Saturday, April 18, 2015
Friday, April 17, 2015
Dear Mr XXXXX
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.
Deputy Managing Editor.
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.
The updated piece may now be seen here:
Thursday, April 16, 2015
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.
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!
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
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.
Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM
Chair of the Transport Committee
And now for the good news, yes that's right, there is good news.
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,
DO NOT OVER RANK, FOWLING THE BUS STOP!
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.
This is a good rank and moves at a similar pace to Nobu and Novikov's just round the corner in Berkeley Street.
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 ?
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 ?
Don't even ask such a stupid question !
Of course we have !
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.