Saturday, March 05, 2016

TfL accused of 'burying failure' with spun PR announcements

Transport for London (TfL) has been criticised for ‘rushing out’ a PR release on protecting motorcyclists before a report condemning its failure to do so, could be published.

    Uber car and Motorcycle St Johns Wood

In the last two years, a fifth of motorcyclists have been involved in a collision and two thirds have had near-miss accidents.

Last year motorcycle and scooter fatalities in London rose by a third, and between 2010 and 2014 the number of injuries increased from 4,337 to 5,233.

London Mayor Boris Johnson announced this week that TfL and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) plan to strengthen their joint motorcycle safety initiative, Operation Winchester, to help tackle the spiralling adverse trends.

Mr Johnson said: “We are stepping up our efforts to improve the safety of motorcyclists on our roads, and the measures we’ve outlined today have the potential to make a real difference.

“We need every single motorcyclist to feel safe on our streets and this work is key to that goal.”

All too familiar sight, a Uber car and motorcycle

But the London Assembly Transport Committee (LATC) has attacked the announcement, claiming it has only been made to overshadow a scathing report into TfL’s failures.

In a report published on Thursday (March 3), the LATC drew attention to the rise in serious accidents, and claimed this was due to a lack of attention by TfL.

LATC Chair Valerie Shawcross said: “During my time on the Transport Committee we have spent a great deal of time and effort ensuring TfL considers the needs of cyclists and pedestrians — now it is time for them to pay more attention to the safety of motorcyclists.

“It’s no coincidence that TfL rushed out a PR release the day before our report was published – they know they’ve not done enough to protect motorcyclists in London.

“I hope our investigation prompts them to act.”

         Uber and Motorcycle Shoreditch 

The LATC found one of the main problems was inconsistency over when motorcyclists are allowed access to bus lanes.

Although TfL allows them to use the lanes on the roads it manages, many boroughs restrict access in their own areas.

The LATC also called for closer monitoring of Cycle Superhighway roads, more information as to why motorcycle accidents occur, and for more young people to be encouraged to join the TfL and MPS-led BikeSafe scheme.

Operation Winchester has so far increased enforcement at hotspot locations across London.

Over two phases in November 2015 and January 2016, police stopped 5,389 riders, issued 742 Traffic Offence Reports, 1,335 verbal warnings, seized 96 motorcycles and made ten arrests.

The least-safe boroughs will continue to be targeted

Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Rickett, MPS Roads and Transport Policing Command, said: “As an organisation the MPS is committed to

reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on London's roads each year and we work closely with our partners, Transport for London, to achieve this.

“Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable road users and our motorcycle safety team runs operations such as BikeSafe, to raise awareness of rider safety.

“These officers are themselves passionate about motorcycles and are able to explain their own experiences as motorcyclists on London's roads.

“All road users have a responsibility for road safety and I urge motorcyclists to take advantage of the BikeSafe and ScooterSafe-London to keep themselves and others safe on the roads.” 

APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE MET POLICE, FOR WITNESSES OF THE ARREST OF A ROBBERY SUSPECT


APPEAL ON BEHALF OF THE MET POLICE, FOR WITNESSES OF THE ARREST OF A ROBBERY SUSPECT IN WEST HALKIN STREET W1, around 23:45 4th MARCH.

Police from Charing Cross are looking to contact for two Taxi drivers who may have assisted/witnessed the arrest of a robbery suspect in West Halking Street at 23:45 last night, 4th March.

If you are one of these drivers, could you pleas email Taxi Leaks- taxileaks@mail.com -for details of how and who to contact.
TtT.

THE TROUBLE WITH TOUTS : Letter To The Editor.

       Taken from the Mayor Of London's advert:

10 sexual assaults committed every month by illegal minicabs.
Almost the same again by TfL licensed ones. 

And that's just the ones that are reported. 60% of victims never report their attacks. 
Last year, 113 minicab drivers were arrested over serious sexually assaults, including rapes.

These are the statistics TfL and the Met don't want you to see.

Letter to the Editor:

The Met Police are understaffed and TfL are uninterested. So how do we tackle the threat from Illegal Touts?

