Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Bid To Close All Camden Roads To Cars For Three Months Every Year

Town Hall open to ideas on how to cut emissions after declaring climate emergency
Liz Wheatley from Camden Unison speaking at Monday’s meeting

COUNCIL chiefs have been urged to press the full emergency button on climate change and ban cars from Camden’s roads for three months every year.

The proposed shutdown for one week every month was put forward as a serious proposition this week as the Town Hall’s war on emissions gathered pace.
The council is ready to consider any green idea to back up its status as one of the first local authorities to declare a climate emergency and target being carbon neutral by 2030.

It set up a "Citizens’ Assembly" – a panel of 50 randomly selected residents – to help draw up an action plan and is digesting possible ways to encourage people to give up their cars.

As the options were discussed at Monday’s full council meeting, Liz Wheatley, branch convenor at Unison, said Camden had to match its fighting talk on climate change with action, suggesting "car-free days" could be expanded to "car-free weeks". She said: "When you think that they are already finding air pollution particles in ­people’s placentas, then it’s a serious issue. "There should be monitoring on all roads. We know some of that happens but the results need to be published to start a discussion about what we do to reduce them."

Asked by the Conservative opposition in the chamber how disabled or elderly people would be able to get around if cars were not allowed, Ms Wheatley said: "I knew it would be controversial: it is a big ask, it is a big change for people but I’m wary of the phrase ‘a genuine need for a car’ because a lot of people have a genuine need for a lot of things and they find there is an alternative to having them."

The proposal would mean stopping pollution-causing cars – including on famously busy stretches such as Euston Road and Finchley Road – but allowing green public transport and electric vehicles to run.
Ms Wheatley added: "There are going to be people who need a vehicle but then, what’s wrong with an electric vehicle? They are not perfect, but they are better than a petrol or diesel vehicle."

Camden invited members of its Citizens’ Assembly, representatives of local green campaign group and activists from Extinction Rebellion – currently in the middle of a fortnight of direct action protests – to take part in the meeting.

All parties later approved a motion to consider new measures and reinforce its climate emergency approach.
Labour council chiefs have already said they would like to see non-essential car use reduced and Camden is aiming to meet the toughest World Health Organisation standards on air quality – an ambition which outstrips several other local authorities.

Car-free events, however, have been limited to single days and not covered the entire borough so far.
Camden High Street will be closed off for a day later this year as a test.

While in the past some green ideas have been dismissed by local governments across the UK as too disruptive to daily life or too expensive to implement, Camden has now declared itself ready to be a leading authority in terms of bringing down emissions.

What was once considered a fringe debate by some politicians, the need to clean up the polluted air is now at the top of agenda – a fact Ms Wheatley said owed a lot to schoolchildren protesting about their climate change fears.

Nearly every street in Camden has pollutants above levels considered safe for humans, with particular concern about the toxic air around schools and hospitals.

The union’s other suggestions included banning glyphosate weed killer on council land, divesting pension money from fossil fuel-burning companies and using parking ticket cash on green schemes.

Ms Wheatley said that for three weeks every year, schools should devote their "entire curriculum to be taught through the lens of climate emergency".

Adam Harrison, Camden’s environment chief, said Camden was ready to set an example and welcomed ideas from Unison

Labour environment chief, Councillor Adam Harrison, said Ms Wheatley had outlined "what I think is a really valuable and helpful programme of actions", adding: "We need to be looking at every aspect of what we do."
He said: "We’ve had some debates about the car-free proposal and of course the Citizens’ Assembly proposed car-free zones and car-free days. I think there’s a lot of synergy there."

Cllr Harrison said: "We need to be setting an example. Even if we think others aren’t following our lead, we need to be the ones working out how to transform in this new environment."

This again, is a disgusting disregard of the elderly and disabled residents by certain Councillors, with alleged financial conflicts of interests.

Shouldn't these caring councilors by more concerned with the safety of residents on the street, are the recent surge in violent crimes in the borough?

Is it not time we had a proper investigation into the business links of these councilors past and present (this could certainly open a few eyes).

