Saturday, February 09, 2019

Uber wins 1-year Birmingham licence renewal. The minicab app says it picks up Brummies in under 4 minutes on average

Uber's Dara put a big smile on Mike 'on side' Browns face, offering to help with TFL's billion pound buget deficit by getting his drivers to pay the congestion charge.

Uber is to continue operating in Birmingham for at least another year after being granted a probationary renewal of its operator licence by the city council.

A licensing sub committee held a meeting behind closed doors at the end of January and unanimously agreed for the firm to carry on until January 31, 2020 when it will be up for review again.

The minicab app stated it had been 'humbled' by the reaction in Birmingham since launching in the city in 2015.

A booklet, submitted as part of their application, provided a number of statistics about the operation revealing that more than 1,000 drivers licensed by Birmingham City Council are earning money through the app.

There have been more than 15 million trips since 2015 with an average pick-up time of four minutes.

Unfortunately Birmingham have not released figures of Uber rapes, sexual assaults or account hacks.

Uber also highlighted a number of their safety features including cashless transactions, the fact that all trips are recorded on GPS and a feature which requires drivers to take a six hour break if they have been 'on trip' for ten hours.

The firm stated it was looking to 'strengthen' working relationships with West Midlands Police and Birmingham City Council licensing enforcement.

Uber also has a Memorandum of Understanding with the West Midlands Combined Authority to make transport data available to assist in infrastructure planning decisions in the city.

Fred Jones, director at Uber UK, said: "Since our launch in February 2015, we have been humbled by Birmingham's response to Uber.

"From carrying over a million passengers and helping over 1,000 drivers earn money via the app, we are proud to have had a positive impact on the lives of so many Brummies. He failed to mention the amount of hours drivers are forced to work to make a reasonable living...

"For the next stage of our journey we are excited about better partnering with the city to help solve some of the urban transport challenges that Birmingham faces, including congestion, air quality, and providing safe, affordable and reliable transport to every corner of the city."

Perhaps FRED should concentrate on getting his drivers to stop sexually assaulting lone female passengers! Being drunk after a night out isn't a crime.....Rape is. 

Source : Telegraph 


Big thanks to @KnowledgeBoy87 for driving the UTAG Solicitor Darren Rogers of @chilternlaw2013, to deliver more bad news to TfL's Head Office today. 

All legal documents have now been lodged with those trying to get rid of us.

Thanks to everyone on-board for your backing and fighting spirit 


🔵 Drivers, On The Front Line, Fighting For The Survival Of Our Trade 🔵

1pm Friday, thousands of militant Taxi drivers headed for Parliament Square. 

Police diverted all traffic from the area but allowed Taxis to enter the protest. 

The Squar soon filled and all approach roads were full of Taxis. Westminster Bridge, Millbank, Victoria Street, Birdcage Walk and Whitehall were stacked full with protesting taxis. 


Organisers worked along with the police, asking if emergency lanes could be left empty, as we did not want to be falsely accused of blocking access for ambulances of fire engines.

As traffic all other had been diverted, the police felt that the sides of the road leading away from the square (being empty) was sufficient for emergency vehicles to use. But the outside lane in the square itself, was kept empty for emergency use. 


Police worked with the protesters (unlike Wednesday when a couple of stroppy officers got aggressive) and the protests stayed put and ended peacefully at 4pm. 

The protests are gathering pace and growing in numbers every time. 
The trade has been given its p45 by the Mayor and TfL. Make no mistake, we are in the fight for our lives.

These drivers are on the front line, fighting for the survival of our trade. 
If you worked.... while your colleagues fought for yours and your families livelihood...
then shame on you. 🔵

Thursday, February 07, 2019

David Kurten questions the mayor on the future of London's taxitrade... Silence From Woodfield Road.

Mike Brown and Sadiq Khan, no longer consider London's Taxis to be part of Public Transport. Is it time for the London Taxi trade to refuse to acknowledge TfL as our regulator?
The UCG aleady refuse to meet with TfL as engagement policy was shown to be a it not time the RMT,LCDC, LTDA and Unite followed the UCG lead?

Thursday 7th Feb, both London Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL commissioner Mike Brown, face questions from the General London Assembly (GLA), over transport issues. 

The London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC) have submitted questions to assembly members to be asked on our behalf. Strangely quiet from Woodfield Road.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed that Mike Brown has avoided many meetings with the London Taxi Trade and has also stopped answering questions out to him in emails. 

