Friday, January 31, 2020

Minicab booking app Ola made to reapply for licence to operate, after changing director

The company is having to reapply for its licence to operate in Luton - based on mobile phone technology - because of a change of director.

Ola Cars was given permission to expand its service into the town nearly a year ago.

The company, a rival to Uber, was granted a private hire operator’s licence by the borough council’s licensing sub-committee in February 2019.

Ola UK Private Hire Limited has been operating an App-based booking platform for minicab services with local private hire vehicles and hackney carriage vehicles.

But having appointed a new director, Karl Lutzow, the firm is due to have its licence reconsidered by the council's taxi and private hire licensing panel tomorrow (Friday).

Ola currently has an office at Capability Green, having started its UK operations in South Wales, Bristol and Exeter.

One of the company’s representatives Darryl Supersad said last year the firm is planning to extend its operation to every city in the UK.

Ola mainly uses local private hire drivers and vehicles, similar to Uber, but also wants to include black cabs across the whole market.

A spokesman for the London based Independent Taxi Alliance said: “They’ve got no chance in the capital as London’s licences Taxi drivers are not interested in working alongside Private Hire. 

“Uber trued it in the passed but it caused massive problems and safety issues for passengers. London’s Taxis have their own apps and don’t need to work with Private Hire.”

The company also had an eye on providing services to and from London Luton Airport, the licensing sub-committee heard last year. A service currently provided by struggling Addison Lee. 

Drivers and vehicles used are licensed by the council, with the drivers self-employed.

Bookings are web-based only, and unlike Uber, the website provides phone numbers to deal with support and complaints.

Ola was proposing to employ 100 to 500 drivers and vehicles initially, and hoping to increase to 2,000 in the long-term.

Passengers and drivers have to register via the app, so payments are made digitally at the end of a trip, rather than direct to the driver.

Drivers would not be required to work exclusively for Ola, but records would be kept of all their activities for the company. 

The sub-committee decided in February to grant the application for the operator’s licence, with exemptions to the current council policy over keeping records electronically instead of in a handwritten bound book.

It also requested that an application for licence renewal should be reviewed in full by a panel, instead of by the licensing service under delegated authority.

The fresh licensing hearing before the panel is scheduled for Friday (Jan 31st) morning.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Chiltern Law Update On UTAG’s Judicial Review Of Transport For London

The post below is well worth a read, to get an update on the UTAG17 Judicial Review of Transport for London. 

The  article is authored by Darren Rogers, who is the UTAG instructing solicitor. 

Transport for London (“TfL”) is a specialist regulator with a wide range of powers to sanction breaches of regulations. The primary legislation applying to private hire vehicles (“PHV”) is the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 (‘the 1998 Act”).  In London, PHVs are subject to a distinct regulatory regime from the iconic black cabs or “Hackney carriages”. 

Black cabs are governed by various legislation but primarily the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869 and the various London Hackney Carriage Acts.
In recent years we have seen the rapid emergence of the gig economy of which Uber is the most well known in London.  Uber is not a third category of taxis, they are simply PHVs and governed by the 1998 Act and regulated by TfL.  As of November 2019 there was almost 108,000 PHV licences of which approximately half are Uber drivers.

TfL has to be satisfied that a PHV operator is a “fit and proper person” to hold a PHV operator’s licence pursuant to s.3(3) of the 1998 Act. In broad terms this means “anything which a reasonable and fair-minded decision maker, acting in good faith and with proper regard to the interests both of the public and the applicant could properly think it right to rely on”.

In November 2019 TfL decided that Uber was not a fit and proper person to hold a PHV operator’s licence and refused to renew / grant Uber’s licence in London.  

TfL did not exercise its power under s26(2) of the 1998 Act to suspend or revoke Uber’s operator’s licence with immediate effect as they argue it was neither necessary or proportionate.  We are judicially reviewing the decision not to immediately revoke on grounds of irrationality given the systemic and repeated failures of Uber to “get their house in order” and ensure public safety.

There have been serious breaches of regulations and conditions imposed by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot following her decision to grant a 15 month licence in June 2018.  Not least being prosecuted for “causing/permitting the use of a motor vehicle without insurance” to which Uber pleaded guilty at the same Magistrates’ Court which granted them the a 15 month licence.

We will argue that the decision not to immediately revoke Uber’s licence is irrational for, inter alia, the following reasons:
  • That Uber is not fit and proper to hold a PHV operators’ licence
  • That Uber had repeatedly and seriously breached the terms of the 15 month licence granted following its successful appeal before the Chief Magistrate in June 2018
  • That there was indeed a pattern of regulatory breaches since the “probationary licence”
  • That many of those breaches had placed passenger safety and security at risk
  • That having considered their independent assessments of Uber’s systems, TfL concluded it did not have confidence that Uber had robust systems in place for protecting passenger safety; and
  • By necessary inference that TfL did not have confidence that similar serious breaches would not reoccur in the future

In simple terms it’s irrationality v proportionality and we await the single judge’s decision as to whether permission is granted to JR this decision.

