Friday, August 30, 2019

UTAG Legal Submission and Supplementary Letter to TfL


Dear UTAG Contributor

 On Tuesday, August 27th 2019 UTAG sent a 23-page legal submission to TfL setting out, in great detail, the reasons why they cannot and must not renew Uber's operating licence on Sept 25th 

We sent them a supplementary letter on Wednesday, August 28th 2019 identifying other breaches of the conditions imposed upon them by TfL when District Judge Emma Arbuthnot granted ULL a 15-month probationary licence on June 26th 2018 at Westminster Magistrates Court.

It also informs TfL of UTAG's intention to Judicially Review any decision to give ULL another licence.

Uber has had no less than 3 chances to prove themselves Fit and Proper; the 3rd chance ends in 27 days time, they have still failed to become Fit and Proper and must not be afforded any more chances.

The links to both documents are below.

1) Legal Submission to TfL from Robert Griffiths QC and Stuart Jessop, Barrister

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/9800046227164f726ef17bbca/files/de12fdcf-397d-4801-b354-379d82f957eb/UTAG_Submissions_1.pdf


2) Supplementary letter to TfL

https://gallery.mailchimp.com/9800046227164f726ef17bbca/files/1d751a02-8845-4b2b-8497-96fcef661b34/1st_UTAG_letter_to_TFL_27_August_2019_.pdf



I should like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for supporting UTAG and your trade.

Best wishes on behalf of UTAG

Angela Clarkson


United Trade Action Group

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Hakkasan Mayfair, In Desperate Need Of Same Taxi Rank Markings As Novikovs.


11pm Tuesday night (27/08/19), saw the five Taxi rank at Hakkasan completely occupied by three Private hire vehicles, two of which are pictured above, and also two high end customer cars. This has now become a regular sight throughout the West End and Mayfair. 

August has seen the normal influx of tourists from the Middle East. Any form of regulation seems to be shut down at this time of year, as the West End is overrun with illegal parking and hoards of illegal electrical powered Rickshaw bikes. 

If you complain to the police, they just say “this is low priority offence and they have no officers available to attend any incidents that may arise from these issues”.

What's become even more apparent, is the complete lack of enforcement from both TfL and Westminster Traffic Marshals.


I took it upon myself again on Tuesday night, to inform the three Private Hire cars parked on the rank that they were in contravention of their licence, by parking on a licensed Taxi rank. Their response was the same I always get, a mixture of laughs and profanity. No help from the door staff who say (rightly so), it's not their job to police the rank.

The MiniCab drivers don't even get upset anymore, even when you take photos and threaten to report them to TfL, which points to a possibility (what we've always suspected) that our complaints about this type of problem at Taxi Ranks, are falling on death ears. 

Luckily enough, while I was parked on the bus stop, waiting for the Minicabs to move....along came a Westminster traffic marshal on a moped. He parked at the front of the rank and as soon as he produced his ticket book the three Minicabs decided they weren't brave enough to stick it out and proceeded to move off. I pulled forward onto the rank and was joined by another driver in a Vito. 

As other taxis were just driving by, we had to spread out a bit, to made sure no other minicabs could occupy the rank. 


The warden ticketed the two private cars at the front of the rank but it's a shame he failed to take the numbers of the three Minicabs as its a straight away offence with no time period, which means that PCNs can be issued straight away. 

I did offer the Marshal the registration numbers and photographic evidence...but he wasn't interested and declined my offer. 

It's about time this rank was marked out properly as is Sketch (finally), Nobu and Novikov. I remember members of the joint ranks committee telling me it was a waste of time trying to get a rank at Novikov's

Most of the aggregation at Hakkasan comes from the fact, the drivers committing these contraventions don't realise it's actually a working rank as the tiny signage on the lamppost is confusing and easily missed. This rank needs marking out, not once a week untrained marshals from a certain org that take it more as a coffee break than a marshalling job.

While we are on about Mayfair Ranks, surely it's time we had a proper rank outside Annabel's. There is a definite need and Taxis are forced to form a pop up rank most nights. 

