Saturday, August 15, 2015

Taxi Trade Gives Complimentary Service To The Forgotten Army...by Jim Thomas

A call went out to the "Best Taxi service in the world". 
The Taxi Charity, War Disabled, asked London's Black Taxis to give our veterans of the Burma and Pacific campaigns, a free Taxi service in the same way they do every year with Poppy Cabs on Remembrance Sunday.   

And just as the Armada of small boats turned up to pluck our army from the beach at Dunkirk, our Taxis answered the call en masse (again).


Today's veterans are a generation who gave up a huge part of their life to answer a call of service and sacrifice. 

Back then in July 1945, after the joy and celebration of VE Day in May, people were settling down with their lives. By the time the Prime Minister announced Victory over Japan, people really didn't want to hear about the misery that had carried on happening in the Far East.

These veterans today are very special, most have spent the last 70 years not speaking about the atrocities they were exposed to. Many have taken their memories as secrets to the grave.

It's not easy for anyone to describe or compare what these people went through, especially the ones who were in Japanese camps. 


This day 70 years ago was not a day of celebration, it was a sad day of realisation that friends and colleagues they had stood beside, weren't coming home as they had. 

I had four uncles who fought in Europe and North Africa and one on the Northern Convoys, who often told me (as a young boy) stories of their part in liberating town after town, city after city. 


But I also had two uncles who were in the forgotten army in the Far East, one of whom spent six months in a Japanese prison. I never knew what they had to endure as they never spoke one word of their campaign. 

But amazingly although three were seriously wounded, all seven serviced. 

Many families weren't as lucky as mine and many made the ultimate sacrifice.

We must never forget that it was for our today, they gave their tomorrow.

If you would like to say thank you with a donation to this wonderful charity, please >Click Here<


In the UK, Victory over Japan Day is the actual day on which Japan surrendered effectively ending the war. 

One Day, Three Dates: 
The term applies to both days on which the initial announcement of Japan's surrender was made. The afternoon of August 15th 1945, in Japan, but because of time zone differences, it was still August 14, 1945 when announced in the United States and the rest of the Americas and Eastern Pacific Islands.

While VJ Day is officially commemorated on the 15th July in the UK, in the United States and Japan, it's commemorated on the 2nd of September. The formal ceremony on board the USS misery took place on September 2, 1945, when the signing of the surrender document occurred, officially ending World War. 

  

Great coverage in the Evening Standard

Helpful Advice Re Driver Licence Renewals.

Dear Jim, after reading your post on the scandalous state of affairs regarding licence renewaIs, I would like to offer some advice to drivers and hope this helps them get back to work before their old licence expires. But it's disgusting and unacceptable that we should be treated like this.

Personally, I have been waiting three and a half months for my CRB and have spent the last 3 days chasing DBS, TFL and the POLICE, writting emails and making phone calls. This is the information I have gathered so far.


Both the DBS and TFL are NOT interested. The driver MUST do the leg work or WILL NOT get his/her CRB. I've been informed that the Police are 3 to 4 months behind on CRB checks.

It is therefore up to the Driver, after 60 working days, to send an email to cecdisclosure@police.co.uk and also follow up with phone call to 02072305141. (This is Number of CEC Dept) or you can write a letter to;

Character Enquiry Centre 
SCD26
Operational Information Section
Room 332
New Scotland Yard 
10 Broadway
London
SW1H 0BG

When phoning CEC if NO answer, CALL New Scotland Yard on, 02072301212 and ask if they could email CEC Dept. 

The driver MUST do the work as the DBS won't help.

I have now eventually, (after loads of bullying & begging) got this info. 
Ive finally managed to get through to CEC and they have pulled my file. I now have to call them Wednesday for the result.

Name withheld by request.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Price Crash: Hacked Uber Accounts, Now Just 40 Cents.

Earlier this year, Motherboard reported that stolen Uber accounts were being sold on the dark web. After it emerged that the accounts were accessed because of password reuse, Uber experimented with tightening its security using two-factor authentication.

But hacked accounts are still being sold and are now being offered cheaper than ever, with one vendor selling the usernames and passwords of Uber users for just 40 cents each—less than half the price we previously found account details listed for.

“[High quality] uber accounts from random country's, all of them have [credit card information] attached 100%,” one listing on dark web market AlphaBay reads. Customers can choose to buy an account that has either a credit card or PayPal linked to it. The idea is that, with this information, they could take Uber trips and charge them to someone else’s account.

