Friday, July 21, 2017

Uber Concerns For The Trade From Wycombe .... By Lee Ward.

I wish to discuss and highlight the information that I received from Caroline Steven who is the Licensing Team Leader for Wycombe.

Caroline replied to an email that I sent out nationally informing me of the following;

Dear Mr Ward,

Thank you for your e-mail below and the accompanying letter.

I can confirm that it is the opinion of this authority that bookings are taken by Uber and that the contract lies between Uber and the customer. This was the basis on which an operator licence was issued to Uber by this authority.

I would add that in Wycombe district we have far more significant issues with local operators and drivers obtaining licences from authorities with less robust requirements and operating within this area. We also consider that the policies and procedures put in place by Uber are considerably more comprehensive and effective than the majority of private hire operators.

Yours sincerely,

Caroline Steven

Licensing Team Leader

Wycombe District Council


While I fully accept that companies are not working within the intention of the Law, I fail to see how Caroline’s defense of Uber is sufficient to accept.

It states in the Wycombe web site for Private Hire licensing that;

A licensed private hire driver cannot accept any bookings unless he/she either holds or works for a licensed private hire operator. An operator may pass a booking to another licensed private hire vehicle operator provided that the operator is also licensed by us.

However, it is stated twice in Canadian Courts and once in a UK Tribunal that Uber do not accept the booking, but the driver does. It is also stated within the Uber terms and conditions that;

Uber is a technology company with a proprietary technology application (the “App”) that provides on-demand lead generation and related services. The App connects independent providers of transportation services with requests from riders requesting transportation services.

Again, it is the customer and the driver who make the contract, Uber simply back fill the acceptance of the request to the appropriate Operators License that the driver is registered to.

I wish this information to highlight that Uber, in their own words both under oath and within their web site, admit that it is the driver who accepts the booking and not Uber themselves.

There may be discussions regarding the law and how technology has advanced, but the crux of the matter is that the law is what we have as it currently stands and must be adhered to. 

It was written with the intention of protecting the public, advances in technology does not detract from that intention, indeed, many if not all other systems that use modern technology in fact were written to work within the current law, its intentions and most importantly the safety of the public.

This email is due to the flippant disregard of Uber and how it operates by Caroline Steven and will now be circulated through the trade’s online and printed press releases.

It is not for one council to sit back and accept that an operator is legal because other councils have licensed them, it is the duty of each individual authority to ensure that the person or company licensed is operating within the intention of the law as it stands now, not how it may stand in the future.

My charge to Wycombe Council is this;

You investigate the working practices of Uber to protect the public of Wycombe.

I look forward to your response, which I assure you will also be shared with the trade as I have explained that this email will be.

I thank you for your time in reading this email.

Yours Sincerely

Lee Ward

ALPHA Chairman

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Could Listening To Music While Driving Be Banned?

University College London has published a study which indicates that listening to music while driving causes low level distraction that leads to slower reaction times and a reduced awareness of road conditions around you while driving.

The creator of the study, Dr Ulrich Pomper, admits that in normal driving conditions for normal drivers the impact is low level. However, he says that for the elderly, hearing impaired, or drivers who are tired, stressed, or trying to perform complex navigation tasks, the impact can be significant and dangerous.

Mobile phone use while driving has already been proven to be a leading cause of driver distraction and serious accidents. Could this study be the start of road safety experts pushing to ban music in cars as well, on the grounds that it could lead to driver distraction and cause accidents?

Outline of the study

In the study, scientists measured the brain activity of a group of volunteers while listening to sounds coming from speakers. People listening to music were found to have slower reaction times and higher mental stress when looking away from the source of the audio.

The people behind the study also think the effect could be worse when we are tired or under stress, as well as for people with hearing issues and older people. The researchers, from the University College London (UCL) Ear Institute, found that moving the gaze just a few degrees away from the source of a sound can have a profound effect on brain activity.

They believe this is because our brains expect the direction of our gaze to be aligned with what we hear. While we believe we can listen to sounds attentively without looking towards them, the findings indicate that this isn’t the case.

Everyday listening impact

In the test, the researchers aimed to recreate everyday listening situations, attempting to follow a single sound from a range of competing noises ones, under controlled lab conditions. A group of 19 participants each sat facing three loudspeakers and were told to follow the sounds from one while ignoring the other two.

They were also told to look at either the speaker they were following or one of the others. The researchers found that when people looked away from the loudspeaker they were following, their reaction times were slower than when they were looking at the source of the sound.

The effect was also coupled with increased brain activity, meaning people had to concentrate harder on the tasks when they weren’t looking at the loudspeaker they were listening to. People with hearing problems and older people experienced a greater degree of difficulty with the task.

Distracted driving solutions

According to researchers, listening to music or even talking to someone who is to the side of you or behind you could result in you being distracted while driving. Even navigating in traffic, for example by looking right while you listen to a sat nav system, can result in distraction.

