Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Contactless Payment Limit ‬Increased From £30 To £45 ‬From Tomorrow‬


The contactless card payment limit will be increased by £15 to £45 from Wednesday to make paying for goods more hygienic amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The ‘tap and go’ limit is currently £30 but after increases in other parts of Europe as part of measures to stop the spread of the virus, the change will be introduced in the UK.

With the growing popularity of contactless payment, the industry was already considering an increase but the process was accelerated after the outbreak of Covid-19, as it means more payments can be made without the need to handle cash or touch a card machine.

Trade association UK Finance, which represents the finance and payments industry, said the decision to raise the limit was made following talks with the retail sector.

It is three times the amount it stood at originally, with ‘tap and go’ contactless cards initially having a limit of £10 in 2007.
This was increased to £15 in 2010, £20 in 2012 and to £30 in 2015.

However, not all card machines will have the latest limit this week as the software needs to be updated to accept the higher payment and the process will happen gradually.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said while the new contactless limit will be operational at some stores across the UK from April 1, it may be some time before it can be applied more widely.

BRC head of payments policy Andrew Cregan said: ‘Some shops will take longer to make the necessary changes, given the strain they’re under.’

Some £80.5 billion was spent using contactless payments in 2019, UK Finance figures show, up by 16% on the previous year.
With a higher spend limit on contactless payments, people may also be concerned about security and fraud but according to UK Finance, contactless fraud equates to just 2.5p in every £100 spent using contactless technology.

It said contactless fraud on payment cards and devices represents just 3.3% of overall card fraud losses.

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Nightmare Continues As NHS Considers Alleged Contaminated Lift Offers For Front Line Staff

Until just a few weeks ago, the so-called sharing economy was flourishing and definitely looked like it was the future. 

Enjoyed mostly by young people, (or so the story goes), they do not like owning things, preferring instead to rent everything from cars, bikes and scooters... to holiday homes like AirBnB.

But faced with a pandemic, such as the one we are currently living through, the problem with renting is that other people have usually touched them first. 

Shared scooters, and bicycles, which once appeared to be a fun, convenient way of getting around...now look likely to be contaminated vectors for a disease that could prove to be fatal. 

The shared economy business, that once looked so promising, depends on the ability to travel, or at least to leave the house. Under present circumstances, this has been rendered impossible...as millions of people worldwide are now suspect to social distancing measures.

The likes of AirBnB, Ola, Bolt, Uber and Jump....have seen their business plummet during this worldwide pandemic. 

In several cities, housing markets have been flooded with properties previously advertised on Airbnb, as tourism and business travel dwindles to nothing... driving prices down dramatically. 

And yet with all the dangers involved with the sharing economy, it seems the NHS, government and local councils appear to be welcoming Uber and Scoot’s offer of free shared car rides and free bicycle loans for their front line staff. 

This is of course another Uber PR scam, we’ve seen this before (December 2019)with NHS staff offered free rides and free food, not being able to access the service with faulty codes.

NHS staff were left hungry and out in the cold, after the discount code that promised the discounts and free rides failed to work.

Many NHS staff, said they were unable to access the service, when the promotional code failed to work. To add insult to injury, when customers complained, they were just told services in their area were "unavailable". After all the press publicity, London proved to be one of the ares the service was unavailable in. (Source The Sun)


All the controversy, the overcharging, the frauds, the fake documentation, the imposters, the sexual assaults, the rapes...just one scandal after another...and yet this is the mob that the disabled lobby group ‘Transport for All’ have gone into partnership with. 

Local councillors, government politicians, regulatory directors and even magistrates have all covered for this company time and time again. Some even alleged to have been found to have financial links with the company.... you couldn’t make it up

In What Appears To Be A Recurring Nightmare, NHS Welcomes Ubers Offer Of Free Rides In Contaminated Ride-Share Vehicles And Use Of Unsanitary Jump Cycles.  