Most of the so called increase in pollution in the area has come from the crazy traffic schemes which have resulted in traffic chaos, with vehicles having to cover more ground, just to get through the borough.
Let’s not forget 

The Town Hall is also looking to shut out traffic on Camden High Street close to Camden Town underground station for trial days this year in a bid to cut air pollution. 

Camden has been granted more than £1 million by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to introduce measures to create a ‘Low Emission Neighbourhood’. 

Another proposal is the creation of a Cargo Bike Network, which would switch van deliveries to bike where possible. Councillors involvement -past and present-in this scheme need to be investigated!

Labour councillor Adam Harrison, the Town Hall’s environment chief, said: "In Camden we’ve radically raised the level of our ‘ambition’ on cleaning up our air by stretching World Health Organisation guidelines for air quality in Camden by 2030. 

I am particularly excited at the prospect of making Camden Town a Low Emission Neighbourhood, including trialling giving sections of the High Street over to pedestrians to enjoy, free from motorised traffic."

Will they also be insisting on 
* The removal on central heating and air conditioning from all Camden Council buildings?
* The removal of all tube ventilation shafts 
* Stopping HS2 running through to borough to Euston 

Or are these hypocrites only interesting in stopping any competition to their cargo bike scheme?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Taxis Are Being Classified Unsafest Because Of Refusal To Differentiate

Another uninsured Uber PHV, has costs a family friend £4/5k. So how many of Uber’s 40,000 PHVs, are now driving around with no insurance ? 

TfLTPH have completely lost control of the Private Hire industry to Uber and this actually happened, just after July’s court case, where Uber where found guilty of giving work to uninsured Uber cars.... so, nothing’s changed???

Another one for Laurel Powers Freeling to ignore perhaps?

We asked TfL for a comment and they relied, "Purple Monkeys and Bubblegum Trees".




For those who think we shouldn’t protest against TfL’s failure to regulate the industry properly, maybe this below will make you think otherwise.

Policy implementation is instructed on the basis of safety, whereby taxis are routinely being classed as the unsafest!

Statement from Les Hoath (Chairman)
London Suburban Taxi-drivers’ Coalition

If the London taxi trade feels that TfL/T&PH have completely lost control of the private hire industry to Uber, then they need to send a deputation to Parliament pointing this out and demand they lose their contract and a new regulator be appointed. 

Press Release From The Association Of British Drivers : London and Paris Have The Same Problem: Their Mayors

Paris ‘smog days’ have increased from 5 to 22 per year in the past 4 years as a direct result of the Mayor’s anti-car policies and despite a low emission zone. 

Paris now has fewer cars, but emissions have increased due to more congestion caused by cycle lanes, pedestrianisation and 8000 construction projects. Hamsa Hansal, who owns a fleet of 10 cabs, describes the Mayor of Paris as "a hysteric. Nothing but bicycle lanes and construction sites. 

Total Chaos, Traffic Jams 24/7"

ABD Environment spokesman Paul Biggs said: "It’s well known that increasing congestion increases emissions. 

This fact seems to have escaped successive London Mayors and the Mayor of Paris, who seem hell-bent on grinding economically essential traffic to a halt – traffic that can’t be replaced by walking and cycling. 

This results in a vicious circle of increasingly punitive air quality measures against drivers costing orders of magnitude more than even the claimed benefits. 

It seems that obstructing traffic and raising revenue from drivers takes priority over improving air quality

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Apparently the Disabled Don't Want Purpose Built Taxis, They'd Prefer Saloon Cars! Says Ex Cab Driver.

Eastbourne Borough Council is considering introducing new rules requiring all taxis to be wheelchair accessible. Most cabbies wouldn't have a problem with that.....meanwhile, in Eastbourne!!!

The Eastbourne Herald has posted this unbelievable letter from an alleged retired Taxi driver Gary B Jones.

I read this with horror says mr Jones.
This ruling would completely discriminate against the vast majority of disabled people who are unable to get in and out of these adapted vehicles.

This idea was first brought up in the mid 1990s and as a new taxi driver I became a founder member of the MSDCHCA (Mid-Sussex Taxi Hackney Carriage Drivers Association) which was formed to support the interest of taxi drivers and their industry in Mid-Sussex.

