Thursday, October 29, 2015

Urgent Statement From The UCG, Re Renewal Delay And Possible Class Action For Compensation


It is obvious from the constant phone calls emails texts and tweets we are receiving now on a daily basis at the United Cabbies Group that the debacle of the CRB / DBS checks continues, Existing Cab Drivers worried sick that their licence has or is about to run out, and Knowledge Boys who are being delayed from getting their badges. 

In July 2015 we contacted Liberty asking them if they could help us in any way with the problems being created by the Metropolitan Police who would seem to be the main protagonist in the broken CRB / DBS system. After many emails and phone calls at the end of August 2015 to our great delight we were told by Liberty that they felt Drivers Human Rights were being violated and subject to enough evidence being found they had been allocated a budget to issue legal proceedings against the Met Police.

We were asked by Liberty not to tweet or put this out on any website or Trade Magazine as they felt that it would warn the Met what was about to take place and there was also a possibility that an awful lot of misinformation could be forwarded by people trying to get this shut down, We then put Liberty in touch with all of the other Trade Orgs and apart from Unite who did not want to get involved ALL agreed to email their members.

At the beginning of this Month an email was forwarded by Liberty to ALL Trade Orgs which the UCG emailed to all its Members, about a week later Liberty informed us that the response to their email had been very tepid, and felt that maybe we had exaggerated the scale of the problem. As a result we made enquiries and confirmed via several UCG Members who are also Members of the other Orgs that whilst we could confirm RMT Members had received Liberty’s email LCDC and LTDA Members had not. We were then informed that the LCDC and the LTDA were stating they had never received the original Liberty email, as a result the email was sent to both Orgs again.

In case there have been further mishaps in the distribution of Liberty’s email we would ask any Driver or Knowledge boy immaterial whether in an Org or not that wishes to provide in strictest confidence information relating to delays by CRB / DBS to contact the UCG direct via email to admin@ucglondon.org.uk or direct message to @UnitedCabbies on twitter or call 020 7100 5206 and we will forward the Liberty email to you no strings.

If Liberty gets the information they need to go ahead and they get a ruling against the Met this will leave a possible opportunity for compensation claims in the future 

We will have one shot at this People please do not waste it !! 

Steve Mepham 

UCG

Uber reportedly, spending 'hundreds of thousands' of dollars a day offering discounted fares.

      Is Uber Getting Ubered?

Uber is said to be planning to try and raise another billion dollars on top of the $8 billion it has already raised.

It's said, Uber is looking to raise its new funding round at a valuation of $60 billion to $70 billion. Its last funding round in July was done at a valuation of $50 billion.

Apparently Uber tells investors that the ultimate game plan is to become a delivery service like Fedex - using private cars to deliver parcels, shopping and meals. 

However it does not appear to have had any success with this aspect of its business.

To get into the China market, Uber is, reportedly, spending 'hundreds of thousands' of dollars a day offering discounted fares.

In August, leaked financial documents showed operating losses of more than $100 million in The second quarter of 2014

Rio de Janiero has declared the service illegal, London is looking tighter regulations and a couple of execs are being tried in France in a case deferred till February. Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam are considering regulation while numerous cities are investigating the controversial service.

TfL's Report On In Cab Mandatory Credit Card Payment Facility.



We did try to warn you. We said "be careful what you wish for." 

Reports of alleged secret meetings between certain credit card machine suppliers and TfL were all over social media. 

Taxi Leaks gave full details of the CC consultation. 

We also predicted the outcome, should apathy see drivers not bothering to fill it in. 

Well, it appears that only 538 taxi drivers out of a possible 25,000, were bothered enough to reply and now the writing is on the wall.

The consultation results are at this moment being collated. TfL will now do as they like, as usual.

As we predicted, TfL are stipulating only approved equipment will be allowed. The major machine suppliers are allegedly rubbing their hands at he news, card payment machines are to be fitted mandatory, under the conditions of fitness regulations. At present, equipment is offer free (under certain terms and conditions). But will this situation change in the near future, when the equipment finally becomes compulsory in every vehicle?

As TfL seem to love a statistic, we would point out, at present over 66 % of the major CC payment equipment suppliers add a surcharge of 10% to passenger accounts. We also predict TfL will be taking active steps to see the driver paying any surcharge, as they feel the customer should only have to pay the meter price. 

Again it will be the driver, who will be forced to pay a premium to a third party. 