Instead of this terrifying offer, putting staff lives at risk, perhaps Uber should consider paying back the massive £1.4bn Tax bill it is alleged to owe HMRC. just imaging what the NHS could do with that right now ???
See link 👇👇👇


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Outside Grodzinski in Edgware Friday 27th March. "If That’s The Law Sir, Then The Law Is An Ass".


A Metropolitan Police officer has been filmed threatening to fine a Grodzinski bakery employee for drawing temporary lines on the pavement to help customers queue at a safe distance from each other.
The officer can be heard outside the Edgware bakery telling the employee that marking “council property” is a criminal offence and that “the law still applies, coronavirus or not” while she insists the spray chalk paint can just be washed off.
The woman says: “It’s to keep my customers safe”.

A passer-by, who filmed the scene on his phone, tells the officer: “This is horrendous. This is ridiculous. He’s giving her a ticket. I guess the police want people to die”.

Referring to the chalk markings on the pavement, the officer says: “Ideally this needs to be taken off”, adding, “The law is the law and that doesn’t change because of what is happening”.
At one point the officer appears to indicate that if the markings had been placed on the window of the shop instead of on the pavement he would not be recording the act as an offence.
“Unbelieveable”, the woman replies.

The man filming says: “He’s giving her a ticket when this is removable,” before addressing the officer and saying: “You want to call anyone above you before you do that?”
“I don’t need to,” the officer replies.
The man behind the camera tells him: “This is the opposite of taking care of the public”.



When the female employee says that she has an outdoor trading licence, which made the marked pavement area her property, the officer replies, “that’s something for Barnet trading standards to look into”.
The Met told the JC the officer ultimately did not proceed with issuing a fine but added: "The actions shown in this video do not reflect the current policing style that the MPS seeks to adopt."

"The officer advised the woman that he was planning to issue a ticket for criminal damage. However, following a further conversation, no ticket was issued," a force spokesperson said.
"The officer has been spoken to and all staff on the borough will be reminded about using discretion where appropriate in these exceptional times."

Source : The JC.

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : 
This article is obviously not Taxi related, but it shows the attitude of a police sergeant towards a member of the public, acting on behalf of her customer's safety.

This is the same attitude that Taxi drivers often are faced with by undercover police officers at mainline Taxi ranks.

Recently reported in Taxi Leaks, we saw an undercover police women harassing a driver at Kings Cross rank, then actually tried to submit a false video as evidence in court....when the driver's barrister pointed out that the video was not of the driver in question, the case was immediately dropped by the prosecution. 

The officer says he is issuing a ticket because that’s the law....as Charles Dickens' Mr Bumble said in Oliver Twist..."if that’s the law sir, then the law is an ass.
"If that’s the law sir then the law is a bachelor.
"And the worst I wish is that it’s eyes may be opened by experience -by experience".

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Important Update To Drivers With Expired TfL Plates, Driver Licence Renewals And MOT Certificates


Taxi Leaks received this query below yesterday. We have now researched this and will answer below  

Received a telephone call from a chap on a withheld number, telling me that the NSL testing centre where I had booked an appointment was closed. 

When asked for written clarification by letter or email he refused. 

When I asked (what seemed for him to be awkward questions for him to answer)... he just hung up. 

I then rang TFL, call went into a generic answer machine then hung up. 

I attended a NSL test centre on appointment day, only to find it was closed with sign outside saying “for more information check TFL website”. 

I went on line and checked the TFL website, but no information appeared to be available. 

So cannot contact TFL, cannot replate or test taxis, cannot rebook or book any tests. Cannot get any information on how to proceed. 

Chap on the phone said that I  could not drive the taxi on an expired plate, but then he really did not seem to know anything and just wanted to hang up.

Taxi Leaks Advice To All Taxi Drivers Who’s TfL Licence Has Expired. 

Under the Transport Act 1985 sec17(7) as long as you complied in full with all the conditions, if there is any hold up in renewals to your Taxi driver or vehicle licence, your old licence stays valid until you are in receipt of a new licence or your old licence is revoked 

We’ve put this to TfL and they appear to be dragging their feet. 
It is clear and been confirmed by Leon Daniels on behalf of Sir Peter Hendy that your old plate (under these circumstances) stays valid until such time as you can arrange and attend another appointment with NSL. 