  • Listening to music, sat nav instructions, or people talking in a car is virtually impossible to police or ban. 
  • However, a ban on mobile phone use was once thought virtually impossible to police too. 
  • There is currently a major clampdown on people using mobile phones while driving, due to their distracting possibilities and risk of causing accidents.

Scientists at Nissan have recently announced a signal blocker that prevents mobile users being distracted while at the wheel. Aimed at ‘compulsive checkers’ who can’t resist checking their phones, the technology brings a 19th-century solution to a 21st-century problem, using the principle of a “Faraday Cage,” developed over 180 years ago. 

Nissan has introduced a compartment in the armrest of its cars that not only stores the device but acts as a signal blocker, preventing any WiFi and mobile signals from connecting with the smartphone.

Experts said only a few years ago that mobile phone use in cars would be impossible to enforce; now it’s law. If health and safety campaigners or the Police think that listening to music causes distraction and creates accidents, we could be sitting in silence on Britain’s roads in the future.

What do you think about this UCL research? 
Do you agree that music can be a source of driver distraction? 
Do you think the authorities would consider banning music in cars if it was proven to cause accidents? 

Let us know your views in the comments section below.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Badge And Bill Checks : CO's Authority, Finally Made Clear By TfLTPH.... By Jim Thomas

              Taxi Leaks Exclusive

TfL uniformed CO refusing to show his ID authorisation to Taxi Driver while attempting to carry out Badge and Bill examination check.

Click on this link for video:

Undercover CO refusing to identify himself to driver who then refuses to let him examine Badge and Bill.

Picture above taken at Taxi demo on Blakefriars Road SE1

We've recently seen videos on FaceBook and Twitter, showing TfL COs refusing to show Taxi drivers their authorisation ID cards when engaging in Badge Abpbe Bill checks. They argue that they don't have to.

Well we asked TfLTPH and it turns out they do. 
See TfLTPH reply below.

TrL's statements should now clear this issue up, straight from the horses mouth (so to speak) 

If a CO wants to check your Badge/ Bill/Insurance, they must first show their ID (not badge). It is a card that authorises them to carry out the document examination. 

Tony Casey Gives Advice On Badge And Bill Checks In Letter To Taxi Leaks

Never show your badge/bill to any compliance officer who says he is from Transport for London, showing you only their deputy badge -which are available on ebay almost the same for less than a fiver including a leather wallet.

Don't be intimidated:
EVERY compliance officer has a warrant type card, the same type as carried by all policeman.

ASK to see it clearly and use your phone to make a clear photo of it, the full name of the TFL staff member,only then comply with their request but never sign anything.

If possibly -remembering to switch off your engine first- film the whole compliance check on your phone for your own reference. The law allows this.

Remember eighteen months ago, the Head of the compliance training team made a false complaint to the City Police at the Sugar Quay (Shine Charity walk event ) saying that I'd been drinking.
I am teetotal and stopped drinking over 40 years ago.

His boss Garret Emmerson had to apologise in writing to me after a letter was sent from Grant Davis of the LCDC on my behalf making an official complaint. 

Tony Casey

Editorial Comment :
Don't forget, if you're asked to sign a blank screen on their PDA after being Badge and Billed, don't!

It's just for their performance figures, so they can say what a great job they are doing and how much we appreciate it.

From my own experience of confrontation with COs, asking them why they are concerntrating on Taxis and ignoring PH, they all have given the same answer "That's what we've been told to do".

It's clear by their statements theyve been ordered to turn a blind eye to PH touting. They concentrate on harassing Licensed Taxi drivers simply because that's what they've been told TL do by senior staff

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

It's Official, Uber Driver Sexual Attacks On Passengers Have Risen By 50% According To MPS FOI Jim Thomas

It's been almost 3 weeks since the MET release the Uber driver sexual assaults on customers FOI. We were promised this report would feature in the Daily Mail. It now appears the Mail has changed their mind and the story looks like it's been shelved. 

But not all is lost, Taxi Leaks has acquired the relevant facts and will today publish the full story.

On the 7th of April 2017, a request was made to the Metropolitan Police service (MPS) under the Freedom of Information Act asking simply for the number of reported sexual assaults, by private hire drivers working for the operator 'Uber' or have had the operator Uber stated as part of the witness statement. 

Quite straightforward, the MPS should be impartial and have nothing to hide or cover up. It was felt that the answer would be returned in the statutory time frame. 

But this was not to be. 
On the 10th of April we were given a reference number of 2017040000271, and informed that the request would be considered in accordance with the freedom of information act 2000 and that we could expect a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, as defined in the act. 

By the 11th of May, we still hadn't revieved a reply, so a reminder was sent. This was acknowledged by the MPS later that day.

A week later (18th May) we still nothing, so another reminder was sent.

