Friday, January 17, 2020

*UNITED WE STAND*... by Lenny Etheridge DDD/ITA

The driver led Independent Taxi Alliance would like to thank ITA protestors for their undying support.
It is you proactive drivers, who refused to lie down, who kept us going.
Quite rightly you should be proud of what each and every one of you has achieved.

A special thank you must go to Trevor Merrills and Angela Clarkson, of the United Cabbies Group, who took us to the top table and introduced us to their barrister.

Trevor and Angie took Danny Hussey, Sean Paul Day and me to meet with their QC, even though we were not UCG members, because they understood the importance of the #WhereBusesGoTaxisGo protests and how losing our roads, our workplace, affects the entire trade.
Not only that, but they paid for it too.
These are genuine people.

Since our protest last year Danny Hussey (the brains of the outfit) and I have been working on a legal challenge to these anti-Taxi Labour Councils.
But without Angie and Trevor, who wanted nothing in return, not even recognition, our legal fight would never have got off the ground.
Danny and I wholeheartedly thank you both.

Our latest protest showed authorities the grit and determination which our 500 strong group of ITA protestors possess.
Without question they are the strong arm of this otherwise weak trade.

So why always the Square?
Protests aren't aimed at bullying tyrants into conceding to our will - that cannot work with such small numbers.

ITA protests are aimed at forcing tyrants into sitting down and listening to our grievances and demands at the negociating table.

Like their idol Stalin, the anti-Taxi councillors would have taken no notice of some baying crowd of proles which were causing no individual inconvenience to them whatsoever.

When tyrants refuse to listen and choose to ignore peers of the realm and members of parliament who speak on behalf of the oppressed, the oppressed must turn to the judiciary for justice.

With the help of UCG leaders, we have drafted an excellent case.
None of which would've happened, had we not persevered in the Square under the noses of those who matter, and those who care.

Had Angela Clarkson of the UCG, who attended every protest, not approached us to support our legal lifeline, with the full knowledge of Trevor Merrills, we would have had to up the ante and our protests to flash ones with a roaming impact until we were either met by the authorities at the negociating table or were met with an immovable police force instructed to "get heavy".

The ITA protests averaged 500 drivers. This is the reason they have taken so long - with Mayor Khan, Mike Brown and anti-Taxi Labour Councillors  emboldened by apathetic drivers who would rather work on or stay at home watching Cash In The Attic than stand shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues.

Encouraged by the Can't Demo, Won't Demo majority, you can see why the authorities believed that, what started as 4,000 and ended up as 500, the protests would finally fade away.
I personally would carry on if there were only five of us left.

Just think if we had half of our trade turn up, it would have been over after only two or maybe three protests - with the authorities bending over backwards to accommodate us.

The authorities know this trade is mostly made up of cap in hand feeble mushrooms and plastic gangsters full of piss and wind too frightened to have their friend's back.

In spite of the absentees we will definitely win this #WhereBusesGoTaxisGo fight.
My only regret is that the stay-away cowards will also reap the benefits we fought so hard to win.

I am proud to have stood with you all.

Lenny Etheridge DDD/ITA


We would also like to take this opportunity to thank every proactive driver who turn up every time the call goes out. 

Plus a special thank you to Sean Paul Day for the enormous amount of time and effort he puts in to helping the ITA.  

It’s Not Just A London Problem : Where Melton Buses Go Taxis Go.

A taxi driver who was picking up passengers in Melton as part of the new bus replacement service for rural villagers was angry to be handed a parking ticket by a passing traffic warden.

Tracey Cheetham stopped at the Windsor Street bus stop to collect villagers from Gaddesby and says she was only there for a couple of minutes when she was given the ticket and told only buses could stop there.

Angry passengers who use the service, which was introduced last month after the 128 bus route was axed as part of a cost-cutting exercise, say they are worried taxi drivers will be put off operating the service if there is a continued threat of themn being penalised by parking wardens.

Leicestershire County Council says bus replacement taxi drivers are permitted to stop at bus stops for their passengers and that an appeal lodged against this particular parking ticket is being considered.

Ms Cheetham, a driver with Premier Taxis Leicester, told the Melton Times: “When I arrived to pick up my passengers in Windsor Street I got out and opened the boot to put their shopping bags in and a warden came up to me and handed me a ticket.

“I explained I was picking them up as a replacement for the bus service and that the county council had authorised it and she just said ‘tough’ and said she had issued the ticket now.
“It will cost me £35 if I pay it inside two weeks or £70 if not.
“I’ve written to the council to appeal but it could put off taxi drivers doing this service if we are going to get a ticket every time.”