TfL said it wasn’t clear on where a driver stood legally with insurance, driving a Taxi with an expired plate.... so with the help of the LCDC chairperson Grant Davis, we contacted Plan Insurance who said:

Its okay, providing: 
A) your vehicle is road worthy
B) your local licensing authority has not told you to stop 

So providing you have not been personally told you can’t work then it’s ok. 

They added a caveat:
If you have an accident and it transpires you have bald tyres or worn brake pads etc, making the vehicle it unsafe, then you could be in trouble. 

We hope this is crystal clear, and to sum up 
If your vehicle plate expires while NSL are closed, your old plate stays valid and legally you can carry on working, as long as your vehicle is fully road worthy. 

The same applies to the half yearly MOT...

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says drivers whose vehicles are due an MOT from 30th March 2020 will receive a six-month extension amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

If you haven’t already seen Leon Daniels email and would like to see it, please click link below 


TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT 
Why is it that TfL constantly drag their feet on this subject and never reply with a definitive answer!

Taxi Leaks editor Jim Thomas contacted Sir Peter Hendy the first time there was a problem with Licence renewals, and drivers were being told that temporary licences had been scrapped and that they couldn't work. 

We pointed out the Transport Act 1985 sec17(7) to Sir Peter, and he apologised (through Leon Daniels) and agreed that drivers could in fact work untill their Licence renewal was either received or revoked.

Leon Daniels went further to say that this also applied to TfL vehicle plates.

Taxi Leaks has posted the email on many occasions and we have also sent copies back to new directors and managers at TfLTPH.....yet every time a driver asks if they can work, there seems to be a problem......There is no problem other than TfL have failed to put this Infomation in an accessible place on their extremely inadequate website. 

We will now be making an official complaint about this as we believe, this confusion is deliberate

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Taxi Charity Reaching Out To Self Isolating Veterans


London Cabbies do so much already to support veterans but when the Coronavirus restrictions came into force, they all wanted to offer more help to ensure that in their time of need our veterans get the care, help and regular contact they need while they are self-isolating.

The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans has asked London Cabbies if they can help veterans by collecting essential shopping or by keeping in touch regularly by phone.


A card was delivered to all the veterans that the charity works with, asking them to Keep Calm and Carry On.

The card from The Taxi Charity reads:
Dear Veteran,
We are not making light of the current situation. Far from it! We are still here and don’t want you to suffer in silence. Should you need any help, or a chat please get in touch

The card provides the veterans with a list of contact telephone numbers for London cabbies that they can call on for help or for a chat.

Ian Parsons, Chairman, Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, said, “When I asked for additional support from the London Cabbies who volunteer for the Taxi Charity, I was overwhelmed by the response. The Cabbies do so much already but they all wanted to offer more help to ensure that in their time of need our veterans get the care, help and regular contact they need while they are self-isolating.”


The Taxi Charity has had to put all its fundraising activities on hold due to the Coronavirus restrictions so if you could help the charity please do consider donating at; www.taxicharity.org


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 The Netherlands, 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.

For more information, to arrange interviews or to request images please contact
Christina Bowden
Bowden PR
07984 433614



French Government Mobilises An Army Of Licensed Taxis To Transport Front Line Key Workers

The French Government  has today (March 24th 2020) launched its mobilization of licensed Taxis in France, for hospitals staff and nursing staff. 

The plan is that passengers will not have to directly pay the Driver. The hospital pays the driver through an account and the French government/NHS then reimburses the hospital. 

Unfortunately, we appear to be two weeks behind everyone else, maybe Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson can sanction a similar scheme to run here in the UK. 

Our taxis service is the golf standard and has regularly been voted best Taxi service in the world. But unfortunately at this present time, it's redundant and most Cabbies are now out of work.

Celebrity motoring correspondence Quinton Wilson said on Twitter:
 UK Govt should pay for NHS and key workers to use London’s fleet of black cabs to get to vital jobs. Central divide between driver and passenger make them much safer than public transport. 