Existing legislation and precedent already in place, is enough to deal with correct background checks, health check ups, proper insurance and capping.

The problem is, TfL are not up to the task.
But if the new Mayor of London is strong enough to shake up TfL and tell the Prime Minister to back off. Then these problems could be sorted with ease.

Touting is a real danger. Not just the theft of someone's livelihood, but the clear and present danger of sexual predators prowling the streets of London.

Police routinely check touts' vehicles for rape kits and weapons.
So it is accepted amongst the authorities that there are too many of these unsavoury characters out there.

Since the Government's austerity cuts and decimation of London's Emergency Services, there are not enough police to make much of an impression on London's tout epidemic.
So what is needed are proper deterrents.

The Met should charge touts with 'Kidnap'.
A tout enticing an inebriated female into his car with promises of getting her home, is not dissimilar to a paedophile enticing a child into his car with promises of sweets.
They are in effect attempting to kidnap them.

Charge touts with kidnap, and this endemic problem of the City and West End will be solved overnight.
Charge any doorman soliciting a crime, with aiding and abetting.
If it is the tout's second offence, or they are a registered sex offender, the sentence would be expected to carry some serious time.

Do we really have to wait for the wife or daughter of someone famous or in high office, to get attacked, before something is done.
Let's bolt the gate shut before the horse has noticed, this time around.

Lenny Etheridge
#DadsDefendingDaughters 

Watch the hard hitting investigation
How safe are Londons minicabs?

    

Friday, March 04, 2016

TfL Board Meeting 03/02/2016 : Highlights and full video link.


Highlights:
Apparently, even though this board agreed a 1.6 tariff increase, Peter Anderson MD of Finance at Canary Wharf said "Taxis are just too expensive"

The Board wants an all embracing tariff review to take place within the next 12 months as by then according to Leon Daniels they will have more data to go on.

Peter Anderson then bought up the question of linking the CC machine to the meter. Leon Daniels agreed saying although their are some players in the market who can do this now, there are some who can't but are working to do this later. He said linking to meter should be mandated sooner rather than later.

Board member Peter Anderson said even though soon if us can afford to take taxis we don't cause they're too expensive. He was also heard to mumble  "if we want a cheaper ride, we can use Uber"

He went on to ask the question "are we here to protect the Taxi drivers income, our protect the public?
He also said, normally we should be protecting the public from a monopoly but in this case, the monopoly is broken.

Other topics:
Apparently the 20p rise to flag fall, to compensate us paying commission on CCs is only for 12 months.
If diesel drops to 72p then fares would be reduced by 40p per journey

Garret Emmerson explained that the 3% cap on CC charges was unnecessary as market forces would find an acceptable level.

Even though the 3% CC surcharge cap was scrapped, all their calculations and hypothesis is based on a 3% surcharge. Typical of the way TfL do business.

Leon Daniels said "the cost of clearing CCs is being shared by the customer, who will pay 20p and the driver, who will pay slightly more than that".
When questioned about what would happen if a customer was refused CC facilities on the grounds that the machine wasn't working, Garrett answered:
"If machine is reported to us as not working, the first thing we would do is pull the vehicle in for inspection".

Isabel Deadring said that their are players in the market offering between 1 to 2 percent surcharge, but failed to name them!!!

The legality of mandating was bought up but the board was told it was a matter to be discussed later in a private session. Wonder what it is they don't want made public about the mandate?

It should be noted that Bob Oddy (far left in the video) had absolutely nothing to say on this issue.

See full video below:
Worth watching from 43 minutes into the meeting. 

Statement From Chairman Of UCG, Len Martin : Our Stance On Credit Card Issue.


UCG Credit Card Stance
We have received numerous calls and enquiries lately about the Credit Card Mandating Issue we are facing. Some of you have asked about a meeting that is taking place tomorrow 230 Blackfriars Rd. We were invited to this meeting but have respectfully declined for the following reasons.

I agreed to go to this meeting because I was led to believe that we were going to push back against the implementation.

However Helen Chapman has issued an Agenda that cannot be deviated from due to the meeting room being booked and the meeting having to run to time.

We know that there will be questions from our members asking why we did not attend, to pre-empt this we are letting you know why we shall not attend tomorrow.

