Saturday, March 12, 2016

UCG Press Release : Rumours, Smears and Dud Bullets...


I have seen recently a carefully crafted smear campaign that has someone’s fingerprints all over it. I can’t be controlled and I won’t walk into any obvious traps. So when you can’t beat someone with honest debate and reasoning, “Smear them”
So let's look at what’s being said. I am accused of applying for a senior role in TfL, this is absolutely TRUE. Over a year ago the role of Head of Compliance was advertised on the TfL website. This ultimately was the job that Matt Bell got.

Yes I applied for it, I met the necessary criteria for the initial paper sift and I was invited for interview. I wasn’t good enough on the day and the job was given to Matt Bell an "ex" very senior policeman. We know he has since resigned and left leaving a vacuum of speculation.

But this is being spread around as if it were yesterday or indeed that I should be ashamed or in some way regret this…. The only thing I regret is not being good enough on the day to get the job.

My reasoning for applying for that role is that I really believe I could have made a difference, I will not shy away from what I believe is right… I always follow my conscience. I wanted so much to do that job, a “night man” of nine years, I have seen so much and know what is going on out there at night.

Who among you wouldn’t relish the chance of actually sorting out the touts that are stealing our livelihoods? Would you rather a bureaucrat who has never driven a Taxi or PHV vehicle in their life, who understands nothing about our trade head-up the compliance team? Or a “night man” who lives with the consequence of light touch enforcement and compliance?

No, my regret isn’t that I applied, it’s that I wasn’t given the chance to try to fix it from within TfL instead of the wall of silence we are met with by our regulator.

So for the record, YES I did apply for head of compliance, YES I did get an interview, NO I wasn’t a good enough candidate on the day…. That is my regret…. that I let down the trade by not getting the job and trying my best to fix the problems we face.

I make this promise: I would have worked like a dog to fix this mess.

So....If you could apply because you had the right qualifications, would you stand back and let a bureaucrat get the job without even trying to get that job if you met the criteria? and how would you reconcile knowing that you could have done something but instead done nothing?

The committee of the day (This was over a year ago, not the current committee) were fully aware and informed I had applied and was to be interviewed BEFORE The interview not afterwards, I met each one individually and explained my reasoning for applying, I met no objections.

My regret….. I wasn’t good enough on the day. 

And why has this been raised now? Because I won’t go along with them over tariff reviews? Credit card mandating and the issues this has raised? Because I won’t have the wool pulled over my eyes?

When they can’t control you, they will instead try to control how others see you………..

My job is to stay focused on challenging TfL and pushing back with the resources I have, so I say this, do your worst, leak personal information about me, the more you leak, the more I know I’m on the right track and getting under your skin. (but beware, I will not hesitate in reporting data protection issues to the information commissioner, and someone will be removed from office)

360 years of history doesn’t stop because overpaid jobsworth bureaucrats can’t do their job properly…. The battle continues....

FOOTNOTE

I have been informed this morning that a TfL employee (Enforcement officer) is walking along ranks telling people that I applied for the Head of compliance, firstly this was over a year ago when the political landscape was very different. And secondly, I don't believe an enforcement officer would have known.TfL either deliberately or otherwise are leaking personal information. If this leak is an employee releasing personal data to discredit individuals, that's a very serious offence. 

If it is an authorised leak by TfL senior management then it is criminal and a vexatious leak of personal information that is punishable with a fine of up to £500,000. You want them telling who ever they want about personal information about you ? Someone released my response to City AM about the credit card consultation fiasco before the consultation ended to discredit me and now this. They think this is a game?

TfL think the ICO won't come after them? The ICO was set up to go after people like them! Today I am registering a formal complaint with the ICO. If it's going to get dirty then I am happy to play by whatever rules they choose.

Len Martin

More than 40 men arrested as taxi driver protest against Uber turns violent

Police arrest 47 after huge demo turns violent

Thousands of taxi drivers are up in arms about the transport company Uber, which they say is undercutting them and stealing their livlihoods.

They took to the streets of Guadalajara to block roads but factions of the protest angrily began to damage cars and shop fronts.

Security forces were sent to close down the main square where the protest had got out of hand, using smoke bombs to disperse the crowd.


Uber Protest
Uber: Taxi drivers aren't happy with the private hire service

Footage shows crowds of men fighting each other in the streets and riot police behind shields.

The governor of the state, Aristoteles Sandoval, has warned that although citizens have the right to protest, violence will not be tolerated.