The email below has been sent out to most of the people who filled in the consultation, leaving a valid email address. 

Already, you can see TfL starting to spin the consultation replies to fit with their own agenda.

Dear Sir/Madam,

We recently consulted on proposals for passengers to pay by credit or debit cards for their journeys in taxis. Thank you to all those who took part 

We received 1,097 responses to the consultation. 49 per cent of respondents (538) identified themselves as taxi drivers – 45 per cent of these were All London drivers (497) and 4 per cent were Suburban drivers (41). 27 per cent of respondents (300) were taxi users. 

(That means that almost 256, approx 25% of those filling in the consultation were neither Taxi drivers or Taxi users. Should this not make the consultation null and void?)

86 per cent of respondents (939) supported the introduction of card payments in all taxis in London, with 68 per cent of respondents (743) supporting contactless payments. 

(But how many of these 939/743 replies were from non Taxi drivers/users ? If you were to take away the 'non Taxi drivers/users', would this show a different result percentage wise?)

We are now reviewing the consultation responses and hope to announce a decision on any changes in early 2016. We will contact you again once a decision has been made. 

(Looking at the legal implications contained in the full report found by clicking link below, it seems to us a decision has already been made !)


A copy of the full consultation report and our response to issues raised can be found here 
>Click Here<

If you have any questions on the consultation, please contact me at consultations@tfl.gov.uk

Yours sincerely, 
Gary Murphy 
Transport for London
Consultation Team.

Lets have a close look at the legal implications contained in this TfL report, posted on their website on the 22nd of this month.

'In order to enable passengers to be able to pay by credit and debit card in all licensed taxis it will be necessary to introduce a new requirement that taxi drivers must have an approved card payment device in their taxi when working -and- that device must meet the minimum requirements approved by TfL'

Funny, when we leaked this information a few months back, we were shouted down by certain third parties who have a conflict of interest. We were also accused of trying to start malicious, untrue rumours !

The legal implications announcement goes on to state:

'This will be included as a requirement in the Conditions of Fitness, which set out the requirements that all vehicles must comply with to be approved for use as a taxi in London or for the taxi licence to be renewed.

The existing guidelines on electronic payment devices in taxis will also be updated to include the new requirements and all devices will still have to comply with these guidelines – companies wanting their devices to be approved will still be required to contact TfL and submit evidence confirming that their devices meets the relevant standards and also demonstrate where it would be fixed inside a taxi. The Cab Order will also need to be amended to make acceptance of card payments a condition of taxi driver licences.

A new policy will be published setting out what points will be considered and potential action taken when a complaint is received about a taxi driver refusing to accept a credit or debit card payment or not having a working credit or debit card payment device that complies with the relevant requirements.

Where a taxi driver is found to be using a taxi that is not fitted with an approved card payment device then the driver will be advised that the vehicle cannot be used as a licensed taxi until an approved card payment device has been fitted and this has been checked by an authorised officer or someone authorised to carry out this check on TfL’s behalf.'

Before this is finalised, perhaps TfL would like to inform the trade just what they consider to be an approved Card Payment system!

Perhaps TfL would care to explain further if/how they intend to make card payment acceptance mandatory, as at present the law (as it stands) doesn't allow this. TfL say they will make it part of the conditions of licensing of the driver. 

Freedom of choice:
Although it is our policy that more drivers should take card payments, we believe it must remain voluntary. We also firmly believe that drivers should be free to choose which system of clearance they want to use.

Verifone, TaxiWorld, CabVision, CabApp, iZettle, PayPall, Hand Held, Radio Circuits and other Smart Phone Apps are all viable options to most drivers and that's how it should stay. 

There must be no cartel formed: 
Which could then manipulate rentals and surcharges. 

Taxi Leaks roving reporters have been carrying out a covert survey, talking to and observing drivers on ranks. Our results, based on the figures returned, show that 7 out of 10 drivers now have some means of clearing card payments, be it machine or smartphone based. 

Over the last year, there has been a positive escalation in card payments acceptance which will continue to expand.



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Semtex Comment On The Uddin Case : "Is It Really What The Public Wants Mr Daniels?"

This of course, is the reality of what our trade continue to scream about ! Who would you think is to blame for this tragic outcome ?