We heard nothing until the 26th May, when we were informed that a reply had been drafted but was 'waiting approval' (from whom they never said!).

We then sent another reminder on the 9th of June, that the request was long overdue and that by law we should of had a response back by this time.

3 days later, we were informed that an internal review would now take place, with a caveat that under the code of practise, there was no time limit in relation to the completion of said review.

On the 13th, just one day later we were informed the request was still in the approval stage.

On the 28th of June, it was made clear that in regards to our request, no information had been provided and also no refusal notice had been given, therefore the MPS had not complied with the requirement of section 10 of the act.

Inquiries were made by the information manager and we were now informed that a reply was currently being drafted.....even though we had already been told a draft had been completed but was waiting for approval.

Then on the 29th June...Bingo, we finally get a reply.

It stated that from Feb 16 to Feb 17 there had been 48 sexual offences recorded were Uber was referenced in a crime report for a private hire journey-related sexual offence- in London.  

So now we can now positively state that Uber related serious sexual assaults including rapes, has increased this year by 50% going up from last years 32, to this years 48.

Please be advised, that according to the Mets own statistics, backed up by reports from the Haven Rape Crisis centre and Susie Lamplugh trust, only 10% of all sexual attacks get officially reported to the police. This would point to the fact that there could be as many as 12 serious sexual assaults weekly in London Uber PHVs alone. 

We would also like to point out, the way some of these statistics get massaged: 
If a driver has the app turned off and has touted the victim, then this is not added to the list.
If the journey finishes outside the Met, this attack would not be added to the London statistics even though the journey started in central London.

We are still awaiting TfL's statistics on Uber sexual attacks promised in May. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

Mayor/TfL Omits Licensed Taxis From The Future Of Transport In Jim Thomas

Khan, won't answer GLA questions.    Brown refuses to meet Taxi trade orgs

No Future For Taxis According To The Mayors Transport Strategy Consultation

Proof (as if we need any) posted on TfL website, that as far as the future of transport in London is concerned, the iconic Taxi cab, be it diesel or electric, does not figure in the "Mayor's Transport Strategy Consultation".

The logo above comes from the Mayor's transport strategy consultation. There is a bus, a train, a white delivery van, lots of cyclists, there is even what looks very much like an Uber Prius.....yet, one mode of transport is definitely missing from this web page published illustration.....and that's the Licensed Taxi.

So, after 360 of first class service to the public in London the truth is finally crystal.... The Mayor and TfL have a vision of London's transport future without licensed Taxis.

This is not fake news.
This is not myth or rumour.
Click on the link and go to the web page to see this logo. 

But don't just take my word for it, look through the consultation and see if you can find Taxis mentioned....we are not there!

So the Mayor/TfL's vision is a London where people travel on foot, on cycles or on London Transport.....and that's it!

Back to the page illustration:
Apparently the image below originally featured on the Mayor's Transport Strategy publication released last month, but the Mayors office/TfL have edited out the Black Cab for the consultation.

Taxi Leaks Extra Comment :
We now have an arrogant Mayor who won't answer questions from the GLA, failed to turn up for the last Mayor's Q&A session at City Hall and refuses point blank to meet with Taxi trade orgs. 

On top of this, we have the commissioner of TfL Mike Brown, who has refused to meet with Licensed Taxi trade Orgs for the past 8 months...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Westminster Conservative Councillor Richard Holloway, Accuses LTDA Of Lying Over Machine Gun Found In Uber Car.

Westminster Conservative Councillor Richard Holloway, accused the LTDA of spreading complete and utter Lies, after their twitter post claimed that an Uber driver had appeared in Wimbledon Magistrates Court, after a Machine Gun was found along with ammunition in the boot of his Uber Car.  

Even though the story was confirmed by a link to Private Hire and Chauffeur Magazine (PHC), councillor Holloway returned that he "gets FACTS from paid journalist who operate within the law"!!! 

What could Cllr Holloway possibly mean by this statement?
Is Cllr Holloway alleging that the LTDA's man in court, or the author of the story in PHC magazine are operating outside the law?
Is he alleging that the LTDA and PHC only use unpaid reporters who only deal in lies and fake news?

I wonder if the LTDA's lawyer Charles Russell will be contacting Mr Holloway over his libellous tweet. 

Would make interesting reading in the Taxi. 

We've heard from Cllr Holloway before in regards to Uber, he hit the headlines when the conservative councillors on Westminster City Council, wrote to Boris to "insist" he downgraded Black Cab Regulations and left Uber alone.

So, no conflict of interest here then?

See previous Taxi Leaks article, click link below:

This is one of Cllr Holloway's favoured Uber Minicabs, putting the public in danger by driving through the middle of the pedestrianised Shopping Mall in Victoria, close to Westminster City Hall. 

Well done Richard, your voters must be really proud of you !