One of the questions Mike Brown has repeatedly avoided answering is : Has TFL ever done a Health and Safety risk assessment on Uber’s mode of operations.... 

We have been reliably informed that drivers have asked this question many times by email, yet the commissioner has failed to answer or make a statement. 

One thing TfL did say was, if you don’t like what we are doing, then take us to court....
And that’s exactly what UTAG are going to do. 
But to do this, they need your financial help. 

Please use the UTAG link in the right hand column, to support the group that’s fighting on your behalf, United Trade Action Group. 

Watch David Kurten's questions to the Mayor and Mike Brown. 


So that’s a resounding NO....Taxis are NOT included in the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy. 

Let’s hope every driver in London join the Proactive ITA protests MON-WED-FRI 1pm-4pm Parliament Sq. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Lawyer Who Won Brexit Case Targets Uber Over $260 Million a Year in Taxes

Tax lawyer takes on the ride-hailing giant over VAT charges

The lawyer who spearheaded a landmark court case -- which ended with the European Union’s top court ruling that the U.K. can unilaterally reverse Brexit -- appeared in court Wednesday for a fresh battle, this time with Uber Technologies Inc.

Jolyon Maugham, who runs a group that raises money for lawsuits that promote a progressive agenda, says Uber should pay Value Added Tax, a 20 percent U.K. sales tax on most goods and services. Uber says it doesn’t need to because it’s only acting as an intermediary between drivers and riders.

Uber would owe 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) if Maugham won his case, once backdated payments are counted, Maugham said outside court, citing his own calculations.

His lawyer Vikram Sachdeva said at the court hearing that the case could leave Uber liable for an estimated annual tax bill of 200 million pounds.

The case centers on an Uber journey Maugham took in March 2017, which cost 6 pounds and 34 pence. He wants a court declaration that Uber should give him a VAT invoice for 1 pound and 6 pence for the journey. The invoice would allow him to reclaim the sales tax as the trip was for business purposes.

“The sum at issue is obviously trivial,” Maugham said in court filings, but the underlying case is “of great public importance” because of the amount of tax that would ultimately be payable if he wins.

The case will turn on the question of whether Uber should be classed as the supplier of cab rides, or whether its drivers should be. It’s a question at the heart of the so-called “gig economy,” where technology companies have upended traditional employment models.

“Anyone who gets in an Uber is affected by this case,” Sachdeva said in court on Wednesday.

Black Cabs

Maugham’s lawsuit “is largely crowdfunded by the black cab taxi industry, who have a significant commercial interest in seeking to alter the competitiveness” of Uber’s services, the ride-hailing firm said in its court filings.

Sachdeva said Maugham is motivated by “good governance” and “wants people who ought to pay their VAT to pay it.” Maugham is “expressly saying he’s not doing it for the purpose of the black cab industry,” Sachdeva said.

An Uber spokeswoman didn’t immediately comment.

Maugham is one of the most outspoken voices against the U.K.’s looming exit from the European Union. In 2016, he ran a crowdfunding campaign for a legal challenge over Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to start the formal process for Brexit, an Article 50 notice, without first holding a vote in Parliament. That campaign became the People’s Challenge, one of the groups supporting Gina Miller in a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court -- and won.

Uber says Maugham’s latest case has no merit and there’s “no need for this claim to be brought.” Uber argues that HM Revenue & Customs, the U.K. tax authority, is the appropriate agency to decide on its tax payments, not Maugham.

At a hearing Wednesday, Maugham applied for an order that, if he ends up losing the case, the most he’ll have to pay Uber is 20,000 pounds in legal fees. Maugham’s resources “pale in comparison” to Uber, and he won’t be able to continue with the case if he doesn’t get the limit, he said in filings.

Uber says Maugham could continue the lawsuit without the costs order because he could raise more money from black cab drivers and others.

The ride-hailing giant is also embroiled in a separate British court battle over the employment rights of its drivers. It’s taking an appeal to the country’s top court over whether drivers are entitled to the minimum wage and holiday pay.

The case is Jolyon Toby Dennis Maugham v Uber London Limited, High Court of Justice, Case No. HC-2017-001496.

Source Bloomberg 

Prelude To TCR : Buses And Cycles Only For Safety Reasons And Yet Another Pedestrian Killed By Bus On Camden Road

Just after 10pm last night (Tuesday Feb 5th), a man died after being hit by a bus on Camden Road.
Police and paramedics were scrambled to the scene close to Camden Town station, but the pedestrian, believed to be aged in his fifties, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dramatic images showed emergency services lining the street, which was sealed off by police.
Traffic was diverted while the road remained closed, with bus routes 29, 253 and N29 all being rerouted.

