Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting Launches Inquiry Into London’s Black Cabs Today

Parliamentary inquiry into the future of London’s taxi trade, chaired by Ilford North MP Wes Streeting, is inviting black cab drivers to have their say.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Taxis, meeting for the first time today, will examine whether enough is being done to protect the public, and to determine whether an overhaul of current taxi regulations is necessary.

To do that most effectively, they are hoping black taxicab drivers across London will get involved with the group over the next month. 

Mr Streeting said: “The issues facing the taxi industry in London and right across the UK need serious action, and we hope that this inquiry will add to the debate about what the trade will look like in the future. 

“I know that in London the black cab is an icon that everyone would like to see continue to serve our capital.

“We welcome submissions from Taxi drivers across the UK alongside the expert witnesses we will have contributing to the inquiry.”

The APPG will hear three evidence sessions – today’s on public safety before taking a look at the effectiveness of current regulation on March 14.

They will then reconvene on March 28 for their final session on the future of the taxi trade.

Written contributions to the inquiry can be sent to: APPGTaxi@newingtoncomms.co.uk

Unbooked, Unlicensed Minicab Warning After Woman Was Sexually Assaulted.

Wrexham County Borough Council’s Licensing Section is reminding people of the dangers of using unbooked private hire vehicles following a recent sexual assault of a woman. 

The woman was sexually assaulted last weekend by a man who approached her and posed as a taxi driver.

Reports have also been received from other parts of the country where people suffered injuries after travelling in unbooked minicabs and were unable to claim compensation because the vehicles were uninsured.

Wrexham Council’s Licensing Section are now reminding people to take extra precautions and check the vehicle is licensed before using it.

Cllr David Griffiths, Chair of the Council’s Licensing Committee said: “The only way that a private hire vehicle is legitimate is if it is licensed by the Council and is pre-booked through a private hire company. 

Uber cars licensed by TfL are not licensed to work in Wrexham 

“It is illegal for a private hire vehicle to accept custom after being hailed down in the street. Only Wrexham licensed Hackney Carriages (‘Black cabs’) are allowed to ‘ply for hire’ for business in the street.

“The Licensing Section, in partnership with North Wales Police, work actively to combat unlicensed cars picking up passengers and any report of such activity should be reported to them immediately.”

A licensed private hire vehicle will display licence plates on the vehicle and the driver will wear an ID badge and display a copy in the windscreen. All private hire vehicles in Wrexham display distinctive yellow stickers on the rear passenger windows.

All licensed drivers will have been DBS Checked for Criminal Records and DVLA motoring convictions.

A licensed Hackney Carriage will display a rear plate and an illuminated roof sign displaying the word ‘TAXI’.

To enjoy a safe journey, Wrexham County Borough Council’s Licensing Section have issued the following tips:

  • PRE BOOK– Plan ahead and always pre-book through a licensed operator, alternatively use one of the Hackney ranks in the town centre.
  • CHECK THE DETAILS – Ask for details of the car when making the booking and make sure that the driver knows the destination and the name it was booked under, when it arrives.
  • CHECK THE PLATES – Make sure that the vehicle is plated with private hire licence plates on the front and rear of the vehicle. Private hire plates are white, Hackney plates are purple and on the rear only.
  • ASK FOR ID – Ask to see the driver’s ID badge. He or she is obliged to wear this badge in such a manner as to be distinctly visible. There is no reason a driver should refuse to show this to the customer and they must have it in their possession to carry out licensed journeys.
  • DO NOT give any personal details to the driver, other than what is needed to get to the destination.
What they are saying on social media today :


It Could Only Happen In An Uber, Passenger Taken To Croydon Via Bristol...Then Charged £440

Uber passenger in London taken home via BRISTOL on £440, 240-mile trip that should have cost just £20

A MAN hoping to nip home to Croydon from Brixton ended up travelling via Bristol and was charged £440.

In a journey which should take about 30 minutes and cost about £20, Aaron Wray was in an Uber for five hours and 21 minutes after falling asleep.

Aaron Wray was shocked to wake up and discover he had been taken to Bristol

The journey took more than five hours and cost more than £400
Boozed Aaron Wray, 18, fell asleep and woke as he was heading back to the capital on the M4.