At the moment, six different vendors are continuing to sell Uber accounts on AlphaBay. They have collectively sold over 6,100 accounts, according to an automatic tally on each item listing. This should be treated as a lower limit, however, because many vendors who previously sold Uber accounts appear to no longer be doing so.


Screenshot of one listing

But for some reason, Uber accounts have crashed in price, with listings asking for 40 or 50 cents. Originally, accounts were sold for $1, and while some listings still advertise around this price, they often include discounted bundles of 50 or 100 accounts.

Two vendors who sell Uber accounts did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

An Uber spokesperson said that Uber had “made some changes to the app which have dramatically decreased the ability for criminals to fraudulently access accounts. This includes, but is not limited to, further account verification requirements.”

Uber has been exploring options for better account security since at least June, although no specifics were released.

However, on one of the listings for hacked accounts, a vendor writes, “I will not accept any refund/replace if uber asks about any verification.” It appears that some of Uber’s efforts may be working to make it harder for people to abuse stolen account information.

The spokesperson added that “Uber has taken this issue very seriously and has refunded anyone who was affected. We would still like to remind our users to use a unique password for their Uber account.”

Source : Motherboard 

Another day, another man suffers life changing injuries after hit by @TfL bus

Man suffers 'life changing injuries' after being hit by a bus in south London.

Letters to the editor: Unanswered questions over Uber

The courts treat driving without insurance very seriously. Those found guilty may be disqualified; if not they will pay a hefty fine and have at least six points taken from their licence, in the case of a private hire driver without correct insurance probably eight points.

Uber may like to say it is a technology company not a taxi firm but when a company has a private hire licence, which Uber has to operate its business here, that gives them responsibilities. 

I would take issue with claims that Uber drivers are self-employed or on zero hours contracts.

If TfL is failing to prosecute Uber and individual Uber drivers for not having the correct insurance, the company is effectively not being regulated. Three states in Australia, Spain, France, Germany, Canada, Thailand and cities in India have all had cause to ban Uber in one of its guises or another, all citing safety concerns.

There are further issues around vehicle maintenance, circumstances under which drivers are removed from Uber (apparently three complaints is sufficient: is this fair?) and whether Uber looks after its drivers properly. Is it truly value for money given its use of surge pricing, and what about its tax arrangements, operating under a licence in London yet running jobs through the Netherlands?

If it is not safe, not cheap and doesn’t pay its way, what is Uber’s allure?
Keima Payton, Payton’s Solicitors

Why did TfL go to the lengths of spending licensees’ money to take Uber through the courts, then not take action against a driver with the wrong insurance? It is not being even-handed in its implementation of the law.

The issue isn’t really about Uber being an exception but about how TfL functions as a regulatory entity. To check the information of Uber’s 7,000 active London drivers takes a long time. When TfL lacks sufficient enforcement officers to do the job that’s currently required, systems fail. Another app-based private hire operator has a driver on its books for whom the operator does not have up-to-date details. At another company there are drivers putting through private bookings who are not insured to take them. Meanwhile, operators who have previously had licences revoked may end up appealing based on the treatment of Uber.
Steve Garelick, GMB Union

Source : Standard.co.uk

Private Hire operators trying to lure drivers back from the clutches of Uber with cash incentives of £1,000

Mayoral Hopeful David Lammy, Gets Passionate About Saving Our Black Taxis!

The Labour Mayoral hopeful got very passionate yesterday, as he defended the "institution" that is London's black cabs - and rounded on Uber. 


Diane Abbott, Tessa Jowell and Sadiq Khan all agreed that more restrictions were needed on private hire services in London.

It was David Lammy though who got most worked up about the issue - lashing Uber for "not paying any tax", "real issues around safety" and "horrible issues around homophobia".

Promising that if he was chosen to replace Boris Johnson he would challenge Uber, Lammy said it was vital to protect "the institution that is the black cab".

...

Watch his call to arms for London's taxis above.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

LTPH's Excuses Won't Wash...Total Failing Licensed Taxi Drivers...by Jim Thomas.

After the appalling mess TfL made of driver licence renewals, and after reports that drivers and their families have been put in financial difficulty by being thrown out of work unnecessarily, finally TfL announce Important Changes to Paper Applications. 

But don't start cheering yet. They've tested their new system on the grand total of 50 applicants. That's just 0.05% of the trades.

In defence of their woeful inadequacies, TfL have confessed that although the system was changed in 2013, with the introduction of new pre-printed application forms, the old forms which should have been destroyed were sent out by mistake causing delays. Now we find out, the pre 2013 forms are still finding their way into the system and are still being sent out.

