Saturday, September 23, 2017

Crocodile Tears, Paper Tigers And Sleeping Lions.... By I'm Spartacus.

So Tfl no doubt reluctantly stepped up to defend the traveller, but with little choice after many transgressions and then the final stake through the heart written by the upright citizen and proper copper that is Inspector Billany who exposed the applicant for what they were 
unfit and improper.

Crocodile Tears
Cue the social media frenzy and parade of bought advertorials, no mark politicos and all those bleeding hearts about 40000 people being thrown on the scrap heap, yet if and when Driverless cars appear the very same people will say nowt when quadruple that number go west, 'its cheep though innit'.

We all know most will just sign up with another operator or possibly join the ranks of world renown by completing the KOL, if not their just holding a one way ticket to Loserville courtesy of the West Coast Bro's.

Paper Tigers
Well that's what the trade has been viewed as by all and sundry, we have been as Gilligan said Balkanised, so those in Unions, Trade Orgs ensure that YOU get involved, campaign for joined up thinking and accountability, defining PFH and ensuring TfL maintain the differential of the two tier system, after all that's what they say they want.

Sleeping Lions
Sorry again that's us, whatever happens after the Lawyers have had their feast, be sure things will never be the same, let's be sharp, smart and savvy. 
You can bet every PH firm will be looking to grab market share, let's do the same and whatever we do always remember this:

If you value it, defend it!

I'm Spartacus


Listen to Wes Streeting's Tweet.

Why TFL were right not to renew Uber's licence and why their business model should concern all of us.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Light At The End Of The Tunnel As TfL Refuse Uber Licence To Operate In London.

Uber will not be issued a new private operators licence, when their current licence expires, Transport for London (TfL) said today. 

Their current licence expires at the 30th of September and then they will have 21 days to appeal, during which time it can continue to operate.

TfL concluded the ride-hailing app firm was not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence after a number of contributory scandals hit the media earlier this year. 

Also FOI requests from members of the Taxi trade representative group The London Taxi Drivers Club (LCDC), exposed a mass of emails which showed an unsavoury relationship between Uber executives and senior TfL staff. Evidence was also given to the Sunday Times by the LCDC regarding the authenticity of 13,000 DBS certificates after TfL tried to sweep the problem under the carpet.

Uber's approach and conduct demonstrated a lack of corporate responsibility which could have potential public safety and security implications, it said. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement: "I fully support TfL's decision - it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is anyway that this could pose a threat to Londoners' safety and security. This is not an anti Minicab app decision, this is a anti not playing by the rules decision."

Current statistics have shown that in London alone, Uber drivers were responsible for committing one serious sexual assaults including rape of vulnerable passengers every eleven days. Last year showed a 50% rise in passenger attacks from Uber drivers.

London Cabby Gerald Coba said:

"This decision from TfL will almost certainly make traveling on London streets much safer. Bus drivers will no longer be doing uber shifts before starting work driving buses. 

"It should also make driving along one way streets safer too. But this isn't the end. Uber will try to carry on using PHVs registered by other licensing authorities. Cross-boarder hiring needs to be dealt with ASAP, as its become a major problem across the UK.

"But now TfL have refused to relicense, I strongly believe other authorities around the country will now follow suit."

Good news, as bookmakers William Hill make Uber 4/6 on to lose their appeal. 
"This is a huge move by TfL and no doubt Uber will fight the decision. However we think it is likely the ruling will be upheld" said William Hill Spokesman Joe Crilly. 

Taxi Leaks Extra Comment:
Although this is a massive victory for the trade we mustn't forget that the original problems of eHailing (instant hiring via a smart phone) along with the cross boarder hiring is still in place. Until these problems are dealt with, we are in danger of another app based operator picking up the gauntlet.

A bitter George Osbourne hits back on behalf of his chums with Fake News.

It's what we've come to expect from the Standard since George became editor  

Thursday, September 21, 2017

More Congestion, More Pollution, More Cycle Lanes

Planners have purposely left out the horrendous traffic congestion caused by segregated cycle lanes 

Plans for the first cycle superhighway in west London were unveiled today.

More than half of the 5.6-mile CS9 route between Kensington Olympia and Brentford town centre will be on segregated lanes, protecting riders from other traffic.

Construction is due to start late next year and could add to demands for a superhighway on Kensington High Street to create a link with the flagship East-West superhighway at Hyde Park.

The route links with already announced plans to enable cyclists to bypass the Hammersmith gyratory. 