We did extensive research with the help of Age Concern, NHS professionals, social services and other interested bodies. A delegation went to the House of Commons with a wheelchair accessible taxi to show MPs the difficulties that elderly and people with disabilities had getting in and out of these vehicles.

The test we gave the MPs at that time was to get in, sit down and get out of a London style taxi on one leg, without bumping your head.

Try it.
At the time of our research it showed that less than one per cent of the population was registered disabled and that less than one per cent of the disabled population was totally dependant on a wheelchair, and they only used a taxi when transport provided by the county council was not available.

The preferred choice of taxi vehicle, for most wheelchair users who have limited mobility, and for passengers with a mobility issue, is the front passenger seat of a saloon car.

You only have to ask the telephone operators in the taxi booking offices how often they will be asked for a saloon car by the elderly.

In most cases it is quite easy for the passenger, sometimes with the assistance of the driver, to simply lower themselves to sit on the front passenger seat and then turn their legs 90 degrees placing their feet in the footwell.

The issues regarding wheelchair accessible vehicles from a driver viewpoint is that they cost up to five times more to purchase than a saloon car and that you miss a lot of trade by not taking passengers with mobility issues.

For a taxi to carry a wheelchair passenger the driver has to secure the wheelchair to the vehicle and release it afterwards.

It would appear from mr Jones’ letter, that the London Taxi trade, having purpose built vehicles, completely accessible by all forms of the disabled community... have in fact been wasting our money for many years.

This (alleged) cabby, is saying that we would have been better for all these years with ordinary saloon cars.

This was not on the letters page, but actually posted as an article.
To be honest, I’m amazed that any paper, be it nation or local, would post such a letter as an article.... must have been a slow news week!

Construction Of The Proposed Hackney To Westferry Cycleway Due To Start. More Golden Contracts For Gold Stakeholders No Doubt.

TfL admit, London traffic lights have been rephased to give priority to buses and cyclists by a record amount. It would seem that ordinary senior citizens and the disabled community will have to just sit in the stationary traffic. With lights staying on red for longer, we can expect to see even more pollution caused by the ensuing gridlock.

TfL project the amount of time saved by Londoners travelling by bus, bike or on foot is expected to total 17,500 hours per weekday by the end of the year. They haven't made a projection of the extra journey time everyone else can expect.

Transport for London’s 15,000 hours target will be the biggest time-saving yet recorded. But for only bus passengers and cyclists.
As most buses R virtually empty for much of the day, TfL are hoping to attract more passengers from other means of transport.

TfL is also planning further changes to 28 junctions that will give extra “green time” to cyclists, primarily along the hugely unpopular East-West and North-South cycle superhighways. Not really the right political atmosphere to be squandering public funds on personal vanity projects.

About a fifth of the capital’s 6,300 traffic lights are reviewed each year to ensure “green time” is allocated according to demand.

SCOOT (Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique) will see sensors used to detect traffic and adjust the red-amber-green timings to manage queues and give buses priority if they are running late.
We heard this before....TFL's CentreComs (during the time of the Olympic Lanes) were going to (in their own words) tweak the timings of traffic signals to hold back traffic to clear specific areas of hold ups caused by the 2012 Olympic lanes. Not only did this not work, TfL never took a note of the original timings, which have resulted -even up to today- traffic chaos.

The first SCOOT sensors able to detect how many cyclists are waiting at traffic lights are due to be installed at the first 20 junctions, including at Ludgate Circus and at Southwark Tube station, by next April. So expect travel along Fleet Street/Ludgate Hill  and Blackfriars Road/ The Cut to become a nightmare.

Helen Cansick, TfL’s head of network performance said: “By the end of the [financial] year, all the changes we will have made, will have counted up to 17,500 hours every day saved to people at these junctions using sustainable modes of transport.”

So, diesel buses are now being classed as 'sustainable' modes of transport! And yet zero emission possible Taxis, fully electric Taxis, fully wheelchair accessible Taxis, will be excluded by these changes. The hypocrisy from 'network performance' is of the highest order...

Sadiq Khan’s long-term transport strategy commits TfL to ensuring London’s streets are “used more efficiently and have less traffic”.
Yet the he has made a point of excluding the licensed Taxi trade from the Mayor's Transport strategy.