It really is a no brainer....ever driver and support services worker attached to the London Taxi trade, needs to get fully behind the UTAG17 team. 

It’s amazing how drivers are only too pleased to let third parties dip into their earnings with very little in return. 

It’s time for the drivers them selves to dip into their money bags and contribute towards this project.

This isn’t a pipe dream, this is actually happening, but it needs your support. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Uber To Take The Mayor Of Surrey To Court Over Ban

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is not worried, even though Uber is making good on threats to take legal action against the City of Surrey.  

The ride-hailing company has filed an Injunction application in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, to “stop the City of Surrey from issuing illegal tickets”. 

Michael van Hemmen, Uber’s Head of Western Canada says the city’s crackdown on drivers operating in Surrey is ultimately hurting residents. 

“The city’s actions are unfair to local residents who want to earn money and support their families,” Hemmen states in a release. “It is also unfair to those who need a safe, affordable and reliable ride.”

The Mayor of Surrey says he isn't worried, as Uber makes good on its threat of taking legal action against the City

It comes after Doug McCallum doubled down on threats to fine ride-hailing drivers $500 for operating in the city

Uber has filed an injunction with the B.C. Supreme Court to stop Surrey from issuing tickets against drivers

But McCallum says when it comes to the legal challenge, he’s not concerned.

“We get lawsuits all the time, we haven’t done our curbs right,” he says. “Or even in business cases, they don’t have licences. We put stop-work orders on developments that don’t have the proper permits. So we face that.”

He says while the province has given Uber the green light, drivers still need a licence to operate.

“We feel that ride-hailing or especially Uber, is not abiding by our bylaws. It does not have a business license at this time to operate in Surrey,” he says. “We expect that all businesses commercial ride-hailing companies will respect our bylaws and will get a business licence.”

Uber also cited Premier John Horgan and the Minister of Transportation, who have stated municipalities do not have the authority to stop ride-hailing companies from operating.
There is no mention of pulling back drivers of Surrey, with the service stating “Uber will remain available in Surrey.”

That’s despite threats from Surrey’s Mayor Doug McCallum, who has said any driver caught picking up a customer in his city will face fines of up to $500.

Uber reiterates there is a desire to work with municipalities, but adds “Uber must stand up when drivers and riders are being bullied and intimidated, especially when the province has confirmed drivers have the legal right to use Uber’s app and to earn money driving with the app.”

The injunction is based on two key points, that the City does not have the power to stop companies like Uber from operating and that Mayor Doug McCallum has publically stated the City will not be issuing a business licence to any ride-hailing company.

Meanwhile, Uber’s PR machine has gone into over drive. Comments have been placed on the mayors twitter account accusing him of taking bribes. 

Also disabled Taxi users (Uber have no accessible vehicles for disabled in Surrey) saying in interviews how badly they are treated by Taxi drivers refusing to help or just not stopping. 

We had the same here in London when a fake news team put out a ridicules item on ITV news showing a wheelchair user flagging cabs that were not stopping. They were not stopping because she was told to flag only Taxis with passengers in which had their lights off. 

It all cane a tumble when I driver dropped off just yards passed her and went back to pick her up. The actress said no it’s OK I don’t want a Taxi, we are just filming for ITV news. 

The actress has since apologised to the Taxi trade saying she didn’t realise what the news team were doing.  

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Veterans Enjoy Lunch at The RAF Club

On 23 January a group of veterans were invited to a special lunch at The RAF Club in Mayfair, to thank them for all they do to help raise awareness and funds for The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans. 

Many of the assembled veterans regularly help at bucket collections at London Underground stations. 

The money these collections raise ensures the charity can continue to take the veterans; on trips to the WWII commemoration services in France and Holland and days out throughout the South East.

Veterans at the lunch included those who had played their part in D Day: Marie Scott who sent messages to and from the beaches, Bill Gladden who flew into Normandy in a glider carrying eight motorbikes and a tank, Dickie Forrester who landed on the beaches and Frank Pendegast, part of the regiment that took Pegasus Bridge, Roy Maxwell one of the last surviving members of No4 Commando and Harry Rawlins, from the Rifle Brigade, who was awarded the Belgium Croix de Guerre.

Chris Hearndon, Licensed London Taxi Driver, said “I have been involved with the taxi trade since 1961 and I have supported this Charity for over 20 years. 

The Charity does fantastic work to help give something back to these guys and girls who, in the case of the WWII Veterans. were instrumental in giving us the freedom we enjoy today.”

Ian Parsons, Licensed London Taxi Driver and Chairman of the Taxi Charity, welcomed the veterans and thanked them for their continued support and told guests, 2019 was the busiest and most varied in the Taxi Charity’s history and although the charity is supported through various revenue sources, by far the biggest source of income comes from the sterling work of the veteran collection team. 