But are things about to change?
This today in Parliament 👇


“This army of drivers need work and could have financial reward for their services if the Government wish to do so.

“Can the Government start to use the army of taxi drivers up and down the country who know their geographical areas and their communities, to deliver the food and essential parcels to the millions of people who have to be in lock down to stand any chance of being alive at the end of this pandemic?

“Please can we have reasonable reassurances and support during this difficult time so we taxi drivers can lend a hand to support our government and the public of which we serve well. 

Taxi drivers are seen as a special emergency service to many year-in year-out. I believe the great British public will agree.
“Let us help deliver to save lives.”

Taxi drivers in Barrow are facing huge drop-offs in business following the closure of pubs and restaurants.

One driver, John McDonald, said his takings had taken a huge hit.
“I worked a 12-hour shift and I only made a tenner,” he said.
The 65-year-old said he would carry on driving despite suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung condition that puts him among the group of people classed by the Government as vulnerable.

The Mail understand Barrow Council has told taxi drivers who are struggling to pay fees to renew their licences, that they may be able to take part payments and defer the rest to a later date

Sunday, March 22, 2020

While Hero Taxi Drivers Are Working Free Of Charge To Support NHS Staff And Charities, Ministers In Talks with Non-Tax Paying Uber


While Hero London Taxi drivers all over the capital are helping NHS staff and charities completely free of charge, government minister are in talks stringing up a deal with non-tax paying Uber. 

While all London Taxi drivers are heavily regulated, fully insured and have completed enhancedcriminal record checks, ministers are striking a deal with a company unlicensed and currently only operating while on appeal, after being refused a licence by TfL for being not fit and proper to carry the public for hire and reward. 

Uber have been plagued by reports of their drivers raping, seriously sexually assaulting and defrauding passengers. Uber drivers have been arrested for planning terrorist attacks, drug running and carrying weapons. Also it’s not uncommon for drivers to be prosecuted for operating without the proper insurance. 


Last year 13,000 of their drivers were reported in the national media for having fake criminal record DBS certificates and buying medicals on line. 

 Yet ministers are ready to hand this company a contract to ferry NHS staff to and from work. 

1) Thanks to London Taxi driver Stewart,  for helping to delivery our Easter egg donations and snacks and coffee to everyone at the Great Ormond Street charity. 

Top fella who did this selfless act free of charge, even during these uncertain times. 


2) Arrived at Morrison’s supermarket and found this excellent human being, offering Taxi rides home to elderly and disabled customers completely free of charge. 

No work on the street unrealistic waiting times on station ranks, and rather than sitting at home doing nothing, this London Taxi hero decided he would rather spend his day helping those in genuine need. 


3) This sign in a Taxi window was spotted on the rank at Kings Cross Station ‘NHS workers, ride for free, just show your ID. 

This sign and similar signs have been spotted all over London Taxi driver heroes, offering to give there services free of charge to help NHS workers. 

These heroes stories have been seen all over social media, but virtually nothing in the press or on TV news channels. 

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : 
Yet as a kick in the teeth to the trade, we read this in the press. 





Friday, March 20, 2020

UTAG Suspend Contributions From Supporters


Suspension of UTAG supporters payments.

Dear Member,

Recent developments in the Governments approach to combating the Covid19 virus has seen a marked downturn in our work levels.

We have no idea how long this situation will last but are fully cognisant of the financial effect facing us all.

For the reasons stated we have decided to suspend all payments toward the £250 Full Member status for the next 3 months. 

This will take effect from today, Friday 20th March and will last until Friday, June 19th.

We shall then review the situation and if work levels are back to normal we shall contact to reinstate your chosen payment plan.

Please be assured that this 3-month break will have no adverse effect on your right to any compensation that may arise from a commercial case against TfL.

Everyone who fulfils the £250 donation criteria will be eligible, despite a payment break.

You do not need to do anything; we will do all that is needed.

We have also arranged a Freephone helpline for any member who may have questions on this or any other UTAG matters.

This number is 0800 302 9460.