TfL’s aim is to create a “green wave”, enabling cyclists to flow through several sets of lights at a time. It varies the timings of traffic lights according to the time of day, to mirror peak-hour traffic flows.

But then....TfL change tact and the !Green Man' suddenly becomes more pedestrian friendly, causing even more traffic chaos in its wake.
TfL state: The “Green man authority” trials, where the green man signal for pedestrians remains illuminated as the “default” setting, and only changes when vehicles approach, are due to start imminently in the Olympic park.

Pedestrian SCOOT sensors that detect the amount of people waiting to cross the road are due to be introduced at Highbury & Islington station. They have been used for some time near the East London and Regent’s Park mosques.(wondered why jams had appeared there where before there were none....another of Khan's personal vanity projects perhaps?)

Ms Cansick said: “Our job is to get the best balance so that no one particular group of people feels particularly adversely affected.
“We don’t necessarily want to create a whole population of angry drivers who are sitting in traffic.”
Which is exactly Taxi Leaks predicts will happen

Saturday, October 12, 2019

UTAG’s Applauds Council’s Motion Against Uber Operations In Medway... "TfL, Take Note!"

UTAG should like to thank our colleagues in Medway and Cllr Dan McDonald, for inviting us to this important Council meeting at which, Medway Council passed a motion to support the MLTDA in taking legal action against Uber, over their illegal activity in the Medway towns in which they are not licensed.

This illegal activity in Medway, is predominantly being carried out by TfL licensed Uber drivers.

Although this activity has been reported to TfL, they will do nothing to stop it.....but Medway will.

Cllr Jane Chitty who also worked on the motion said: 
Medway Council is a pathfinder in taking action against Uber. 

Also contributing legal advice to Cllr Dan McDonald, was London Suburban Taxi-drivers’ Coalition (Chairman) Les Hoath. 

At last we have a regulator who will finally stand up and support action against Uber.

TfL take note, this leads back to you!

Ever Wondered Why TfL Allow So Many Road Works In Central London At Any One Time? ....£££££££!!!

Ever wondered why there are so many road works scattered around with no obvious plan to alleviate the stress on the smooth running of London’s transport infrastructure. 

We have it on good authority that many essential road upgrades are held up because of the number of emergency issues that take precedence. 

But it’s not unusual to see roads dug up and left, with no obvious work being carried out while the company (supposedly doing the repair) concentrate on other areas. 

It is not unknown that Transport for London charge a rental for road works (one of the reasons why there are so many). But there is no directive on the urgency for work to be completed.  

Transport for London has therefore announced plans to change the way its ‘Lane Rental’ scheme works.

The new scheme will allow Transport for London (TfL) to charge utility companies a higher daily fee (there’s a surprise) for digging up some of the capital’s busiest roads during peak times.

The idea is it will encourage companies to plan the works they need to carry out to fall outside of peak travel times, therefore avoiding extra costs.

But when this is thought through, it just doesn’t add up!
There are two busy rush hours daily...how many utility related road works have been completed in the space between rush hours.... it just doesn’t pan out. Many believe this is just TfL again, using these works as another cash cow, to finance even more harebrained so called safety schemes.  

They have said all the money generated by the lane rentals is reinvested into other disruption-reducing measures. But have been unable to give any examples. 

The proposed changes would see the extent of the Lane Rental network increased to apply to 72 per cent of TfL’s road network, as well as the introduction of a £350 charge per day for works that impact the busiest sections of pavement.

They went further to proclaim that the move is intended to reduce the number of locations where the highest charges apply and reduce the number of hours when charging would apply – helping to promote work at quieter times. (More like as one finishes another begins)
It’s a fact that very few utility based works carry on through the night. 

Companies would also be offered discounts when they meet strict safety standards.

Glynn Barton, TfL’s director of network management: "We’re working very closely with the industry on schemes such as Lane Rental and our Roadworks Charter to reduce the impact of roadworks and to keep people moving safely around the capital."

Well Glynn, this is not a computer model, this is real life and at present your planned schemes are work working.

Proof that these present schemes aren’t working am can be seen in the gridlock on most main roads around the capital. 