Berryl Perriam, who was a passenger in the taxi, said: “I was concerned because Tracey was given this ticket and told she wasn’t supposed to park at a bus stop.
“It’s not right really because she was replacing the bus.”

Leicestershire County Council, which subsidises bus services where they are not viable to run solely as commercial enterprises, cut a number of services from December 21 as part of a need to find savings in its budget.

It revealed figures which showed that some services had barely anyone travelling on them.

Demand Response Transport (DRT) was introduced for some villages, including Gaddesby, whereby residents can pre-book taxis on a limited number of days of the week to replace the buses they lost.

The 128 service, which travelled between Melton and Leicester south of the A607, was axed because of poor usage and replaced with a DRT option, operated by Premier Taxis Leicester.

It carries passengers to Melton and Syston from Gaddesby, Ratcliffe on the Wreake, Thrussington, Hoby, Frisby and households north of the railway line at Kirby Bellars.

Leaflets given to villagers state that the DRT would drop off and collect passengers from the bus stop in Windsor Street.

Gaddesby villager Stella Goodacre, who has regularly used the DRT service since it was introduced said: “It is a good service but my worry is these drivers won’t want to do it if they are going to be given parking tickets.

“It’s not fair on them and it’s not fair on us if we lose this service as well as the buses.”

Another villager who uses the DRT - Wendy Hutchins - said residents have been assured it would give them access to health appointments but she said: “The last appointment at Syston doctors is 10.20am and the DRT arrives at 10.10am and the blood clinic also finishes at 10am so it’s no good for us at all.”

Another taxi firm, Elaine’s of Melton, contacted us to say one of their drivers had also been given a parking ticket while operating a DRT service in Windsor Street.

Mark Faulkner, one of the owners of the company which runs bus replacement services out to Ab Kettleby, Wartnaby, Knossington and Oakham, said: “We did appeal and it was overturned and we now carry the letter saying it is OK but the traffic wardens write the tickets before talking to you.

“They need retraining.”
A spokesperson from Leicestershire County Council said: “Our DRT taxi drivers are permitted to drop off and pick up in designated bus stops at the scheduled time of operation.

“We are aware that an appeal of this particular ticket has been received which we are currently considering.

“Our parking officers are trained to observe parking offences and establish whether there is a legitimate reason for issuing a parking penalty, and on this particular occasion it was not obvious to the parking officer that the vehicle was a taxi.”

The spokesperson added: “We have four regular passengers on the new DRT service and many residents who use it occasionally - this level was expected from the use of the previous bus service.

“We are pleased that we are receiving good feedback from our DRT users and will continue to work alongside the taxi companies to ensure these services continue.”

Meanwhile back in London ....

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

If Carlsberg Did Demos... They’d Call In The Proactive ITA.

Again The main body of London’s Taxi drivers failed to support their own trade, their own colleagues and the continued future of guaranteed street access, staying away en masse to their own disgrace. 

But on the upside, 400 of London’s finest proactive drivers, you know the ones, the same ones who turn up when asked, time and time again. The ones who care about the future of the trade and are prepared to fight shoulder to shoulder with other proactive drivers. 

Very shortly Tottenham Court Road will become Buses and Cycles only....this will herald a move towards the loss of access to more major roads, making our job extremely difficult. It will make journeys longer and more expensive, pushing passengers toward cheaper alternatives. 

There are plans for many more no entries, no right turns, no left turns, traffic free streets and a massive roll out of bus gates which will spread across the capital from the east. 

Those of you who stayed away or carried on working, should hold your heads down in shame. You will be the first to scream and shout when you can’t get around, can’t pay the repayments on your new cab, can’t make the rental on time...

We know we are few, but we are the only ones it seems, who care about the future of the trade, care about their proactive brothers and sister...the same ones who always turn up.

And today, you made me feel extremely proud.

Cabbies on tour: 
We had advanced information that the protest wasn’t going to go as well as in the pass and that the police were going to make it difficult.... but their arrogant attitude backfired which made our job easier. 

The police lifted the exclusion of the area too early and so we had no choice but to "go on tour". 
Something we had planned in advance. 

First we hit Hyde Park Corner which shuddered to a halt pretty fast. Police on bikes rushed to the scene and diverted cabs away down Park Lane and Piccadilly (we couldn’t believe our luck as the second target was Piccadilly Circus). 