This would never have been an issue had TfL retained the process of issuing temporary licenses. 

But Sir Peter Hendy personally withdrew this courtesy, insisting that the public had to be kept safe from drivers between licenses saying that Taxi drivers of previous good character, could suddenly commit crimes and become unfit to licence. This from a man who liked to spend £140 an hour on prostitutes. 

The solution is/was always simple...just reinstate temporary licenses....yes it really is/was that simple. No costly system changes, just a letter laying out the terms of the Transport Act 1985 sec17(7), sent to those encountering delays.

But as we all know, TfL don't do simple common sense solutions and so have decided to put a sticking plaster over a shotgun wound, AGAIN.


Notice 06/15 On Line Application Forms

As part of the ongoing modernisation of Transport for London's (TfL's) taxi and private hire licensing service, taxi and private hire drivers and applicants can now apply online, using our new online web portal at tfl.gov.uk/tph.

The new online process makes its quicker and easier to apply for both new and renewal driver licences. The system has been tested with a small number of customers in recent months and so far 50 applications have been received by this method.

Customers who would like help in any aspect of the online process can also book an appointment to visit our counter service at Chancel Street. 

Appointments can be made by ringing our contact centre on 0343 222 4444.

Applications can still be submitted using the Post Office Check and Send service or directly by post.

Taxi and private hire driver and operator paper application forms

Since October 2013, new pre-printed application forms have been issued to applicants and licensees which contain personalised information relevant to the new or renewal applicant. 

This allows us to speed up the application process, as we scan the forms to our system and automatically upload the content to the correct record.

However, a number of paper forms printed prior to the introduction of the new forms remain in circulation. 

From 1 September 2015 all new and renewal driver and operator application forms received will need to be in the new, pre-printed format. 

Any old style applications received from that date will be returned to the applicant, and they will be asked to request a new pack. {causing even more delays}

To request a new form, please visit our website at tfl.gov.uk/tph or call us on 0343 222 4444.

Helen Chapman 

General Manager, 

Editorial Postscipt:

Anyone else noticed that Director of LTPH John Masons replacement Peter Blake, has kept he's head down?

LTPH have had two years to remove the old style forms from their system. It is they who send out renewal packs, so how come old style forms are still in the system?

I couldn't help falling about laughing when I read the passage which said: This allows us to speed up the application process, as we scan the forms to our system and automatically upload the content to the correct record.

Hellen, try telling that to our drivers and their families who have been thrown out of work by your incompetent system.

One of my personal friends has only just got his licence back which expired in March. He was told by TfL he could not work. The irony is that when he got the renewal it was backdated. 

Even if a CRB check came back with a conviction the driver can appeal, under the Transport Act his old licence is still valid until all appeals are disposed of. That's the legislation, that's the law. There is absolutely no need for driver to lose a days work.

It's time the trade orgs sorted this out on behalf of their members and the trade as a whole. The transport act says you are licensed till you receive your renewal, there is no mention of waiting for CRB checks. 

This problem has been caused by TfL upgrading their system while downsizing their work force. It's gone on for far too long and time the orgs sorted it out. 


Hong Kong police arrest Uber drivers, search office. Tick Tock Leon, Tick Tock Garret.

Hong Kong police have arrested five drivers from Uber in a sting operation and searched its office, media reports said Tuesday, in the latest blow for the global ride-sharing startup.

Uber has encountered a string of regulatory roadblocks as it grows around the world.


Police officers posing as customers rented five private cars through a mobile app Tuesday morning and paid by credit card, police said in a statement.

"Upon arriving at the destination, the officers paid with credit cards and then revealed their identities, arresting drivers aged between 28 to 65," the statement said without confirming that the drivers were from Uber.

It said they were held for "illegally driving a car for rental purpose and driving without third-party insurance".

News footage from Cable Television showed police raiding an office which displayed an Uber logo and taking away three people.


The drivers had been providing their services through Uber, Hong Kong Commercial Radio reported.

The company has been operating in Hong Kong for about one year.

"Uber ensures that all rides are covered by insurance, and all drivers on the platform undergo an extensive background check," the company's spokesman Harold Li told AFP, without confirming their drivers were arrested.

Footage showed five vehicles being cordoned off, including BMW and Mercedes Benz sedans.

Uber has faced setbacks around the world as it expands internationally.

An Uber driver in Brazil's financial capital Sao Paulo responded to a call, only to find himself ambushed by a group of regular taxi drivers.


Last month the firm suspended its UberPOP service in France, six months after being banned.

