Saturday, November 26, 2016

Uber In Landmark EU Court Battle On Tuesday : Plus, Uber Declared Illegal In Bangladesh.

Uber will be seeking to convince Europe's top court next week that it is a digital service, not a transport company, in a case that could determine whether app-based startups should be exempt from strict laws meant for regular companies.

The European Commission is trying to boost e-commerce, a sector where the EU lags behind Asia and the United States, to drive economic growth and create jobs.

The U.S. taxi app, which launched in Europe five years ago, has faced fierce opposition from regular taxi companies and some local authorities, who fear it creates unfair competition because it is not bound by strict local licensing and safety rules.

Supporters however say rigid regulatory obligations protect incumbents and hinder the entry of digital startups which offer looser work arrangements to workers in the 28-country European Union looking for more flexibility, albeit without basic rights.

Uber found itself in the dock after Barcelona's main taxi operator alleged in 2014 that it was running an illegal taxi service. The case concerns its UberPOP service which the company halted after the lawsuit.

Uber says it is a digital platform that connects willing drivers with customers and not a transport service.

The Spanish judge subsequently sought guidance from the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice.

A ruling characterizing Uber as a transport service could expose it to stricter rules on licensing, insurance and safety, with possible knock-on effects on other startups such as online home rental company Airbnb.

The case has drawn global interest. The Netherlands, where Uber has its European headquarters, Finland, Poland, Greece and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) have submitted written observations that tend to support Uber.

Spain, France and Ireland in their submissions however say Uber is a transport service. A grand chamber of 15 judges will hear the arguments, with more than 200 participants signed up for the hearing.

Someone missing the UK perhaps!

The case is Case C-434/15 AsociaciĆ³n Profesional Elite Taxi.


Uber declared illegal just days after launch.

Bangladesh said yesterday the Uber ride-sharing service was operating “illegally”, just days after it launched in the capital.

A notice placed in a high-circulation newspaper by the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority told drivers not to work through the popular phone app.

“Uber, the online-based taxi service, is being operated completely illegally,” said BRTA director Mohammad Nurul Islam in the advertisement.

There was no immediate comment from Uber, which launched its on-demand car ride services in Dhaka on Tuesday saying it would help reduce traffic in one of the world's most congested cities by encouraging ride-sharing.

Uber appeared to have government backing when a junior minister said the launch was “part of our efforts to build smart cities”.

The service has revolutionised car share rides across the globe since it was launched in 2010, becoming one of the world's most valuable startups. But it has faced protests from established taxi operators in many places and been hit by a series of lawsuits and regulatory hurdles.

BRTA operations director Sitangshu Shekhar Biswas told AFP there was no “legal framework” for Uber to operate in Bangladesh.

“It can tie up with the country's two existing taxicab companies because we've fixed their rents and other guidelines. But its app cannot be used in other private cars or vehicles,” he said. 

Number of buses on Oxford Street could be slashed : Or maybe justshuffled about a bit?

London's Oxford Street has been labelled in the media as the most polluted street on earth, with 131 buses in each direction every hour. Today, Transport for London announced proposed changes to 23 routes to help deliver Mayor Sadiq Khan’s promise to remove vehicles from Oxford Street by 2020.

But here's the rub, buses won't be completely removed, instead they would be re-routed away from Oxford Street or have their routes cut short, with some terminating at Marble Arch or in Bloomsbury. Passengers wishing to travel across London will have to find alternate rout or use the underground. 

We've seen air pollution levels drop massively by over 50% on bus strikes days. So, all the clues are there!

This is a prelude to the lead up to full pedestrianisation which will happen around 2020. Shoppers worried about how they will access the top shopping street in the UK have been told to use CrossRail which is due to come on line around the same time. 

So what about the disabled and wheelchair users ?
There will be only 2 stations on Oxford street regarding CrossRail which is to be known as the Elizabeth Line, Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road. 