As soon as Piccadilly became gridlocked, our route changed again, with a new destination of King Charles 1 roundabout in Trafalgar Square. Police on motorbikes were flying around all over the place, as reports went out about our multiple targets. 

The police then had another bright idea, to divert cabs back down Whitehall, hoping to kettle us back in Parliament Square...but drivers just U-turned and headed back into Trafalgar towards King Charles. 

The knock on affect was devastating to London’s buses which were taken out of service and lined up in streets surrounding Trafalgar Square.  When in the past we’ve protested in Parliament Square, contingency plans were put in place which diverted bus routes. But with all the periphery gridlocked, the contingency plans were buses were taken out of service altogether and stacked up in the streets. 

If the police had left well enough alone, we could of all packed up and dispersed on the dot of 4pm like we used to, but because of the bad decision made by the police commander in charge just before 3pm, the protests carried on causing gridlock till 6:30pm. 

It appears that every plan the police put forward, just made matters worse for them, better for us. 

Today’s tour was so successful it has now been decided that in future, we will no longer be stationary sitting in the square. 

Protesters will be given a starting point and the protests will continue to ‘GO ON TOUR’. 

What the main body of the trade need to take on board, is that the proactive ITA are not a representative group...they are a pressure group. Representation should be being administered by the three orgs and two unions. But don’t hold your breath on that one!!!

Below is a tweet put out by someone who attended today and I think his sentiments are shared by everyone who was there:
I felt proud again today. 
We know there’s not enough of us, but those that matter to me, and say everything about the good in this profession were once again there today. 
That’s unity, that’s solidarity, the real licensed London Taxi profession. 
The ones that care !!!

Just thought I’d let you all know. 

Tonight, there was a meeting to discuss the Wapping Bus gates and although Taxi drivers from a what’s app group attended, I’m told no one was there from any official trade representative group or Union

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

TfL Compliance Officers Exceeding Their Authority, Again. ...Complaint From Tony Casey

TfL Staff are at it again....Taxi Leaks received  a report from Tony Casey, that COs are again refusing to show Taxi drivers their ID photo cards which are on the reverse of their Deputy Badge. 

This is completely against regulation, as Garrett Emmerson pointed out back in 2017, they are obliged to show their ID cards on request....just as Taxi drivers have to produce and show their Taxi drivers licence when requested by a PCO or police officer.

Tony’s note to Taxi Leaks:
Just got badge and bill checked by tfl compliance. Sadly they are up to their old tricks and are reluctant to show the warrant card on the back of their deputy badge and refused point BLANK to allow me to photograph the warrant card for my records.

The compliance officer was a fellow called Samuel and the senior member of the team said I was not allowed to photograph his identity card.

This is false, could you please repost my advice from July 2017 to remind drivers of their RIGHTS.

Remember all police officers carry warrant card and willing to show them to you at all times. TFL staff appear to be a LAW unto themselves

Tony has asked us to repost this advice put out after CO troubles of 2017. 

Never show your badge/bill to any compliance officer who says he is from Transport for London, showing you only their deputy badge -which are available on ebay (almost identical) for less than a fiver including the leather wallet.

Don't be intimidated:
EVERY compliance officer has a warrant type card, the same type as carried by all policeman.

ASK to see it clearly and use your phone to make a clear photo of it, the full name of the TFL staff member,only then comply with their request but never sign anything.

Remembering to switch off your engine first before touching your phone- then film the whole compliance check for your own reference. 
The law allows this.

Remember TfL staff cannot be trusted...eighteen months ago, the Head of the compliance training team made a false complaint to the City Police at the Sugar Quay (Shine Charity walk event ) saying that I'd been drinking.
I am teetotal and stopped drinking over 40 years ago.

His boss Garret Emmerson had to apologise in writing to me after a letter was sent from Grant Davis of the LCDC on my behalf making an official complaint. 

Mr Khalil Sarr the former night compliance manager has now gone to London Buses.

Tony Casey

Also from 2017, this undercover CO refused to identify himself to driver... who then refuses to let him examine Badge and Bill.

Most drivers have nothing to hide and wouldn't be worried about about a PCO looking at their bill, but be warned, we have in the past had instances of CO imposters taking photos of drivers bills. The information contained on your bill is a valuable commodity to counterfeiters.

TrL's statements should now clear this issue up, straight from the horses mouth (so to speak) 

If a CO wants to check your Badge/ Bill/Insurance, they must first show their ID (not badge). It is a card that authorises them to carry out the document examination. 

