Surrounded........But Have We The Firepower? By Semtex

 Never in our London Taxi Trade's history, have we been under such threat and pressure. Never have we had so much competition to remain an iconic world respected trade. Never have we been up against such vigorous and persistent opposition. But worse of all, never in our tenure initially granted by The Protector Oliver Cromwell, have we been governed, controlled and managed, by such a biased, short sighted and duplicitous hierarchy as Transport For London.
They appeared to have bent over backwards, to enable our famous and proud service, to dissolve unchallenged without the slightest sign of empathy or loyalty to so many years of platinum standard service to London and it's travelling public.
I saw this coming nine years ago, and have bored even myself, let alone my colleagues, and preached  and whined  on and on, that Men were coming to kill us. I didn't trust the commissioners of Law, and neither should I have done.

That of course, is all in the past, I know. But surely, in the precarious and volatile thread that our future now dangles from, it is apparent that a hard and serious challenge is the only perceivable course of action for us ?
Surely it is blatantly obvious by now, that the negotiations, meetings, deals and blah, blah effing blah.......has won us nothing ? 
Or is it me ? 
Am I missing something here ?

You see, I have many, many  fantastic friends and colleagues in or industry, and they belong to all different trade clubs, unions and organisations. Nothing wrong with that of course. I understand that. BUT.......only if when push come to very important shove......we all stick together .
When the UCG announced imminent trade action this week, I cheered and clapped in unity, happiness and hope. It is after all, our only hope. We are surrounded folks. The men are here ! They got in through an unlocked back door, they are positioned, tooled up to the teeth and ready to take us out the Taxi game.

So when our colleague and United Cabby's Group,  Len Martin calls for the back up battalion to give these shysters a fight, come down the ropes and blow the windows out,  it is of absolutely no question about it, that anybody who drives a cab for a living, and wants to continue into the next decade, is certainly gonna be there, to answer our united trade call for assistance ? 
Right ?
Don't even ask such a stupid question ! 
Of course we will all be there, Len ! I know some of us belong to other regiments for sure, but we all want to win the war, and as one, we are an army..........aren't we ?  
We all drive the same cabs, don't we ? 
All got the same meters, haven't we? 
All got a bill and a badge, haven't we ?
Of course we have ! 
And we are all London Licensed Taxi Drivers.  All trying to stay in a trade that we have worked so hard to belong to, for so long, under so much pressure from everywhere.
I know, that like me, we have all heard the old chestnuts about " So and so is working his socks off behind the scenes " or " Just play it slowly, softly softly catchee monkey " or " So much is being done in the background "
You can say that again ! So much IS being done in the background............but it aint from us and if it is, its failed !
As I write this, I cannot confirm what I have heard is the truth. But this morning I have heard that major trade organisations who support the futures of London Taxi drivers ARE NOT WILLING TO SUPPORT LEN MARTEN'S CALL !
As I say, I can't confirm it at this stage, and God willing, it will prove just another rumour.
But I promise you this. If it turns out to be true, and the UCG go into Oxford Street on their own, with no OFFICIAL back up from our other trade battalions, I will never ever write another word, support another demo, attend another meeting or do one single thing ever to help or assist this trade again.
And I can hear the response now. Fu** him ! Who does he think he is ? We wont miss him anyway ! Bollox to him !
I expect that and will be saddened to hear it. It will hurt me for sure, and I will miss being involved.  Furthermore, what difference will one man make ?
I am not a Diva, I am not anybody special and the trade will certainly run without me. I know that.
But when you think of the work that front line action teams like the UCG do to try to claw back a fight that we hold onto by a whisker, I find it an insult to their tenacity and spunk, to refuse a call for solidarity and help.
Let alone what Jim Thomas puts into this site. So if we don't go in as a UNITED TRADE FORCE , I as a one man demonstration against persistent trade apathy and lack of unity will be out. Totally. I cant stand by for another minute watching a potentially awesome trade, unable to wipe its own arse.
As I say, it is just a rumour as I type this. I don't think I will have to throw my toys at the pram when push comes to shove. The whole London Taxi Trade will support the UCG to remain a force of iconic pride, professionalism and platinum standard.
Wont it ?
See you up there folks. This is surely our last chance to be counted.
And in the best and most sincere traditions of The Great London Cabby................Be Lucky.
8829 Semtex.

Editorial Comment:
Semtex, although it saddens me greatly, I can confirm the other trade orgs have refused to officially back this action. Although members have been told they can attend on their own behalf. 

At a recent meeting held to discuss next Tuesday's demonstration, it was explained that as is normal practice, the UCG contacted the Met Police and informed them of our intended action. At first the police seemed to be agreeable that we would be allowed a 2hr window to hold out protest up and down Oxford Street.

But shortly after the initial phone conversation, the Met came back and said that owning to a complaint from certainobjectors   (TfL) over the disruption to the many bus routs using Oxford Street, the demo would only be given 15 minutes grace. 

It has also come to light that backing from the Bikers Against TfL lobby group has had to be suspended after police intervention. 
(This will not however affect the support from Knowkedge students who will attend).

This type of action from the met on behalf of TfL is totally unacceptable. The Cyclist Lobby have held die-ins on many London Streets have never been put under this type of restriction. Jut a short time ago a certain community marched from Whitechapel to Whitehall and the police blocked off roads along the rout.

We will have our demo!
The police can not stop Taxis slowing driving up and down Oxford street. That would not come under the same legislation as a protest or demonstration, it would be simply a mass ply for hire.

It has also been suggested that we should offer the public a free shuttle service on the day, between New Oxford Street and Marble Arch.

The BBC have been incontact with the organisers and interviews will be conducted. We have spokespeople available up and down the rout, but if you are stopped and asked what the demo is about, please refer to the driver flyers given out, stick to the script and don't mention the U word.