Saturday, January 29, 2011

TFL's Consultation Discussed At Industry Meeting.

TFL’s consultation discussed at industry meeting

More than three hundred operators gathered at Heathrow recently to discuss issues which could potentially change the shape of the Private Hire and Chauffeur industry.
The Licensed Private Hire Car Association held its AGM which heard from officials from Transport for London, Metropolitan Police and the Olympic Delivery Authority, attracted companies from all over the city who made their opinions heard on Transport for London’s review of the industry.
Operators heard from head of the association, Steve Wright who highlighted the main areas of concern within the document which was published in a recent issue of the LPHCA’s magazine.

More than 300 attendees heard the presentations
The purpose of TFL’s consultation was to review various aspects of the existing licensing policy and regulations covering private hire operators, drivers and vehicles. John Mason, TfL’s Director of Taxis & Private Hire answered questions from operators during the meeting and assured members of the LPHCA the re-branded Public Carriage Office was willing to work with the industry to find the best working practices.
Highlighted issues within the consultation included an idea of ensuring every Private Hire Vehicle were the same colour, banning tinted windows in cars, additional ID badges and the introduction of a single vehicle identification plate. The most controversial issue was to introduce a rule which says drivers must not initiate any sexual dialogue or have any sexual
contact in a licensed vehicle.
The meeting, which was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz and Proximo, also heard from Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Joe Royle, of the Territorial Policing Safer Transport Command. He spoke about the fight against illegal activity by touts and some operators and the plans of how they will be tackled in the future.
A number of videos are soon to be revealed through the LPHCA’s website which highlight the discussions held at the event.
Background.
In 1998, legislation was passed covering the licensing of private hire operators, drivers and vehicles in London with regulations introduced in 2001 – 2004 following a comprehensive consultation process. All operators were licensed in 2001 when drivers and vehicles were initially covered by temporary permits. Full driver licensing was introduced from 2003 and vehicle licensing from 2004.
Under the 1998 legislation, the responsibility for implementing and carrying out private hire licensing fell to the Public Carriage Office (PCO), the arm of the Metropolitan Police responsible for regulation and licensing of London’s taxis. On the creation of the Greater London Authority and Transport for London (TfL) in 2000 as the Mayor’s integrated transport authority, the PCO transferred into the new body, subsequently becoming part of TfL’s Surface Transport as London Taxi and Private Hire.
There are approximately 1,000 small operators and 2,000 standard operators currently licensed in London by TfL.

Editorial comment:
A level playing field? I think not. 
Where is our mass meeting with LT&PH Bosses?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How Green are Boris Bikes FOI request.... By Laura Cox

INFORMATION ABOUT VEHICLE FLEET:
  • 14 electrically powered Alke vehicles. These are used for the redistribution of bikes and pull the trailers which hold 20 bicycles. These vehicles are exempt from Congestion Charging and produce zero emissions.
  • Six Ford Mondeo and four Ford Focus diesel cars. These are used for the redistribution of bikes and pull the trailers which hold 20 bicycles. The vehicles are subject to the Congestion Charge and produce the following levels of CO2 emissions: Ford Mondeo - 139 g/km, Ford Focus 1.6 - 114 g/km and Ford Focus 1.8 - 137 g/km.
  • 10 Nissan diesel vans. These are used for engineers and technicians undertaking regular and reactive on-street maintenance work. They are subject to the Congestion Charge. These do not carry bikes except when picked up for repairs. The level of CO2 emissions produced is 137 g/km.
In addition to the permanent element of the fleet, Serco are temporarily using some additional vehicles. These vehicles do not form part of our normal operational fleet, but they have been used recently as we test alternative redistribution arrangements.
  • Seven Sprinter vans which carry 16 bicycles. These vans are subject to the Congestion Charge and emit CO2 levels of 222 g/km.
  • Three 7.5 tonne Iveco and DAF trucks which carry up to 50 bikes each and are subject to the Congestion Charge and emit approximately 263g/km CO2, subject to load.
The number of vehicles used varies in accordance with the usage of the scheme.
Eight to ten vehicles are despatched in the morning through to late evening in the centre of London.
Three to four Ford Focuses and/or Mondeos are despatched to the outer areas of Zone 1 in the morning and overnight.
Five to six Sprinter vans are primarily used to cover any shortfalls in the Alke vehicles or Ford vehicles.
The trucks are used primarily for the mass distribution of bikes at hub sites. They are also used in the event of tube strikes when demand is high.