Well according to TfL board member Tanni Grey Thompson, she manages to get around Westfield by herself, so not interested in any campaign to allow fully wheelchair accessible Taxis access to Oxford Street....trouble is not every wheelchair user is a Paralympic athlete !

Reducing the amount of busses using Oxford street will have zero effect to London's pollution from traffic emissions as the buses will still be there, polluting other streets. The Mayor's new measure will increase congestion and pollution in the surrounding streets, a bit like sweeping dirt under the carpet. 

Leon Daniels said when the Elephant and Castle reverts back to two way working, the result will be a place people will want to be.....another Leon lie, as the result has caused a nightmare to through traffic adding to congestion and pollution.

Now we have the Lancaster Gate scheme which is causing two way 24 hour congestion along the Bayswater Road, resulting in many vehicles using side streets, which is upsetting locals with traffic noise and extra exhaust fumes. 

Sadiq Khan wants the world to know London is open.
But TfL's road network users will tell you, access to much of London is actually closing down.

Friday, November 25, 2016

UK Economy Takes Hit From TfL's Licensing Of NonDomicile Company, Fuelled by Low Paid Self-Employed On Benefits

The UK's "gig economy", powered by self-employment and casual work, is starting to hit government revenues.

TfL are a government body that has licensed a foreign company they know pays no corporation tax in this country. 
A company that relies on cheap labour, pays no NIC through hiring self employed drivers at below the minimum wage. These workers have to survive on government hand outs like tax credits housing benefits and such. 

By operating a predator pricing scheme which in itself is illegal, they are undercutting a regular trade body that has no control over its own prices which are actually controlled by parliament. 

The regular trade who all pay tax, are being forced out of the market, many will sign on and receive hand outs in the form of job seeker and housing benefits, so no longer will be contributing to the countries economy. Many businesses on the periphery of the trade, who pay tax and employ workers (who pay tax and NIC), will also go under

TfL are obliged by law to keep issuing licenses to new applicants at the rate of 600 a week, because the government refuse to impose a cap.

A group of Uber drivers have established that they were employed by Uber, which should give them some statutory rights. 
But according to Andy Chamberlain of the IPSE, it doesn't effect their tax status, which is still one of self-employed.

He said: 

"For instance the ruling on the Uber drivers last month that established that they were workers, employed by Uber, gives them some statutory rights. But it doesn't effect their tax status, which is still one of self-employed."

It's not just Uber! if you employ someone for £100,000, you pay the taxman about £13,000 in NIC. If you pay a self-employed person the same amount, the government loses that tax revenue. The loss in tax revenue for the government is not because self-employed workers are paying much less. The real differential is because the employer is no longer paying National Insurance Contributions (NIC).

No money coming in to the exchequer, but billions going out. 

Now ask yourself the question "WTF is the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on". 

Remember what Dickens said in his wonderful novel David Copperfield:

Perhaps this Christmas the Chancellor should be given a copy of David Copperfield to study for the sake of the country's economics. 

With thanks to, Johnny Hovis 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

An Offer From 'The Cab Driver' That Shouldn't Be Ignored.

This month saw another taxi protest that was not as well covered by the media as it could have been.

Several drivers have told us that over a number of these protests, they have had other drivers approached them in an angry fashion, asking them why they were working and not joining in with the protest.

The simple reason (they say) is because they didn't know about the protest. 

'The Cab Driver' understands their view, if they are not followers of social media and don't frequent taxi establishments such as green huts or the eating places used by cab drivers, then it's quite possible not to be in the 'taxi driver loop'.

Social media is a great way of getting messages around and no trade paper, especially one that comes out every two weeks, can come anywhere near social media for speed. But the trade needs to understand, we are missing a large section of the target market.

Releases to the trade press before a protest, with bullet points of what the protest is about, would also enable all drivers involved to be singing from the same hymn sheet.