He said: “My phone was dead so I just had to sit there. I tried to ask the driver but he couldn’t really speak English. I have no memory of it stopping and I didn’t get out of the car.”

He went on a round trip of 240 miles in a journey which is only just under eight miles – and he insists he didn’t enter the wrong address into the app.

The computer science student insists the driver confirmed their postcode when he got in and believes a Bristol address was then mistakenly added. However Uber claimed the original destination was input as Bristol — where Aaron goes to university — and the driver eventually turned round after arriving at the wrong address.

Aaron only realised he had been to Bristol and back when he got his £467 receipt, which a pal later posted online. He said: “I got home at about 8am or 9am. It was all my money for a month gone. I was furious.”

The pal shared a conversation she had with him following the adventure in which he said he had woken up with two hours left of the journey.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tough New Mobile Phone Driving Law Comes Into Force Wednesday - All You Need To Know

New laws will be coming into force on Wednesday.

We've asked TfL for a statement, as to how this affects drivers using SatNavs or driver Apps. 

Could they be putting themselves at risk to a £200 fine plus 6 penalty points, leading to an eventual ban.

All we've had back so far is this tweet from TfLTPH.

We have had to get information from Nottingham and Essex Police forces. 

Basic changes are 3 points to 6 points and you mustn't so much as touch the phone at any time, while the key is still in the ignition. 

Nottinghamshire Police have warned.

New laws will come into force from March 1 which will see the penalties for mobile-using motorists double - meaning people can be handed six points on their driving licence and a £200 fine. In more serious cases, police can also prosecute drivers for careless or dangerous driving.

Since 2003 anyone caught using a mobile phone while driving faced a £100 fine and three penalt points.

Motorists will no longer be offered the opportunity to go on a driver awareness course once the new legislation comes into force.

The change in legislation can lead to an automatic ban for young and newly-qualified drivers as they could risk having their licence revoked following a first-time offence.

Police say while it has been illegal to use a mobile phone held in the hand while driving or while stopped with the engine on since December 2003, there has been a worrying shift in attitudes to mobile phone use behind the wheel.

The RAC surveyed 1,714 motorists and 31 percent of them said they used a handheld phone behind the wheel compared with 8 percent in 2014.

A spokesman for Nottinghamshire Police said: 

"Warning - the law changes in two days time.

"Don't risk the penalty points and fine, or more importantly, endanger yours and other peoples' lives for a telephone call or text message; it can wait."


Can you use your phone at traffic lights?

No. Even when you're stationary it's still classed as driving and you are still in charge of the vehicle so using your phone in traffic or at lights is still an offence.

Can you press buttons on your phone to answer/hang up a call on hands-free?

No. The phone must be secured in a holder out of the 45-degree angle of the driver's view. You can't touch it while driving.

Is it OK to answer a call while driving if your phone is on loudspeaker on your knee?

No. It's still classed as using your phone while driving whether it's in your hand or not.

Can you use your phone as a sat nav?

Yes – as long as you programme it before you start the car and set off and it's in a holder out of the 45-degree angle of the driver's view. You cant re-programme or touch it while in motion, the same rules apply for any sat nav.

Surely these new rules will greatly affect driver apps such as Uber, Gett and MyTaxi as you will only be able to interact while the Taxi/Minicab is stationary ?

What drivers have said on Twitter :

Also, Surrey police have informed us that you cannot have anything fixed or stuck to the windscreen in the areas of the wiper sweep

This means that the front Credit Card Stickers are illegally sited under current TfL directions. 

We asked TfL for a statement on this and believe it or not, this was their reply.

So there you have it from the horses mouth.... 

'The stickers should be fine!!! '
But will TfL be paying the fine if we come up against a stroppy traffic cop?

This reall isn't good enough, as we deserve to know if we are committing an offence!

This just goes to show how incompetent our licensing authority really is. 

Don't Be Disheartened ... The Fight Is Most Definitely NOT Over. By Harry Wall.

     Iain Wright MP                  Jo Maugham QC

What a week that was!