The agenda is all about how and when the mandation is implemented, Brackets, Approved suppliers, Signage etc... Not about halting the implementation pending a serious review.

I have declined the invitation to attend and here is my letter explaining why.....

****************

I have seen Helen Chapmans Agenda and it is clear we will not stray from this, there is nothing in this agenda that will satisfy my requirements to know how the issues of ignoring common law will be addressed.

In fact I am looking at an agenda of implementation timescales this was NOT what we agreed we required from TfL.

I will not be party to the implementation of something that I believe is not lawful and is not in the interests of the trade.

I must decline the invitation to attend this meeting as I cannot reconcile the agenda with my beliefs that this is not in the interests of the trade and will not give this my blessing by attendance.

You are surely not surprised at this stance? I have made it more than clear from the very outset that we cannot do this without the whole trade in agreement. This consultation was flawed from the start and skewed against our interests, I call for TfL to stop the implementation of this and go back to the trade and seek a mandate from the trade by conducting a proper consultation whereby every driver is written to with a return envelope and the responses collated by an independant arbiter.

I have stated this before and I will state this again, you will never put this issue to bed unless you do this.

If this is done and we are given a mandate by the drivers in a democratic way, then I will do all I can to assist in the implementation, if the drivers object then as driver representatives we have a duty to challenge this legally.

No one has spoken at all about the legality of this, you can't ignore this issue forever, it will come back and bite you.

I shall not attend and neither will any representative of the UCG attend a meeting to assist in the introduction of this process.

Len Martin

Editorial Comment :
This issue needs to be discussed fully by all concerned. If Chapman refuses to do this properly,  then all others orgs should boycott the meeting as well. 
This is a major issue that can't be sorted out over a quick cup of tea and a biscuit.

We've seen this tactic before when Helen Chapman thought she may be put on the spot. 
Remember the Taxi Trade Forum at Palestra, where we were told the time allowed for the meeting had to be cut short as the cleaners had to come in and clean the room. 
Helen and her team left promptly but we stayed behind for over an hour and a half....and no cleaners turned up. 
Just another example of woeful inadequacies from the LTPH general manager. 

TfL Board Meeting 03/02/2016
Worth watching from 43 minutes into the meeting. 
Click link below:

Taxi Drivers Successfully Flash Demo The London Transport Awards.

Londons Taxi Drivers Successfully Mounted A Flash Demo At Last Nights London Transport Awards.


Last night the cab trade came together as one and held a flash demo at the London Transport Awards, being held at he Lancaster Hotel.

Drivers were showing their anger at TfL's refusal to recognise and enforce certain parts of the private hire act 1998. 

The police have continued to be aggressive in their negotiations with trade orgs wanting to demonstrate, threatening the organisers with arrest and issuing section 12 public order restrictions. 

In one case a demo in Victoria street by peaceful cabbies was limited to 30 minutes while a few days later marchers demonstrating on behalf of certain band terrorist organisations were allowed to demonstrate for many hours through Central London.


It is felt by the rank and file that the time for sticking to the rules and informing the police is over. 
Drivers have stated their preference for off the cuff flash demos. 
Last night, drivers proved how effective and disruptive this type of demo can be.

       

Thursday, March 03, 2016

New update from Action For Cabbies - Black Cabbies v TfL .... What Next?



Many supporters of the campaign keep asking the one question that seems to be on everyone’s lips ‘What if we don’t reach £600k’, which we’ve always answered and maintain, when the campaign closes (14th March 2016) and if the target of £600k hasn’t been reached, any monies pledged will not be taken from the pledgers account.

Whilst our position hasn’t changed we’ve be urged by many of you to continue working proactively for the trade. To this end and rather than Action-for-Cabbies deciding, we would like you to decide what you want us to do next.

AskPOB have once again kindly agreed to conduct a survey to gauge what you think we should do, so please read and completed the one question one answer survey by 8.00pm on Sunday 6th March 2016.

We will publish the results of the AskPOB survey on Monday 7th March 2016, and depending on what you want Action-for-Cabbies to do next, we’ll either formulate an action plan or close the current campaign on the 14th March 2016 without any monies being taken from pledgers accounts.