There have been a string of protests against Uber by black cab drivers in London who say it represents unfair competition.

But in New York, city officials last week scrapped plans to cap the number of vehicles operated by Uber.

Editorial Comment:

After revelations about what Dave said to Boris, we now have news that certain TfL top brass are having clandestine meetings in coffee bars with Uber executives.  Ridiculous scripted lies have been told not only to the media and the trade, but also to GLA transport committee members. Politicians are now looking at what's happening inside TfL.

Uber have run roughshod over Taxi regulation world wide and according to customer allegations, account details have been hacked and credit cards ravished. Media reports tell of Uber Execs being arrested, offices raided by police where records and computers were taken away for forensic examination. 

It's been reported in the press that the Uber partners behind vehicle finance Santana, are now under Federal investigation and rumours abound that Goldman Sacks will be pulling the plug.

Time is running out at the TfL house of cards which is about to come tumbling down.

Already rats have started to jump from the sinking ship, leaving just the patsys behind to take the flack.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Uber, Up In Flames At Kings Cross


Flames can be seen ripping through the white Toyota in the clip which was filmed on Euston Road outside King's Cross station

The dramatic footage below shows the minicab bursting into flames in the middle of Euston Road, close to King's Cross station.
  
London Fire Brigade raced to the scene within minutes as eyewitnesses captured the blaze on their mobile phones.
Flames ripped through the white Toyota in seconds, shortly before midnight yesterday.

A London Ambulance Service statement said: "We were called at 11.52pm yesterday to reports of a car on fire on Euston Road.
"We sent a number of resources to the scene including the hazardous area response team. There were no patients."

Two lanes were closed until the vehicle was recovered.

Another Bad Day For Uber And Leon Daniels.

After consideration by the ASA of complaints received, the following company and organisation agreed to amend or withdraw advertising without the need for a formal investigation:

Uber have been made to take down their ads saying that drivers can earn £1200 a week, as they were unable to prove this is possible.

The ASA publish their rulings every Wednesday (available to the media under embargo from Monday). 

Rulings generally remain on their site for five years, although some may be available for longer if they are being used as part of CAP’s advice materials for advertisers.

ANOTHER BAD DAY FOR LEON DANIELS
         
          Screen shots, taken from Twitter.

Boris Bike And Uber Partner, Santander’s Auto Loan Business Under Federal Investigation


Each year, Santander underwrites or services billions of dollars worth of auto loans and leases in the USA making it one of the nation’s largest providers of automobile financing. 

Yesterday, the company revealed that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into whether Santander violated federal fair-lending laws. 

The investigation was revealed in Santander Consumer USA’s quarterly report filing [PDF], in which the company discloses that its practices are under the microscope of several federal and state agencies, including the Justice Dept.

Back in Oct. 2014, Santander received a DOJ subpoena requesting the production of documents and communications related to the underwriting and securitization of nonprime auto loans since 2007. The company was also told to preserve and produce documents and communications related to its auto loan business since the beginning of 2011.

Some of the investigations are already resolved with Santander and the DOJ reaching a deal in Feb. 2015 to pay more than $9.3 million to settle claims the lender improperly repossessed military servicemembers’ vehicles.

The latest investigation comes from the CFPB, which notified Santander on July 31 that its investigation into alleged violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act had been referred to the DOJ. 

The CFPB has been looking into whether the lender overcharged customers, or treated them differently during the underwriting process, based on factors that are not to be taken into account when issuing a loan — things like race, religion, gender.

In the middle of all these federal and state probes into Santander’s auto loan operations. Uber recently ended its two-year relationship with the lender

Since 2013, Santander had been providing financing to Uber drivers who could not afford to buy a new car.


[Via Consumerist]

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Letter To Editor : Leon's Lies Putting The Public Safety At Risk And Drivers In Financial difficulty.


TfL's Managing Director of Surface Transport Leon Daniels, has been proved beyond doubt to have lied on two separate occasions. Plus his misinformation on driver licence renewals has thrown many Taxi drivers and their families into financial hardship.

His first lie has greatly affected the livelihood of both the Licence Taxi and Private Hire industries. 

The application form for a PH operators licence, makes it quite clear that a landline for bookings is a requirement. 
Below is a screen shot of the application form. 


The operators application form sec G4, has recently been replaced by a new shortened updated version (B3). 
But the requirement is still the same, that the operator will not be issued an operators licence untill they can confirm a landline number for bookings to be taken.