Uber Protest
 Violent: Riot police were called in to deal with the protest

He said: "We are in favour of the freedom of expression and the right to protest, but we will not permit disorder. 

"I have instructed security forces to act at the moment that people bring disorder to the city with the full weight of the law in respect of the rights of the general public."

Directors of the taxi syndicates are currently in negotiations with local legislators to try and regulate the activity of Uber.

Private Hire Requirements Consultation Receives Over 20,000 Responses.

New regulations to modernise and improve the private hire industry will be considered by the Transport for London (TfL) Board next week. 

The measures, which follow an extensive consultation process have attracted over 20,000 responses and are aimed at making travelling by private hire safer and more convenient for customers.

The changes the TfL board is being asked to agree include increased insurance requirements making sure a policy is in place for the duration of the vehicle license. The ease in which "anyone" can get a fully TfL plated vehicle (even without Hire and Reward insurance) has recently been highlighted by an investigation carried out by a reporter from LBC.

An understanding of the English language will also be a requirement. Last year TfL closed 15 testing centres, when it was found applicants were being allowed to sit tests in their own native langue and were also given the answers alongside the questions. After a sample of 200 applicants were made to take a retest, less than 30% actually passed. 

There will also be a requirement of advanced fare estimates and operatorswill have to keep improved records for enforcement purposes (not a new requirement, just unenforced by TfL compliance at present)

Private hire operators will also be required to ensure customers can speak to someone in the event of a problem with their journey (although Uber office staff, presently only work office hours of 9-5)

These changes, represent the first significant amendments to the private hire regulations since they were first introduced in 1998 and follow an unprecedented increase in private hire driver and vehicle numbers.  

The number of private hire drivers has increased from 59,000 in April 2010 to around 100,000 today and is increasing at a rate of over 700 per week, contributing to issues such as congestion, pollution and illegal parking.

The Mayor believes more action must be taken to address the impacts of these increasing numbers, particularly on congestion and air quality.  

The Government has been reluctant to introduce legislation to allow TfL to restrict the number of drivers and vehicles on the roads in London (although many areas outside London have successfully capped their PH and Hackney Taxis numbers, using a supply and demand initiative).  

In response, the Mayor has instructed TfL to investigate the potential effects of removing the Congestion Charge exemption currently given to private hire drivers fulfilling a booking, in order to see whether this may make a difference in those areas of concern. Big talk from Boris who is about to leave office. None of the leading Mayoral candidates have the removal of this concession on their manifesto.

TfL estimates that the number of private hire vehicles operating within the central London Congestion Charge zone has increased by over 50 per cent in the last two years.  This means that during the day, 1 in 10 vehicles entering the zone is now a private hire vehicle. This situation changes dramatically on weekend nights when London's WestEnd and City are swamped with minicabs bringing the roads to near complete gridlock. 

Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s Chief Operating Officer for Surface Transport (pictured), said, during the consultation process, Londoners, made clear the improvements they want to see in the private hire industry. 

The package of changes being taken to the Board includes more robust insurance requirements when vehicles are licensed and a formal English language requirement for drivers. Both of these requirements should have been firmly in place when the act of 1998 was first put together.

Also customers should receive quotes for before their journeys. How this will apply to Uber is anyone's guess as they use a Taxi meter based on time and distance which in most cases results in the fare having no relationship to the estimate. 

All operators will need an easier process for customers to complain if they need to. This requirement is already in place when first applying for an operators licence, but was somehow dropped unexplainable when Uber and RD2 both first applied for their licenses back in 2012.

It's hoped that these new(ish) requirements will help ensure a modern, flourishing and safer private hire industry, and will provide choice for customers alongside London’s iconic and world-class taxi service.

Friday, March 11, 2016

London Assembly committee flags up concerns over policing a 24-hour transport system


The operation of the new Night Tube service will have to be robustly monitored to ensure crime and fear of crime does not threaten or deter people, especially women and minorities, advises the London Assembly’sPolice and Crime Committee


The Crime on public transport report assesses crime levels on the capital’s public transport system and identifies current and future policing challenges, including the introduction of the Night Tube, fear of crime on the network and an increase in reports of violence. 


The committee recommends that new Mayor of London should constantly monitor, review and learn from policing arrangements for the Night Tube, and enable a swift response to any emerging crime concerns.