The illegal mini cab tout Matab Uddin who despite previous convictions for touting in the past, had reoffended and caused this tragic waste of a young man's life ? The Police, for their service who notoriously and generally list mini cab touting as a low priority crime, and therefore respond with inadequate legal enforcement ? The fatally injured Oliver Farrell himself, for knowingly getting into a vehicle that had not been legally hailed or pre-booked, and opting for a more dangerous and sadly fatal option ? Or Transport For London themselves, for continually failing to provide vigilant enforcement for the compliance of the licences that they sell like toffee apples from a market stall ?

In this sobering case, it appears that Uddin was an unlicensed tout, and therefore the very virtue that he had no licence to comply with in the first place, would legally exonerate TFL.

I believe that TFL, The Police Service and indeed the public themselves, should all take a portion of blame what has occurred here.


I also believe that with the massive influx of zero professionally trained drivers such as Uber, these incidents will be on the rise.

I have always said that it is only when fatalities occur, that the authorities will take notice.


As a family man with kids of Oliver Farrell's age, I can naturally imagine what heartbreak, devastation and eternal grief this death will cause his poor family.

But unless TFL, and the Police Service who constantly display a blasé unprofessional enforcement deployment attitude to mini cab touting, start to up their game, serious consequences such as these will be regular.


As for the travelling public who repeatedly accuse the professionally trained London Taxi Trade of being too expensive............I would bet my life on it that the grief suffering family of Oliver Farrell, would have paid anything to turn back the clocks, and seen their loved one hail down the world famous yellow light of a Professional, Safe, London Taxi Driver on that fateful night.

As I have said a million times before, you pays your money and takes your choice. If you want cheap and ill trained, then go ahead and roll the dice with your Uber ride. Its your choice, your decision and your pulse you are risking, nobody else's.

The London Black Cab Trade haven't lasted 400 years because we are too expensive. We have survived the ebbs and flows of economic turmoil simply because the yellow light on top of our cabs represents fairness, expertise, soundness, safety, reliability and platinum standard professionalism.

London is awash with illegally touting mini cabs every night of every week of every month. The harm that it is causing isn't just a tragedy to the reputation and image of our once great capital city, it is incredibly dangerous and an inherent failure to protect our travelling public.

Leon Daniels once replied to our concerns by saying "it's what the public wants."

Is it really Mr Daniels ? I wonder if Oliver Farrell's family would agree with that this morning ? 

Semtex.

Minicab Tout, Jailed For Causing Death By Dangerous Driving.

A convicted minicab tout who killed his passenger through dangerous driving has been jailed for eight years. 




Matab Uddin 59 (20.01.56) of Blackshots Lane, Essex was found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving and fraud. He was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court on 22 October.

The court heard how police were called on Sunday, 17 November 2013 at about 01:45hrs to reports of a man injured on Essex Road, N1.

Officers and London Ambulance Service attended and took the 27-year-old victim, Oliver Farrell, to the Royal London Hospital where he died three days later.

A post-mortem examination took place at Poplar Mortuary on Thursday, 21 November 2013 and gave the cause of death as head injuries.

Officers from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit launched an investigation. Mr Farrell had spent the previous evening celebrating his brother's birthday, and was making his way home from Old Street. He was picked up by Uddin, an unlicenced minicab driver, with previous convictions for minicab touting. 

A short while later, Mr Farrell got out of the cab to use a cash machine, however Uddin drove off, leaving Mr Farrell in Essex Road. 

CCTV showed Uddin returning a few minutes later, pulling up next to Mr Farrell, who leaned through the open passenger window. Uddin then drove away at speed, while Mr Farrell clung to the car. After being carried along for about 100 yards, he lost his grip and fell to the ground, suffering a fatal head injury. 

Uddin failed to stop at the scene and made off. However the incident was witnessed by a taxi driver, who happened to be driving behind Uddin, and took down his registration number. 

CCTV on Kingsland High Road caught Uddin making a dangerous manoeuvre, crossing a central reservation during his getaway. 

The car registration details taking by the taxi driver proved vital in identifying Uddin, who was arrested in connection with the incident after handing himself in at a north London police station later that morning. 

Detective Sergeant Chris Osborne of the Met's Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said: 

"I would like to pay tribute to the Mr Farrell's family, who have retained the utmost dignity throughout the whole investigation and court case. My thoughts remain with them."

"This case highlights the dangers posed by unlicensed minicabs. People trying to make their way home, especially late at night should only use pre-booked licensed minicabs or black cabs. This is a tragic case for all involved and it stemmed from the unscrupulous actions of Mr Uddin. Our investigation showed he was illegally touting and on this occasion drove off without any regard for Mr Farrell's safety. He then failed to stop and made clear attempts to flee the scene."