Both Sir Peter Hendy and Leon Daniels have at separate times been asked whether Uber has a fixed telephone landline number for bookings. Both Hendy and Daniels have answered positively this was the case, but both said they didn't have the number to hand, at the time when asked.
And since being asked, still to this day have been unable to give a valid landline number.

Leon Daniels was recently asked by a GLA transport committee to supply a landline booking number.

A number was given which later proved not to be a public number for booking, but in fact the private contact number of Ubers general manager Jo Bertram (which we believe since being made public, has been be deactivated). 

Also, Uber have quite openly stated on Twitter, they do not take bookings....so that's Leon's lie (number 1) proved...

The second lie told by Leon Daniels was again directed towards the GLA transport committee. When asked about inconsistencies of Uber drivers "hire and reward" insurance. Leon Daniels stated that PH drivers could "switch on and switch off" their hire and reward insurance when not engaging with paying customers. 

The UCG wrote to the Association of British Insurers and received written conformation that such policies do not exists.




So that's Leon's lie (number 2) proved.

(Not only, but also) The worrying issue of driver renewals:

It is also my opinion that both Hendy and Daniels mislead drivers on the issue of late renewals. It has been alleged that even though the vast majority of renewals clear before the old licence expires, there is a massive backlog of Criminal Record Checks (CRB) affecting driver renewals. The agency carrying out these checks have been put under enormous pressure with the recent increase of new Private Hire driver applications, currently running at over 2,500 a month. 

There have been harrowing reports of drivers off work for many months, after being told by TfL they can't work. This is causing great hardship to these drivers and their families and must be sorted out with the greatest urgency.

Earlier this year, Taxi Leaks editor Jim Thomas wrote to Sir Peter Hendy pointing out the Transport Act of 1985 section 17(7).

The act clearly states:
(7)Where a person holds a licence which is in force when he applies for a new licence in substitution for it, the existing licence shall continue in force until the application for the new licence, or any appeal under this section in relation to that application, is disposed of, but without prejudice to the exercise in the meantime of any power of the licensing authority to revoke the existing licence.










There has been no record of any amendments to the act's section 17. So it's clear that once you've applied for your licence renewal, legally your old licence shall continue in force until you either receive your renewal or your licence is suspended or revoked.
 
Now, if the licensing authority seeks to suspend or revoke your licence, you have the right to appeal. The act also states that your old licence shall continue in force, until any appeal is disposed of. 

There is no mention in the act of having to wait until a clear CRB is issued and received as the driver would obviously be of previous good character.

But, in a reply to Jim's letter, Leon Daniels on behalf of Sir Peter Hendy stated that drivers could not legally work until a clear CRB had been issued and received.

It is my opinion that by issuing this caveat, which is not included in the act, Leon Daniels has overstepped TfL's powers.

Finally, with all these lies and misinformation out there in the open....why is Leon Daniels still employed by TfL ?

Regards Martin Dwyer.

Editorial Comment:
The two lies told by Danieks are a matter of public record and we are amazed that the GLA transport committee haven't taken this up with the mayor.

However, the issue regarding renewals is having a devastating financial affect on many drivers and their families. It is also perfectly clear these drivers should never have been put in this situation, on the whim of a man (Sir Peter Hendy) earning in the region of half a million pounds a year. 

If you do your renewal through the Post Office, your receipt includes the proposed start date of your new licence. The screen shot below is from a driver who applied in February, with a start date in April. This driver is still waiting for his renewal 4 months later and as of last Tuesday (last we heard from him) it still hasn't arrived.


Work levels Re bad enough and many driver are struggling, but can you imagine what it's like to be thrown out of work, through no fault of your own, fir four to six months ?
Why are the trade orgs not all over this issue ?

We've said it before at Taxi Leaks, representative leaders should be banging down the doors of Palestra and Windsor House, getting the renewal situation amended. With the acquisition of the new building, we were promised things would improve! But fact is, they've just got worse.

While asylum seekers (some, in this country for just a few weeks) are able to obtain PH driver licenses without full criminal record checks. We've even had one case of an asylum seeker wanted in connection with mass murder and genocide being given a PH licence.
 
Taxi drivers of previous good character, some with many years unblemished service, through no fault of their own, are being thrown out of work for months on end, treated as guilty before having to prove themselves innocent. 

It is our opinion that should trade orgs take this up with TfL, the licensing authority would have to back down. 

We also believe that drivers who have lost work because of Daniels statement have a good case for compensation for lose of earnings, after being falsely advised.

Why should Taxi drivers have to suffer, because of the woeful inadequacies of a licensing authority, that is Totally Failing London.