The committee recommends that new mayor should also explore how to further increase public awareness and confidence to report sexual offences on public transport, maximising on the success of ‘Project Guardian’. The next mayor should also develop a new strategy for enabling travellers to report all crimes and anti-social behaviour more easily on public transport in London, using mechanisms that have shown success, such as by text.



Joanne McCartney AM, chair of the Police and Crime Committee, said: “London has one of the largest public transport systems in the world, carrying around ten million passengers every day. Looking at the figures, recorded crime on public transport is relatively low, but the network faces a number of key challenges, which mean that complacency is not an option for the incoming mayor. How will police and TfL maintain the safety of Londoners on a 24-hour tube service? How can the fear of crime be reversed? What policing measures will come into play to manage the network’s growing passenger numbers?


“The committee calls on the next mayor to address these issues early in order to maximise the positive work to date by Transport for London (TfL) and London’s policing agencies. With passenger numbers expected to rise, taking swift action and even pre-empting problems, particularly around the introduction of the Night Tube, will help ensure our transport network - the lifeblood of the capital – continues to serve Londoners.”


The London Assembly Police and Crime Committee report Crime on Public Transport can be downloaded by >clicking here<



The report reflects that the overall number of reported crimes across TfL’s public transport network is on a downward trend (8% lower in 2014-15 than in 2013-14), while the risk of being a victim of crime is also down (the rate of crime per million passenger journeys decreased by 10% in 2014-15). There were 1,029 fewer crimes on buses in 2014-15 than the previous year. However, the report notes violent assaults and sexual offences increased; this pattern is reflected across TfL’s network, and London, as a whole.


“The overall number of crimes across TfL’s public transport network is on a downward trend, and the risk of being a victim of crime is also down,” it states. “However, a rise in violence against the person and sexual offences is a challenge.”

The committee says that fear of crime on public transport can prevent people from using the public transport system. “While there is no direct correlation between reported crime levels and fear of crime, passengers often perceive their risk of crime to be higher than official crime statistics indicate, and reducing actual levels of crime may not lead to a reduction in people’s perception of crime risk,” the committee writes. “However, under-reporting masks the full extent of crime on the public transport system and anti-social behaviour, which is rarely reported, can also act as a deterrent to travel for some.”



The report welcomes Project Guardian, which was introduced in 2013 by the Met, TfL, British Transport Police (BTP) and City of London to challenge unwanted sexual behaviour, increase confidence in reporting and target offenders on the network. Efforts to tackle under-reporting of sexual offences appear to be working. “Project Guardian has had a big impact on improving reports and more victims are now more willing to report their experience; the issue isn’t getting bigger, it is now better reported,” says the committee.


“Project Guardian has received positive feedback, and both public and political support. But it is now time to move it forward. As well as continuing to develop Project Guardian to further tackle unwanted sexual behaviour, there are lessons here that could be applied to other crimes across the public transport network.” 


The report addresses the demands policing a 24 transport system, which currently encompasses buses, taxis and private hire vehicles and is set to include the Night Tube service. The committee notes that bus journeys are expected to increase in excess of 7% by 2021, and the Night Tube, Crossrail and London Overground extensions will potentially create new demand. The importance of the night-time economy is also growing, which brings with it its own policing challenges.


“The taxi and private hire trades are important to London’s public transport network,” writes the committee. “However, the potential for passengers to become the victims of crime remains a longstanding concern.” 


The committee says it has heard that cab-related sexual offences are both under-reported and remain a concern for passengers, TfL and the police. “Taking an unlicensed minicab remains the greatest risk of becoming a victim of cab-related sexual offences, yet TfL has found that 32% of women claim they are likely to use unlicensed minicabs in the future. This is a concern and there is a need for further work to highlight the dangers of using unlicensed minicabs in London,” its report states. 


The committee notes that the overall growth in licensed private hire vehicles has created a challenge for routine enforcement and compliance activity, and there is a need for more visible and immediate enforcement to deter criminal activity on the streets. “Harsher penalties are needed, and magistrate courts need to treat touting and plying for hire with the severity of a serious crime that puts public safety at risk,” advises the committee. “TfL and the police need increased enforcement powers to ensure stronger sanctions for touting, including seizure of vehicles, and the new Mayor needs to lobby the Ministry of Justice on this.”

TfL has been working closely with BTP and the Met on planning for the introduction of Night Tube. The committee says that its investigation heard that the current assessment of the impact of the Night Tube on crime and disorder is positive. However, the report draws attention to a TfL internal risk assessment that stated that sexual offences and other crimes are likely to increase when the Night Tube is introduced. The same TfL assessment also recognised the potential for increased unlawful activity by taxi touts and unlicensed private hire at the end of the line.