But not half as bad as Uber. Sexual harassment, cocaine use amongst employees, major investors losing confidence, Travis going a bit meltdown, tech media turning slightly, a "Delete Uber" campaign launched resulting in the loss of 200k customers and a company owned by Google is suing Uber for "Calculated theft" of it self-driving tech. Technology was apparently stolen from the company, called Alphabet to be used in Uber's own development of autonomous cars. Considering Google has invested hugely in Uber, this isn't good for little Travis and Co. 

Uber are also in the doghouse in Whitehall, it seems they are no longer fashionable amongst our right dishonorable friends. Labour MP Iain Wright has called for a boycott of Uber use in the wake of the court ruling in favour of its drivers receiving employment rights and I think he feels it's unethical to be associated with voters being exploited or shat upon in this way. 

Apparently, the number of drivers signing up to jump on the band wagon is growing daily. However, being the cynical bastard I am, I'd say it's more a case of some dickhead of a labour whip dropped a changer on Twitter whilst moaning about the absence of his Uber "taxi", the fact he's account had been hacked and he was unable to contact Uber to discuss the matter, in short a spot of damage control me thinks.

Then there's that nice man Jo Maugham, QC and founder of The Good Law Project who's launching a separate legal challenge against Uber over tax avoidance to the tune of £20m for non payment of VAT.

Never mind about 25k livelihoods being wrecked to the point  some poor souls contemplate suicide. 

Never mind the house repossessions, the marriages left in tatters due to the extreme strain brought on by Uber's hostile takeover backed by government. So long as £20m up for grabs let's get them into court. 

Remember that rainy day, "IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY"!.

When I think of how we've let this situation escalate it shames me. Every week, damning evidence materialises against TFL and Mayoral bullshit is pumped out and we suck it up and wait for a miracle legal challenge that will hopefully launch us back to days of old. Every week that goes by is a week lost to apathy. We don't have to wait for anything, we choose to because we're told we should. I know the ITAs suspension of this weeks demos is disappointing to say the least, when I was told I thought it was a joke. 

I've been told the reasoning behind it and, as annoying as it is, it makes sense

Caveats have been placed on the suspension however , so watch this space. 

I'm also assured that seeing as London is a rather large city, normal service will soon resume, I trust their judgment and I'm confident they won't let us down.

Please don't be disheartened, the fight is most definitely NOT over.

Talking of fight, I'd like to raise the subject of Tuesday's national day of action that's been organized by the Yorkshire PH/Licensed Taxi Drivers Ass. but including drivers from up and down the country in a joint effort to force change on TFL and local authorities attitudes towards cross border hiring. Throughout the country Uber drivers are leaving there licensed areas and raping and pillaging work from neighboring areas if not counties. 

It appears quite a number of drivers licensed by TFL are traveling to areas such as Liverpool and Leeds to poach work they have no right to, not that have any moral right to work anyway. Drivers from Liverpool, Leeds, Cardiff, Sheffield, Derby and Brighton have all had their lives turned upside down like us and have simply had enough. 

Last week I advocated joining in with this action but unfortunately the orgs haven't shown much interest other than to say it's an individuals choice. 

Also quite a number of drivers have dismissed the idea out of hand stating they won't stand demonstrating with private hire, only black cab drivers.

I find this a really strange attitude given the fact 70-80% of black cab drivers are quite happy to drive past a demo with work in and not give a toss about you or me giving up our time to try and save their jobs. When asked why I would be happy to stand with a PH driver, I'm ashamed to say it's because nearly 20+thousand of my own can't be f***ed about to stand shoulder to shoulder with me instead!!

Whether they're PH or Hackney Carriage they're suffering from the same disease we are, we need to go national with this and inspite of efforts made by individuals within our trade it hasn't happened. This could be the beginning of the national movement we've all been crying out for and we let pride get in the way?

You think we've got any pride after 5 years of impotence?

5 wasted years trying to reason with corporate filth incapable of any, instead of driving London to a standstill on a regular basis until they took us seriously.

We can't do this on our own, we need the rest of the country and theirs no getting away from it. Uber's woes may well continue and let's hope it implodes, but don't bank on it and even if it does, TFL will still be a threat that needs dealing with and I refer to the self governance idea I've mentioned in the recent past, it must be explored.

Recently in Liverpool, a TFL licensed Uber driver was caught poaching and subsequently boxed in, spoken to and escorted back to the motorway London bound.