Restricting Access To Taxis, Downgraded To No Better Than A Private Car, Taken Out Of Mayors Transport Strategy ...What’s Not To Protest ???

Our representative orgs/unions might think the present unsolved situations are ok...where TfL and local councils are gradually squeezing the life blood out of London’s finest...BUT WE DON’T

We refuse to take this abuse from Mayor Khan, TfL and local councils, and we are calling all colleagues from the rank and file to join our fight against this unfair restriction of trade. 

Sadiq Khan has ignored repeated requests to meet with a Peer of the realm acting with a number of Peers on behalf of and in the interest of “London’s Taxi Trade”, to discuss the ITA's ongoing campaign, to have 'Where Buses Go, Taxis Go' enshrined in legislation. 

In just a few weeks time, Tottenham Court Road will be lost to us and reduced to buses and cycles only....but this is just the thin end of the wedge. Camden, Islington, Hackney and Tower Hamlets are about to ramp up the exclusion of Taxis from many more streets in their boroughs. 

Unlike our so called representative orgs and Unions, the Independent Taxi Alliance (ITA) are not going to take this laying down. 

Our protests will now resume again this Wednesday.   
Please arrive at Parliament Square by 1 pm but be prepared, as we may well be moving on.

If enough drivers turn up to stand shoulder to shoulder with their brothers and sisters, a second venue could be hit simultaneously. The location of which will be given out on social media groups and by word of mouth in the square.

In previous weeks on a number of occasions, police have tried to make it awkward or difficult to enter protest. If this happens again, we will be off on tour, hitting a number of locations at the same time. 

A marshal will be sent to each entry point to make sure Taxis are given full access to the peaceful protest area, with general traffic excluded. 

Although committee members from two orgs and one Union have in the past regularly attended,’unofficially’, It's now time for our orgs and unions to step up to the mark and supported this campaign "100% Officially". 

The current policy of 'Waiting and Seeing' doesn’t work and is a massive part of the problem, rather than a solution.

We have now completely lost the Bank junction and the CoL are shortly going to introduce extra restrictions of passage which will affect journeys to/from and through the City. 

What these councils are doing not only restricts the Taxi trade, it also discriminates against disable passengers, who can no longer expect a door to door service. 

General Secretaries and Chairman need to let their respective members know, if they support the 'Where Buses Go Taxis Go campaign', or if they are to carry on supporting Khan, TfL and local councils’ decisions to ban Taxis. 

For they who shed their blood with me this day, shall henceforth be MY BROTHER AND SISTER, BE THEY NE’ER SO VILE...
And those who worked will be accursed and hold themselves cheap, while others speak, who fought with us upon this day. 

Monday, January 13, 2020

96 year old WWII veteran ‬supports the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans ‬with his art work‬

Bill Gladden, 96, from Welling in Kent, travels to Normandy and Holland every year with the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, for the annual commemoration services to remember the comrades he lost. 

These trips are all provided without charge to the veterans, and to cover the costs the charity is reliant on donations or grants. For many years, 96-year-old Bill, has used his love of painting to raise funds for the charity that means so much to him.

Bill developed, what was to be a lifelong love of painting as a child and said, “I have always loved painting, my favourite subjects are horses and dogs, but I will happily paint anything that I am asked to.”

Bill was in the 6th Airborne, Armoured Recce Regiment and landed in Ranville on D Day in landing Zone N – he was 20 years old.

He was wounded and initially thought he had lost his foot. The medical team managed to save his foot and he spent the next three years in hospital, having numerous operations before being pensioned out of the army in 1947.

Bill continued, “I work from photographs and ask that anyone who commissions me, donates what they feel is appropriate to the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, so that veterans can continue to enjoy the various trips and excursions that we are invited to throughout the year.”

Bill has no plans to stop painting and loves receiving pictures from the many volunteer London taxi drivers who give up so much of their time to support the charity, his friends and charity supporters.

About the Taxi Charity
The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was formed in Fulham in 1948, to work for the benefit, comfort and enjoyment of military veterans and arranges many trips every year for veterans from all conflicts.
The charity offers international trips to Holland, Belgium and France, UK day trips to concerts or museums, transport to attend fundraising events, as well as special days out to catch up with friends and comrades.
To fund and facilitate these outings, the charity is wholly reliant on generous donations from members of the public, businesses and trusts and the amazing group of London licensed taxi drivers who offer their time and vehicles free.