Where are the Joint Ranks Committee with their chairperson Richard Massett on these important issues ?
Are they Waiting and seeing in the fashion of their mentors at W9 ?

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :
Wednesday night 29/07/19 again around 11pm. Hakkasan full of Minicabs. But this time I actually managed to get four of them to move off, just by approaching them and politely pointing out they were sitting parked on a Taxi tank. 

The fifth said he was a private car and there was nothing I could do to him.


 I noticed his photo ID, so I put his registration into the PH online check and low and behold his details emerged that he was in fact a TfL registered minicab  even though his vehicle wasn’t displaying roundels. 


Details of all these vehicles have now been sent to TfL. 

City AM, Leak News That TfL Want To Extend Uber's Licence Rather Than Award Full Five Years


Speaking on LBC, Sadiq Khan said 'he is the London mayor who revoked Uber’s licence in 2017, he said everyone must play by the rules if they want to operate in the capital'.

But the truth is Sadiq, the same rules don't appear to apply when it comes to Uber.

Sadiq Khan was/is a lawyer and should know the law. 

Uber were awarded a never heard of before 'probationary licence' by Emma Arbuthnot.... if you come out of prison on licence, or are put on probation.... if you break the terms of your probation, you are carted off back to prison !!!

Uber have broken the terms of their licence, been found guilty and paid a fine in court for failing to keep records and allowing the public to be picked up in uninsured vehicles....they should of been revoked at the same time, as not being fit to hold an operators licence. 

But TfL and the Mayor have sat back and done nothing. 

Khan is now making political gain out of the fact Uber are looking for a full five year operators licence, but according to City AM this morning, Khan and TfL are considering another shorter trial licensing period.  

Khan said on the LBC interview :
"It would be inappropriate for me during a time we’re considering the application from any operator to comment on it and give a running commentary" 

Having said that, he added: 
"You will know my track record which is standing up to the big boys, and they are boys, and make sure everyone plays by the rules whether you’re a big business or whether you’re a small business and I don’t care how many lawyers you employ or how big your PR budget."

Uber, has been operating on a probationary licence since June last year. It appealed Transport for London’s (TfL) decision to revoke its licence, and won a never known before 15-month probationary licence which runs out next month.

According to City AM, TfL is understood to want to extend its licence rather than award Uber a more permanent authorisation.

If Uber are given another licence, albeit a short period, it will no longer be on probation from the court!!!

This is Khan standing up to the big boys with the big PR budgets!!!

WHY HAVEN’T TfL REVOKED UBERS LICENCE FOR BREAKING THEIR PROBATIONARY LICENCE.??

WHY ARE OUR ORGS AND UNIONS SITTING  TIGHT LIPPED ON THIS?? 

THE TAXI TRADE HAVE TWO OF THE BIGGEST UNIONS IN THE COUNTRY, (UNITE AND RMT), WHAT ARE THEY DOING ABOUT THIS???

WHY ISN’T THE TAXI TRADE EN MASSE, BANGING DOWN THE DOORS AT PALESTRA AND CITY HALL??

WHAT ARE WE WAITING AND SEEING AGAIN??

Next month will see another bout of John Walboys fever, all over social media with headlines like Black Cab Rapist Back In Court With New Charges Of Further Rapes!

UBER'S licence renewal will be consigned the the back pages, if covered at all by main stream media. 


Khan said he was going to get tough with Uber (where have we heard that before).
He said he has quadrupled the number of PCOs
 No way Manuel.
The small amount of PCOs available, more or less the same amount we had under Boris, can be seen daily at Kings Cross/St Pancras around the Taxi ranks, but nowhere near the illegal M&S Uber rank.

They keep a 9 to 5 schedule.
Do they even know where Hakkasan or Novikov are?
                   

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Dynamo Fully Electric Taxi Finally Plated In London As Licensed Taxi Today


Hello to everyone great news today about the Dynamo fully electric Taxi for London

As MD and founder of Dynamo I would like to personally thank you all, for your patience waiting for our fully electric taxi to pass certification and to be plated. 

We have kept quiet, as I only like to deal in facts, as you can see from the pictures, the new Dynamo fully electric Taxi is now ready to be used as a Taxi in London and the greater UK.

