Saturday, January 21, 2017

Anyone Can Hold The Helm When The Sea Is Semtex.

There was a hell of a lot to learn about the Great London Cab Trade this week, and not just regarding our access to the Bank Junction.

When I stood on the steps of the Royal Exchange on one of our turnouts last week, a chap wearing a suit asked if I knew what it was all about. After explaining to him, his reply was " Well there is work all over London for you guys, why worry about this little bit?"

But the truth is, its not about 'this little bit' is it ? Excluding us from a central hub of the City of London, is merely the thin edge of the wedge. It is also I believe, part of the game plan structure to starve our trade into extinction.

This is not about my personal paranoia or our trade being dramatic, Transport For London without doubt, want shot of us. For good.

Once the Bank Junction is won for them, then it will be Tottenham Court  Road, then Oxford Street, then the whole of the City, then Knightsbridge..................until 25,000 of us are hemmed in around Soho, starving to death.

So the Battle of the Bank Junction this week, was far more than a group of sulking cab drivers, whingeing about petty infringements and the threat of losing 'this little bit.'

For me though, the one major point that came out of all this week was how impotent some of our trade organisations were, in a call of trade emergency.

And for reasons stated above, the Bank Demo's may not have appeared as an emergency, but history will prove that it certainly was.

The thing that I found so poignant and symbolic though, was watching our staunch, passionate Irishman friend, (who's name I have deliberately held back,) go onto the pavement and rally the troops in a display of heart, passion, spunk and commitment. The faces of our colleagues looking up to him, rallying and applauding, choked me up for several reasons.

One of the reasons of course, is that our impromptu understudy 'leader' just jumped in and took up the helm. He wasn't asked to. he hadn't been elected to, but he just did it. He did it because he saw the cavernous gap that has somehow shown its gaping void, in a battered trade who have decided that enough is enough, and in the absence of a General, chose to lead themselves.

In all the time I have had my badge, never have I seen a display of self preservation and fight back from rank and file drivers, as I have seen at the Bank Junction this week.

The officially unrecognised special forces of the Independent Taxi Alliance, Dads Defending Daughters and the great Mayfair Mob, using word of mouth, secret codes and tungsten camaraderie showing the way forward, and displaying that it is themselves who are the Pathfinders and future of our survival.

What interests me so much though, is that our trade is known for having so many 'Leaders', when the waters are calm.  There are miles too many trade representation organisations for a mere 25,000 membership, yet when the call went out for a red alert deployment............the vacancy for a  Brigadier was worryingly apparent! The silence was deafening.  And it took a rank and file colleague and one of our own to stand proud, jump up to the plate and take the helm.

Could you imagine the same sort of thing happening at an RMT rally when the late Bob Crow was alive ? Can you imagine a face coming out of the crowd and upstaging Bob's rallying speech ? Don't spend another second considering it.

But it happened at the Bank junction in our trade this week, simply because there was nobody else willing to do it.

 I don't want to waste time and damage trade morale in slating Trade Orgs and drivers who work when the rest of us are fighting, but to me, these acts speak volumes for us all and our future, if we are to have one.

Whatsmore, looking at the crowd gathered on the pavement as our Irishman mate captivated the crowd, one could have been forgiven for thinking they were viewing footage from a demo long gone. But no, your eyes were not deceiving you, it was indeed the same faces, the same supporters and the same trade loyal fighters, that are there time after time after time.

The trade small fry showed the big boys how it should be done this week, and have nobody to thank for their success, but themselves. They did themselves proud, they did us all proud.

On another good note, it is good to see that our trade ally and RMT's Taxi Branch Secretary, Lewis Norton has secured a meeting with the City of London for some 'dialogue', in the wake of our Demo's.

Regular readers of Taxileaks will know my opinion of dialogue, but I must admit, that it would be foolish to turn down this offer.

However, and Lewis will not need me to advise him I'm sure, that the planned dialogue needs to be constructive with genuine and wilful intent for our trade's benefit when dealing with the hierarchy.

We as a trade know only too well in our history, that 'Dialogue' can very easily be traded for blah, blah, blah, waffle, spiel and empty promise.

The biggest fear for me, and a ruse that has so often been cast upon our trade, is that the offer of dialogue isn't used as an Operation Mincemeat deflection trick.

