For many years London's transport regulator Transport for London "TfL" has neglected the mental health concerns of the capital's cabbies with the fallout understandably being a deteriorating mental health crisis within the industry.
London's cabbies have a rich 360-year tradition in the capital taking approximately 3 years to complete the "Knowledge of London" which is regarded as the toughest topographical test in the world, however, in recent years advancements in technology has seen the way that the public hail taxi's change dramatically.
TfL has failed to keep pace with the regulation of this changing industry and with newspaper revelations which revealed that TfL was "lent on" to accommodate companies like Uber who were found by the High Court to have misclassified their drivers as self-employed contractors instead of workers and are also accused of VAT avoidance compounds TfL's failure to regulate.
TfL continues to allow tax dodging gig economy companies to undermine the industry, granting licenses to private hire minicab operators with impunity despite tax and employment malpractices, naturally, with this level of negligence, the fallout is understandably catastrophic for ordinary working taxi drivers.
Almost overnight, Mayor Khan has slashed 25% off life span of a taxi from 16 years to 12 years and forced taxi drivers into a zero emission taxi capable "ZEC" taxis costing in excess of £70,000 with finance, additionally, tensions have become fraught with a lack of charging infrastructure in the capital, moreover, the private hire minicab industry has been allowed to operate in the same immediate hire space with vehicles costing in the region of £17,000.
While dramatically increasing the costs for taxi drivers, Sadiq Khan has restricted access to large swathes of the capital's roads to taxi drivers where drivers ply their trade and earn a living, therefore, there is no coincidence why there is a mental health crisis within the taxi industry when costs have increased, road space has been taken away and TfL and the Mayor of London have turned a blind eye to gig economy tax avoidance.
For several months the Mental Health Charity, Silence of Suicide founded by Yvette Greenway and Michael Mansfield QC have been writing to TfL's commissioner Mike Brown asking for a meeting to discuss what TfL & the Mayor can do to improve and understand better how their poor performance, harmful policies and failure to regulate impacts on mental health and wellbeing of the taxi drivers who they control - after many attempts to sensibly engage with TfL's commissioner, regretfully Silence of Suicide's requests have been ignored.
TfL claim they engage with the taxi trade on many issues including mental health, however, we can say with our hand on our heart - they don't - so we have made a short film highlighting the issues and problems that we face and how we feel.
One starts to think, how much more can ordinary working people take before there is a serious tragedy?
Here is our film.