The team is excited as to the impact our taxi will have in reducing pollution whilst increasing driver income. 

We are very proud to offer you the world’s only 100% emission free taxi. 
Best regards.

Brendan O'Toole



    


TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : 
Finally the trade now has a choice, and Geely no longer holds the manopoly of supplying London Taxi drivers with a vehicle. 

As Dymano have always stated, this vehicle won't suit everyone, but it will be perfect for many drivers and at a more affordable price. 

This is brilliant news today, well done to the whole team who have put this project together.

   


Taxi Leaks News Desk...International Taxi News From Around The World.


Taxi drivers in Montreal continue to fight Bill 17, the CAQ’s proposed legislation that would deregulate the industry. 

The official opposition in Quebec’s National Assembly is demanding that an arbitrator be brought in to determine what compensation will be receivedby those cab drivers affected by the Legault government’s reform of the province’s taxi industry.

The Quebec Liberals are also accusing the provincial government of not respecting the expropriation process as it buys back taxi permits from drivers or owners.

Liberal transport critic Gaétan Barrette on Tuesday accused Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel of unilaterally deciding how the permits will be purchased.

Quebec taxi drivers are claiming more than $1.3 billion in compensation for the loss of value on their permits and their buyback by the government following the arrival of the Uber ride-hailing servicein the Quebec market.

A legislative committee studying the proposed law reforming the taxi industry and other forms of paid transportation resumed sitting on Tuesday.

For full story, see video 

‘I was bawling crying’: Woman tells of attack on Cork taxi
‘I was petrified’: Taxi attacked by male youths armed with iron bars on Sunday morning. 

Gardaí believe that the gang responsible for attacking a moving taxi with iron bars in Cork at the weekend was also behind a rampage through nearby housing estates during which several parked cars were damaged.

It is hoped that CCTV could lead to the identification of some of the ringleaders involved in the sequence of incidents, which occurred late on Saturday and into the early hours of Sunday morning.

Taxi driver shot dead in Pretoria CBD

A taxi driver was shot dead in the Pretoria CBD following an altercation between taxi drivers and supposed drug dealers on Tuesday afternoon.

Taxi drivers in the area confronted a group of alleged drug dealers in a bid to clean the city’s streets.

Police superintendent Isaac Mahamba, confirmed that the man who was pronounced dead was a taxi driver.

New York:
What’s a Taxi medallion worth?
Owners of New York City taxi medallions are in crisis. 

Owning the right to operate one of the city’s iconic yellow cabs was once a sure financial bet. 

That is no longer the case considering the dramatic drop in the value of medallions, which has destroyed the finances of thousands of taxi drivers who The New York Timesreports were snookered into taking out large loans when medallions were worth as much as $1.3 million. 

Some have died by suicideand prices have plummeted to as low as $110,500 this summer.

A billbefore the state Senate and Assembly is looking to bail out medallion holders. The state Taxi Medallion Guaranty Program would create a loan guarantee program to help medallion holders with debts of up to $175,000 per medallion. 

The bill is modeled in part on the federal bailout of the financial industry and partly modeled on an existing capital access program overseen by Empire State Development. 

The bill did not move out of committee this past year, but sponsors Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and state Sen. 

Jessica Ramos, who each chair the labor committee in their respective chambers, say they will push the legislation next year.

Norwich: A man who smashed a taxi window and leapt out to avoid a £20 fare has been jailed for 11 weeks.

Thomas Barlow, 28, got into the taxi with another man around 3am on February 9 last year, before asking to be taken to various locations around Norwich.

After sleeping for part of the journey, Barlow tried to escape the cab and threatened the driver when he realised they could not afford to pay.

Finding the doors locked, he tried to pay £6 before smashing one of the windows and running away.

Lucy Miller, prosecuting at Norwich Magistrates Court, said Barlow had been picked up from Tombland, asking to go to Thorpe Road.

"The taxi driver drove via the train station, when the man changed his mind and said he now wanted to go to Spixworth," she said.

"Both men slept for part of the journey, then said they wanted to go to Hawthorn Road and on to another location.

