Saturday, December 17, 2016
TfL Would Like To Thank All The Apathetic, Without Your Help They Wouldn't Be Able To keep Getting Away With It.
Friday, December 16, 2016
My battle with TFL started in 2008 when I was told that I had been targeted by the PCO because I sold my Taxi Emissions systems at nearly half the price of competitors and refused to be part of the cartel which rigged the price and bunged the PCO.
At that point I realised that the Judicial system was rigged and in the years since have tried every course of action possible to expose the corruption.
I have had limited success in the media (because that is controlled as well)
I concluded that the only way to expose the corruption is by a Statutory Public Inquiry (which is led by a Judge and can force witnesses to attend)
I share your reservations but feel that this is the only way to expose TFL.
A good analogy is the Phone Hacking Inquiry.
For years many celebrities and senior politicians called for a Public Inquiry into Phone Hacking.
It was only when the facts were exposed in the Judicial format of the Public Inquiry that the Police were forced to investigate. They could not cover it up any more.
Following Operation Weeting many people were taken to court; some were even convicted.
The Phone Hacking Public Inquiry in itself may not have achieved much but it did expose the improper conduct and I would think there is very little Phone Hacking taking place now.
In the same way a Public Inquiry could expose TFL.
I accept that it may take a while but if Taxi Drivers protested on a daily basis and called for an urgent and immediate Public Inquiry then it may happen.
The minute a Public Inquiry is initiated there could be a suspension of issuing new PH licenses pending that Inquiry. There could also be a suspension of the Taxi Age Limit.
There may be another way of exposing TFL but I dont know what it is.
The capitulation of Sadiq Khan when he was appointed as Mayor gives an idea of how powerful the corruption is. He made promises that he would take action yet has now been shown to be complicit.
The London Black Cab Trade are very lucky to have some wonderful men and women in their ranks. Pardon the pun ! Seriously though, we are an extraordinary bunch of human beings, with some extraordinary talent too. Indeed, our very own Fred Housego even managed to scoop the winning Mastermind trophy some years ago, just an example of what achievements some of London's finest can aspire to.
Dave Davies, is one of these people. Dave is a very passionate, committed and intelligent ally of our trade, and I have an immense amount of respect for him, and love him to bits. Dave has also been a victim of our judicial court system too, and sadly lost a hell of a lot of hard earned honest money from his wallet, trying to fight the parasites that feed from us. And I'm sure Dave wouldn't mind me saying, it was a hell of a lot of dough too.
Despite that defeat though, Dave remains a believer in the democratic system of fairness through the courts, and along with a huge amount of our other colleagues, are calling for a Public Inquiry into the management and conduct of senior officers of Transport For London. I respect Dave's and our colleague's decision entirely, but have my personal reservations. I will explain why.
In contrast, I am a very militant man. But like Dave Davies, I too am passionate, committed and hopefully as intelligent as my colleagues, but as hard as I try, just cannot convince myself that a Public Inquiry is the way forward. And although a militant stance by our trade appears to be a blur, I will tell you why I fear the democratic, judicial route.
I was still serving in the military when I got my green badge. I had worked my way up to quite a high rank and had access to intelligence that I am still restricted to share, due to the Official Secrets Act.
As you can imagine, I would rather die than betray an act that is in place, for very good reason of Britain's security. Notwithstanding, I was also an Officer in the Civil Service, a position that I eventually detested, and left way before my scheduled appointment expiry. I don't want to come across as some Walter Mitty, Dad's Army or 007 wannabe character, but as a result of this perspective, I was in a position where I witnessed the different sides of situations, both Nationally and Internationally. And what I saw, didn't impress me. In fact, the high ranking Civil Service frustrated me and disappointed me no end. In my experience, the greater majority of Government meddling, was only realistically dealt with, after last minute military or at least militant, intervention.
Due to a unhealthy respect and low opinion when it comes to Members of Parliament, Law Courts and Civil Servants, I find I am not that qualified to demonstrate my knowledge through the legal process fields. So as a result of many of our colleagues calling that a Public Inquiry is the most tangible option, I did a bit of digging around, emailing, researching and phoning . Sadly, my initial fears were confirmed, as of course, the objective of a Public Inquiry is to be forward looking and improve our trade by highlighting mismanagement at TFL.
However, there is no doubt that Public Inquiries are surrounded by paradox and problems. To me, one of the biggest problems and fears is the fact that Public Inquiries themselves are chaired and conducted under the stewardship of an ex- senior Civil Servant. The very same targets that our inquiry would align through their crosshairs ! But furthermore, in almost all of the cases I studied that were dealt with via a Public Inquiry, it were the Lawyers that came out laughing...........all the way to the bank. The costs in some of these high profile cases were absolutely unbelievable.
