Friday, October 18, 2019

Whitehall suspicious package: 'Loud bang' heard and police cordon in place

      It appears a bomb disposal robot is at the scene

Officers from the Metropolitan Police are currently dealing with an emergency situation in Whitehall.

Emergency services have rushed to the scene after a report regarding a suspicious package.
Photos from the scene show what appears to be a bomb disposal robot.

There are also reports that a loud bang has been heard in the area.

A Met Police spokesperson confirmed they were alerted to the suspicious package at  3.01pm on Friday (October 18).
They added: "Specialist officers are in attendance and the vicinity is cordoned off while officers access the package. 

Look Who’s Jumping Ship? TfL boss set for top at £4bn restoration ofParliament

Mike Brown to leave transport group next May

Transport for London boss Mike Brown is set to head up the £4bn restoration of the Palace of Westminster.

London’s travel authority announced today that transport commissioner Brown (pictured) will be leaving the organisation to take up the role of chair of the delivery authority for the restoration and renewal of the Houses of Parliament.

He will remain at TfL for the remainder of Sadiq Khan’s current term as mayor – meaning he will take up his new role next May. 

Brown became TfL commissioner in July 2015 and has led the delivery of the mayor’s transport strategy and multi-billion pound transport investment programme.
He first joined London Underground in 1989 and became chief operating officer in 2003.

Brown then left to run Heathrow Airport during a massive transformation and passenger improvement programme and later returned as the managing director of London Underground.

More recently Brown has come under scrutiny for overseeing the late-running Crossrail scheme, which has seen its budget grow by £2bn.

Brown’s appointment to the delivery authority comes a week after it was announced that HS2’s corporate sponsorship director Sarah Johnson had been chosen to head up the sponsor board for redevelopment of the Palace of Westminster.

Johnson was named as the chief executive of the shadow sponsor body, which was established in 2018 to set the scope, budget and timescale of the Restoration and Renewal Programme, and oversee the delivery authority, which is set to have the technical expertise to commission and execute the work.

Don’t know how true this is but it’s been alleged that Helen Chapman will be doing the security checks on all the workers on the project. 

Let’s hope she doesn’t use the same company who set 13,000 Uber drivers up with fake DBS certificates !

Also we heard today that Heidi Alexander said:
"Mike Brown is one of the best people I’ve ever worked with. I’ve learnt loads from him".
Well that explains quite a lot then!

Remember the days when someone couldn't refuse to quit?

Remember when someone was held to account for piss-poor results?

And not given a more lucrative job as a reward for failure?

Uber Driver's Sick Proposal To His Female Passenger

An driver asked a young woman if she wanted to be 'friends with benefits' in exchange for free trips 'whenever she wants'.

Adrienne Horrigan recorded the sleazy proposition on her phone during an Uber ride on the last December after she left a friend's house.  

The recording appears to show the driver, Sandeep Singh, trying to convince Ms Horrigan to pay the cost of her trip 'in other ways'. 

Ms Horrigan told A Current Affair that he was the same driver she had three hours earlier when getting dropped off at her friend's address.  
'He kind of made me feel as though, because he had waited apparently, not to my knowledge, but I could then repay him or as he says, pay for my fare in other ways,' she said. 
Singh can be heard saying to Ms Horrigan: 'We can be like, friends with benefits, you know.
'I can like drop you off and pick you up anytime whenever you want.' 

"Adrienne Horrigan recorded the sleazy proposition on her phone, during an Uber ride on the Gold Coast last December after she left a friend's house" />
Adrienne Horrigan recorded the sleazy proposition on her phone, during an Uber ride on the Gold Coast last December after she left a friend's house

Sandeep Singh asked Ms Horrigan at least four times if she would engage in sexual favours

A shocked Ms Horrigan responded: 'I don't do that, I don't do that for anyone.' 
Singh then asked why she wouldn't take him up on his advances.
'Because I don't do that,' she responded again. 

Ms Horrigan said she felt nervous and didn't want to offend Singh, but his requests didn't stop.
'Just once for me please,' Singh continued, before Ms Horrigan again refused.  

'You know, like, there's nothing wrong with it,' Singh said in a last ditch attempt to convince Ms Harrigan.

'I just don't do that, that's all,' could be heard saying.

Singh then responded with: 'Ah that's okay, I was just asking.' 
Ms Horrigan said the situation set off 'alarm bells' in her head, and made her feel instantly insecure.  
'I was really scared, I wasn't certain what he was capable of,' Ms Horrigan said.

Ms Horrigan rejected Sandeep Sing's offer for a 'friends with benefits' relationship, but he continued to ask her several more times before eventually giving up

Uber refunded Ms Horrigan's fare, but she said their response to her complaint was disappointing" 

Uber refunded Ms Horrigan's fare, but she said their response to her complaint was disappointing

'I started thinking, should I get out of this car sooner rather than later? 
Should I call the police?'   
'I was starting to think wasn't being heard, that my original ''no'' like, how else can I say no?'

When confronted by A Current Affair, Singh initially denied it was him who asked Ms Horrigan for sexual favours, but eventually he admitted to his comments. 

Singh acknowledged his comments were inappropriate, and offered an apology to Ms Horrigan.

'I don't know to be honest... like I have no words to say, I would just like to say sorry,' he said. 
Uber refunded Ms Horrigan's fare, but she said their response to her complaint was disappointing. 

'I will be reviewing whether this partner will continue to have access to the app. We will do our best to not pair you with this driver in the future,' the ride share company told Ms Horrigan.  

'It was just as if it was no big deal, as if I left my phone in the back of the car or something,' she said.

Uber confirmed they removed Singh as a driver and cut off his access to the app, but the company failed to tell Ms Horrigan of his dismissal. 
Singh now works as a taxi driver, and claims he won't make inappropriate comments to his customers in the future. 

Uber confirmed they removed Singh as a driver and cut off his access to the app, but the company failed to tell Ms Horrigan of his dismissal

Carlyle Group To Sell Addison Lee Before Debt Repayment Deadline.

Addison Lee’s owners, ‘Carlyle Group’, have advised they are to sell off their business interests in the company by early next year, to avoid crippling debts. 

The company confirmed early this week, that banks have carried out an "evaluation of Addison Lee’s future capital structure", focused on an "ongoing sales process". 

The Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Rothschild are advising.

Carlyle bought Addison Lee from founder John Griffin for £300m 6 years ago, just as ride share apps such as Uber were beginning to take a major foothold. 

Addison Lee is currently carrying a net debt of around £230m, with the biggest slice due for repayment in April 2020, according to the most recent Companies House documents.

Rumour has it, talks to find potential buyers, which began early this year, are still ongoing.

It’s alleged that the sales process will continue at least until the end of 2019 but that Carlyle could then consider different options such as restructuring talks with lenders behind the business, which also include Dutch bank ING. 

In Addison Lee’s last set of accounts, for the year to August 2018, they generated revenues of £390m, an increase of almost 13 per cent. 
But still made a pre-tax loss of £38.9m, an increase in loss from last years £20.8m.

Addison Lee operates over 4,500 cars in London, and has sought to invest heavily in new technology in a bit to fight off the massive competition from online app based minicab businesses. 

The company not the cheapest form of transport, sees itself as a premium service superior to largest competitor Uber. The majority of its customers are regular accounts holders

In a recent statement, chief executive of the Addison Lee Group Andy Boland said:
"Revenue growth had been driven by international expansion, as well as a focus on service and investment in infrastructure".

Addison Lee were granted a new 5 year licence by TfL back in February 2018. 

Addison Lee’s courier business has been awarded a prestigious accreditation by TfL’s Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS).

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