Emergency services, including London Air Ambulance, were called to the scene following reports of a collision.

No arrests have been made at the scene and the driver of the bus involved was said to be assisting police. 

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "The pedestrian, a man believed to be aged in his fifties was pronounced dead at the scene.

"Police are in the process of informing his next of kin.
"No arrests have been made as of yet. The driver of the Route 274 bus involved stopped at the scene and is assisting police with their enquiries.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

TfL Served With Summons To Hand Over Garden Bridge Papers To The GLA

The decision to issue a summons was made at Wednesday morning's meeting of the London Assembly's GLA oversight committee.

The Assembly wants to see any notes, text messages and/or social media messages sent or received in the time period 1 March 2018 to 25 January 2019 between the Garden Bridge Trust and/or the trust's professional advisors and the following officers of Transport for London:

• TfL Commissioner, Mike Brown
• TfL Head of Corporate Affairs, Andy Brown
• TfL General Counsel, Howard Carter
• TfL solicitor, Charles Ritchie
• TfL Director of City Planning, Alex Williams

The committee has also requested the disclosure of two letters sent by Lord Davies, chair of the Garden Bridge Trust.

The documents and files are to be provided no later than two weeks from the date of the summons notice.

Tom Copley AM, chair of the Garden Bridge Working Group at City Hall, said: "It is jaw-dropping that TfL have not learnt that when it comes to this project, transparency is paramount.
"We expect full cooperation with our continued investigations into the failed Garden Bridge project and will use all of the powers at our disposal to get it.

"Hiding behind the veil of 'commercially sensitive information' won't wash – when documents can be redacted, if necessary, before we place them in the public domain."

A TfL spokesperson said: "We have always supported the scrutiny of the Garden Bridge undertaken by the London Assembly and others such as the review conducted by Dame Margaret Hodge and will respond to this request as soon as possible."

Renewing Your Bill Still Over Complicated... We Ask Why The Orgs Have Failed To Simplify The System ?

In the 45 years I've been licensed as a London Taxi driver, I have never before had a problem applying for a renewal. 

The easiest was Penton Street, just turn up, fill in the form, hand over two passport photos, pay your cash and that was it. Then when TfL took over licensing, I used the postal pack and the post office check and send. As I say, never had a problem. 

But it became apparent round about seven years ago that the system wasn't running as smooth as it could be plus the commissioner Sir Peter Hendy tried to stop the issue of temporary licenses for renews arriving late.

Taxi Leaks did our bit by pointing out to Sir Peter the transport Act sec 17 subsection 11 which says once the application has been submitted and the DBS received back, your old licence stays valid until you receive the renewal or your licence is revoked. 

But even so, many drivers seem to have lost work....some for weeks and in certain cases months waiting for renewals. 

The orgs who should have been up in arms and sorted any problems out, seem to have been strangely quiet over this issue. But again, Taxi Leaks believe we've uncovered one particular reason why renewals done in line are failing.

Having seen a tweet from TfLTPH saying that the easiest and quickest way to renew a bill is, I took them at their word and with the help of a colleague, I started the process with almost four months to the run up of my licence expiry date. 

First I had to open a driver account with TfLTPH, forms filled out passwords implemented and documents uploaded.... failure....tried again.... another failure, then third time lucky. No explanation about the failures, but relief for us to continue to the next stage with still plenty of time in hand.   

On we went to the actual application that we thought should be a piece of cake. Failure after failure as we kept getting requests back for the same items....DVLA share code and an uploaded image of certain documents. 

We were offered no explanation as to why TfL Licensing wasn't getting the images or the DVLA share code, or why our emails weren't getting through. 

So, after speaking to a number of drivers who had also experienced problems, I decided it may be easier to go to the “drop in licensing help desk” as time was fast running out.....only to find it's no longer a drop in help desk...and that you now need an appointment. 

I explained as well as I could to the man who answered the entry phone that I only needed to give them my DVLA code and get them to scan my passport page, I told him I'd tried repeated times to email these items but the emails weren't getting through for some unknown reason. I also told him I’d tried to ring for an appointment but was repeatedly left hanging on being told the phone lines were extremely busy at this time! ....but he was adamant, no appointment, no entry, no help. So much for a help desk. 
TfL logo states every journey matters but apparently my journey to the help desk wasn’t one that mattered.