The committee noted: “Despite these concerns, BTP is confident that robust analysis has been carried out to ensure the Tube remains safe for passengers and staff, but it will be difficult to be sure until it is up and running

Don't Say 'No One Told Me'... Demo2 23rd March....Whitehall

  
   

    
    A PICTURE PAINTS A THOUSAND WORDS
    
 


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reading Borough Councillor's Turn Down Uber's Application For A Private Hire Operators Licence

The Uber smartphone minicab dispatch app will not be appearing in Reading any time soon.

Reading Borough Council's licensing committee turned down an application by a Mr Thomas Elvidge on behalf of Uber Britannia for a private hire operating licence.

The committee rejected the application to establish the company in the town because:

  • there was insufficient evidence of demand
  • no clear evidence about the number of vehicles that would be operating in Reading
  • no clear indication of how or by whom the Uber office would be manned.

Licensing officer Jean Champeau raised concerns there was no “safe and lawful place” for the vehicle to park if Uber’s office was based in Davison House in The Forbury.

Mr Elvidge explained the Uber model to councillors, talking them through the process by which a customer can get straight through using an app on their mobile phone.

Customers can track their minicab as it drives through town, receive photo identity of their driver and their journey to their destination is also tracked.

But councillors were curious about the self employed drivers and wanted to know:

a) Where the private hire drivers would be parked when they were not driving? 
b) Why the office would only be open from 9am to 6pm?
c) Who would be in charge of it?

Clr Jeanette Skeats was particulary keen to find out how licensing officers or the police would be able to find a manager at night if there was a problem.

She wanted to know where Mr Elvidge would be and discovered that he was in charge of a massive area surrounding Greater London.

Cllr Marian Livingston questioned Mr Elvidge’s claim there was a demand because 20,000 people in the Reading area had already downloaded the app.

She suggested Uber might just be “trawled by phone app junkies who if they don’t have their phone in their hand they think they have had an amputation”.

Opposed

The application was also opposed by chairman of Reading Taxi Association Asif Rashid who raised concerns about the Uber surge pricing which uses a computer algorithm to increase prices during periods of high demand to attract more drivers to the area.

Mr Rashid questioned Mr Elvidge as to how much more than the regular fare Uber’s prices could rise to - he asked if it was possible they might rise to five times the standard rate.

Mr Elvidge said that twice the rate was more usual but it could go as high as five times.

Mr Rashid said someone who had “drunk too much” could easily find themselves paying much more than they realised.

He was also concerned that drivers could come in from other borough and from as far away as London to answer calls to the app in Reading.

But his key argument was that there was no significant unmet demand in Reading for cabs.

Mr Rashid was able to point to the strong evidence from the three-year independent survey on unmet demand, which has to carry out if the council continues to cap the number of Hackney carriage licences it allows to be operating in the borough.

The independent consultants CTS, which carries out exhaustive surveys throughout Reading counting taxis at ranks all over the town, concluded: “There is no evidence of unmet demand for Hackney carriages either patent or latent which is significant at this point in time in Reading area.

“The committee is therefore able to retain the current policy and limit at the present level and defend this if necessary.”

Editorial Comment:

In London, we've been told on countless occasions that there would need to be a national law change to introduce a cap on Private Hire vehicles licenses. It would appear from the above statement from Reading council that this is indeed not the case.

It appears that TfLTPH's compliance department don't seem to be concerned that Uber cannot be contacted outside normal office 9-5 time (which is when the majority of customer safety concerns are presented)

It would appear that Reading Council think more about members of the public being ripped off by extortionate surge pricing than TfLTPH management.

It would also appear to be of no concern to TfLTPH that the massive over supply of Uber vehicles, illegally park all around the WestEnd and City causing major nocturnal congestion. 

We now wait with bated breath to see if Uber take on Reading council by continuing to supply vehicles through their app illegally in the Reading area. Uber have always professed they are not a minicab operator, but a technology company. 


            

An open letter to the TfL Board .... By Will Grozier.