It diverts riders off Chiswick High Road at Turnham Green and onto residential streets, which will be closed to through traffic. Cyclists will also be able to bypass the busy Kew Bridge junction.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This new cycle superhighway will bring a high-quality segregated cycle lane to west London for the very first time."

It will make a real difference in encouraging Londoners of all ages and abilities to get on their bikes and improve conditions for pedestrians across the area.”

The proposals, revealed as a consultation was launched today by Transport for London, also include five new traffic light junctions and improvements to 20 pedestrian crossings.

Simon Munk, infrastructure campaigner at London Cycling Campaign, said: “This route will tame several dangerous junctions, enable far more people of all ages and abilities to cycle to local shops, stations and into work and extend the cycle superhighway network to areas where cycling demand is high but cycling infrastructure is virtually non-existent.”

A single two-way superhighway will be built between Olympia and Turnham Green.

There will be no segregation as the route transfers onto Heathfield Terrace and Wellesley Road. Single lanes on either side of the road wil be built on the South Circular Road, Kew Bridge Road and Brentford High Street.

The intention is to eventually extend the route west into Hounslow, with a second consultation expected next year.

The CS9 proposals come after Mr Khan axed Boris Johnson’s plans to extend the East-West route into Acton via the A40 Westway flyover.

Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, said: “Cycle Superhighway 9 will be hugely important in helping cyclists in the west travel safely and inspire many more Londoners to take up cycling for the first time.”

Wesley Harcourt, Hammersmith & Fulham council cabinet member for environment, said: “As part of our aim of becoming the greenest borough in the country, we want to double the number of journeys in the borough being taken by bike.

"Key to that aim is making people feel safe. This new route enables people to get right across the borough and into central London easily, and without the fear of sharing space with large motor vehicles."

The entire route, between Olympia and Hounslow, is projected to cost up to £70 million, making it the most expensive cycle superhighway in London. It would be opened in stages as construction progresses.

Legal Trouble On The Horizon For The Toxicity Charge

To try to reduce air pollution in London, the toxicity charge, or T-charge, will come into effect on the 23 October 2017. It aims to discourage the use of older cars on the road, as these produce the most dangerous fumes.

Now, however, FairFuelUK is seeking to raise a legal challenge against the T-charge, arguing that a full public enquiry should have preceded the decision to implement it. The challenge could have implications for every major UK town and city.

What is the T-charge?

The T-charge is expected to affect up to 10,000 vehicles every weekday, so plenty of people will find themselves needing to pay it. It targets nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, as these have a negative effect on human health. This is becoming more worrying as the population of London continues to grow.

Anyone driving through London in a car, van, minibus, bus, coach or heavy goods vehicle that does not meet the Euro emissions standards will be required to pay the T-charge. This is in addition to the congestion charge that is already in place.

What will you be paying?

The minimum emission standards are Euro 4 for petrol and diesel vehicles, and Euro 3 for motorised tricycles and quadricycles. Any vehicle that does not meet these standards will be subject to the T-charge.

The charge will apply to drivers using the capital’s roads between 7 am and 6 pm Monday to Friday. The cost to those drivers will be £10 per day. The T-charge does not apply on bank holidays, or from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day.

If you are unsure of whether you’ll need to pay the T-charge for your vehicle, you can check your vehicle registration certificate (V5C), which displays the emissions standard that the vehicle is classed as.

If your vehicle doesn’t meet the Euro emissions standards, and you fail to pay the T-charge, you will be sent a penalty charge notice for £130. This will be reduced to £65 if it is paid within 14 days.

Legal issues with the T-charge

The T-charge has recently come under fire from FairFuelUK. The organisation has described the Mayor of London’s decision to implement this charge as unlawful and unfair. This is because FairFuelUK doesn’t believe that drivers should be penalised for driving older petrol and diesel cars. The campaigning organisation feels that a full public enquiry should have been carried out before the decision to roll out the T-charge was made.

FairFuelUK has now launched a crowd funding campaign to raise money for a two-part legal challenge against the T-charge. This would firstly see it ask the Mayor of London to change his mind about introducing the T-charge. Secondly, it would ask the Prime Minister and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) to investigate how else London could reduce pollution.

Learning from other countries

The T-charge may seem like a harsh idea. However, examples from around the world show that Londoners could actually have it worse. Paris, for example, has banned all cars registered before 1997 from using city centre roads between 8 am and 8 pm on weekdays in a bid to reduce pollution.

Similarly, the Mayors of Mexico City, Madrid and Athens are currently looking at banning all diesel cars from their city centres by 2025.

If the T-charge is a success in London, it is thought that it will be rolled out to 25 other UK towns and cities. These include Birmingham, Nottingham, Southampton and Derby, which will start by charging older lorries, taxis and coaches by 2019.