How my iPhone landed me with a £476 fine and made me a criminal Interesting article...

I had a similar experience a couple of months ago. I took a young lady to North Wembly the metered fare was £38. 

She got her phone out to pay with Apple Pay, but her battery had died. 
Unfortunately, I couldn’t charge it for her because I didn’t have my own iPhone lead with me. 

So what do you do... She asked for my bank details but I declined the offer and gave her my address instead. She promised to send a check in the post....Needless to say haven’t heard from her since. 

After telling a few friends at various watering holes m, it transpires that she is a serial biller. Even if you charge her phone, the transaction will not clear. 

Just like to say to this Financial Times reporter, welcome to our world. 

If anyone knows the difficulty in getting replies or answers to important questions from TfL... then it’s us. 

Try phoning them, it’s like trying to get through to president Trump at the White House. 

Friday, October 11, 2019

‪Medway Council Issues Uber A Warning‬ ‪Your Time Is Up, We’re Coming For You!‬

 Last nights Medway council meeting- started with cross party support for Cllr Dan McDonald’s motion, calling for Medway to take action, along with the Medway Licence Taxi Driver’s Association (MLTDA), against Über. 

Councillors discussed whether Uber has a case to answer in court for operating illegally in the Medway Towns.

Currently Uber are working the area under a ‘Greater London’ licence issued by Transport for London. The MLTDA questioned whether this was actually lawful.

Cllr McDonald asked the council to, "proceed with the appropriate legal action against Uber" and work with MLTDA.

The influx of this ride share company in the Medway area has caused great hardship among local taxi firms.

Debate inc great maiden speech from Harinder Singh, "Uber your time is up, you've had your chance, we're coming for you."

Cllr Dan McDonald of Medway Council said after the meeting:
"Tonight we achieved a real victory against Uber with my motion receiving cross party support to assist the @MLTDA1 with legal action. 

"A significant decision that will send a message to other councils across the UK . Medway is standing by its drivers, Uber we are coming for you".

Lee Ward of Alpha said :

The support and understanding by Medway council has been astonishing!!!

It has put ALL other councils to shame, and I thank you for it.

I also wish to thank @MLTDA1 for their unity in a time when all other areas have lost faith, my hat is off to you guys, really.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Proposed permanent closure of Beak Street to vehicle traffic from 11am till 7am the following day.

We understand that Westminster City Council is working in partnership with Shaftesbury plc on proposals to extend the Kingly Street / Carnaby Street pedestrianised shopping area further south to encompass Beak Street.  

The pedestrianisation would extend along Beak Street from Warwick Street to Upper James Street.  All westbound traffic on Beak Street would be routed down Upper James into Golden Square and then on to either Brewer Street or Denman and then presumably Shaftesbury Avenue.  

Deliveries would take place between 7 am and 11 am in the morning - when traffic would flow, leaving the rest of the day (and night) from 11am to the following morning at 7 am for pedestrians only and commercial activity though increased pedestrian footfall for shopping.  This proposal would also facilitate increased use of the carriage way for tables and chairs and overflow from the pub.

Marshall Street junction with Beak Street would also be closed with all Broadwick street west bound traffic routed down Lexington. Traffic will be reversed on Bridle Lane.

These proposals are intended to increase comfort for pedestrians and are based on a traffic survey provided by Shaftesbury itself and "generally support the modal shift to pedestrians in this area."

Next steps are an informal consultation with the local community.  If there is "broad support" there will be an experimental traffic order and formal consultation.  
The Soho Society’s own informal survey is at the bottom of the page.
The Councillor responsible is Tim Mitchell who can be contacted as follows:-
Correspondence address:   
Westminster City Hall 
64 Victoria Street
Bus. phone:  020 7641 5371 (Cabinet Team) 


Where do these planners think this traffic is going to go, when they close off streets and so called rat-runs?

I believe this started in the late 70s on the West Way, they closed all the little side street off so if you were stuck in traffic, you just had to sit there, you couldn’t escape. You just added to the congestion and made the jams worse. 

Now they’re doing it in the West End and City...they are closing off streets leaving the traffic no alternative than to stay on the main road m, with all the other traffic and just sit there in the congestion causing more even pollution.