On behalf of Oliver Farrell's family, his brother, Ben, said: 

"Having to experience nearly two years to arrive at this position has been a hugely traumatic and terrible experience for us all, however it is incomparable to the pain we have felt and will continue to feel from the fact that Oli's future has been taken from him and that such a bright light in our own lives will never be with us again. No punishment will ever bring Oli back, however we seek justice for the benefit of greater society to reduce the chances of other families having to experience what we have been through and will continue to go through. Oli was a fair man and would want nothing more and nothing less than this. 

"We would like to take this opportunity to thank the police and those present here today for the compassion they have shown us."

The Battle For Bank Junction : CoL About To start A 12 Month Trial Of Bus And Bikes Only.

In his speech given at the 'Annual Dinner of the City’s Planning and Transportation', Michael Welbank, Chairman of the P&TC, launched 'The Battle for Bank’ 

This is a plan to remove all vehicles except buses from Bank Junction and restore it to its traditional role as a major public space in the Square Mile.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any crazier.

After witnessing daily/nightly gridlock, caused by the uncontrolled proliferation of private hire licenses (currently expanding London's minicab fleet by 650 extra vehicles every week), resulting in London being labelled as one of the worst polluted city in Europe, the city planners have dreamt up a scheme to reduce through traffic in the square mile -or the 1.12 sq mile to be precise- regardless of the impact it will have on other parts of the capital.

But will it be fair to all, or will the wealthy and well connected be afforded special privileges plus a get out of jail free card?

Can you really see the noble city fathers arriving at the Mansion house/Guildhall, on a bus! or, God forbid, on a bicycle. 

Perhaps their ostentatious fleet of Rollers and Bentleys (the ones that normally wait outside events on double red lines, loading bays and zig-zags) could be replaced by rickshaw bikes, afforded the privilege of pedicab ranks!

Boris is likely to be OK with all this, seen above giving his wife a quick backsie.

The trial seems to be supported by the usual suspects.

Even in the face of strong opposition. 


So there's a surprise, TfL have OKed it. 
In the wake of the last disastrous trial at the rotunda on London Wall, which saw permanent gridlock, have the CoL and TfL learned nothing?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Licence Renewals Fiasco : An Open Letter From Sean Day.

Open Letter to:

Caroline Pidgeon Val Shawcross

Cc:

Helen Chapman Leon Daniels Garrett Emmerson Boris Johnson

I'm sure Ms Chapman would agree that civil servants have the job of ensuring that a contract is done properly - accurately - on time - and in accordance with the prescribed legislation - so any significant failure would solely be the responsibility of the civil servants.

With this, I am referring to Ms Chapman’s indisputable and corroborable defiance regarding her decision to not issue temporary licenses to taxi drivers who's Bill has been delayed by a backlog in applications made to the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS). 

Are those affected to understand that Ms Chapman is acting against the Mayor’s behest, or can they assume it is merely the posturing and appeasement typical of what drivers have come to expect of Boris Johnson? 

TFL cannot absolve themselves out of this, the vast majority of renewals clear before the old license expires, and the DBS carrying out these checks have been put under enormous pressure by the recent increase of new Private Hire driver applications, currently running at a minimum of 600 a week.

TFL’s contribution to this backlog is therefore indefensible, who, despite the severity of the situation, vehemently refuse to cap PH licenses even when it is perfectly permissible for them to do so (despite their protestations). I’d like to know how Ms Chapman justifies such an illogical stance? 

Public safety is not a viable proposition when juxtaposed to the discrepancies that exist where cases cannot be subjected to a full and comprehensive police check. 

The risk involved in granting an interim license to a taxi driver who has completed the necessary paperwork, has remunerated the current licensing authority- a transaction that happens remarkably quickly- and is of previous good character, is miniscule.

Earlier this year, Taxi Leaks editor Mr. Jim Thomas wrote to Sir Peter Hendy drawing his attention the Transport Act of 1985 section 17 subsection(7).

The Act of Parliament states:

‘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 is no record of any amendments to Act section 17. This disambiguates any concerns and highlights that licenses continue until you either receive a renewal, this applies, even if a suspension or revocation is awaiting an appeal

Any unnecessary delay due to a grossly understaffed administration is no fault of the driver, nor should it be of any consequence. No one should be impoverished by a regulator who refuses to address an insoluble dilemma. 