With legal issues against the T-charge being raised before it has even been implemented, the future of the charge is far from certain. However, one thing is for sure – urgent thought needs to be put into how else pollution can be lowered in the UK’s major towns and cities, whether this has to do with penalising certain motorists or not.

What can we do to reduce pollution in our city centres without penalising motorists? Or is charging drivers based on their vehicle type the only viable solution? Leave a comment below. 

I'm Spartacus asks the question : "So when is a handgun not a handgun?"

Excerpt from Inspector Neil Billany's Letter to Helen Chapman 'Concerns on Uber not reporting serious crimes to Police' 
"On 4 March 2017 Uber have had contact from a passenger informing them of a serious incident involving Uber (and TfL licensed PHV) driver. The nature of the allegation was that during a booked journey, a road rage incident has developed between the driver and another road user. During the incident the driver has taken what the passenger believed to be a handgun from the glove box and left the vehicle to pursue the other driver on foot.
At this point the passenger has fled to vehicle in fear."

Following on from yesterday's FOI requests, I'm Spartacus asks the question :
"So when is a handgun not a handgun?"

It seems when Uber ascertains it isn’t, not the police!
That astounding & disturbing fact from the diligent & professional Inspector Billany alone warrants a revocation today let alone consideration of renewal.

Let’s put it another way:
I as a proprietor, investigates me as a driver, for ‘pulling a blade’ on a passenger... no question of a revocation as I (as a proprietor) had ascertained it was a cosh. Yeah right!

There’s a duty under the common law to assist in the apprehension of a felon.

All the rest to me just shows TfL’s obsession on how things appear... rather than doing anything about serious threats to public safety.

Any right minded citizen must be outraged.

I'm Spartacus. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Emails between Peter Blake, Helen Chapman And Neil Billany + 90 Pages Of Emails Between Uber And Chapman.

Can you please provide me with all email correspondence under an FOIA between the following dates and involving the following TfL staff: 1st January 2017 - 11th July 2017 (a) Peter Blake and Neil Billany (b) Helen Chapman and Neil Billany
We answered
TfL Ref: FOI-0866-1718

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 11 July 2017 asking for information about correspondence.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm we hold some of the information you require. 

Please see the information you have requested attached in relation to emails exchanged between Neil Billany and Helen Chapman. Please note that we do not hold any emails exchanged between Neil Billany and Peter Blake within the time period you have specified.

For clarify, the letter in the first pdf is an attachment to an email provided on page 10 of the second pdf.

Please note that in accordance with TfL’s obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) some personal data has been removed, as required by section 40(2) of the FOI Act. This is because disclosure of this personal data would be a breach of the DPA, specifically the first principle of the DPA which requires all processing of personal data to be fair and lawful. It would not be fair to disclose this personal information when the individuals have no expectation it would be disclosed and TfL has not satisfied one of the conditions of Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act which would make the processing ‘fair’. 

If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for some reason, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed. 

Yours sincerely 

Lee Hill

Senior FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London



Could I have a copy of the letter from Ms Chapman to Uber dated 25/10/16 and then could you narrow your search to only letters and emails sent by Ms chapman and replies received from Uber since 2012 working your way forward in time until the cost threshold is reached.

Letter From Harry Wall : The Blind Leading The Blind ?

You may be aware by now that Monday's Make a Stand demo has been cancelled. I can't tell you all how choked I am but unfortunately not enough support was forthcoming.

Initially, the feeling was good but as the days went on it became apparent that feeling wasn't lasting. 

Add to that the dreadful members of our trade, only too pleased to scupper any chance of unity that might bring some semblance of hope, who played their part brilliantly and I have to congratulate them on a job well done. 

They should all be very proud of themselves.

This past 3 weeks has been an education in many ways but the main lesson I learned was that this animal is too sick to help. 

The negativity on social media has played a huge part in its failure and has been watched from around the country by those who were at first raring to stand with us regardless if they were Taxi or PH because they saw the bigger picture.

Now, 3 weeks on and after reading the comments from leading trade figures within the orgs they want nothing to do with us, can you blame them?
I can't.

We had 8 cities at one point, 8 CITIES!!

Almost over night, they all cried off.
All because of org mentality, caveman mentality and sheer ignorance.

I've learned many in this trade, including activists from all orgs and unions are riddled with insincerity and deceit and I no longer want any part of it, it shames me.

Next week TFL officially announce if Uber are licensed. If they are, the orgs will go into overdrive and scream from the rafters, "JR,JR,JR!!"
Whist watching Taxify come back on line.