This again proves it’s not about safer streets
It’s not about clean air 
It’s all about the money !!!

Ken Livingston cane up with this plan when he introduced the congestion charge.... before he could charge for congestion, he had to cause it.

Now to charge for an Ultra Low Emissions Zone...they are creating even more toxic air, over a wider area, which will now result in a massive extension of the ULEZ. 

Other questions Taxi drivers should be asking are...
How long have our largest org (via the JTRC) known about this closure?
What meetings have they had with Westminster over this?

Probably be the same silence that the trade was given over their recent secret AGM!

Another Setback For How Dare You, Know-it-all Climate Alarmism, But A Win For Resilient Nature.

For the first time ever, scientists have found corals that were thought to have been killed by heat stress have recovered, a glimmer of hope for the world’s climate change-threatened reefs, says Phys.org 

The chance discovery, made by Diego K. Kersting from the Freie University of Berlin and the University of Barcelona during diving expeditions in the Spanish Mediterranean, was reported in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday.

Kersting and co-author Cristina Linares have been carrying out long-term monitoring of 243 colonies of the endangered reef-builder coral Cladocora caespitosa since 2002, allowing them to describe in previous papers recurring warming-related mass mortalities.

"At some point, we saw living polyps in these colonies, which we thought were completely dead," Kersting told AFP, adding it was a "big surprise."

Coral are made up of hundreds to thousands of tiny creatures called polyps that secrete a hard outer skeleton of calcium carbonate (limestone) and attach themselves to the ocean floor.

Heat waves kill these animals--by either essentially roasting them alive or causing them to eject the symbiotic algae that live within them and provide them nutrients, thus leading to coral bleaching.

A quarter of the coral cover of Spain’s Columbretes Islands was lost to a particularly extreme heat wave in 2003.

Time running out????
But the researchers found that in 38 percent of the impacted colonies, the polyps had devised a survival strategy: shrinking their dimensions, partly abandoning their original skeleton, and gradually, over a period of several years, growing back and starting a new skeleton.

They were then able to gradually re-colonize dead areas through budding.
In order to be sure the polyps were in fact the same animals staging a comeback, rather than new coral created through sexual reproduction, the team used 3D computer imaging to confirm the old, abandoned skeleton was connected to the new structure.

This process of "rejuvenescence" was known to exist in the fossil record but had never before been observed in coral colonies that exist today.
Kersting said the finding opens up the intriguing possibility that other modern corals around the world--such as those in Australia’s dying Great Barrier Reef--might be applying similar survival strategies, though further investigation is required.


Wednesday, October 09, 2019

PayPal investment In Uber Is Down By $228 Million After Uber Shares Sink

(Bloomberg) -- PayPal Holdings Inc. will report a $228 million loss on investments before taxes in the third quarter, driven in large part by a bad bet on Uber Technologies Inc. just before it went public.

The San Jose, California-based payments company said the investment in Uber, for $500 million at the initial public offering price, had declined 34%. Another investment, in Latin American online retailer MercadoLibre Inc., had declined 10%, PayPal said.

PayPal’s stake in the world’s largest ride-hailing business was tied to what the companies described as a closer collaboration on payments technology. Uber is the most prominent app to use PayPal’s nascent Pay With Venmo feature. But Uber’s stock has under-performed due to a combination of slowing growth and accelerated losses

In an email, a PayPal spokeswoman cited the "inherent difficulty" in predicting the stock market for the mismatch between its previous forecast and the reality. The company will report financial results on Oct. 23.


Any cabby using PayPal to clear credit cards ("cause it’s cheap") is no better than the people who use Uber. 
Please think again and take a look at CabVision’s new brilliant deal.

PayPal was originally promoted by Taxi App... before their Uber investment. 

Taxiapp have told Taxi Leaks, it’s beyond their control to take those already using the system off, as it may leave drivers without a CC solution. 
They also made it clear that since the investment, they no longer promote PayPal to its new members. 

The drivers can use their own CC clearance card system or go via the app which is Strype.

Why support companies who haven’t got out best interests at heart. Support the people who support the trade.  