That's how you deal with rats, you get rid of them.

That's the attitude we need to adopt down here instead of, what seems to be, acceptance of the inevitable. What is inevitable is sooner or later the straw will break the camels back and good people will fall foul of the law in the pursuit of their living, yet for the sake of swallowing some pride it might be avoided.

We all know Khan won't help us, we all know he's as equally full of shite as Boris

An accomplished liar as adept to handling difficult questions as he is getting selfies. 

An example of which was recently heard in City Hall when asked by UKIPs David Kurten about his "One strike and they're out" comment to the Guardian regarding Uber and their license. He said he was referring to the licensees, not the operator.

Lying bastard!

He also said Uber complied with all requirements for an operators license. 

How much more of this do we have to stand for?

This is a man earmarked as a future Labour leader and, to him being Mayor is merely a stepping stone to political stardom in his eyes. He has no interest in us whatsoever. Watch his demeanor in City Hall, he knows he's untouchable, he can do whatever he wants within reason and that includes carrying on with the planned destruction and deregulation of our trade.

The definition of deregulation is the removal or reduction of government regulation, legislation and removal of barriers to competition. 

In short, a free for all and he wants it like the rest of them.

A national fight back however, that's a different kettle of fish that none of them are bargaining for.

Please give Tuesday some serious thought, pride won't pay for Christmas.

Be lucky.

Harry Wall

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Chance To Scrap LBHF 20mph Scheme And Stop More Speed Humps.... By Brian Mooney

Briefly. When I 'signed off' last year, I didn't expect there to be an early opportunity to stop the near borough-wide 20mph speed limits that LB Hammersmith & Fulham (LBHF) has been bent on imposing.

There may be doubts in high places on the Council, as interestingly we've found that the 'traffic order' is only 'experimental' and can be reversed.

But we have only until 4 March to lodge objections. LBHF has been very quiet about how you can assert your rights on that!

To keep this note short, this page gives how to do so, with some potted arguments in case the consultation isn't fresh in your mind:

Any help in objecting and getting help from like-minded people would be
appreciated, please.

If the scheme is not scrapped, there is solid evidence that LBHF will also be eying 'enforcement measures' (more speed humps? cameras even?) at our expense. 

With my best wishes,
Brian Mooney
'No to 20mph'

Again, we see the Evening Standard can't resist having a pop at London's Licensed Taxi trade. By Gerald Coba

                    Not a word about the local resistance from residents 

The Taxi trade has been greatly affected by the new traffic system which has completely gridlocked the area at certain times of the day, adding to pollution levels never seen before. 

But the reason we are going to see a public inquiry is mainly down to the mass of complaints from local residents and businesses (BRAG), in regards to the impact and inconvenience on their daily lives

What they're saying on Twitter :

Below is their latest statement from the BRAG website.

2017 Update & downloads


A small group of permanent residents of WC1 founded BRAG in the summer of 2016 to remind our local politicians that “Residents Matter.”


We would like to thank everyone who contributed to our 2016 campaign. This was initiated in order to encourage decision-makers to re-think the controversial ‘experimental’ traffic scheme that was imposed on Tavistock – Torrington Place in November 2016 without prior public consultation.  In particular, there was no advance discussion whatsoever with residents who live at the eastern end of the corridor, who have been most affected by the displaced traffic.


We also wanted local people to be aware of the traffic flow proposals being developed by Camden Council, which will inevitably affect the daily life of a very large number of residents who live in the wards of Kings Cross, Bloomsbury and Holborn & Covent Garden.


Changes to traffic flow

The very limited and low-key public consultation on these plans led to a public meeting at Camden Offices on 10th March 2016.  This was attended by a large number of angry and distressed local residents and small traders who were shocked that such plans were being foisted on them without proper discussion. Officers seemed to be ignorant of how such proposals would have a major negative impact on residents’ day-to-day lives.


As yet, there has been no decision on whether Judd Street will be closed to traffic from the Euston Road (Ref. 3) or whether Lansdowne Terrace / Brunswick Square will be closed to northbound traffic. (Ref 4).  The decision to make Judd Street part of the Cycle-Superhighway 6 (Ref. 2) has been confirmed.