"The man was saying to his friend 'you haven't got the money, how are you going to pay?'

"He tried to open the door, which can't be done unless the meter is cleared. The man started to shout at the driver and tried to pay £6. He was told if he didn't pay he couldn't get out.

"He was shouting and punching the window between the driver and the passengers, and the driver decided to drive back to Norwich to the police station.
"On route the man was shouting and making threats.

"At the junction with Spixworth Road the man managed to smash the window on the right hand side and both men got out and ran away, leaving an outstanding fare of £20.86."

In a victim impact statement, the taxi driver said he had "lost faith in other customers" and now tries to get money up front.

Police were called and when they arrived they found Barlow 400 metres away with a cut on his hand.

Barlow went no comment in interview because he "has no recollection" of what happened, Annette Hall, mitigating, told the court.

"He had drunk an awful lot of alcohol at that time," she said.
She added there are "mental health issues" for which he is being medicated.

"It is quite clear he had money on him because he gave £6 to the taxi driver," she said.

Magistrates activated five weeks of a ten week suspended sentence imposed on August 6 last year for a burglary Barlow committed.

They also jailed him for six weeks consecutively for criminal damage and making off without payment.

"This was very unpleasant and the taxi driver must have been very frightened indeed," said chair of the bench, Mary Wyndham.

Barlow, of Oakdale Road, Brundall, has also been ordered to pay £195 in compensation for the broken window and £20.80 for the taxi fare.

HongKong: Taxi Drivers Stage Peaceful Protest 

On Aug 23, about 500 taxi drivers in Hong Kong staged their peaceful parade, to voice their opposition to the protracted protests that they found were making life increasingly difficult for them.




The London Taxi Drivers Charity For Children Comes Up Trumps After Collection Stolen From Shelter.


The London Taxi Drivers’ Charity for Children were thrilled today, to present a brand new PS4 games console to Katie Simmonds at the Russell Square Cabmen’s Shelter, after hearing the terrible news that a collection she was having for a 15 year old boy had been stolen.

George from Woodford Green, had recently undergone major surgery after suffering serious medical issues due to Crohn’s disease, and Katie had been raising the money to buy him a Play Station. 

Our committee member Sim Yiannikaris, delivered the PS4 to Katie, who arranged for a fellow London Taxi driver to take it to George’s house later in the day. 

We hope that George enjoys playing with his new console and we would like to send him our best wishes for a speedy recover. 

Well done to Katie and Sim and a very big thank you to everyone at The London Cab Drivers Charity For Children. 

In The News Today...Taxis Rome, Refusing To Work On The Meter At Night.


In the news toda, Mark Rapley say’s 
“Come to Rome, and you will find out why London taxi drivers are the best in the world. 
Day time no problem. 
Once night is here majority of drivers refuse to run on the meter. Fixed fares only. 

From my hotel to Trevi fountain 17 euros on the meter. Return trip back to the Hotel...40 euros. Can’t believe their audacity

   

Do believe this is one of your ‘Cash Cow’ Minicabs TfLTPH  
Naughty boy letter in the Post ??   Or left in the In Tray Marked.  Nothing To See Here ??    
Lucky we could see the rear Green Roundel of Death cos most of em are covered up with a darker tint. 

  

Such a wonderful photo op for St Greta on her journey. 
Well except for the single use plastic bottle they forgot to take out of shot😜

Clean air drive to hit taxis with further cost Measures are being introduced in Coventry, home of the electric Taxi Cab.


Coventry’s taxis told they must clean up their emissions as part of the city’s clean air fight, but fears have been raised over the significant cost to do so.

Coventry City Council's cabinet is recommended to approve new emission-based licensing requirements for hackney carriage and private hire vehicles on Tuesday, August 27.

From January, only vehicles with Euro 4 engines will have licences renewed, and new applicants must all have zero emission capability.

All vehicles must have zero emission capacity from 2024.

The cost
Replacing cabs to meet emission requirements would cost around £60,000 to £70,000, a council meeting was told last year.

But Coventry council is only providing funding of £2,591 to the first 60 taxis.