Also on Bloomberg today:

Decision to allow 'double swiping' for Wandsworth Taxicard holders praised

Taxicard offers subsidised travel in licensed taxis and private hire vehicles to residents with serious mobility impairments or who are severely sight impaired.

Previously in Wandsworth, only single swiping was allowed.
Single swiping is when a Taxicard user takes a trip, they swipe their card on a machine held by the taxi driver. This registers that they have used one of their allocated trips and allows for the subsidy to be applied to the fare.

Swiping twice deducts two trips from a user’s allocation and allows for a double subsidy to the cost of the trip. However, it also doubles the minimum user contribution required.

Labour Councillor Simon Hogg said the decision to allow double swiping will help disabled people who can’t use the bus or Tube get out.

“Wandsworth is a great place to live but some people find it a challenge to travel around the neighbourhood," he said.
“The Taxicard scheme helps disabled people who can’t use the bus or Tube to get out and about with subsidised taxi trips.

“It’s good news that Wandsworth Council has reformed the scheme to broaden the horizons of local people.

“Huge thanks to Labour councillor Annamarie Critchard for her hard work behind the scenes to make this happen.”
The issue was last formally considered by the council in 2009 where it was decided not to allow double swiping, largely due to financial reasons.

TfL currently fully fund the Taxicard scheme within the borough with no additional budget contributions from the General Fund," a report prepared for the meeting in which the scheme was approved read.

"It is unclear if the proposals in this report will result in a significant increase in the use of Taxicards to a level where the council exceeds the TfL allocation.

"However, it is estimated that usage would need to increase by approximately 50 per cent before this would be breached.
"This will be monitored closely and, if it proves to be the case that the allocation is exceeded in either the short or longer term, the council will need to review its decision."

As part of the approval it was said the council will review the impact of the implementation of double swiping in 12 months’ time and thereafter annually, with particular reference to the funding made available by Transport for London, to determine whether it can be extended for a further year.

Taxicards can be used 24 hours a day, 365 days per year subject to the availability of vehicles. Individuals can use them up to a maximum of 104 times per year.

Press Release In Support of Better Mental Health Provision by TFL for London’s Black Cab Drivers

SOS Silence of Suicide has been working closely with some London black cab drivers in an attempt to understand the psychological challenges that both the job, and industry regulations stipulated by TFL, impact upon these men and women in their professional and private lives.  Reports of depression, stress and anxiety are growing by the day and changes urgently need to be made to bring about improved mental health.

Continuous support is offered by ourselves free of charge and there are many other charities and groups who can provide much needed assistance – there is no doubt that those who are an historical and much loved part of the London landscape are fighting to earn a living above the national minimum wage, whilst having to operate within a regulatory climate that reduces their freedom of movement and hence their earnings.   

In comparison, other taxi operatives in the City are free to operate without the same restrictions, creating an unfair working environment.  It is not difficult to see why poor mental health is on the rise.

SOS were shown a confidential email recently, received from the Sarah Hope Line (a counselling service funded by the TFL) and written to a cab driver who had been utilising this service that should, in theory, help him and others.  His initial belief, and relief, that TFL were attempting to offer support, quickly evaporated when he was told that he could not discuss the causes of his poor mental health if they related to issues at work.
  In this particular instance, the driver concerned was told he had to manage his own traumas outside of counselling.

It is quite ridiculous to suggest, let alone enforce, the ethos that you cannot discuss the issues that may create, or compound, poor mental health at counselling sessions, and the attitude of the SHL has been poor, uncaring and dismissive. They are certainly not displaying the professionalism or empathy required whilst purporting to help those in crisis. We have written ourselves asking for an explanation of their protocols, but have been met with silence.

Caroline Pidgeon MBE, a member of the Liberal Democrats in the London Assembly, is addressing the concerns of these drivers directly.

SOS will continue to offer unwavering support to the drivers and we hope that the near future sees TFL working to provide a counselling service that does not restrict freedom of speech amongst its clients.  After all, being a regulator does carry responsibilities to those it represents and those responsibilities need to be recognised, and honoured, in a correct way.

A documentary, made by Jasper Warry from Hello Deer Productions called ‘Driven To Despair’ can be viewed by clicking HERE
SOS Silence of Suicide.
October 2019