City Hall and TFL need to be monitored and overseen by the cab trade's covert surveillance teams, to ensure that no activity is deployed from the back door, as we attempt to work out a deal at the front.

So many times in the past have our regulators have chucked out a mackerel for us to concentrate on, and then clobbered us with another pasting, when our eyes were on the dummy ball. TFL and City Hall don't abide by the rules of cricket and are well known for tactical deception strategies and suspicion.

So far so good then, we shall have to see what awaits us. I bid our colleague Lewis Norton well in the meeting and hope our trade gets the access that we trained and qualified for.

If not, I'm certain that our 'special forces' will have no problem deploying again, and again, and again, should be feel that we are being abused and bullied further.

Well done to our ITA, DDD, Mayfair Mob and the battalions of leaderless colleagues this week. It shows what can be done when we try.

To all of our 'Leaders' out there the message is simple...........Anyone Can Hold The Helm When The Sea Is Calm !

Be lucky all.

8829 Semtex.

BANK JUNCTION TAXI EXCLUSION UPDATE : City of London Peace Talks Announced... By Jim Thomas

For five days, the passionate driver led coalition of the Independent Taxi Alliance (ITA), with little or no support from the leadership of our largest org, led the police around the City on a cat and mouse chase. 

They said Taxi drivers couldn't win anything on their own, but they were wrong. 

You'll never win they said!
What's the point in fighting ?
What's the point of demos?
Ignoring a problem will never make it go away!

We all remember what the late great Bob crow used to say:
"If you fight, I can't promise you will win, but if you don't fight, I promise you this, you will always lose". 

Yesterday afternoon, at the completion of a week of demonstrations, Bob Crow's Union, the RMT, put out this statement:


RMT have pursued dialogue with City of London regarding the ongoing dispute over Bank Junction.

The branch has successfully managed to secure a meeting with the corporation.
Details to follow.

In solidarity
Lewis Norton

Branch Secretary. 

This is not the ultimate victory. 
It's not the definite win...

Without the fight, the standing shoulder to shoulder, the turning up day after day.... we had no chance. 
But now we have that chance, and it's all thanks to you who cared, you who believed, you who attended. 

It's not what's in your pocket today that matters, but what's in your heart for the future.
Its not about me, it's not about you,  it's about us and our future, a future together. 
And now, we're in the race, we have a chance of wining 

       Warning strong language

Video by London Taxi Radio, artwork by Laura Henderson 

Friday, January 20, 2017

London Taxi Protests : End The Traffic Khanage With A Public Inquiry Into TFL... By Dave Davies

Thousands of London Taxi Drivers have been forced to protest on a daily basis by the continued improper and unlawful decisions of TFL and Sadiq Khan.

There have been many failed and improper policies of TFL resulting in congestion and thousands of deaths from air pollution in London.

The GLA Transport Committee issued a statement yesterday acknowledging the serious issues of congestion which in turn creates toxic air pollution.

The simple common sense information which has been sent on a regular basis to The Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Transport, Assembly Members, Politicians and Parliamentary Select Committees by the Campaign for Air Pollution Public Inquiry for many years has been completely ignored.

It is not rocket science or even science to understand why there is congestion ; it’s simple common sense.

TFL have issued Private Hire Licenses at the rate of 2500 a month for a long period of time without proper checks or regulation to the point that there are now 120k Private Hire drivers in London.

It is a widely acknowledged fact that in the Private Hire industry that once a license has been issued it is often shared with others who are not licensed , sometimes a group of drivers will share a license meaning that a vehicle is on the road 24/7. TFL are not carrying out any enforcement checks of  significance which means that the unlicensed driver situation can continue unchecked, a fact that is proven by recent accidents where this has been exposed.  This means that there could be double the number of drivers that are actually licensed , a staggering 240k vehicles on the road.

But it is not just the fact that there is a massive number of vehicles on the road which is causing congestion. It is the fact that TFL have issued licenses to drivers without checks or without enforcement which means that people who have a less than basic understanding of  the English Language and therefore cannot understand road signs and traffic signs and who do not even have adequate basic driving skills are able to be given a Private Hire License and drive a vehicle in London.