What worried me even more though, was that despite a Public Inquiry set up to show good intent, exposure, transparency and promote justice, a large percentage of Public Inquiries DO NOT go on to lead to improvements, and restoration of public confidence. So even if we were able to pull up enough dough to square up with these overpaid leeches, the end result isn't even guaranteed to improve our standing.
There is though, a much more valuable commodity that I fear our trade can ill afford, when it comes to taking this court room route, and that of course is TIME ! We just haven't got it, have we ? Even if we launched the Inquiry, even if we raised the obscene bill at the end of it, how can we possibly wait that long ? It took 5 years to get to the point when the poor relatives and victims of the 7/7 attacks in London reached the Public Inquiry stage. And after the inquest and at the advice of their lawyers, they were advised to drop it as they felt that a Public Inquiry would likely to be unsuccessful and cause further anxiety and distress.
One of the relatives described the legal procedures as being mentally and emotionally draining and utterly exhausting. Of course, and thank God, I realise that our inquiry wouldn't be as mentally excruciating or personally soul wrenching as the 7/7 attacks, or The Hillsborough Disaster or The Bloody Sunday shootings, but judicial court hearings have no sentiment, and for reasons of evidence gathering, witness collaboration and lawyers paperwork..............that is how long these things take, unfortunately.
Obviously, no two Public Inquiries are identical, but the lack of guidance to determine the circumstances in which a Public Inquiry should be instigated, is hugely problematic. And don't forget that clock folks, there's no stopping it, even if you take the battery out! Iv'e already tried, but it just keeps ticking ! Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick................
One of the things that stuck out to me as well when reading the Government guidance notes, was that the Government were keen to emphasise that a court room is not the place to justify a Public Inquiry, where the sole aim is to allow people to air their grievances. Furthermore, Public Inquiries have poor success results, when the evidence is backed up by sensitive and personal matters.
The very point of a Public Inquiry is to expose the truth after a scandal, huge mis-management or major controversy. Hopefully too, the Inquiry should decide who is culpable, and make recommendations to ensure that it doesn't repeat itself. Quite often as well, to provide a moment of catharsis, if not the truth in total, then at least a healing of wounds, or a public acknowledgement of a real injustice.
High Court Judge, the Rt Hon. Lady Justice Smith was the Judge who prepared the infamous Shipman Inquiry, a report and Public Inquiry on the Harold Shipman serial killings. This lady is on record as saying " If the success of Public Inquiries is judged in terms of regulations and legislation, then we cannot often claim to achieve that. Positive proposals can be very slow to emerge and even if they eventually do, they are often diluted. This is an issue of great regret regret to me."
When I saw this, and reminded myself that it would be a Senior or ex-Senior Civil Servant running the show, should we launch our own case, my fears were confirmed.
Naturally, there are exceptions of course, where a Public Inquiry has done what is says on the tin. I had a job to remember the case of The Ely Public Inquiry, until I researched it, into a mental hospital outside Cardiff, and also into South Ockendon, which were what were then known as the homes for the mentally handicapped. Both however, and as a direct result of the Public Inquiries, assisted the process to close down the awful conditions of the Victorian Asylums, and led to the introduction of Care In The Community.
There is no doubt though, that the decent and democratic process of a Public Inquiry against the ludicrous and inconsistent management of our regulators TFL, is a valid path of travel. It could even up as a groundbreaking force for the good, and exposing the lies, deceit and woeful management that we try to earn our coin around . In an ideal world, culpability will emerge as a result of an Inquiry, and retrospective action taken to deal with it.
But as i say, that is in an ideal world. Unfortunately, and as far as my 60 years on this earth has indicated, there is no such world.
I could give you several accounts of betrayal, back stabbing and nest feathering witnessed during my Military and Civil Service, but I choose not to. This wasn't by the tea boy or mail room clerk either, but by Senior Civil Servants who went on to become leading political and Government anchors. But you can see where my inherent distrust and suspicions originated from, can't you ? If you thought that Gove's display to put the knife into Boris was disgraceful, that's for babies, it is far worse than that ! Betrayal is a contagious flaw of character that has infested Portcullis House and the elite Civil Service for years and years and years.
Until such times though, I will stick to my inbuilt natural instinct alarm that has ensured my safe passage and kept my pulse beating in some extremely volatile situations in life's obscure and perilous path. I don't trust MP's or Civil Servants. I have never trusted them, and neither should I have done. I will divulge something of interest though to our colleagues who have an interest in human psychology.
Anyway, back to reality. If our trade believe a Public Inquiry is the best way forward, I suggest that it is launched without further ado, as the Great London Taxi Trade Clock is ticking it's little tickers and tockers off ! It could take years to get this inquiry into a court room, and if colleagues of ours think we have realistically got that amount of time to spare, then maybe i'm a pessimistic, wary old git !