A further £7,500 is offered by the government towards the cost, but this only equates to around £10,000 – leaving a significant shortfall for taxis.

Shadow cabinet member for city services Cllr Tim Mayer said: “The fact we are only going to be helping the first 60 is incredibly insulting.

“We have over 1,260 registered licenced drivers.
“It is not enough. It is a token gesture.
“We can drive income to pay for this and at the moment we are hitting people who are trying to make a living.”

It comes just days after a council committee agreed to increase licence fees for the first time since 2009, with cabbies warning they can’t afford it.

Cllr Mayer added: “In light of the fact we have now put their operation costs up and taking some of them off the road, the council are not properly finding ways to reduce the costs, we could see our taxi trade in a difficult situation in the coming months and years.

“As a city council we should be supporting them, but all we have done now is increase their operation costs and we will be putting some of them out of business as they will not be able to meet these requirements.

“This is very short-term, almost a headline grabbing response to the pollution problem. In no way does it attack the real problem which is particulates.”

When concerns over funding were made at a scrutiny meeting last December, the council’s director of regulatory services Andrew Walster said Coventry was providing an “extensive” financial package.

He said: “It is possibly one of the most generous packages in the country at the moment because of money we have put in.”
Council officer Shamala Evans added on Friday: “There are other packages available from a finance perspective.
“The cost of replacing it depends on the model and what upgrades you have.”


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

TfL Press Release On The Future Of Victoria Coach Station


Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed London’s major hub will continue to be located at its historic home in Victoria, with plans to work with coach operators to improve customer facilities at the 87-year-old Grade-II listed station as small section of the Victoria Coach Station lease expire in the early 2020s.

These improvements could include changes to the layout of the station to make the customer experience easier, as well as renovated facilities.

Retaining a coach station in Victoria ensures that services remain well-connected to London's public transport network and keeps large coaches in a safe site that separates drop-off and pick-up from people walking and cycling around central London. It also enables people to reach the center of London without using a private car.

TfL is prioritizing sustainable operations that reduce harmful vehicle emissions, and from next year on, every coach that serves Victoria Coach Station will be required to have some of the cleanest engines available.

Helen Lee, head of coach operations at TfL, said, “Coaches play a critical role driving the economy of the capital and beyond, boosting tourism to London and providing affordable travel options with cities across the UK. Without Victoria Coach Station, coaches would still travel to the center of the city but drop off and pick up on-street. This would increase noise, congestion and pollution for people living, working and visiting central London. It would also deprive the 14 million passengers who use this affordable long-distance travel every year of vital welfare facilities and ease of access to onward connections.”

TfL is identifying sites for enhanced coach facilities across the capital to complement the facilities at Victoria Coach Station. TfL will work with industry, transport operators, London's boroughs and passenger groups to identify appropriate locations for the supporting sites over the coming months. This would help to ensure that the city continues to be adequately and safely served by coaches, providing alternative options to passengers and reducing coach movements in central London.  

Keith McNally, operations director at the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said, “This is great news for coach operators who provide affordable connectivity across the UK and Europe. As well as playing a vital role in cutting congestion and improving air quality, the station acts as a working hub for operators and as a focal point for travelers, with many using it to interchange to onward destinations. Coach operators can now make their business and investments plans with the welcome knowledge that the station will remain operational. We look forward to working with TfL to deliver real improvements for operators and passengers at the site, so that the coach network across the UK can be developed further.”

Tim Bellenger, director of policy and investigation at London TravelWatch, said, “... London TravelWatch has made representations in support of its retention via the London Plan process over many years and our view was that there simply wasn't a viable alternative location for a comparable facility. 

This news will be welcomed by passengers, particularly the elderly and disabled who value the easy bus-to-bus interchange.'

Coaches are an efficient, affordable and accessible means of national and international transport to and from London for 14 million passengers a year, helping to drive the city's economy and often acting as a base for tourists to explore the rest of the country.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Late Night Update : It's Amazing The Affect Social Media Can Have On Local Politicians.


Caroline Russell has gone on record today as saying the problem of discarded bikes on the pavement, is unacceptable and that these bikes should be parked in the road....(where cyclists would have to drive round them...especially if they are parked in cycle lanes. Bet that went down well with the cycle lobby). 