The Charity simply could not have funded all the things they did last year to support veterans, without those men and women who, with medals gleaming, attend collections at London’s Underground Stations,  meeting the general public and telling them about what the charity does.” 

Veterans are escorted on days out by an amazing group of London’s black cab drivers who volunteer their vehicles and time free.

Graham Pike, Licensed London Taxi Driver and Taxi Charity Communications Officer, said,
“It is a real privilege to attend events like these and spend time talking with veterans like Alex Borrie, pictured, who was a founder member of the 1st SAS unit spending time in France, Belgium and Germany during WWII.”

Graham, pictured left, with veterans Harry Bailey, Tom Schaffer and Tom Parkinson, continued,
“These veterans have some amazing stories to tell and they love coming to help the charity at our bucket collections at the Underground Stations. 

The respect for these heroes from the general public as they are rushing through the station on their daily commute is always humbling and it is a pleasure to invite them for this thank you lunch at the prestigious RAF Club in Mayfair”

Having thanked the other charity supporters in the dining room, and after a huge cheer from the veterans for the amazing ladies and gents who drive London’s black cabs and give the charity so much support, The Taxi Charity Chairman, Ian Parsons was delighted to read out a personal note to the veterans, from Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex.

If you would like to know more about, The Taxi Charity , including volunteering as a Licensed London Taxi Driver, or making a donation to  do visit:

Monday, January 27, 2020

The Best News For London’s Future... David Kurten To Stand For Mayor.

London’s crime wave has been aggravated by bad policy and its housing crisis cannot be solved without controlling immigration, Christian conservative London Assembly member David Kurten has said, as he announces his run for mayor.

David Kurten — former teacher, and one-time party education spokesman who wrote the 2019 general election UKIP manifesto — tore up his membership card last week and will now run against Labour’s incumbent Sadiq Khan for London mayor as an independent.

He told Breitbart London on Monday that he had hoped the party would re-establish itself as a force for small-c social conservatism and had stayed on, longer than most, in hopes of guiding it in that direction. Despite being a driving force behind the party’s 2019 manifesto, Kurten said with regret UKIP was still as riven by in-fighting as ever, and with a Brexit-of-sorts looming on January 31st, a new form of post-EU political force emphasising the Judeo-Christian roots of British culture and a socially conservative political programme was overdue.

Giving a taste of the election campaign to come, Kurten was not shy in criticising the performance of incumbent Sadiq Khan, who as the Labour Mayor of London has presided over soaring knife crime on the city’s streets, while grandstanding on global issues well beyond the remit of the office. Kurten pointed in particular to Khan’s activism over U.S. President Donald Trump, implicitly condoning anti-Trump protests which culminated in the anti-American Trump ‘Baby Blimp’, images of which were flashed around the world.

On the subject of London’s ongoing crime wave — there is an average of 40 knife crimes in the city every day — Kurten cut through the ongoing dispute between Labour and the Conservatives over who was to blame for the city’s woes. While he absolutely condemned Khan’s failure to bring order to the streets, Kurten also noted the pressure against stop and search — the police tactic used to get knives off the streets but which critics claim is racist — had started with former Prime Minister Theresa May when she was home secretary.

A scourge of political correctness and left-wing dogma — he derides Mayor Khan’s policies as “globalist” and left-socialist — Kurten told Breitbart London: “London needs 6,000 extra police officers to increase police presence and fight crime on the streets.
“I would increase the use of stop and search to find people carrying knives, machetes, and other weapons and arrest them. There must be a zero-tolerance approach to carrying weapons and immediate custodial sentences for anyone caught. We must also end the culture of politically correct policing where politicians and police officers are afraid to mention let alone tackle some to the wider issues around knife crime, including drug trafficking, fatherlessness, and unprecedented new levels of violence associated with migrants coming from war zones.”

Another major concern for Londoners is soaring property prices and rents. This has been enormously enriching to more established generations who have seen their on-paper wealth grow with prices quadrupling in 30 years, turning middle-class streets into millionaire’s rows. While the political establishment has portrayed this surge in prices purely as a function of inadequate supply — the answer to which is building ever-more houses, a greatly profitable assessment in the eyes of volume house-builders — Kurten points to demand as being the ignored other half of the equation.

Because of this, Mayor Sadiq Khan’s pledges to make housing easier to get and more affordablefor Londoners is completely incompatible with his frequently expressed views in favour of continued open borders with the European Union post-Brexit, Kurten said. A balanced approach of cutting immigration to London — the city’s population presently rises by over 100,00 a year and this is largely down to new arrivals rather than childbirths, Kurten claims — while making up for the housebuilding the city has failed to achieve for decades is needed, he said.

The election for London mayor will take place in the city on May 7th, 2020. The latest polling shows incumbent Khan holds a strong lead of over 20 points, followed by the Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey.


David Kurtain has always supported the London Taxi trade and attended virtually all the Where Buses Go Taxis Go protests in Parliament Square. 

This is the best news the London Taxi trade has had for many years as we’ve suffered massively under both Tory and Labour Mayors.