Thank you and please remember ‘we are stronger together’.

Action-for-Cabbies

Survey link:

Also, please watch this video from Sean Paul Day, as he explains how the LTDA undermind the #ActionforCabbies fund raising campaign 

   

TfL's Licensing Regulator, Not Fit For Purpose : An Absolute Disgrace To Public Safety

This is how frighteningly easy it is to become a tout, using a TfL license vehicle.


For the princely sum of £100, in a borrowed car, with no hire and reward insurance and no private hire drivers license, LBC's Theo Ushereood was able to get the car licensed by TfL as a private hire vehicle, drive into the City and openly ply for hire. 

How has this man, Director of Serice Operations (surface transport) Peter Blake, still got a job. 


Listening to him being taken apart, on this mornings Nick Ferrari show on LBC shows how incompetent LTPH is. This one interview shows that this licensing authority isn't fit for purpose and needs to be completely overhauled. 
Listen to the Blake interview here

This comes just hours after TfL's scandalous announcement on their @TfLTPH Twitter account, that members of the public can approach a waiting PHV driver, ask if he is for hire, and after being told "Yes", can then use their smartphone app to then immediately hire that car.


And the TfL authorised operator Shen said -in her opinion- quite legal

Well Shen, actually it's not. We have many years of case law that state it's not.

I would therefore like to draw TfL's attention to 3 cases 
1) White v McKay.........1946
2) Rose v Welbeck.......1962
3) Vincent v Newman..1962

You can read all about these cases and the judgements:

This really isn't good enough from our licensing authority. They should issue an immediate apology and remove the tweet from their time line on Twitter.

Alan Flemings piece complied some years ago, still remains the best quick glance resource on "Illegal Plying":

Unbelievably, These Angels Carry On Fighting For Cab Drivers Who Won't Fight For Themselves


The LTDA have decided to break ranks from the rest of the trades representative orgs to launch unilateral action.
Without talking to or asking help from others, the LTDA have decided to go it alone and lobby MPs on Tuesday 8th March. Emails were sent out yesterday to all their members.

Just when we thought the orgs and unions were all singing from the same sheet, the newly built house of cards seems to have collapsed. 

A fragmented trade like this, has no hope.

GLA report was a waste of time.
RMT early day motion fell flat.
Mass demos failed to achieve media coverage.

And now our orgs are asking drivers to give up two mornings work next week.

Are they really expecting this, from the same drivers who wouldn't pledge just £23 each to #ActiondforCabbies

We had a homeless street person in tears at the thought of losing the taxi trade he loves, putting his last 50p in the hat to help support the fight to save the taxi trade.


Our multinational vehicle maker, insurance companies and many other third party businesses who make their living off the backs of Taxi drivers, refuse to pledge a penny. 

But can you blame them when over 85% of the drivers haven't pledged.

#ActionForCabbies Update: 
10 days left and still £352,000 short.

To be honest if 85% drivers couldn't be bothered to pledge just £23 each to save their livelihood, then perhaps the trade ain't worth saving.

The old excuse that not all drivers are online doesn't wash anymore. 

The girls from #SaveTaxi Facebook group have been out every day distributing thousands of leaflets in all weathers, on stations, at cab shelters, the airport.....plus, it's been all over the trade media..... no excuses!




Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Taxi Drivers From Weston In North Somerset, Frozen Day Out For Foster Children

Foster children being entertained by Frozen characters Elsa, Anna and Olaf.

Foster children in North Somerset were given a day out thanks to some generous Weston taxi drivers.

Anthony Rogers and fellow members of the Taxi Federation in Weston, contacted North Somerset’s Foster Carers’ Association before taking the day off to decorate their cabs and drive around 40 children to Court Farm in Banwell, where they were entertained by a performance by the characters of Frozen.

Mr Rogers told the Mercury: “Me and two others decided to do something and put our hands in our pockets, and we got the others in to help on the day. 

“They seemed to really enjoy it and had a great time.”

Source : Western and Somerset Mercury 

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Lee Osborne's UWCB Boxing Challenge To Help Beat Cancer Sooner.


Former UCG secretary Lee Osborne, has given much time and effort supporting the fight for survival of our trade.