Although Jump has first appeared in the borough of Islington, Caroline states she doesn't know if this company has a special arrangement with Islington Council.

The photo that appeared on Twitter yesterday showed the pavement almost blocked and Caroline has asked the original tweeter if he could let her know exactly where the photo was taken, presumably so she could get something done about the situation. 


So, seeing as Caroline has posted an interest in this problem, we think it's a good idea, if you should see the pavement being blocked by discarded bikes, no matter what company they belong to, you should take a photo of the obstruction and send it, along with details of where the photo was taken directly to her.  

You can email Caroline directly using CarolineforLondoners@gmail.com
And you can contact Caroline direct on 07876 260 491
Detail above are from Caroline's webpage 
http://www.caroline-russell.london/contact

You can also contact her on Twitter @CarolineRussell
But she doesn't always answer tweets.

Islington Councillor Claudia Webbe (@ClaudiaWebbe ) (Cabinet Enviroment and Transport) has also been copied in to all the complaints about these discarded Jump bikes, but so far has not replied in any way.


TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : 
It's amazing what a little bit of exposure on social media can do to this local politicians. 

The original poster of the image has spoken with Caroline Russell and Claudia Webbe many times and been given the brush off 

Twitter post Trever Hankins said:
"I challenged Ms Russell regarding her comment about ( eclectic chargers cluttering the pavements ) and showed her many pics of dockless bike strewn all over pavements.... she replied once saying she was busy 
It’s typical of the ( dictatorship of the cycling lobby) they only see what they want to see!"

But after the recent outrages on social media, suddenly Caroline Russell wants to know where this picture was taken.....amazing as she showed no concern about this type of problem in the past. 

So, I wonder how one would legally stand if... an able bodied pedestrian moved these bikes (found on a pavement) into the road....be it double yellow lines or even a cycle lane. 
Could they use the excuse that Caroline Russell said it would be more sensible for these items to be parked in the road and you were only carrying out her wishes???
Would the police see this as a sensible solution???

When They Say “Its Not About The Money”... It’s Always About The Money : TfL Not Fit For Purpose...Again!



Despite solid evidence that drivers have paid the £11.50 fee online in advance, they are still receiving penalty charge notices

Student Liberty Sprackling paid the London Congestion Charge online before driving into the capital. The £11.50 fee, levied during peak hours on weekdays, was debited from her account. 

Eight days later, it was mysteriously refunded.

Sprackling contacted Transport for London (TfL), the government body responsible for the charge, and was told she would have to wait until she had received a penalty charge notice (PCN) for non-payment and then contest it.

She did so and, despite sending confirmation of the transaction provided by her bank, her challenge was turned down and she was ordered to pay an £80 fine, rising to the full £160 if not settled within 14 days.

On the same day she made the payment, the Observer reported the case of another reader, Mahdi Koutizadeh, who also transferred the £11.50 online before driving into the congestion zone. 

The transaction showed as pending on his account for five days, then vanished. He, too, was told that he must await a PCN then challenge it. He sent a screenshot of the pending sum but TfL declared that he had not provided “sufficient evidence” of payment and fined him.

Both drivers appear to have fallen victim to a glitch with TfL’s payment system which failed to collect the sums after they had been authorised by the banks. Worryingly, the Observer has heard from five other readers who have suffered an identical experience.

Complaints website Resolver reports a surge in similar cases. Not only does TfL refuse to acknowledge a problem, it continues to ignore evidence from motorists showing that they have paid up. Moreover, those who heed its suggestion to appeal to London Tribunals, the independent adjudicator, face a £160 fine if they lose, since the right to pay 50% only applies within 14 days of receipt.

Ethan Gates was warned that his fine would rise to £240 if he failed to pay within 28 days. Like Sprackling and Koutizadeh, he had paid the charge on the day he drove into the zone and after showing as pending for 10 days the sum was refunded to his account.