Boris Johnson
Isabel Dedring
Peter Anderson
Sir John Armitt CBE
Sir Brendan Barber
Richard Barnes
Charles Belcher
Roger Burnley
Brian Cooke
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE
Angela Knight
Michael Liebreich
Eva Lindholm
Daniel Moylan
Bob Oddy
Keith Williams
Steve Wright

Dear Transport for London Board Members

On 17th March you will be asked to adopt a set of proposals from TfLTPH to place additional controls on the activities of the Private Hire Sector

These regulations contain no safeguards to check the recent massive increase in minicab numbers on London's streets nor do they contain any meaningful brake on the total eclipse of the Black Cab industry.

If you, the board, do not vote these proposals down and insist that TfLTPH 'think again' your names will be forever remembered as the men and women who had the opportunity to save the London taxi but failed to act.

This is not a little taxi boy crying 'Wolf', it is a whole industry under attack from a predatory and ruthless wolf pack called 'Uber'

Please do the right thing and say 'No' to Brown, Daniels & Emmersons's attempt to impose a pro Uber lobbyist's anti-regulatory agenda and rubber stamp the existing status quo.

Do not accept the free market apologists argument that a mechanism to prevent drivers who respond to App sourced demand effectively plying for hire would be an unreasonable imposition.

Such an instrument based on zoning limits of access and visibility could be easily implemented via the very technology that has led us to this sorry state of affairs and is a crucial first step in preventing the London Taxi being consigned to the scrap heap.

Ignore the siren calls of those who would have you believe that the plight of the London Cab is a function of it's inability to adapt to a new technological  landscape - that is just plain wrong - taxis equipped with CC payment systems and Apps such as Gett & Hailo simply can't compete with a rival empowered to ply for hire (illegally we would maintain)
by virtue of legalistic sophistry - a device operating as a meter and referred to by Uber as a 'meter' is apparently not a meter - and the creation  of the oxymoronic and hitherto unheard of entity 'an immediate booking'.

In addition to your explicit statuary duties of regulating such an historic and revered world icon, the London black cab, there exists a concomitant implicit responsibility to behave as 'good stewards' toward a 350 year old tradition.

In that capacity your primary function is to ensure it's continuity which is now under threat as never before.

Failure to grasp this nettle now will simply repeat the old bad habits of national self denigration - The British Disease - tearing down to the detriment of society at large that which we edify and excel at.

Recent events such as the LBC expose have led many observers outside the taxi business to concur with us that TfLTPH is no longer an agency fit for purpose and that administration of the taxi industry should be removed from it's jurisdiction as soon as possible. 

If you are in any doubt as to the veracity of that statement I urge you to visit Pancras Road between King's Cross and St Pancras Stations any time when a Eurostar train is due and witness for yourself the rugby scrum of PHV's double and at times triple banked jockeying for advantage in the wait for a ping on the iPhone, causing traffic mayhem in the process, whilst a line of idle taxis yellow 'for hire' signs ablaze snake away on the Kings Cross taxi rank as far as the eye can see.

These disgraceful scenes are your handiwork and you now have the opportunity of taking a first step in turning the tide, already one of Tsunami proportions, to ensure a continuity of supply of the best taxi service in the world to residents of and visitors to the greatest city in the world.

As I write we learn that a 1 year old child has died, mown down by one of your Google gawping gimps in Sw7 >on Monday night<

All 18 members of the board bear an individual and collective responsibilty for that tragedy and I urge you on behalf of all Londoners including my fellow taxi drivers to take that first bold step and say 'No' enough is enough


Will Grozier

Licensed London Taxi Driver of 39 years service -  but maybe not 40!

Taxi Trade Protest Outside The Beeb, Then On To Downing Street And TfL, Over Falling Standards In PH Regulations

The Taxi trade has again staged a mass protest outside the gates of Downing Street over the non enforcement of private hire regulations by TfL.

But this time, it was slightly different than in the past. After unfair harassment from the Met Police -who had been dishing out Public Order Section 12/16s like sweets- it was decided to leave the vehicles at home. In the past, Taxi demos have been treated worst than some terrorist groups, simply because of the disruption they've  caused to TfL's bus network.

Yesterday saw the emergence of a completely new group of protesters -#DadsDefendingDaughters- who held up placards condemning TfL and the BBC over an alleged cover up of escalating minicab related serious sexual assaults including rapes. 


The group started their protest outside Broadcasting House, marched along Regent Street to joined the main body of the protest in Trafalgar Square, where they were met by a massive cheer and found of spontaneous applause. 


The combined groups then embarked on a two-hour demonstration finally arriving at TfL head offices Windsor House in Victoria Street. 

The Taxi trade made it clear, they were protesting over the dropping of standards in regulations which govern Private Hire drivers and operators. The Taxi drivers claim, safety standards have dropped to a level where most women are no longer safe in a minicab.


The main protest, organised by the United Cabbies Group (UCG), supported by the London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC), SupportBlackTaxis group (SBT)  and the RMT, was in protest to the Government's interference in the industry's regulatory affairs, while actively supporting a tax avoiding multinational corporation.

A few Taxis lined Whitehall while a mass of drivers on foot, holding banners marched to Downing Street. The group were seen wielding placards claiming PM David Cameron told Mayor Boris to leave Uber alone. Another massive banner  accused TfL and Boris Johnson of Totally failing London. 

A group of female drivers, from the #SaveBlackTaxis group, had two banners one reading TfL, Totally failing Ladies and the other pointing to TfL's failures regarding PH drivers CRB checks, Hire and Reward insurance and poor safety standards.

The on foot protest, was the latest in a number of demonstrations organised by the United Cabbies Groups calling on Transport for London and the Government to impose tougher restrictions on minicab drivers and operators.


The next protest will be held on the 23rd of March, where again drivers will be back with their Taxis to cause as much disruption as possible (details will be posted nearer the day). Earlier this week Steve Headley of the RMT Union, called for London to be bought to a stand still in a massive 48 hour Taxi strike. 

   



Wednesday, March 09, 2016

LTDA Member's Lobby Of Parliament ... By Marc Turner

Yesterday morning (8/3/16), the largest congregation of LTDA members ever seen for many a year massed in the splendour of the Central Hall, Palace of Westminster. 

The LTDA had organised a lobby of MPs. Members and MP's did not let them down. 

The day bode well when with two colleagues, on entering the security screening area, a policeman enquired, "are you cabbies"?...We owned up. He then uttered under his breath, "Good luck lads, get rid of them" He wasn't referring to some of the incumbents of the House. 

The exercise of LTDA's lobbying intiative was that members could persuade their MPs to commit to taking action that TFL had failed to do.

We had to adhere to the protocol of lobbying by making for an area where lobby cards had to be filled in. I was promptly reprimanded by a rotund  bobby for trying to take photos, ironically, by a sign proclaiming 'No Photography'. That tickled bobby. 

Rules are made to be broken, Uber have conclusively proved that adage. I took a picture of my Lobby card and promptly tweeted it to my MP Wes Streeting (ilford North). To my amazement Wes tweeted back, he was on a committee and would be down soon.

We didn't have to wait to long, and his taxi driving constituents weren't disappointed. 


Wes is well informed, engaged, energetic and was generous with his time. He was empathetic to our plight. Wes revelled to us, on March 22nd he's airing our greviances in the House, introducing a 10 minute bill. Hopefully it will be debated, but it's not a given. 


Lastly Wes insured us that our historic great trade has many friends in both Houses. We all left with a spring in our step....But how many times have we done that before???

Looking forward to today's demo 11o/c Trafalgar Square.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Tomorrows Demo : UCG Press Release


The Press Release
The London Taxi Drivers are once again taking to the streets on Wednesday, the 9th of March - Whitehall 11:00Hrs to 13:00Hrs
The London Taxi Drivers are once again taking to the streets on Wednesday, the 9th of March, to voice their grievance over the Government’s interference in the industry’s regulatory affairs while actively supporting a tax avoiding global corporation, Uber, that presents itself as an “IT company”. Some very sensible proposals were put forward by the regulator, yet they have been quashed by the Government. Naturally, this has angered decent, hard-working London Taxi Drivers who pay their taxes and conform to the strict rules and regulations. 

So the question is: why would the Government actively support a global tax avoider, a virtual company with no assets and no experience in operating the taxi trade, while providing it with a competitive advantage over its own domestic workforce? 

The answer is not one that makes our politicians look competent or above board.

But let us look at some of the statistics that paint a very gloomy picture of the way Uber operates. Last year it paid less tax than any four randomly selected London Taxi Drivers! Even though the company takes 25% to 35% of every journey undertaken by vehicles operating under its  umbrella. In real terms, they paid just £22,134 last year. And the most amazing thing of all is that Uber is still not making a profit, as it is involved in undermining the competition by operating with lower fares, in the hope of establishing full control over the taxi trade.   

Which brings us to the next point about the danger that Uber poses for consumers as the future monopoly that doesn’t play by the rules. Once the competitors would be eliminated, prices, as it happens with all monopolies, will go up dramatically. That is how it works in the world of big business that builds its success at the expense of smaller competitors. 

And then there is the issue of sacrificing safety and quality to cut costs. Does anyone actually believe that a company that has no experience in running a taxi service and cuts costs by avoiding rules and regulations can provide safety and high quality of transportation? Of course not! Which means that customers are taking a gamble when they travel with Uber. Unlike the reliable and tested traditional purpose built London Cabs that are subject to three tests per year and with their drivers going through a very rigorous testing process over four to five years. 

And it gets worse when it comes to the attack on the interests of the London Taxi Drivers.  The London Mayor’s Transport for London (TfL) have dropped the requirement for Private Hire Drivers to have a full CRB/DBS check. This means that TfL can now “feed the system” with 600+ new drivers every week while London Taxi Drivers are often unable to work, waiting for months for license renewals pending the mandatory requirement of a valid DBS check. As a result, passengers find themselves driven by people with practically no experience and of a dubious character. There are over 100 reported sexual assaults in minicabs in London every year and we know that less than 10% of rapes and sexual assaults are reported.  

Make no mistake, once Uber takes over the taxi trade in the UK it will move against other forms of transport and hundreds of thousands of jobs on the London Underground, on the railroads and in long haul deliveries will be in danger. In effect, the London Taxi Drivers are defending not only their own livelihoods but the interests of people involved in many other industries. 

As the elections of the London Mayor approach, it is time for candidates to make their views clear whose side of the argument they are on when it comes to London Taxi Drivers and Uber. We are talking about the livelihoods of tens of thousands of drivers and their families. Londoners who value their traditional taxi service should rally round it and send a signal to the candidates in the London Mayor Election that they will support those of them who give a clear pledge to put an end to the unfair practises of Uber and protect the iconic heritage of London that London Taxis represent.


Give us your support, Londoners!

Further reading here:-
http://j.mp/21XgviH

All Press Enquiries to:

Len Martin
United Cabbies Group


Uber Apologises For “Imperfect (And Fictitious)” Explanation Of Rapes And Sexual Assaults Claims.

On Monday, Uber walked back a core explanation for the thousands of tickets in its customer support ticket system with the subject “rape.” This change in position comes less than a day after a BuzzFeed News published screenshots from Uber’s Zendesk-based customer support system showing thousands of tickets containing the word “rape.” Our report led to Uber's revelation that the company receives 5 claims of rape and 170 claims of sexual assault  directly related to an Uber ride as inbound tickets to its customer service database between December 2012 and August 2015.

Uber responded with a letter signed by three key executives. It directly referenced the Zendesk screenshots and claimed these were “highly misleading” and contained false matches. It offered three explanations for the prevalence of the word “rape” in its system. The second of these stated: “Any email address or rider/driver last name that contains the letters R, A, P, E consecutively (for example, Don Draper) are included.”

However, that turned out not to be right. Today, at approximately 1:10 p.m. Pacific Time, Uber updated its letter with the following:

* An earlier version of this post stated that “ Any email address or rider/driver last name that contains the letters R, A, P, E consecutively (for example, Don Draper) are included. After analyzing the data, we found more than 11,000 rider names and 17,500 rider emails with the letters ‘rape’”.

Zendesk, one of our customer support platforms, contacted us to say that their search tool would not return a name such as “Don Draper” when searching for the word “rape.” However, such a search would (and did) return names that start with the letters R,A,P,E — even if the ticket itself had nothing to do with a claim of rape. We apologize to Zendesk for using an imperfect (and fictitious) example that doesn’t accurately represent their search functionality. This does not impact our analysis of the overall numbers, which was based on a manual review of these tickets rather than a simple keyword search.

The update came following an investigation by BuzzFeed News. Yesterday evening, BuzzFeed contacted Zendesk to specifically ask about its search query capabilities. After failing to get a response, BuzzFeed News called and stopped by the company’s headquarters. Following that visit, Zendesk notified Uber of the error.

Uber’s update notes, “We apologize to Zendesk for using an imperfect (and fictitious) example that doesn’t accurately represent their search functionality.”

Prior to the update from Uber, BuzzFeed News had already learned that the Zendesk system did not work in the way Uber claimed in its original statement, and had reached out to Zendesk for confirmation and comment. It is unclear at what point it contacted Uber

Source Buzzfeed.