If they don't get licensed the orgs will go into overdrive screaming "Look what we did! Look what we did!"
"Ain't we clever"

Then Uber will appeal and keep functioning for the duration of the appeal. During which time Taxify will come back on line, along with Via and no doubt closely followed by Lyft.

Back to square one.
"Big news Monday!"
It's the business model that's the problem, not the company.

We had our chance, we blew it thanks to us.
I tried, I failed and I'm truly sorry.

I now wash my hands of it.
Be lucky



Nothing to be proud about!
On Monday 25th of September, the London Taxi Trade will be letting down their colleagues across the UK. 

Cabbies in Liverpool are reminded that your colleagues nationwide will be demonstrating. 

That's nationwide, except London.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Taxify hopes to get back on London roads by next week

Estonian ride-hailing startup Taxify hopes to have issues with local regulator Transport for London (TfL) resolved and restore service in the British capital by the beginning of next week at the latest.

On Sept. 8, just three days after launching its service in London, Taxify had to halt its operations there after TfL launched an investigation into the company.

It was determined that Taxify was not registered in London as a private hire vehicle operator, due to which it did not have the right to accept ride bookings.

Taxify CEO Markus Villig told ERR that preparations are underway for continuing operations in the British capital — TfL demanded additional security requirement compliance from the company, and Taxify hopes to have everything in order by the end of the week.

"Our plan is to launch sometime this or next week," he added.

The Estonian ride-hailing service has previously cited TfL's lack of interest in dialogue or offering tips to ensure their application is approved. According to Villig, the authority's attitude has not improved, but the company has reached an alternative legal solution.

"The first time they were not satisfied with the licensed business we have, but this time we found a different kind of legal solution with which we believe they will be more satisfied," Villig explained. "We're currently waiting for final approval from them so we can relaunch."

While the delay has meant additional expenses for the expansion to London, according to the CEO, the increase has been marginal in the context of the company's launch budget.

"Ultimately, what is most important for us is that [London] was our most successful launch ever for drivers and clients alike, so if we incur some additional legal fees, that isn't the main concern," said Villig. "Businesses are generally more concerned about where to find clients and drivers. In our case, thankfully, these problems have already been solved."

Expansion to Paris not to be affected

According to Villig, Taxify's planned expansion to Paris will not be affected the obstacles the company has encountered in London, as transport regulations in Paris are significantly simpler and the launch of new platforms more competition-friendly.

"Everything is going smoothly in Paris," the CEO confirmed. "Rather, we hope to receive final confirmation from London this week — then everything will be shipshape in both cities."

He noted that preparations are underway in Paris, and that there are teams on location in both cities who are working on training drivers.

When exactly Taxify can be expected to launch in Paris, however, Villig was unable to say, noting that the goal was to line up hundreds of drivers first, as Paris is such a large city to cover.

During its first three days of operation earlier this month, 3,000 drivers joined and 30,000 clients downloaded the Taxify app before the company halted operations after local regulator Transport for London had claimed that the new market entrant had failed to obtain a proper operating license.

Taxify operates in 19 countries around the world. In early August, the company announced that Chinese ride-hailing app Didi Chuxing had purchased a 13-percent holding in Taxify and would support the growth of the Estonian-developed platform in Africa and Europe.

Source: News EER. EE

TfL Increase Private Hire Licence Fees In London....Follow The Money...By Gerald Coba

A major set back for those who thought Uber would not be relicensed at the end of this month

London's Licensing authority (TfL) have pushed forward with new plans that are set to add nearly £1m to its bill.

They now plan to charge a maximum fee of £2.9m for the largest mincab firms to operate in the capital, it can be revealed, amending its original plans to increase it to £166,000.

To those who said there is no way TfL could relicense a company with so much controversy and complaint against it (sexual assaults including rapes of passengers by drivers, theft, customer account hacking, overcharging, spying on officials) we would answer, this has never been about regulation, legislation or public safety, it's always been about money.
Follow The Money!

TfL have also quietly backed down on their proposal to charge a £68 fee per Minicab, for any firm with more than 1,000 vehicles, after a backlash from the operators.

The changes were made after the industry warned that the extra costs would put small and medium sized firms out of business. This means the larger operators such as Uber and Addison Lee will now pay more and just a few of the smallest will pay less.

The troubled startup would have been charged just over the £2m mark, based on the number of cars it has, but will now have to pay the maximum £2.9m fee for operators with more than 10,000 vehicles.