Some trade organisations were telling reporters that we were protesting about Uber! Yet one driver on the radio stated "it's not about Uber, we are protesting about the incompetence of TfL".

The whole trade needs to be on the same page. 

We at Cab Drivers would be happy to publish details of these proceedings as other trade papers would too no doubt.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Steve McNamara Fails To Attend LTDA Central Branch Meeting To Answer Demands, Members Walk Out.

     Letter delivered to David Sparks at Taxi House on Monday.

Controversy reigned last night, at the LTDA's new Central Branch meeting, held at the Rugby Tavern in WC1.

As a prelude to the meeting, a letter contain g a list of demands had been taken and delivered by hand to LTDA accountant David Sparks at Taxi house. 

As their demands were serious, LTDA members had asked that General Secretary Steve McNamara attend the central branch meeting, to discuss the contents of the letter.

As the meeting convened, members were informed by the reps, that McNamara had gone to a meeting with the Clean Air For London group, and would probably not make it back in time to attend the branch. 
Members were also informed that the two reps in attendance had no knowledge of the contents of the delivered letter. 

Because of the severity of their demands, a spokesman for the members ask if the two reps in attendance could immediately contact the General Secretary and demand he attended. The two reps were then informed that the majority of members present did not recognise their positions of branch chair and branch secretary.

The spokesman also alleged that the whole election process at the last meeting held in Harlesden was bordering on illegality. 

A text was sent to Steve McNamara and he was given 15 minutes to reply. 
When no reply was forthcoming, the members arose en Masse and vacated the venue.

Taxi Leaks spoke to two attendees after the meeting, both said they felt extremely let down by the contempt shown to the branch members by the General Secretary. 


                     TO BE CONTINUED 

With thanks to London Taxi Radio.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Written Answers to 16/11/2016 Mayor's Question Time Meeting : Letter to Taxi Leaks from Caroline Pidgeon

Publication of statistics relating to sexual offences

Question No: 2016/4076

Caroline Pidgeon

In June in answer to Question 2016/1864 you stated that TfL and the MPS are currently working together to establish how to present data in a consistent format for sexual offences relating to taxi and private hire drivers and that the data will be publicly available later in the Summer.  

Please state the specific reasons why this data has still not been published and also the actual date by which this data will start to be regularly published.

Written response from the Mayor

TfL has worked with the MPS and City of London Police to collate figures for the total number of recorded taxi and private hire-related sexual offences committed by licensed or unlicensed taxi or private hire drivers for the last 12 years.


In addition, for 2014 and 2015, TfL will provide information on the number of drivers charged with a sexual offence, the outcome at court, whether the driver was licensed as a taxi or private hire driver at the time of the offence, and for private hire journeys - whether the journey was booked via a licensed operator. 


The production of this information has to be cross referenced and verified which has taken longer than expected. TfL has assured me that it will be publishing finalised data very soon.


TfL is committed to updating and publishing this data annually going forward.


Another Bad Decision Sees TfL Shot In The Foot At Windsor House Demo ...By Jim Thomas

Going by the odds against, yesterday's static demo should have been a complete disaster, but TfL tried to be too clever and ended up shooting themselves in the foot.

Many were put off by the weather, plus the demo was initially wrong footed by a certain 'Union committee member' lying, instead of telling the truth, when asked a serious question !

But even so, enough drivers turned up to make our presence felt.

Drivers and friends from Dads Defending Daughters and the Mayfair Mob, made up the bulk of the protest, which looked impressive outside Windsor House. 

We then received word, TfL had changed the venue for the meeting at the last minute, to Palestra.
Protesters jumped into a procession of taxis and were at Blackfriars road within minutes.

TfL's tactical decision, actually done us a right favour as the weather had taken a turn for the worse and Windsor House has no protection from the rain. 
Palestra on the other hand, has a portico entrance, offering shelter.

Drivers seemed in fine voice, calling for Leon Daniels to be sacked and for Mike Brown to come out and speak to us. 