Lets not forget that the cost to the tax payer of each bike equates to approx£16,400 each, after Barclay's subsidy is removed.

Value for Money or just blinded by green issues?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Age Limits, Come in Your Time is Up...By mike Robinson

This extract is part of a letter from John Mason Re; License Taxis in London.


There are currently 22,493 licensed Taxis (Black Cabs) at 31 December 2010.
This list shows taxis who will be over the 15 year age limit in 2012 and date of manufacture,


Age.....YEAR...No taxis;
22........1988.....5
21........1989.....19
20........1990.....43
19........1991.....40
18........1992.....179
17........1993.....208
16........1994.....379
15........1995.....669
14........1996.....951
13........1997.....1099
.......................3592 this is the number of taxis that will be off the road by the end of 2012.
12........1998....1674  off by 2913
11........1999....1724  off by 2014
10........2000....1636  off by 2015
09........2001....1155  off by 2016
08........2002....1323  off by 2017
07........2003....1212  off by 2018
06........2004....1200  off by 2019
05........2005....1492  off by 2020
04........2006....1602  off by 2021
03........2007....2129  off by 2022
02........2008....1327  off by 2023
01........2009....1431  off by 2024
00........2010......996  off by 2025
........................Another 18,901 taxis removed from service by 2025.


If the trade does not take action now then they will deserve everything that the authorities throw at them.
3,592 cabs off the road by the end of 2012, think about it, small proprietors, say ten cabs or less out of business over night


Older drivers, say over 65, who only work a few days a week to supplement their income, will either have to rent or not work. We all saw what happened with the TX4 fires, there was a shortage of cabs on the road, proprietors upped the rents.


Then you have new younger drivers who can not afford to buy will be at the mercy of the proprietors.
I am not in the business of supporting LTI or Mercedes but you have been warned. To hell with the EU and its unelected commissaries. By putting an age limit on cabs and stopping drivers working must be against their human rights.


PS, We have to start demonstrating now the clock is ticking.
Action needs to start now, there is only 250 days left to 32012.
Livingstone (anagram, Live Stoning) sold us done the river when he reclassified taxis as commercial vehicles. it was him that suggested that the life of a taxi should be 10 years. Suddenly Boris says that it should be 15 and everyone, the other two organisations, breath a sigh of relief.
But of course they haven't worked out how it will affect the cab trade. 
Remember 15 years to day, 10 years tomorrow. A well know Taxi proprietor has stated that this will take us back to the 60's working practise of drivers paying a percentage of the meter. I remember paying 62%of the meter. The proprietor had us by the short and curlies in those days when the life of a Taxi was 10 years.
Just remember Livingston might get back in as Mayor, then the Cab trade will be finished.
We will then be faced with Private Hire (Minicabs) plying for hire because there will not be enough taxis to meet the demand.


Don't say that you haven't been warned.
M Robinson Badge no xxx

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

$CAMera car locations & the expanded fleet...By Brucea.

WCC have expanded their $CAMera car fleet to 7 and soon these will be enhanced with APNR to allow drive-by muggings.