Judicial Review 

We applied to the High Court to Judicially Review the decision of TfL to allow Uber's continued operation despite their refusal to renew the ULL operators licence.

This application has been denied by Mrs Justice AmandaTipple.

In the opinion of our QC, her reason for rejection is wholly unacceptable and we have challenged it by way or requesting an Oral Hearing at the High Court. 

This request is a matter of right and we await the date of the hearing.

Such hearings will be conducted by a different Judge and we feel the decision will be reversed, allowing. our JR to go ahead.

We will update you asap.

In closing, we should like to thank all of you for your invaluable support.
UTAG is only as strong as our supporters. 

With your support, we can ensure the future of our world-renowned trade.

Thank you so much.

Best wishes
On behalf of everyone in team UTAG

Angela and Trevor
Directors
United Trade Action Group

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : 
A message to Taxi App companies, CC clearance companies, representative Orgs and Taxi Unions... now would be a good time to also announce suspension of subscriptions and commissions. 

It will only take one to step up to the mark, and the others will follow!

When this is over, we will remember those who supported us, the drivers.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

LEVC And Black Horse Offer TX Customers Three Months Payment Holiday


In response to the current Coronavirus crisis LEVC and Black Horse have agreed to support our customers by offering a 3 month suspension of finance payments on existing finance contracts. Anyone that has taken out a Black Horse finance product for the purchase of their TX can apply for this payment suspension. 

These are challenging times for everyone but the Taxi trade has endured many tough times over its long and proud history in London and many other UK cities. It will endure this one too! However, we’re aware that we can play a vital role is softening the impact of this current crisis and we recognise your efforts to keep working and keep Britain moving! 

We are hopeful that this current crisis will have passed in 3 months’ time and in the meantime this payment holiday is intended to bridge this period of uncertainty for all of our customers.

If you would like to register your interest for a 3 month payment holiday then please fill out the form on this page.

Once you have submitted this form you will receive an email within 48 hours that will explain clearly how to make a formal application to put this in place for your own agreement. We have asked you to identify the date of your next anticipated payment on this form however please do not make any alterations to your current direct debit or payment arrangements as this may jeopardise your eligibility for a break in future payments.

Please note that filling out this form is not part of the formal application process for a three month payment suspension. 

However, by registering your interest here you will be prioritised when processing of applications begins in the next 48 hours. Full details of the application process will be sent to you once this form has been submitted.

https://www.levc.com/finance/payment-holiday/

This is all we have so far from Mercedes 




TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT:


Unfortunately, not everyone is as understanding as LEVC, Black Horse and Ascott’s....
But rest assured when this emergency is over... we will remember those who treated as well against 
those who treated the trade with contempt.


BREAKING NEWS 19/03/2020 Ascott Cabs suspend all vehicle rentals till first of March to help drivers at this difficult time. 
This statement from them:


*An update to all of our drivers - 19th March 2020*

As new reports of Covid-19 continue to develop, the welfare of our employees, customers and drivers is our highest priority.

This is not an easy time for the trade.

In light of the ongoing situation, we will be CANCELLING ALL RENTAL PAYMENTS for our fleet drivers from Monday 23rd March, until Friday 1st May 2020.

We hope that this gives you one less thing to worry about at such an uncertain time.

As much valued customers, we are committed to assisting you and keeping you as up to date as we possibly can.

Stay safe and well!

The Ascott Family.





  

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

UCG Letter To The Chancellor of the Exchequer, The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak

17 March 2020
The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP Chancellor of the Exchequer HM Treasury
1 Horse Guards Road London SW1A 2HQ

Dear Mr Sunak
I am writing to you as the General Secretary of the United Cabbies Group on behalf of our members to ask you to urgently announce the range of measures the Government propose to implement for self-employed sole traders.

London’s Taxis have been seen on the streets of the capital since the 17th Century. In 1654, an Act of Parliament was passed making taxi driving a profession. 

Thisprofessionismaintainedbytheinfamous ‘Knowledge of London’. Introduced as a requirement in 1865, the Knowledge spurred social mobility, allowing working class people to find solace and pride in a trade that encompassed London.