The result is a massive number of traffic incidents ranging from serious accidents causing deaths to incompetent drivers ignoring all traffic regulations by parking on red routes , yellow lines, pedestrian crossings, taxi ranks  or absolutely anywhere they feel like. 

They ignore No Entry Signs and One Way signs all of which can completely stop hundreds of vehicles. Traffic flow has been reduced by the tens of thousands of improperly licensed drivers who don’t care that they have broken the rules because they have nothing invested in actually obtaining that license. Easy come easy go.

Because there is no proper regulation or enforcement they either do not get reported or prosecuted for breaking the rules or if they are reported they are probably not even traceable; how do you prosecute someone who has used fake documents or details to get a license in the first place or if the person driving is not even licensed?

All of this confirms that TFL have failed in their Duty of Care to protect the Public and failed in the basic principles of Public Law.

The MOST IMPORTANT principal to understand is the amount of pollution caused by congestion.

The graph below shows that more than 90% of pollution is caused when vehicles are stop starting.

If you can halve the amount a vehicle is stop starting then air pollution of all vehicles can be reduced by 45% instantly.

This is far more effective than small incremental changes which take place over a long time suggested by other policies

Another Day, Another Demo, Another Success.

Again, yesterday afternoon, rank and file drivers answered the call and assembled at the Bank Junction, despite another section 14 being slapped on the peaceful protest, limiting a static demonstration to just 30 minutes. But at 3:30, plan B was put into action. 

The police tried to preempt the demonstrator's plans and reports were being received that groups of motorcycle cops, with flashing blue lights, had been dispatched to both Tenison Way and The Old Street roundabouts....but again, the police were out manoeuvred by the protesters. 

Apparently, plan B had been kept off social media. Drivers were all instructed by word of mouth, to leave the junction and slowly make their way over to London Bridge.

Southbound lanes soon ground to a halt and using the station forecourt, drivers doubled back around, with the northbound lanes soon becoming gridlocked. 
Drivers who chose to ignore their colleagues and look for work at the station, were caught up as the station forecourt  seized up, trapping Taxis on the rank. 

TfL's centre coms managers, frantically tried to re-phase the lights to empty traffic from the bridge, but in true TfL fashion, they just added to the chaos. 
Funny that, we've had months of congestion on this bridge, yet they just left commuters sitting there, as the bus lane was moving well.

They said it couldn't be done! 
Day 4 Taxi trade 4 City of London 0...

Trade orgs who refused to support this week's demos have shot themselves in the foot as drivers are now looking at private legal cover (£8 a month) which could see their membership fall. 

After all, why belong to an org that refuses to support its own members!
It was their drivers who turned out every day, lanyards of all colours and even diaries on dashboards. Well done to those who turned out on these highly successful demos.

On day 3, the protesters out manoeuvred the Met and managed to get the Bank Junction closed, even though they held their demo elsewhere. 

A spokesman for the driver led ITA said:
"Tomorrow will be the last demo in this series for a couple of weeks. This is to enable drivers who have taken a huge dip in takings this week, to go back to work and earn a living. 

"In the words of a great leader of men, General Douglas MacArthur, WE SHALL RETURN."

Thursday, January 19, 2017


Over a decade ago, London led the world by introducing a Congestion Charge in the centre of the city. The scheme has proven successful, keeping a lid on private motor traffic and creating new space for buses, cyclists and pedestrians on the busiest part of our road network. Congested cities around the globe looked to London as they considered how to tackle the gridlock on their own streets.

However, congestion has begun to increase sharply again, and not just in central London but across the capital. Traffic has slowed down and road users are spending longer stuck in delays. Buses have become so unreliable that usage has begun to fall, after many years of growth. The causes of this change are complex and multiple, as our investigation has identified.

What is clear is that the current Congestion Charge is no longer fit for purpose – it is a blunt instrument using old technology that covers a tiny part of London. Fundamentally, vehicles should be charged according to their impact on congestion. Charging a daily flat rate to enter a zone may discourage some people from using part of the road network, but

this approach is failing to target vehicles spending longer on the roads, at the most congested times, and travelling in other areas where congestion is high.