Now it's our turn to show thanks and support him.

Lee will be taking part in an Ultra White Collar Boxing match in four weeks time, on Saturday 26th March, at the Woodside Leisure Centre in Watford. 
All money raised is to go to cancer research. 

For tickets to the event, please go to 
www.UWCB.co.uk

To support Lee, please go to his Just Giving page
                    >CLICK HERE<


Police Warn New Threat From OnLine Fake Taxis. ... By Gerald Coba.


A new warning has been issued after a surge in ‘fake’ taxis being advertised on social media.

Police are warning people about the dangers of getting into unlicensed taxis after an increase in the number of people offering their services on sites like Facebook.

Passengers using these online fake taxis can never be guaranteed how safe they are going to be. By getting into one of these vehicles you could potentially be putting your life at risk.

A really important part of a night out is making sure that you can get home safely afterwards. 

The best way to ensure your safety is either to prearrange a lift with a friend or family member, or to only use a licensed taxi, especially in light of the recent minicab sexual assault statistics for 2015 which show 180 reported serious sexual assaults including rapes, with 112 driver arrests.

A spokesperson for the police said:
"We don’t want to see people getting into these online unlicensed fake taxis. If you get into one of these cars you are putting yourself at risk. An unbooked car ride, is just a stranger with a car.

By getting into an unlicensed vehicle at the end of a night out you are taking big risks with your personal safety. 

Google driverless car has been involved in a collision with a bus

A Google driverless car has been involved in a collision with a bus in California.

The tech company has admitted responsibility for the accident which occurred on 14 February.

It is thought to have happened while the company was testing 24 of the cars fitted with sensors and cameras near the tech firm's Silicon Valley headquarters.

In a report filed with California's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) the company reveals the car was trying to navigate its way round some sandbags at 2mph when it hit the bus that was travelling at 15mph.

Google says the accident came from the same kind of negotiations and misunderstandings that take place between human drivers every day.

The company says its cars will now have a better understanding that buses and other large vehicles are less likely to give way than smaller ones.

A DMV spokeswoman said the agency hoped to speak with Google soon about what went wrong.

Earlier this month, the Department of Transport revealed they were in "active discussions" with Google about trialling driverless cars in the UK.

In London, deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring said her office had spoken to Google "at least half a dozen times" over the past three years.

Google has admitted its driverless cars have been involved in 11 accidents - sparking new fears about the safety of autonomous automobiles.

"Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 accidents 

Google always blame crashes on other people, giving colourful descriptions of the other motorists on California's roads.

Google were asked how many of the 48 robotic cars were involved in crashes, but it has not yet replied.

This information is important because it could indicate wider problems with driverless machines.

If all the crashes happened to one car, it could be faulty. 

If 11 separate motors were involved, this could potentially indicate a wider problem.

Would you get into a driverless car?

Brave? Former Business Secretary Vince Cable sits in a driverless car. 

Notice the door is open and the car is stationary.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The Sharks are circling!....by I'm Spartacus.


I recall to this day the last words the chief examiner said to us all as we got our shiny new badges at Penton street all those years ago.

'Many people get a very good living out of the cab trade' our faces lit up after years of slog on the KOL, he continued after a pause, 'none of them are cab drivers'.

His words are as true today as ever, we now have the Credit Card fiasco, another good idea totally ballsed up by TfL and the trade incompetents who have agreed to having fixed terminals for no good reason as millions of traders from car booters to Michelin starred restaurants seem to get by with mobile terminals.

The bogus argument about security is probably more about who advertises in what trade paper, after all we could pass forged notes all day long, we don't because we are mostly honest and/or we don't fancy a spell in the scrubs!

We also have TfL not mandating a maximum percentage charged to the driver staying that it's a commercial matter between us and the provider, all this noted through without a murmur from the TfL board and we all know the membership there.

So many are still paying 10% plus monthly rental for a unit that's well past it, my local shop pays 1.5%!!!!!

So again we have trade orgs agreeing to things without consultation and effectively creating an 'uncommercial' market to the disbenefit of the people who pay their wages, luxury company vehicles etc.

I wonder what percentage the suppliers of these fixed units pay on their own transactions?