As you will appreciate the Government advice to travel only if necessary, alongside the decision by the Prime Minister yesterday which resulted in the closure of theatres and other key hospitality venues has had a significant impact on our members who now face an unprecedented drop in demand and ultimately income. 

This comes on the back of a challenging period over the past weeks due to large numbers of Londoner’s being encouraged to work from home and many organisations avoiding all but essential business travel.

We acknowledge these are unprecedented times and our trade has been swift to act; taxi proprietors and suppliers began contacting drivers to pass on significant reductions in taxi rents and servicing where this was possible to do on Sunday evening. 

Some drivers have been able to secure payment breaks for a short period of time and the 3-month mortgage holiday will help others. The HMRC offer of time to pay will provide some support.

Whilst each of the 20,000 drivers runs a de facto individual business, we have no commercial premises as our taxis ply for hire on the streets of London but we have had the same or greater impact on our trade as those faced by small businesses and the tourism/hospitality sectors we service. 

We have significantly high costs to operate our business due to the conditions of fitness we are required to work within, yet we have been excluded from the £3,000 cash grant you propose to grant to 700,000 small businesses. The extension of this grant to the taxi trade would be a financial lifeline

The announcements to date do not go far enough for self-employed taxi drivers who make a significant contribution annually to HMRC. 

The lack of action at this stage will leave our members and their families with no income and unable to meet their financial commitments. 

This is not acceptable, and time is not on our side. Action to rectify this hardship is urgently required.

I request to meet with you as soon as possible to discuss what emergency action the Government can take to ensure taxi drivers and their families are fully supported in these exceptionally difficult times.
Please contact me on 020 7100 5206 to arrange a meeting to discuss this urgent issue. Yours sincerely

Trevor Merralls 
General Secretary 
United Cabbies Group

Trevor Merralls also wrote an open letter addressed to the Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock MP

"Dear Mr Hancock

"I am writing to you as the General Secretary of the United Cabbies Group on behalf of our members to ask you to give serious consideration to the way in which London Taxis can be effectively utilised as part of the range of measures the Government propose to implement for Covid-19.

"As referenced in the Coronavirus Bill temporary legislation which focuses on dealing with easing of the burden on frontline NHS and adult social care staff London’s longest serving public transport provider, London Taxis, are still operating and can provide a fully inclusive and accessible door to door service which can be utilised to act and support the emergency services to deliver people, medicine and other necessities.

"Some of the proposed changes as referenced in the Coronavirus Bill temporary legislation focus on dealing with easing the burden on frontline NHS and adult social care staff, and some support people and communities in taking care of themselves, their families and loved ones, and their wider community.

"Similar to the Royal Mail’s position, the London Taxi Trade is well positioned in view of our purpose built vehicle where the partition can be clinically sealed, our unique training and enhanced vetting to support essential public services, provide a link to deliveries to the elderly, vulnerable and those self-isolating in and around London is this unprecedented crisis.

"Sanitisation is being carried out by drivers to ensure a safe clean environment for the travelling public and with a significant downturn in workload due to the Government’s advice on self-isolation and social distancing, are uniquely placed to play our role and Londoner’s where we can.

"As you will appreciate the Government advice to travel only if necessary, alongside the decision by the Prime Minister yesterday which resulted in the closure of theatres and other key hospitality venues has had a significant impact on our members who now face an unprecedented drop in demand and ultimately income.

"Yours sincerely
Trevor Merralls
General Secretary
United Cabbies Group"

TAXI LEAKS EXTRA BIT : from Frank Bullit
Now the NHS Is under unprecedented pressure and stress due to the Corvid19 virus, 
some people are saying, all those who use 
TAX Avoiding corporate’s like UBER... have played their part in undermining revenues which could have been used for the current NHS emergency


  TAX AVOIDANCE COSTS LIVES 
     


BUT IN MIDST OF ALL THIS BAD NEWS, THERE IS SOME REALKY GOOD NEWS OUT THERE