We recommend in this report that the Mayor should make plans now to introduce road pricing in London. This idea has long been discussed, but until now the political will to make it happen has been lacking. Delaying further is not an option. There are a number of options for how this happens, which TfL will need to work out, including the geographical scope, monitoring technology and integration with Vehicle Excise Duty and the Mayor’s emissions charges. In the interim, immediate reform of the existing Congestion Charge to target it at journeys causing congestion would be worthwhile.

There is a range of other measures that could also help to tackle congestion. The Mayor could do more to reduce the impact of roadworks, strengthen the on-street response to major traffic incidents, and encourage Londoners to receive personal deliveries in more sustainable ways. However these measures alone will not be enough to tackle London’s congestion problem

So what drives me? .... By Lee Ward.

I am sure that the regular readers of Taxi Leaks have noticed that I have supplied posts to this platform, but I have never explained why.

Let me give you a little background to myself first.

I have been in this industry for over 20 years, I started as a weekend telephonist to supplement my income as a new father, that went on to dispatching by voice (the good old fashioned way) and then by computer. This lead me to be a qualified Taxi/Private Hire driver and have held this badge with the Sheffield City Council ever since.

During this time, I have also been a part of the management team of two of the largest Private Hire companies in this are, Mercury and City (450 and 1000 cars respectively) and between these two posts I owned in partnership a company we called Phoenix (started with 4 cars and built it up to 180)

I am now back as a full time driver.

So why did I start this crusade that I find myself on morning noon and night?

Very simple, I found myself in a dark place, a very dark place....

The industry has been very good to me, it has provided for my family and myself, it has given me friends for life and it taught me a few good lessons in life, but it left me...

It left me when I could not make the living I was making.

It left me when I had to say NO to my wife and kids basic requests for simple things.

It left me when I worked on a day to day basis to pay bills and put food on the table...

It left me and I wanted to leave this world, thats how dark that place was that I was in.

I would have probably gone to that place too, if it was not for the ever present thought that my wife and kids would be distraught and with nothing at all coming in, not even what little I was providing, and the thought that if I went to that dark place and did what those little voices were saying to do.... my mother would have fooking killed me !!!!

So I looked at that dark place and stared at it and searched in that recess what it was that had done me in such a way to make me have these thoughts and feelings, and the more I looked, the deeper I searched, I found it... and it was not me that had brought me to this, or even made this dark place I looked, it was this government, and all the authorities that continually shout out that they are their for public safety...

I understood that, I totally got it, but...but what about my family and myself? what about OUR safety?

What about us having food, having heating, having clothes?

Is that not safety also?

Is that not a part of why I pay my license, so they can police the industry that I am in?

I guess not...

So I decided that my dark place was going to be my driving force, and thats why I do what I do....

I do it because I am proud, I do it because I have responsibilities...

I do it because I love this industry...

And I do it for ME....

I may be a small fish in a big pond, but a lot of small fish together are a dangerous thing....Piranha spring to mind...

And as for the house brick through my family home's window, if you are reading this 'boy' thats not going to stop me just fuels me.

As Eminem said...

Yeah, it's been a ride
I guess I had to, go to that place, to get to this one
Now some of you, might still be in that place
If you're trying to get out, just follow me
I'll get you there......................



Blockade at the bank Day 4 : New Day, New Plan.... By Jim Thomas

After the police slapped a section 14 on the Demo at the Bank, organisers decided to throw a curve ball in retaliation to the 30 minute restriction and changed the venue for day 3 to Parliament Square. 

The Met Police had already put into operation restriction around the Bank Junction and were left red faced as no one turned up. At first they thought they had beaten the protesters but it soon became clear, the boot was on the other foot. 

Westminster was gridlocked for best part of an hour till the traffic police turned up. They then made a catastrophic mistake in funnelling the Taxis over Westminster Bridge which unbeknown to them added the procession of taxes to their preordained second target... the Waterloo IMAX round about. 

Waterloo bridge soon became gridlocked along with Westminster. York Road was proper engines off and north of the river the Aldwych tailed back into the City's square mile. 

Again traffic cops turned up and tried to disperse the protesters by waving them back across Waterloo bridge. 

The convoy then moved on to the third venue, again hitting the Rotunda at London Wall before the signal was given to disperse for the day. 