Obviously, there is a third choice, of which I was hesitant to mention. A choice to which my heart fears could well be our final destiny. And that is........to do nothing !
If we choose that route, then rest assured folks, that with the onslaught of Uber, an untrustworthy Regulator and lacklustre representation as a trade............WE ARE DEAD IN THE WATER !!
The London Transport Museum in Covent Garden will make space for the very last London Black Cab, alongside the horse drawn Hansom Cabs, and Trams.
As mentally tough as I have had to have been through life both professional and personal, I would find it tearful and emotional I am sure, to look back at our majestic old black cab on it's WC2 burial plot, in the middle of a City that it had served so proudly. Further tears would have to be no doubt choked back, as I told my grandchildren "That's what Grandad used to drive."
There is absolutely no need whatsoever to allow the bent shysters to kill off a perfectly serviceable, proud and world famous Icon folks ! We are still the best, we are still the safest, we are still the most professional, we are still the most knowledgeable, and we are still by far the most superior Taxi service in the World, let alone London !
Dave, I love ya to bits mate, you know I do. But if we are going to defeat this mob in the courtroom, we need to get it up and running pronto ! I will of course do everything I can to help, even if I am dubious. You can count on me. I won't let you down. But one thing is affecting my day to day life like a very serious case of Tinnitus. It is the noise in my head. It's not voices, it's not God telling me to hurt people, it's not voices pretending to be the devil. No. Its neither of those noises. It's a noise that has grown so loud, that it is terrifying me. It goes...............Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick tock, tick.............and gets louder and louder each day !
Of all the things I have stopped as a professional, of all the things I have stopped as a father, of all the things I have stopped as a husband and of all the things I have stopped as a man................do you think I can stop this poxy clock ?
Be lucky all.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Uber were first licensed just before the Summer of 2012. Two years later on the 3 October, co-founder, Travis Kalanick, attended the Albert Hall no less, to deliver a presentation to 2000 senior moneymen and women, from the City of London. The audience were no fools, and many of them elite members of the Institute of Directors.
The purpose of Kalanick's address, was to persuade the financial elite, that the mini cab firm, Uber, was well worth investing in.
By and large, the audience of shrewd investors, loved him. The 36 year old Californian university drop out, convinced almost everyone that his dream to fill every country in the world with Uber cars, would effectively make owning a car pointless. After his spiel, he received a standing ovation.
Adding weight to Kalanick's claims, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne informed the assembled IOD members, "clearly the economy is growing, unemployment has fallen sharply and business investment has picked up".
The brief was huge, the possibilities endless and the dream was rapidly becoming real. Travis Kalanick's motto was, "Win at all costs", and up until now, Travis has proved that he was and is, no slouch. He is on record as quoting " When I push a button, something in the world will move !"
Arrogant ? Egotist ? Bully ? Over confident ?
I suppose it depends on where your dollar is invested.
One thing is for sure though, Travis Kalanick is a very clever man when it comes to getting a few quid, and it would be foolhardy to underestimate a player of his calibre, in any financial arena. One thing he did say at the event though, was that he would aim for 100,000 Uber cars to be in London by 2018.
As I type, I have no idea of how many of the 600 mini cab licences issued EACH WEEK by TFL, are intended for use with Uber cars, but my guess is it would be a large percentage. However, Uber's mammoth targets were not just about raising finance, they also had to overcome many many different rules, regulations, cultures, criteria and licensing.
Some countries stood firm against the Californian's plans to take over transport responsibility, and banned him immediately. Other countries however, welcomed him in with open arms. Uber's invitation at the Royal Albert Hall that spring day, was to decide if London would take the Californian's dream of perfect travel, or stick with the world award winning Taxi service, that it already had.
If you wanted to buy a licence to drive a mini cab in London today, the Regulators, Transport For London, would charge you about £250.
If the Californian's dream of putting 100,000 Uber cars onto London's already massively gridlocked streets is anywhere near realistic, that would net TFL an awful lot of dough. In fact, it would earn them around 25 million pounds !
On a cold November morning at 06.40 in 1983, staff at Unit No 7 of the International Trading Estate in Heathrow, were just preparing for a night shift rosta change over. Unit No 7 belonged to International Bullion Dealers Brinks Mat. Unbeknown to the staff, six armed robbers, wearing hats, gloves and balaclavas, had pulled right outside in a Transit van, and using essential inside information and highly sophisticated codes, made an unexpected and swift entrance.
Initially believing there was three million pounds in the vaults, the robbers poured petrol over the guards, and produced a box of matches. Looking at the determined eyes of the robbers through slits in the balaclavas, the terrified guards were forced to reveal both parts, of a two part code, to access the huge bullion safe. Acting in sheer terror, the guards tapped the codes into the safe's locking system and the firm from South East London, were in !