Thing got a bit heated when security guards menacingly came forward, asking to whom they had to speak, to get the crowd to step back onto the pavement and out into the heavy rain. 

They were informed, "You will need to speak to each and every driver in turn, as this is not an organised demo but a spontaneous protest".

It was also pointed out, that moving backwards onto the pavement, would cause a major obstruction to the public walkway, obviously the objective. 
But the security decided to back down.

The meeting overran by an hour and first to come out was LTDA General Secretary, Steve McNamara.

He was handed a microphone to address the crowd, but what little he had to say didn't go down well and drivers, who made their feeling known by awkward heckling.

As soon as Grant Davis emerged, the microphone was taken away from Steve in mid-sentence and given to the LCDC chairman.

Grant immediately ran through the agenda to an almost silent crowd, explaining in detail what he, on behalf of the LCDC members had put to the TfL commissioner.

We've been asked not to report in too great a detail as much of the agenda is subject to an embargo, which Taxi Leaks will of course respect.

However, we can confirm that the issue of driver safety, in regards to the rear fitting of CC readers, was talked about in detail. As predicted, incidents have now started to appear and two separate cases have already been reported to Police where drivers have been assaulted, after being asked to get in the back to sort out problems with the CC reader unit. 

We were told Mike Brown has given his word that the full 32 borough (including the City of London) minicab related sexual assault statistic break-down, will be publish by next week.

Grant put it to Mike Brown that Uber had been licensed under collusion and corruption. The commissioner wanted it to go on record that he knew nothing about this, as the licence wasn't granted under has watch. By making this extraordinary statement, Brown is admitting that someone somewhere has done something wrong and he's trying to distance himself from it.
Finally Grant went through the catalogue of lies and deceit we've had to suffer from Leon Daniels, asking the question, 
"Why has this man still got a job with TfL".

Jim Kelly of Unite, slipped away unnoticed by the drivers.

A big thank you to all who willingly gave up their afternoon to attend and support the protest.

As they say, actions speak louder than words




Sunday, November 20, 2016

UCG Excluded From TfL Meeting.... Is It All For One And One For All ? Should Trade Leaders Tell Mike Brown To Jog On.

It's been announced that there is to be an "all trade org" meeting at Windsor house this Monday afternoon.

 Sadly, we've heard from Deputy General Secretary Trevor Merralls that the UCG have not been invited to the meeting with Mike Brown. 

It is completely outrageous that a truly democratic voice of the London Taxi trade, has once again been excluded from engagement with TfL. 

This is an obvious attempt once again to divide the trade.
When TfL are backed into a corner, they immediately put into practise the divide and rule philosophy. 

The commissioner's reward to orgs/unions/groups who go along with exclusion, is a seat at the engagement table, giving a false impression of importance. 

This exclusion shows a weakness on behalf of Mike Brown who appears now to be running scared. 

It's time to stand up and be counted, time to man up. 
Lets do away with this temptation by smashing the table. 

All orgs need to unite on this and tell Mike Brown it's 'all for one and one for all'. 

Future invites must be for every representative group or it's no show from all. 

It's now up to you the driver, to show your disgust with this repugnant and shambolic attempt to wrong foot our trade. 

Phone your trade representatives on Monday and ask them to attend the meeting briefly, just to tell Mike Brown to his face how the trade feels about this tactic. Then get up en masse and walk out. 

Taxi Leaks has been informed that concerned drivers will be mounting a picket-line outside Windsor house on Monday between 4:00 and 5:30 pm, asking all trade leaders to walk out on the meeting.

Trade leaders wishing to stay behind and engage will have to walk passed their members in full view or the trade, on the way out. 

All this meeting will achieve is more division along with weakened trade representation. 

This action is not about the colour of a lanyard, it's about the survival of the badge that hangs from it. 

Taxi Leaks Extra :
This from Twitter yesterday.

The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.
-Martin Luther King Jr.