Then came the bully boy tactics. As they had been given the run around, some Met officers were telling drivers "you are being filmed, and if you are filmed in multiple locations tomorrow, TfL will prosecute you". 

This is a ridiculous statement as this is exactly what Taxi drivers do....they ply their trade in multiple locations every day... this scaremongering doesn't hold water, and (so I'm told) today, the fight goes on. 

 On the City Police Website last night, they said: 

"Conditions for the Taxi demos are in place to limit the disruption across London and to ensure emergency vehicles can access all routes." 

So far, they haven't issued a new section 14 limiting the time of assembly. 

The ITA Twitter account have broken their silence tonight to confirm Demo will take place at Bank Junction at 3pm on the dot. 

Tanni Grey Thompsom says sh will raise this issue on behalf of disabled passengers. 

Editorial Comment :

It is now widely believed that the proposed ban traffic at the Bank Junction has a hidden agenda and is not to make the junction safer. 

Safety has nothing to do with the restrictions, if that were the case, then Buses and Cyclist would have been banned. 

It's alleged this experiment is being forced on London to facilitate the movement of construction trucks and heavy plant, while work takes place as two massive skyscrapers are being erected. 

It's also alleged, heavy plant and lorries are to be issued permits, enabling them to use the Junction while other traffic apart from buses and bikes will be excluded. 

So far, the demos have been an overwhelming success. Taxi Leaks has been informed that further action is being planned to continue in to the next couple of weeks.    



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Bank Junction Blockade Day 3 : Plans Kept Off Social Media Leaves City Police In The Dark.

It gets worse!.... By Dave Davies.

The Planning and Transport Committee have given permission for two massive sky scrapers, just a couple of hundred metres away from Bank Junction.


Chair of the committee, Chris Haywood, claims Taxis are to be banned from  Bank Junction for safety reasons???

Giving Planning consent for these two new skyscrapers in the city, will create hundreds of construction vehicle movements for HGVs -the very vehicles, allegedly responsible for killing the most cyclists and pedestrians that he is claiming to protect.

There will also be 22k employees working in the two Skyscrapers plus additional visitors just 200m from Bank Junction.

Surely the City of London should be looking to create a safer Transport environment, not make it worse?


How is that Chris Hayward -who states he is not paid for the role as Chair of the Planning and Transport Committee but does it for ‘honour- is responsible for Planning decisions for hundreds of millions of pounds?

Surely there is something not quite right here when the decisions appear to be this unreasonable?

Yesterday's demo, a massive success even in the event of a section 14 limiting the "static protest" to just 30 minutes, drivers moved on to two other venues and held out for over 3 hours.

A rolling protest by black cab drivers brought large parts of the City of London to a standstill during rush hour.

Following a 3pm protest at Bank junction on Tuesday afternoon - as part of an ongoing row over its planned closure to cars - the taxis travelled to Old Street for an unplanned demonstration.

The busy Old Street junction was grindlocked until it reopened shortly after 5pm, when there were reportedly delays of up to an hour, with motorists advised to avoid the area if possible.

The protest then moved on to London Wall, where delays of up to 40 minutes were reported, before it came to an end.

Something's going on at Old Street Roundabout.....

Black cabs descended on Bank junction at 3pm as part of a five-day protest, with further protests planned for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

They are protesting against proposals being considered by the Corporation of the City of London to restrict vehicles, including licensed taxis, being granted access to the junction.  

Old Street Roundabout is busy...

Only cyclists and buses will be able to use the roads once the 18-month scheme starts in April.

Superintendant Helen Isaac of the City of London Police said: “Whilst we have not had any direct contact from the organisers, we are aware of plans posted on social media for a demonstration in Bank junction in January and plans are in place to facilitate such an event.

They're at it again outside Museum of London. Illustrating perfectly how too many taxis are clogging up our streets.

"We are keen to work with the organisers and would encourage them to get in touch with us.

“A robust policing plan is in place to ensure that timescales are adhered to and disruption is kept to a minimum

Source : The Evening Standard. 

Major Victory For The Taxi Trade, Over Who Can Call Themselves A Taxi..... By Jim Thomas

Seems a Minicab company can no longer pretend to be a Taxi!
Well done to everyone who made the effort to put in a complaint to the ASA, after it was shown Addison Lee had changed the heading on their download sites for their minicab app. 