A letter from his bank confirming the transaction, and the fact that TfL had failed to claim it, was ignored. “I phoned to inquire what further information I should ask for my bank to provide, and the lady I spoke with was incredibly rude. I’m feeling trapped and forced into paying £80 I genuinely don’t believe I should have to pay,” he says. “I’m really stuck and don’t know what I should do.”
Koutizadeh’s fine was cancelled after the Observer intervened. Only then did TfL admit that it was clear he had attempted to pay. It also agreed to cancel Sprackling’s PCN when we alerted it to the case.

Paul Cowperthwaite, general manager of Road User Charging at TfL, says: “We’re sorry we didn’t immediately cancel the penalty charge notice when evidence of an attempt to pay was provided. We have cancelled the notice and will review how we handle these rare issues. We’ve contacted Ms Sprackling to let her know.”

In fact, no one did contact her and the fine was only cancelled a month later after further media pressure.

Motorists who query a missing or failed payment with TfL find themselves entering a realm of Orwellian bureaucracy. The standard response is that nothing can be done until a PCN has been issued, at which point they should use the in-house appeals process to set the record straight.

When their challenge is dismissed they are told their only recourse is London Tribunals. Dismissal of these appeals results in increased revenue for TfL which, instead of an £11.50 fee, benefits from a penalty of up to £240.

TfL insists that only a “very small” number of drivers have been affected by the issue. “We’re sorry that incorrect penalty charge notices were not immediately cancelled after evidence of an attempt to pay was provided,” Cowperthwaite adds. “Clearly our response hasn’t been right, so we’re putting in measures to avoid this happening again.” The agency says it is investigating each case we raised to ensure lessons are learned.

The operation of London’s congestion and low emission zone charges was outsourced to Capita in 2015. It had to pay TfL more than £20m in compensation after botching an IT upgrade the following year and TfL is reportedly considering taking over the administration itself when the contract ends in 2021.

Capita denies that there is a problem with its technology. It says: 
“Working with TfL, we have tested the payments process and there is currently no indication this extremely rare issue has been caused by a fault in Capita’s platform. We continue to work closely with TfL to ensure payments are processed smoothly.”

However, Martyn James of Resolver says that customer feedback suggests there is a problem and that they are seeing a significant increase in complaints.

When paying the charge ensure you receive confirmation and take screenshots of your online bank balance so you have evidence of the transaction.

Scammers can get you, too:
Drivers entering chargeable congestion zones are being scammed by websites masquerading as official payment portals. The sites, which come up first on some online searches, charge covert fees which can double the price of the official charge and do not pass the payment on to the relevant authority, leaving drivers with a penalty charge.

Sarah Weston inadvertently used paylondoncharge.co.uk when she entered London’s ultra-low emissions zone. An emailed receipt confirmed the transaction, but two weeks later she received a £160 penalty charge from TfL, £80 if paid within 14 days. Weston sent TfL the receipt but was told the money had never been received. 

Moreover, the website charged £19.99 instead of the £12.50 required by TfL. The extra £7.49 is a service fee only mentioned in the small print at the bottom of the home page, together with the fact the site is not affiliated to TfL.

It failed to respond to requests for a comment and its phone number does not work. But following media contact it refunded the cost of the fine.

A similar site, Paydartcharge.co.uk, charges £6 for the Dartford Crossing – the official charge is £2.50. Paydartcharge did not respond to queries.

Signs at the crossing, administered by Highways England, instruct motorists to search online for how to pay, leaving the uninitiated vulnerable to impostors.

Some fake websites offer 24-hour support on a premium rate number which connects callers to TfL’s own call centre while racking up charges. TfL didn’t respond for a request for a comment but its website states it is “continually working to try to remedy the situation”.

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT :

The congestion charge was introduced in 2003 and means non-exempt drivers pay £11.50 to enter central London between 7am and 6pm on weekdays.

Committee chairman Caroline Pidgeon claimed the system only covers "a tiny part of London" and fails to target vehicles travelling for longer and at the most congested times.

She went on to say 
“ Gridlocked London needs to start moving again”.

The Liberal Democrat Assembly Member said: "Something dramatic has to be done about the enormous congestion problem on London's roads.
"The issue is costing our city money and costing Londoners their health and well-being.