I was so annoyed at this employees attitude I decided to go around the front of the building and voice my grievance to anyone I could find from TfL only to be told in the reception no one would see me without an appointment.

But just as I was about to give up, a young lady appeared from the lift and asked why I was getting so upset. I told her what had transpired. She said to me “give me your details and passport and, although it's my dinner brake, I'll go back up and complete your application”. 
I couldn't believe my luck. 
Five minutes later she came back to say, all done.

She also explained it was the fact I had been sending images taken with my iPhone which the TfL system doesn’t recognises, all images need to be JPEG or the email just bounces back to you. But no one had told me this and the mistake was being replicated for almost four months. 
A few minutes later I received an email saying that my application was now complete. 

Hopefully all done now and I'd just like to thank Maureen from TfL Licensing for taking the time to help and for the explanation she gave me.

As a caveat, I renewed my DVLA driving licence online Sunday night. It took just five minutes and couldn't have been easier. Photo from my passport was acceptable so no uploading image. National Insurance number, driving licence number, name address, payment and that was it. 

Why is it renewing a bill has to be so complicated?
Why can't it be as simple as renewing a driving licence with just the addition of your DBS?

We have a photo on our old bill, a badge with our licence number, an ID card with our badge number and (apparently) records are kept of any on street inspection and badge and Bill what is the problem that makes renewals such a nightmare?

Why haven't our orgs sorted this out?
Could it be that it's one thing that keep drivers paying subs, the fear aspect of tackling renewals without the protection of an org behind them. 

This over complicated system of licence renewal has been going on for far to long and is completely unnecessary, it needs to be simplified ASAP.

London Taxi Protest 
Wednesday 6th February 
1pm-4pm parliament square 

Don’t forget, Tottenham Court Road is just the thin end of the wedge.

Loads asked for a different time well here it is ....Where Buses Go, Taxis Go !

Monday, February 04, 2019

Midland Road St Pancras... 'Move Rank' : Pancras Road... 'BanCycles'... Job Done.

Because of the carnage created in Midland Road by Camden Council, we believe it's time TfL and Eurostar stepped in and moved Euro Star ranking facilities round to Pancras Road.

Reports on social media over the weekend said it was taking over £11 on the clock (from picking up on St Pancras rank) to finally exiting onto Euston Road.....this is disgraceful. Videos were circulating of emergency vehicles stuck in the gridlock. We just hope that lives haven't been lost as yet.

How long before passengers stop using taxis from the St Pancras rank altogether? 
Perhaps this was the plan all along...passengers forced onto the underground...Is Khan trying to fill the £1 billion deficit by taking passengers away from the Taxi trade and forcing them onto the Tube?

Immediate Action Needed : Where's The Joint Ranks Committee On This?
We need TfL and Camden to move the rank at St Pancras to Pancras Road. As PH not being metered they can pick up and drop off in the carnage of Midland Road and it should affect their price (except Uber who's vehicles are all metered no matter what the court case said)

The two ranks should be adjacent on Pancras Road....Euro Star northbound and Kings Cross southbound. Traffic lights would need to be phased giving Pancras Road time to clear on each light change. At present, the lights are phased to hold back traffic from Euston Road. 

We also need Goodsway reopened two way 'as soon as possible' to aid Taxis traveling away North, NorthEast and East. 
There also needs to be an amendment to the road traffic order...'No Cycles'

Let them use York Way, Goodsway and Midland Road. B
asically, Pancras Road onto Camley Street is just one big cul-de-sac, so they shouldn't need to enter, except for access which they can dismount and do on foot.

Taking Taxis out of Midland Road altogether would aid the flow of traffic, cut the current congestion and help with air quality in the area. It just makes sense!
Or even more cost effective...revert back to the original road layout !

Just like adding Taxis to the Tottenham Court Road scheme, which according to Camden’s own modelling, would benefit tragic flow and air quality in surrounding streets. 

Or is this not about Traffic flow, congestion and air quality?
Are the allegations about Camden's Councillors conflicting interests on the money???

Is this more to do with what Market Tec and Turney wants the council to do??? 
Surely councillors don't have a conflict of interest with a commercial company.....or do they???

Look who cabinet member Phil Jones has left Camden to work for !!!
The ethical standards contained in the Nolan principles, by which councillors and cabinet members are judged, need to be applied with the utmost rigour. 

Not only must there 'not be a conflict of interest'...there must 'not be the appearance or perception of a conflict of interest'.

What is it they say.....Follow The Money.