The closure of westbound traffic along Tavistock-Torrington Place will continue as a “trial” until a decision has been made by Camden’s Cabinet on whether to make this permanent, to return to what it was before, or to consider an alternative arrangement. 


BRAG’s alternative scheme

BRAG believes that a more equitable solution for the Tavistock-Torrington Place corridor should be considered, so that vehicles can continue to have a westbound route, but that cyclists should have a dedicated lane on both sides of the road in the direction of travel.  BRAG’s proposal is being considered by Camden Council, along with other feedback from the public consultation that took place on the trial scheme between 12th September and 21st October 2016.  BRAG’s Formal Response to the consultation 

BRAG’s Community Planning Day

On 8th September 2016 BRAG organised a Community Planning Day at Thenga CafĂ©, One KX, Cromer Street, WC1.  This was a participatory event that was set up to harness views from members of the local community through a series of professionally facilitated workshops and smaller discussion groups. The aim was to listen, and record what people said. People who couldn’t stay for long wrote concerns on Comments Sheets.


The Report of the Community Planning Day – which includes 31 individually written comments sheets - has been sent to Camden’s Officers and Councillors and we have been assured by Councillor Jones, at a meeting on 18th November, that its contents will be considered as part of the Tavistock Place ‘trial’ scheme consultation process.  The Report is available here


BRAG’s Public Meeting

On Tuesday 4th October 2016 BRAG held a public meeting at St Pancras Church, Euston Road in order to be able to represent residents’ views in the Tavistock-Torrington trial consultation process.


85 people signed in, the majority being local residents, with some local business owners.  Attendees included a number of taxi drivers who lived outside the local area.  A group of cycle campaigners attended the meeting, a few were also local residents, but many lived outside the immediate area and supported the tracks as a convenient way to get to central London.  Most taxi drivers and cycle campaigners left before the end of the meeting


The meeting included a powerpoint presentation by BRAG Committee members. This explained how BRAG started, gave a brief report back of the Community Planning Day, provided details of the impact of the Tavistock-Torrington trial scheme on local residents and commented on Camden’s flawed consultation process. BRAG’s alternative scheme for the Tavistock-Torrington corridor was explained with illustrations.  This proposed returning to two-way traffic, with cycle lanes on either side of the road, in direction of traffic.  A vote was held at the end of the meeting in support for the motion calling for the Council to consider BRAG’s alternative plan: 41 for the motion, 3 against.


The well attended meeting included a Q & A session, which enabled a variety of views to be expressed, with contributions from cyclists (local residents) who do NOT support the segregated tracks and from cyclists (commuters) who do.  All comments were recorded and added to the Presentation feedback, which is available here..


Local views

Several local residents have written eloquently about traffic management in London (1), the Tavistock – Torrington trial consultation process (2) and the problem of unloading for residents who live on Tavistock Place (3).

1  London is choking to a standstill (Article)

2 Torrington Place _Tavistock Place_consultation document (Article)

3 Torrington-Tavistock - Loading  Unloading (Article)


During the summer of 2016 BRAG volunteers distributed a large number of leaflets throughout the WC1 neighbourhood. The flyer introduced residents to the formation of BRAG, alerted people to the Council's plans for the area, and encouraged them to sign the petition.


Once the formal consultation process began in September, residents of Tavistock Place itself, eg Tamar House on the south side of the street, were reminded of the impact and inconvenience on their daily lives, despite the reduction in traffic along the east-west corridor.Click to view

Media coverage

 During the past six months the Camden New Journal has published a number of letters from local residents who have concerns about the Tavistock-Torrington Place trial scheme and the consultation process itself. View here

Wider resident concerns

 BRAG’s commitment to the voice of residents being heard has spread to concerns about planning applications in the area.  This has included:

  • Supporting residents from Derby Lodge in Wicklow Street who are threatened with developers building a large office block in their courtyard.

  • Writing in support of resident objections to a proposed new basement restaurant in Marchmont Street

  • Objecting to a proposal to install antennae and associated equipment on the roof of the Generator Hostel, which would cause harm to both the conservation area and occupants of Knollys House in Tavistock Place.  The application by Vodafone / Telefonika has now been withdrawn.

  • Supporting Somers Town Neighbourhood Forum who are trying to save their precious green space from being sold off by the Council for development.