Once inside, the gang were overwhelmed to find that rather than the three million pounds that they had come for, there was instead a pallet full of 7,000 solid gold bullion bars, stored in 70 cardboard boxes. The heist was labelled "The Crime Of The Century" as the baffled Met's Flying Squad revealed that the gang had escaped into thin air, with 3 tons of gold bars.
The value ?................26 million pounds!
When Travis Kalanick offered to put 100,000 Uber mini cabs into a City that already boasted the best Taxi Service in the world, London Black Cab drivers could have been forgiven for taking the American's plans with a pinch of salt. After all, not only were Uber unable to comply with much of the licensing criteria of a mini cab Operators Licence, but logistically London could no way make room for 100,000 mini cabs !
It was a ludicrous suggestion. The streets and roads of London are still cobbled in many places, demonstrating the lack of change and infrastructure investment since Queen Victoria. Roads, streets and alleyways, unchanged since the Hansom Cabs of our forefathers, expertly navigated the capital, just as we do today.
Sadly for my great trade though, and sadly for my wonderful London that I was born in, the temptation of the pallet of gold bars from California, was too good to turn down by Cameron, TFL and City Hall. Licensing 100,000 Uber mini cabs was going against every sound principle of sensible logistics, infrastructure foresight and LAWFUL criteria, totally.
Despite Uber being unable to satisfy certain lawful licensing criteria that would apply to everyone else, the draw of a blag just slightly short of the whole of the Brinks Mat Gold Bullion Robbery amount, would be just too much to turn down from our Government and Regulators.
TFL had to ask themselves many important questions though.
Such as.....surely a landline wasn't that important?
Surely we were being over zealous demanding a London Registration Address ?
What does it matter to us if Uber pay either none or the very minimum amount of tax after fleecing London dry ?
It's no problem of ours if Uber are not accurate in what service they are, ie transport or technical services, is it ?
Now come on, a mobile phone is just as good as a Customs & Excise sealed and calibrated taxi meter, surely, isn't it ?
The topographical London Knowledge exam is old hat, for Christ sake! Anyone can safely navigate around London with a half decent smart phone or sat nav, can't they ?
OK, granted, it will be hard for Travis to recruit 100,000 Uber drivers with no criminal form, all fit and health and upstanding members of society.
But just ease up on the entry qualification and criteria, let's stop being so over the top, shall we ?
Wheelchair accessibility ?
Not to worry, the infirm and disabled will just have to use other forms of transport. It's no biggy is it ?
Choice of vehicle ?
No, don't bog Travis down with that. He's too busy, don't keep driving him mad. Let him use any car that he wants. He's not silly. Can't we let him just get on with it ?
Not registered in the UK ? So what ? Loads of Companies are registered overseas, aren't they?
The potential of the Californian dream of Travis Kalanick will be and is, an enormous detrimental threat to the very existence and heritage of the Great London Black Cab Trade. With extremely strict criteria of licensing, we are indeed very rigorously controlled. It is nigh on impossible to compete on a level playing field financially, if your vehicle, meter, criminal record checks, medical checks, topographical knowledge standard, personal deportment and access of vehicle wheelchair requirements are written in stone, as your competitor imposters are subject to none of the above.
Cameron, City Hall and TFL were only too happy to take the whizz kid's dollar., regardless of the professional casualties and traditions it would drag to death with it. The tragedy of it all though, is that Uber were just not needed in the first place. Contrary to what a senior TFL Officer openly stated, it WASN'T what the public wanted ! And neither did London want it ! Does London need MORE Buses ?
Of course not ! And neither did they need Uber mini cabs !
The London Cab trade have managed very well all of these years without them. Mini cab outfits such as Addisson Lee have also serviced customers who wanted an alternative form of transport. Uber were not required. So why were so many LAWFUL breaches of licensing criteria literally torn up and shredded for Uber ?
Why was the Californian's dream so welcomed and so easily accommodated in the first place ?
We can only assume folks. But my guess is simple. If Micky McAvoy and Brian Robinson had realized in 1983 how easy it was to earn 25 million pounds without upsetting the Flying Squad, then maybe they wouldn't have ended up with a 25 stretch each, after all.
Travis Kalanick was only seven when the Brinks Mat firm parked the Ford Transit van outside Unit Number 7 on that cold November morning at Heathrow. I bet that even at that young age, he would have known that you didn't need balaclavas, hats, gloves and petrol to earn your wages and keep the wolf from the door. An office, a desk, and a smart business suit, were a much more appropriate attire.
It's simply about, what you know, who you know, and persuading them to be in the coup with you ! You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours ! It's really not that hard when you think about it...................is it ?
Be lucky all.