How can Ms Chapman justify upholding mandatory prerequisites that are unachievable? This contradicts the very requirements that TFL themselves impose. Neither should Ms Chapman point the finger elsewhere, this desideratum is solely an insistence of TFL.

Any other organisation open to legitimate scrutiny would never condone such a diabolical administrative procedure. By this equation TFL are systemically failing in their duty to REGULATE, and such blatant dispossession of governance should be addressed in the first instance.

This deplorable situation could be helped if TFL relaxed pressure on the DBS by capping the number of private hire licenses. 

Again, it is disingenuous of TFL to state that they do not have the legal power to do so. This is absurd. The law- or its omission thereof- is innominate.

 Subsequently, there is nothing intractable that compels or prevents TfL issuing licenses. It’s a nonsense that is being passed off as obliging congruent procedures. Anyone that cares to check, the guidelines refer to a person meeting certain criteria that allows them to apply for a license. 

The emphasis is on eligibility. Submitting an application for a licence does not make issuing a license compulsory. Indeed, mitigating circumstances such as the inexorable increase in motor traffic congestion, the ensuing pollution as a result of increased motor traffic, and the insurmountable backlog of DBS applications, are all deterministic factors for capping licenses.

It is my opinion that the implementation of an unjustifiable caveat that is not included in the Transport Act, constitutes maleficence on the part of the licensing authority. Notable also, any adjustments made to the start date of new licenses issued, effectively showing a discontinuation, cannot be considered as anything other than unethical business and political practice.

I am advising drivers who's license renewal has been delayed relating to the above information, especially if the time period has exceeded 60 days, and if they are a member of the UCG, to give them a call. In fact, all drivers who are experiencing intolerable hold ups, I suggest contact representatives at the earliest opportunity.

Yours Faithfully Sean Paul 


Editorial Comment:

Threatening letters are being sent to drivers waiting licence renewals.


So, just who is in charge here?

Boris Johnson, or Helen Chapman?








Sunday, October 25, 2015

Another Uber Prius In Spontaneous Combustion Issue.

Another Uber Prius has burst into flames, this time on York Way. This is what happens when drivers share vehicles and the car is on the road virtually 24 hours a day.

Here are just a few of the other Prius' that have spontaneously burst into flames over the last few months. 




This will probably be a familiar sight as more and more of the new 600 PH drivers per week, realise they can't afford to rent/lease these vehicles on their own and take to sharing with other drivers. 

This vehicle is not suitable to be used constantly over a 24 hour period, as we've seen. But will TfL take the same line they did when TX4s were spontaneous combusting?   

How long before someone is seriously burned or even killed?

Will TfL enforce a recall and  take these seriously dangerous vehicles off the road until they can be modified, so as not to put the public at risk.

Well, I wouldn't hold your breath waiting.

Normally, the first thing these drivers take from the vehicle when they're involved in an accident or major incident, is the private hire licence roundel. Doesn't look like this driver had time.

   

Uber driving cabbies out of London', says Broxbourne MP


Private hire company Uber is trying to drive black-cab drivers out of London, according to a prominent Tory.

Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne, made the claim after the High Court ruled last week that Uber drivers' smart phones are not taxi meters, making its operation in London legal.

The case was brought by Transport for London and Uber to seek clarification on the point, as London cabbies claimed Uber drivers were operating with illegal meters.

Mr Walker said: "The bigger issue is if you want a licensed black-cab trade in London.

"Black cabs are heavily regulated, and that means they have a high cost of doing business.

"But it's whether you want to invest in that licensed taxi trade, and that investment is four or five years doing The Knowledge."

The Knowledge is an intensive test of more than 6,000 roads, taken by London cab drivers.

Uber drivers are not held to the same regulations, but they must take a "private hire test".

Many black-cab drivers live in Broxbourne, and some have voiced concern that Uber could soon be looking to expand into the borough.

Cab driver Tony Siracusa, who is also chairman of the regulatory committee at Broxbourne Borough Council, said: "As far as I'm concerned and the industry is concerned, it is a meter.

"They should only be able to give a set price, the reason a taxi can have a meter is the driver will have The Knowledge."

He added: "If they applied for a taxi licence in Broxbourne, I don't think it would be passed."

Fellow cab driver Steve O'Hara, a boxing coach at Cheshunt ABC, said drivers were looking to challenge the decision at the Supreme Court.

He added he was concerned that as many as 600 private hire licences are being issued in London each week and this could have an impact on roads.