Well Done to Advertising Standards Authority who have told Addison Lee to remove the WORD TAXI from Addison Lee's advertising as they are Private Hire and not Taxis. 

             Info not on the ASA website yet.

The decision shows just how inadequate and incompetent TfL are as licensing administrator. We've known for a number of years that TfLTPH have been biased against the Taxi trade and have relaxed regulations in respect of Private Hire minicab operators. In extreme cases they've even turned a blind eye. 

Drivers complained about Addison Lee to the @TfLTPH Twitter account and were told by the account operator that Addison Lee were right to call themselves Taxis. No other explanation was given and on investigation, no one at TfL was willing to put their name to the statement released.

This isn't the first time TfL have taken a soft approach to Addi Lee's contraventions. Recently all charges against the RugbyLee Workd Cup Livery were been dropped.

Again it appears we have a licensing authority who refuses to enforce its own regulations when it comes to private hire matters, and yet enforces vigorously all regulation when it comes to Hackney Cabs. 

The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld the regulation set down in the Private Hire Act 1998 which clearly states that Private Hire Operators and Derivers can not use the words Taxi, Taxis, Cab or Cabs in any form to advertise for trade. 

This should have gone no further than the original complaints sent to the TfLTPH Twitter account, their inaction and statement which followed was scandalous. 

Addison Lee have now changed the wording on their App download adverts 

It seems that Addison Lee are ashamed of their lowly roots and still refuse to call themselves a minicab firm or a a Private Hire operator. Apparently, they prefer to label of Personal Car Service. 

For those who can remember Addison Lee made a complaint in 2012 against Radio Taxis Ltd for making a statement that they were the "World's first carbon neutral Taxi company - Taxis that don't cost the earth". The complaint was only upheld in part. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Bank Junction Blockade, Day 2 Another Resounding Success.... By Jim Thomas

After the success of Mondays protest, the City Police decided to try to scupper the moral of demonstrators by making a new caveat to the section 14 and reduced the time allowed to just 30 minutes. 

But instead of breaking the spirit of the drivers, it had the opposite affect making them more determined to put the message across. 

Police had no liaison with the organisers who were getting the message to the drivers by word of mouth. As the demonstrators were ordered to disperse, another venue was given out and the protest became a rolling ply for hire moving on up to Old Street round-about. 

Traffic was light but the area soon came to a complete standstill as thousands of Taxis changed destination. 

By 5 o/c traffic police had turned up on motorbikes and imediatly directed cabs away from the round-about. It soon became clear to the police that a third and forth venues had gone out to the troops. 

Those who could, made their way back to the Bank, while others made their way to the London Wall Rotunda. 

Well done to the drivers who again have answered the call, fighting the fight for the trade to retain access to the Junction at the Bank. 

Before the drivers dispersed, organisers gave out details for tomorrow, with nothing put out on social media, the police left in the dark. 

Amazing turn out today with larger numbers expected tomorrow 

"A spokesperson for the ITA said:
Today has been a great success inspite of the attempt by old bill to scupper the protest. 

"Today has been a major success for the ITA, our biggest and best demo so far. We expect even more drivers to attend tomorrow and are confident in getting the message across to the Corporation of London.

"Also we would like to make it perfectly clear that the ITA is completely independent of all the trade orgs and that no org or union committee members have anything to do with our actions today."

It's now 6pm and just been told the drivers have been informed to go back to work. 
Mission accomplished. 

One thing that's come to light during these protests at the bank is the ease in which the traffic has been cleared when the demo starts to disburse. The phasing of traffic lights has been altered to aid traffic flow.

We believe this is evidence that TfL and the Corparation of London have been artificially adding to the chaos on London's streets to push forward their own agendas. 

Are TfL responsible for corporate manslaughter with thousands of extra needless and  preventable deaths cause by the pollution from the congestion they are causing to further their own agendas ?

Once again TV news media blanked the Taxi protest.
Fake news stories have already started surfaced in advertorial publications, trying to lead the story down other avenues, in a bid to big up major advertisers.

Eventually agendas will be exposed and the whole truth will comes out. Hopefully in court.