And Addison Lee is now expected to foot a bill more than twice as much as under the original "per car" plans, as operators running between 1,001 and 10,000 cars will be charged £700,000. A further 10 operators with between 500 and 1,000 cars will have to pay £350,000.

The current fee is just £2,800 for any operator with more than 1,000 cars, but TfL has said it must change in order to cover the costs of a huge rise in the number of minicabs on the road. So much for congestion and pollution,as long as you got the money.
Follow The Money!

The changes are expected to bring in millions more as it becomes self sufficient after losing government subsidies, but it has warned that it still faces a shortfall.

It estimates more than 1,500 operators in total with fewer than 500 cars will be negatively impacted, paying between £3,174 and £157,000 in additional costs over five years. 400 with less than 10 cars will pay £826 less.

The details of the changes were quietly revealed among documents published with TfL's latest finance committee meeting last week and also include the date they are likely to be implemented - 1 April 2018.

Uber and Addison Lee have had their operating licences renewed in the short-term while TfL makes the changes, for four and six months respectively. But both will face a second temporary renewal before the changes comes into force.

Uber's is due to be renewed at the end of September and Transport for London faces mounting pressure over the matter. But where money is concerned, pressure calling for public safety is like water off a ducks back to TfL. Its alleged they will be looking to give Uber an 8 month extension, by then the new charges will be firmly in place.

               Breakdown of Fees

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Are Westminster Council getting ready to pedestrianise Oxford Street, by making one ways, two ways ???

You can now turn right into Brook Street from New Bond Street and go through to Grosvenor Square. A word of warning though. As this is a new feature please be very aware that other motorists still think Brook Street is one way and you may find cars coming at you head on. 

Claridges Taxi rank has been moved to outside the Ballroom and is now for four Taxis. Westminster council gave the ranks committee assurances that cars would not be parked in between the rank and the Hotel main door, but on the first day of operation, half a dozen cars have been parked there most of the time. 

One of the reasons the rank was refused outside the Main entrance, is that the hotel objected, saying they didn't want the Taxis outside. This is also what happened at the Palm Beech casino in Berkeley Street, causing Taxis to double park when picking up, blocking the street. 

It's been said that this new two way system is gearing up for the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street, but one of the main factors is that it's part of the cycle route...."The Grid"

You can now turn left and right from Book Street onto Davis Street southbound, traveling through to Berkeley square, and also (should you wish to) make a right turn into Grosvenor Street. 

As part of the trade off from the removal of the four spaces in Davis Street (Brook Street corner), there is now a two cab rank outside the C London Restaurant in Davis Street -Although evening time I've been there over the last few nights, the rank has been blocked by cars.

See Periscope video, click on link below:
First look at Brook And Davis two way working !

Jailed: Minicab rapist who plied student with drink and drugs

A minicab tout who twice raped a student after plying her with cocaine and alcohol has been jailed for 14 years.

Amos Mbonu, 48, preyed on the victim when she got off the Tube at the Barbican, offering her drugs and then taking her to a party in Leytonstone. 

He pounced on her as he drove her home, ignoring her pleas that she had a boyfriend and was not interested in him. 

The woman told Blackfriars crown court she has been left depressed, afraid to leave her own home, and unable to enjoy a normal social life after the attack.

Jailing Mbonu for 14 years for the “heinous” crime yesterday, Judge Rajeev Shetty said: “She wanted to do nothing more than get home, but unfortunately through nothing more than bad luck she came across you. 

“You enticed her to get into your car with the offer of class A drugs — you saw a female walking at night, probably under the influence of alcohol, and thought it was someone you might be able to take sexual advantage of.” 

Warning that Mbonu may continue to be a danger to women, the judge ordered him to serve an extra five years on licence after his release.

In her impact statement, the woman said she was unable to go to university lectures after the attack in October last year and may have to repeat her second year. 

She added: “I don’t go out to clubs and bars any more with my friends ...I’m afraid I will never enjoy life again.” 

Prosecutor Tara McCarthy told the court the victim, who had earlier been refused admission to a nightclub for being drunk, believed Mbonu was a regular minicab driver when she saw him in his car. He offered to sell her cocaine and drove her to a party in Leytonstone where he plied her with a bottle of wine. He then attacked her in a deserted car park as he drove her home. 

He was caught because he gave her his phone number earlier in the evening. 

Mbonu, from Bow, denied rape at trial but was found guilty by a jury in July. 

He continued to insist he was innocent at his sentencing hearing yesterday, but was also found guilty of supplying cocaine. He had been cleared of a second rape charge in 2001

Taxi Leaks Comment: 

Please remember, being drunk is not illegal. RAPE IS...

Source Evening standard, Court News