If it's more than 3% I would be amazed.

Wake up folks!

I'm Spartacus

Consultation response from the UK Card Association 


Taxi driver slashed with knife and hit with hammer by three thugs

An award-winning taxi driver was left shaken after he was attacked by three thugs armed with a hammer and blade near his Dublin home.

Paul Cullen (52) was working in north Dublin when he stopped to pick up a fare in Finglas.

After a short journey to the Poppintree area one of the men produced a blade and demanded that he hand over money.

Brave Paul - who had a little over €100 cash on him at the time - refused to give them anything.

He struggled with one of the men as the thug slashed the back of his head and another hit him around the head with what he suspects was a hammer.

The attack happened shortly after 8.30pm on Thursday.

Just two hours earlier a taxi man in his 60s was also robbed by three men. A sum of money was taken and the driver was also injured in the incident.

Paul, who has worked as a cabbie for 10 years, said it was the first time he had been assaulted while on the job.

Last year, he was nominated by his customers for the 98fm Pride of Dublin awards and walked away with the title of Best Taxi Driver.

He has now been left with bruising to his face and cuts on the back of his head.

Last night, he returned to work despite the attack.

"I'll be nervous for a few weeks, but if I don't go straight back I never will," the dad-of-three said. "I'm shook enough, but it could have been a lot worse."

"It's the only area of Ballymun that has no CCTV."

The thugs sustained the attack for a short time before they left with just Mr Cullen's smart phone, which he later traced to a bin in a nearby estate.

A garda spokeswoman confirmed that gardai were investigating two robberies of taxi drivers in the Ballymun area.

No arrests have been made and an investigation is ongoing

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tariff Update...As Clear As Mud. Credit Card Surcharge Change?

Driver to pay Credit Card surcharge from April???


I spoke to LTDA Chairman Steve McNamara on Wednesday and in that conversation he informed me (in his opinion) the argument over surcharges is irrelevant as rules governing CC transactions including surcharges, may well be change in 2017 due to an EU directive. 

The information is actually contained in the results from TfL's consultation on Credit Card Payments.

The actual wording states:
The current surcharge of up to 10 per cent is generally felt to be too high, but the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012 already bans excessive surcharges and traders, including taxi drivers, may not charge more than it costs them to accept card payments.

This is pretty clear so far and quite understandable.

The report continues to say:
It is also expected that future legislation (Following adoption by the European Parliament of the Revised Directive on Payment Services), will remove most card payment surcharges when it comes into effect which is expected to be by end of 2017. 

The statement is unspecific as to which "most card payments" are referred to. 
Also, this may not happen,because by 2017, we may no longer be part of the EU. 

So why are TfL pushing for something so strong, that may never happen?

Until this actually happens, why should we even consider passing CC payment surcharges over to the driver?

How would this 2017 European consumer rights regulation affect us here in the UK?

This will mean retailers will not be able to charge cc customers the surcharge or service charge. 
This will include paying bills, booking theatre tickets, shop purchases and the like of us. But most retailers will build this into the retail price of the goods being sold.

TfL have offered us a 20p extra to the initial meter drop, but that was based on a CC surcharge capped at 3%. 
Now we are told that the Card clearing companies have turned this down and TfL are going to let market forces set the rate.

Why is there such a lack of information from our orgs about what is coming in April, in regards to CC surcharge payments?

Is this another example from TfL's spin doctors of while we are tearing into each other over this, something else more controversial is about to slip under the radar. 

Perhaps TfL feel that if we are arguing about something that's possibly inevitable, we won't be resisting the  unenforceable CC mandate -about to be tested in court I hear- or the unnecessary fitting of equipment in the rear.

The way TfL have tried to bulldoze this through based on their consultation is nothing short of scandalous. 

This whole issue has been a complete mess from start to now and has been handled dreadfully by the Orgs/Unions, suppliers and TfL.

Too many vested interests looking at grabbing larger market share, stirring the already muddy waters. 
A complete  

The TfL consultation result recommendations should be based on majority of opinions from those who responded. It's clear that this is not the case.

It's alleged TfL are trying to manipulate the conclusions by making the results unclear. 

See for yourselves and make your own mind up: