Saturday, June 18, 2016

TfL Press Release : Important changes to Private Hire Regulation.

There are important regulatory changes that private hire operators, drivers and registered keepers of private hire vehicles are required to make over the coming weeks and months. 

These changes, which were approved by the Transport for London (TfL) board on 18 March 2016, are being made to raise standards in London’s private hire industry - improving safety and convenience for customers. 

The majority of the changes to the regulations will come into effect on Monday 27 June 2016 for new private hire licence applicants. However, existing licensees have been given more time to prepare for some of the more significant changes. It is vital that you prepare now. 

Please take the time to read the information in our notice – and the more detailed information at tfl.gov.uk/ph-regulations - carefully. 

One of the first changes, which comes into effect for existing licensees on 11 July, requires all private hire vehicles in London to have hire and reward insurance in place both at the point they are licensed and for the entire time the vehicle is licensed - including when the vehicle is not in use as a private hire vehicle. Details of that insurance must be carried or displayed in the private hire vehicle at all times while the vehicle is licensed as a private hire vehicle. 

Licensing action will be taken in cases where licensees are found not to be compliant with regulations. 

I will also be writing to you separately, by post, to advise you of these changes.  

Yours sincerely,  

Helen Chapman
General Manager, London Taxi and Private Hire  

Extra Comment from Tom Scullion:

At first glance the long awaiting changes to the private hire regulations look encouraging.

The salient points in brief:

As from 27 June all new applicants or renewal must have hire and reward insurance in their cars at all times

From 1 October existing will have to comply I don't understand why the existing drivers have this grace period maybe a legal notice period.

English language requirement for all new driver applicants by 1 October 2016 to B1 level standard

http://britishlifeskills.com/

National insurance details by 1 October 2016

Private hire operators new operators must provide a booking confirmation to the passenger before their journey starts via email, SMS and MMS and text.

With the vehicle registration

Drivers first name

Drivers PHV number

Photo of driver

Provision of contact facilities

This require new operators to have a call centre 24/7 or the operating times of business this is to allow customers to telephone a call centre and speak with an operator in a London based operating centre to resolve passengers queries, complaints, lost property etc. serious and urgent issues should be reported to the police. A SME call centre would have at least 40 operators per shift at any given time 

or shift for larger companies with much more customers the number of call takers could run into the hundreds per shift.

Changes to private hire operating model 

Any changes to the operating model must be reported to Tfl.

Basic disclosure check for some staff

If staff who have face to face contact it's the public in a mini van office for example must have proof of a Basic disclosure check.

Uploading driver and vehicle details to Tfl 

As from 11 July 2016 new and existing operators must email all driver and vehicle details to Tfl.

Record keeping 

Extended from 6 months to a year.

Other requirements

Operators must provide their customers with an accurate fare estimate or set price before the journey starts could this stop surge pricing ? Operators must record the main destination before the journey starts.

These new regulations are welcome and far reaching it currently doesn't cover the massive problem with identity fraud the easiest way to address is fingerprinting for every Taxi and PHV driver. Also PHV drivers licensed with EU drivers licenses what would happen if we were to leave the EU? Advanced driving test here in the UK should also be considered. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sadiq Khan, Caroline Pigeon and Val shawcross for keeping to their word and address the long overdue reform of the private hire regulations.

Tom Scullion.

Editorial Comment: 

Let's get one thing straight. These may have the appearance of new regulations, but it's not new legislation. TfL have always been able to enforce these regulations under existing legislation. But on the watch of Leon Daniels, Garrett Emmerson, John Mason, Peter Blake and Helen Chapman, they just chose not to. 

As far as these new regulations are concerned:

• The RMT London Taxi Branch were on this case in 2009, seven years ago but were excluded from the United Trade Group meetings by the LTDA, LCDC and Unite. TfL wouldn't meaningfully engage with any Taxi group or Union outside the UTG.

• The United Cabbies Group have been calling for these changes over the past eighteen month, but again were also excluded from the UTG, even though they were the second largest legitimate Taxi representative group. 

After just one meeting with the new deputy mayor, the UCG were able to get the engagement policy torn up. With the new broom sweeping clean, many of the old ways are about to change.

Unfortunately, the implementation of this new batch of regulations come too late for many Taxi drivers, some of whom have lost their vehicles, lost their homes, lost their marriages, with many leaving the trader altogether. We've even had suburban drivers who have been in such a sorry state, they have taken their own lives.

WHY have we had to wait so long under the United Trade Groups's representation, for TfL to do the job our licence fee pays them to do?

It's scandalous. 


Friday, June 17, 2016

The Sean Paul Day Interviews From Russell Square.


The election will be at the next LTDA branch meeting on Tuesday, 21st June, 7pm at Newman Catholic College, Harlesden Road, NW10 3RN. 

I implore all LTDA members to attend the meeting and effect change, as the vote will be taken from those in the hall.

   

Paul Harris is one of the nominees standing for election as Chairman of the LTDA (Northern Branch).

So if you are a member of the LTDA and want a say in the future course of the Northern Branch, then please attend the meeting.

You can't moan if you're not prepared to shape trade democracy. 

   

Minicab Driver Walks Free After Despicable Sex Assault On Female Passenger.

A minicab driver has been spared jail after being found guilty of a “despicable” sexual assault on a female passenger.

Sothisundaram Soorriyakumaran, 50, picked up the 28-year-old victim from a pub in Pimlico last July and she got into the back seat of his vehicle.

The victim asked Soorriyakumaran if she could play her own music through the stereo and she got into the front of the car in Old Kent Road to do so.

The driver leaned over and began to touch her before removing his hand and driving off as if nothing had happened.

Soorriyakumaran, of Varley Parade, Barnet, stopped the car again and leaned in to the victim before she shouted at him to stop.

After apologising and saying the victim misunderstood, he asked for her phone number.

The woman gave him a fake number and called police immediately after she was dropped at the end of her road.

The Met’s Cab Enforcement Unit investigated and arrested Soorriyakumaran in Barnet on August 5.

He was charged with sexual assault and pleaded not guilty at Woolwich Crown Court on June 9.

He was later found guilty and was handed a 15 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, at the same court on June 14.

Soorriyakumaran was also ordered to carried out 100 hours of unpaid work, handed a 60 day rehabilitation order and was placed on the sex offenders’ programme for 100 days.

He also has to wear an electronic tag with a curfew for 60 day, was given a sexual harm prevention order which stops him from working as a private hire vehicle driver and was ordered to pay £3,500 court costs and £1,000 to the victim.

Detective Superintendent Adnan Qureshi, of the Met’s Roads and Transport Policing Command, said: "This was an excellent result, which has seen a perpetrator of a despicable, sexually motivated offence receive a very robust and restricting sentence.

“I urge anyone who experiences any kind of assault or unwanted sexual behaviour to report it to police immediately.”

Steve Burton, TfL’s director of enforcement and on-street operations, said: “We take any report of sexual offence extremely seriously and push for the strongest penalties for any driver caught.”

Dads Defending Daughters Call Off Demo, Out Of Respect To The Family Of Murdered Labour MP Jo Cox


Hats off to Dads Defending Daughters who have called off their proposed demonstration in Parliament square, which was set to take place this afternoon. After a meeting last night, the organisers, felt that the media would have been outraged at the taxi trade for protesting at this sad time. 

Dads Defending Daughters have today put out this statement: 

As some of you were aware, Dads Defending Daughters was planning a peaceful protest on all four sides of Parliament Square today (Friday).

With sincere respect to the family of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox, and with heartfelt condolences to her two young children, we felt it would be insensitive to stage a protest during this time of national mourning.

The unofficial gathering is officially off.

God bless,
RIP Jo Cox


Thursday, June 16, 2016

How Can TFL Allow UberPool To Continue? ... by Jim Thomas.

A few months ago, Taxi Leaks asked on the TfLTPH Twitter account if they could give a link to the legislation that allows Uber to operate it's new ride sharing Uberpool service, attached to their smartphone app.

In typical TfL style, I got no reply. 

A reply was finally given to another driver, although not as comprehensive as we would've liked.


In reply LTPH said that the transport Act 85 permits ride sharing.....Unfortunately, they failed to point out that there are certain conditions which have to be adhered to with private hire undertaking shared rides with individual payments:

Taken from the transport act 1985 on line

The conditions state quiet clearly:

2)The conditions are that—

(a)all the passengers carried on the occasion in question booked their journeys in advance; and

(b)each of them consented, when booking journey, to sharing the use of the vehicle on that occasion with others on the basis that a separate fare would be payable by each passenger for his own journey on that occasion.


TfLTPH's Twitter account completely ignores this and have posted a tweet referring to the fact that UberPool only use licensed private hire vehicles and require the specific consent of each customer involved.


We repeated the statement that each customer needs to be "pre-booked" and give their consent, we got this reply.


AND YET, THIS IS WHAT UBER TELL PASSENGERS


Then we had Managing Director Leon Daniels, educating Uber’s CEO how to circumvent the legislation telling her she shouldn't be putting this information out on Twitter
 

It's just like when Admiral Lord Nelson put his patch over his good eye and said the immortal words "I see no ships".


Uber have stated on numerous occasions, that they don't do pre bookings and in the recent Uberpool case where a young lady was assaulted by two male passengers, it transpired no one in the vehicle had ordered an Uberpool journey. 

It's alleged that this has become common practise now as the journey on the whole, is more expensive and the company draws a larger commission from the driver than single pick up journeys.  

Again we see Uber contravening regulations that should see their licence revoked, but TfL turn a blind eye and have bent over backwards to justify the fact that they licensed Uber in 2012 knowing full well they didn't comply with all the requirements necessary at that time. 

a) Uber have never taken pre booking

b) Initially Uber never had a landline for bookings, a requirement under the PHV act 1998.

TfL however continue to lie about the situation by repeatingly putting out this tweet:


 Questions that need to be answered:

Why are our orgs allowing this behaviour to go unchallenged?

Why are they not protecting the working practises of the drivers from whom they take money in the form of subscriptions?

In 2012 our representative orgs sat back and did nothing about a PH company who was illegally issued with 12 licence variations (satellite office licenses), the same week they were licensed as an operator, without first waiting the require 12 months from initial licensing as an operator. 

This same company is now allowed by TfL, to turn up at certain venues around the city of London and set up private hire ranks, fed work by openly touting clipboard men. 

Old Billingsgate, RD2 cars allowed by TfL to form rank and wait to be hired. 

TfL and their compliance teams always turn a blind eye to this particular operator, as it would seem, do our representative orgs. 

They can't even say they didn't know about this issue, because Taxi Leaks has informed them on many occasions.


Unless our orgs get off their backsides and start taking TfL to task, then the whole future of Licensed Taxis in London is in danger of dying out.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jo Bertram Quits Twitter, Over Alleged Abuse From Taxi Drivers.


Uber’s UK boss claims she's been forced to quit Twitter after being bombarded with sexist and abusive messages from taxi drivers. Bertram claimed the attacks have included one angry cabbie saying he hoped she would “get run over by a Toyota Prius”, while others have criticised her appearance including one who said she looked like Jimmy Savile. 

How terrible! But not quite as life shattering as some young ladies, who have been sexually attacked and raped by Ms Bertram's Uber drivers!

The executive, who is in charge of the minicab app across the UK, Ireland and Scandinavia, spoke about the abuse today at a “powerful women” conference being held in central London. Funny though, she never spoke about the abused of the 32 victims included in the freedom of information request, plastered over the add van, seen nightly around central London!


Ms Bertram told the Fortune Most Powerful Women event at Holborn’s Rosewood Hotel that she now gets staff to check her Twitter account as she cannot face logging into it herself. 

She was quoted as telling the audience: “If you are going to make changes there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like that change.” The biggest change in her industry is the increase of over 50% in incidents of minicab driver related rape and serious sexual assaults, reaching a record high of 154 from February 2015 to February 2016. 

She added: “Unfortunately it is probably a small group who are not representative of the group at large or the industry at large but it is important to remember that it is not personal.”


Perhaps Jo would now like to address another group of invited guests at a lavish sponsored evening at the Rosewood Hotel, namely the victims and close family members who were raped and sexual assaulted by her drivers. Perhaps she can explain what she means by the term "collateral damage".

Uber has faced frequent criticism from London’s black cab drivers, with many blaming the mobile phone app for harming business and increasing congestion on the capital’s roads.

It's clear as day that this latest stage manager speech from Ms Bertram is purely a PR exercise. It come a day after one of the firm’s own drivers called for UberPool service to be banned, after a young lady passengers was attacked by two male passengers who did not want to share their journey. 

Actually @jo_bertram Twitter account is still up and running. I've gone over the last 8 days tweets to this account and have found no abusive tweets, other than people complaining about Uber’s poor service and customer relations. 


Instead of quitting Twitter over a few tweets, perhaps Jo should consider quitting Uber over her companies woeful recorded on passenger sexual attacks.

EXTRA COMMENT...BY STEVE KENTON.
So Jo Bertram quits Twitter...........Hmmm lets see,  32 sexual assaults including rape in vehicles used as part of the uber's service......or facing abuse on twitter........which one is the more serious and which one has been supressed ?

Twitter abuse should never happen nor be condoned but the wider issue here is why are public safety issues being ignored by the media instead of this tripe?

I would love to meet with her on live radio or tv and discuss this with her live on air.....

I'm putting out a challenge to this woman:
"Meet me anytime on TV or Radio, without any prepared questions and face me. Defend your position in relation to how you find the abuse you have suffered on Twitter, far more important than the victims of sexual abuse by your firms contractors.....if you have the courage to do so".

TAXI DRIVER HONOURED BY THE QUEEN AFTER 30 YEARS WORKING TO HELP UNDERPRIVILEGED CHILDREN


A TAXI driver who has spent 30 years making a difference to the lives of underprivileged children “thought it was a joke” when he found out he was being honoured by the Queen.

Michael Son, 72, of Dulverton Avenue, Westcliff, has been selected to receive a British Empire Medal.

A committee member of The London Taxi Drivers Fund for Underprivileged Children, he has been working hard to help vulnerable children and those with special needs for many years.

Mr Son became a full time London cabbie in 1965.

In 1986 he became an active unpaid committee member of the fund, dreaming up innovative ways to raise the profile and gather much needed funds of the charity.

The fund has been in existence since 1928 and provides social activities, outings and funding for specific projects for physically or mentally disabled or socially deprived children in London.

Mr Son said: “I thought it was a joke at first. I’m absolutely chuffed, honoured. It was something I was totally unaware of and I am very grateful.

“It represents all the work everyone has done. I’m over the moon to be recognised and excited to receive it.

“We take underprivileged children to the seaside every year and try to give them a magical day out.

“A bit of my responsibility is to try and raise funds. We couldn’t do any of this without the support of our wives and partners and all the support from the taxi drivers.”

Mr Son was vice chair of the charity from 1998 to 2001, progressing to honourable executive chairman from 2001 to 2004.

During 2004 he became the special projects manager.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Letters To Taxi Leaks From Paul Sweeney And PaddyWC1. Plus Doorman Abusing Taxi Driver.


From Paul Sweeney:
This was all over social media yesterday. 
A London cabbie innocently tooted the uber minicab at a junction. 

The minicab driver then proceeded to shower the cabby with abuse. He then used his car as a tool, to try and force the cabbie off the road. 

After dangerously overtaking the Taxi, he pulled up sharp and got out, with the intent to attack the taxi and driver. 

This type of scenario happens daily, all over London. 
So what are our orgs/unions doing to ensure we get the protection we deserve?

We as a trade have to watch our Orgs/Unions arguing amongst themselves point scoring, whilst our drivers are being attacked or threatened. 

For God sake, I'm fed up having to witness trade faces point scoring or anything to do with egos. 

How about you all start acting like Adults!

I know for a fact drivers are totally fed up watching you all tear strips of each other. How about you organise together and start dealing with these uber scum bags. 

TFL and Met Police are not protecting our people. Will someone do something. The poor cabbie who had to face this attack, was just doing his job.

Editorial Comment:
Things are changing fast. The iconic image of the London Taxi driver is losing its gloss. Attitudes towards us have changed dramatically in the last few years. People no longer want a safe, well executed journey home. They are willing to compromise safety, just to save a few quid! 

Minicab drivers are becoming increasingly aggressive when we try moving them off our ranks. Doorman refuse to help keep ranks clear and in certain places, use our ranks as waiting areas for the cars that bung them for work. 

Call the police!!! forget it they don't want to know.
And as for compliance officers, they are only interested in harassing Taxi drivers for over ranking at stations while minicabs park wherever they like, openly touting.

This scene below would never have occurred 10 years ago. Doorman aggressively, protecting illegally parked/ranking minicabs.

  

From PaddyWC1:
People buy clothes made by children in primark etc so using the likes of Uber only mirrors that. Most people today I'm afraid have no social conscience or big picture mentality. They don't understand the dangers they are complicit in fuelling, until of course it boots down their door.

Just look at the Uber drivers as example, they sign up to be slaves, then start crying about how they are treated. They allow the government to use them as a tool to pull apart a 360 year old institution because of their laziness and dishonour. 

They like to be labelled victims when it suits them, thinking they have some legitimacy in their gripe. They dont just want jam on both sides but they want jam with everything.

The problem is they have created a rod for their own back, based on GREED from every angle.

We had to complete the knowledge to have the privilege to work the streets of London, its a contract and they have turned us over in a pernicious and devious way and we cant be having that.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Uber driver calls for ban of "dangerous" Uber Pool after female passenger is assaulted by two other passengers


An Uber driver has called on the company to stop its "dangerous" UberPool car sharing service after he was forced to call police when a woman was attacked in his cab.

James Farrar, the co-founder of driver organisation United Private Hire Drivers, said the problem arose when he picked up two passengers in Cranley Gardens, Kensington, on Saturday evening, who were unaware they had ordered an UberPool service.

Mr Farrar said the two young men then set upon the female passenger who was already in the car.

He said: "When I got there these two guys were aggressive, they'd not realised they were in a shared service, the user interface is confusing.

"I took a decision for my safety and the safety of the other passenger that I would not carry them.

"There was an argument, they kicked her in the back and dragged her up against the wall.

"I tried my best to defend her and they set upon me as well.

"The police came, but the main attacker had left the scene. The other guy attempted to leave the scene in a Taxi but I stopped him."

Another motorist witnessed the incident, which happened at about 9pm, and said he saw the passenger turn on Mr Farrar.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, said "I was driving in my car from Gloucester Road towards Fulham Road and when I got to the bend I saw a guy standing in front of a car with his arms up.

"I saw a commotion going on in the road. It was a black guy, a young boy, I couldn't tell if he was punching him, he was wrestling him from behind and threw him on the bonnet.

"I asked what's happened, and he said 'he's just assaulted a girl in my car'.

"I pulled my car up and approached the guy. I asked what was going on and the guy said 'nothing, nothing' and stormed away, but the police caught up with him."

Mr Farrar is now calling on the company to stop the service, and for TfL to impose a ban.

"It absolutely should be stopped," he said. "In fact it should never have started.

TfL were this would be is a dangerous service, it's dangerous to drivers and it's dangerous to the public, especially late at night."

Mr Farrar has also criticised the company for asking its drivers to sign a letter to Val Shawcross, London's Deputy Mayor for Transport, asking her to review taxi regulations and to support Uber's ride sharing service UberPool.

In the letter drafted by Uber, the company claims that UberPool has saved 124 metric tonnes of CO2 due a million passengers choosing to share a mini cab in the past six months.  

However, the figures are misleading as UberPool is drawing passengers away from public transport (buses and trains).

Mr Farrar said: "Uber must stop using the name of drivers to peddle corporate white and green wash. Uber doesn't bother to give a full accounting of its carbon emissions to independent bodies like the Carbon Disclosure Project and is now blatantly spinning the data to create a misleading picture.

"However, if Uber wants to work with drivers to secure worker rights, a cap on TfL licensing of private hire vehicles and to end UberPool and similar ride sharing services, then our door is wide open."


An Uber spokesperson said: “Londoners have chosen to share their journeys by choosing UberPool more than a million times, so we were extremely concerned to hear about this incident. We have been in contact with both the driver and passengers concerned and will assist the police with any investigation.  

“We make very clear to passengers at the time of booking UberPool that they are opting to share their journey. It has proved to be a popular new choice for people in London as it allows them to save money, while also helping to cut emissions and congestion compared to taking the trip alone.

"Drivers can also make more money by having two fare-paying passengers in the car at the same time. 

“Last week Uber gave its partners the option to sign a letter to the new Deputy Mayor for Transport to ensure the voices of private hire drivers in London are heard.

"This was completely optional and almost 9,000 drivers chose to sign that letter which pointed out the vital role they play in keeping London moving - especially at times of day, and in parts of London, where public transport is limited or unavailable.”

So there you have it only 25% of Uber's drivers volunteered to have their name, automatically added to the letter to Val Shawcross, 75% of Uber drivers don't agree with their EMPLOYERS.

Garrett Emmerson, TfL’s chief operating officer for surface transport, said: “I am extremely concerned to hear of this incident and have launched an urgent investigation.

To be honest, Garrett you shouldn't be that surprise as TfL were against MaxxiCab from the word go. Their argument was it wouldn't be safe, and yet they went on to allow Uber Pool. 
Strange that one Leon! Almost as strange as the mythical on-off insurance.

Emmerson went on to say "we will be speaking to the police and to Uber about this particular case and we will confirm that Uber are ensuring passengers are made adequately aware that they are ride sharing with strangers when they book UberPool.”

Editorial Comment:
What, no statement from Leon Daniels?
This is serious stuff and the buck sits with Leon as TfL's managing Director of surface transport.
Does he still work for TfL?
Seems to have been a bit quiet lately!

D-Day For The Taxi Trade. Trevor Merralls Speech, UCG AGM 6th June 2016.

   


The End Of The Three Amigos 
The United Cabbies Group have smashed the cartel that has kept the Licensed Taxi trade divided for the past six years and kicked the engagement policy into touch. Finally, the light at the end of the tunnel has been switched back on.

  

In a bid to save face, the usual suspects, will be queuing up for photo opportunities, with smiles like Cheshire cats. As soon as certain GLA members or a Deputy Mayor stands still, out will come a camera phone.

The exclusiveness of the 'United Trade Group' is now a thing of the past.
The UTG member orgs, agreed to and backed up the policy which saw other trade groups excluded, to the detriment of the trade. This must never happen again. 
If you ignore mistakes of the past, you are at risk of repeating them.

Two of the three constituent orgs, accepted terms and conditions of entry, that they themselves didn't meet. Plus we also had to endure eight wasted years of the LTDA's General Secretary on the board of TfL. 

'United Trade Group', a cruel joke, or just the worst description ever!

Far from Uniting, the engagement policy kept the trade divided. 
Un-minuted meetings where time after time, our so called representatives continually rolled over to TfL's proposals.

Uprising!
Years of weak representation has given rise to new, more militant groups, as drivers took it upon themselves to organise and take on campaigns, the UTG had long since given up on. 

We've seen the rise of the RMT, UCG, the Mayfair Mob, the Shoreditch Mob, Dads Defending Daughters, plus the 'SaveTaxi' Facebook group (14,500 members).

A victory for common sense.
This major victory by the UCG, on behalf of the whole trade, will see the capitulates having their power base stripped away. At last, the pages of engagement policy are being fed into the shredder where they've always belonged.
 
For the first time in six long years, all representative groups will be included in the mayors new open door policy. No more elitism, no more exclusions.

Now the fun begins as the dirty tricks brigade from discredited groups, open fake Twitter and Facebook accounts. These keyboard warriors, will troll through social media platforms, trying to discredit anyone and everything that's positive. Using anonymity, their vile attacks will be aimed at keeping the trade fragmented, playing right back into the hands of those who would scheme to destroy us. 

I read this sentence posted on a Facebook group yesterday morning:

'It's not only TfL that needs a clear out, our org's and unions could do with one also'.

Sometimes the solutions are so simple, we overlook them.

Vice Chairman Trevor Merralls, talking about Uber Bristol, UCG AGM 6th June 2016, another video not to be missed.

   

Videos from Support Black Taxis YouTube channel.