So far, NoToMob (www.NoToMob.co.uk) are aware of the following popular Westminster honey-pots. It seems they are a bit short of sites now with the extra cars as they keep tripping over each other. They already have a couple of new hang-outs, e.g. Lwr James St, but we need to know where the new ones are ASAP. Obviously, we follow them from their base, the Pig Pen at Orchardson St 

Please use the comments facility to post locations here with any useful info, e.g. confusing/missing/unenforceable signs, or Tweet us at NoToMob, if you spot one in action, as we can often provide them with immediate 'assistance' 

Popular SCAMera honey-pots:

Romily Street/Moor St, Cambridge Circus
St Martin's Lane
Savile Row
Strand (around No 191), opposite St Clement's Church
John Adam Street
Gerrard Place
Great Russell St
Pall Mall,opposite Suffolk Street
Fifth Avenue W10 at junction with Kilburn Lane W10
Westbourne Terrace, W2
Beak St, east of Brindle St
Claverton St/Lupus St junction SW1
St.George's Drive just past Bulleid Way in Victoria SW1
Clifton Road W9 corner of Lanark Rd W9
St. Anne's Terrace NW9 corner of Acacia Road NW8 (corrected)
Lwr James St junction with Brewer/Sherwood St



With kind permission of Brucea and the LTDF.



Biker’s start ‘$mart Car Hunting’ to run mobile CCTV fine machines out of town





CCTV Smart Car Hunting is a new ‘sport’ that has already Grabbed the attention of the BBC’s watchdog program soon after it was invented by a dedicated band of NTBPT motorbike and scooter riders – who have been spurred into action to oppose Westminster City Council’s (WCC) highly controversial and regressive bike parking tax scheme. And, hot news tonight is that the Evening Standard has picked up on it too. The thrills and spills of Smart Car Hunting are often filmed and the latest action can be seen on U-Tube – with one of the first expeditions becoming the subject of ashort documentary by a fellow biking blogger at nutsville.com. Video reports of other missions can be found herehere, and here.
Currently, riders and readers who live outside London, Kent or the North West may not have seen these mobile PCN fine churning machines yet… But as each one has raked in an average of £187.667 per year so far, with the BBC reporting that £7.3m came from London in one year, you probably will soon unless their profitability is significantly damaged by those who would a Smart Car hunting go. But to be fair to WCC, they have not yet officially topped the UK league tables of PCN ticket dishing and revenue raising from Smart Car CCTV as Lambeth are top dogs with an impressive 34,000 fines being issued by just three cars in one year which raked in a cool £1,689,460. However, it is of course my duty in the interest of balance to report that deployment of these mobile fine factories is, according to the councilors who support heir use, not about raking in cash at all. Oh no! As Councillor Nigel Haselden, Lambeth’s deputy cabinet member for sustainability and transport has said.
“CCTV enforcement is vital in making sure we can deal with the relatively small number of motorists who insist on ignoring the rules. Parking enforcement is categorically not about raising money, it is about keeping roads safe and clear.”
I have to admit though that I am a tad sceptical about the truth of that claim and find the phrase, my arse, coming to mind. After all, a recent FOI investigation by Big Brother Watch revealed that there are at least 54 CCTV Smart cars patrolling 31 local council areas in Britain. In the interest of balance I should point out that deployment of these surveillance Of course  councils at least £8,069,714.67 in fines in the period 1st April 2009 – 31st March 2010. This is equal to £322,788.58 for every council operating a CCTV Smart car, or £187,667.78 per car.
Enthusiasm for the new sport is spreading and becoming all the rage in central London. But I am now reliably informed that interest in the sport is growing throughout the UK biking community. In response to growing interest in the sport, a NoToMob Twitter account has been set up. And, I have just been informed that preparations are in hand to provide a ‘starter pack’ of advice on setting up a new hunting team and how to engage in the sport in an appropriately civilised and legal way.
In the meantime, here is a brief description of the new sport and how it is played:
Teams of plucky bikers draw attention to the whereabouts of mobile CCTV units that cruise around or sneakily park while trying to film minor traffic offences or parking infringements and rake in loads of cash by dishing out thousands of PCN fines.
So, step one in the hunt:
Wave at smart car Bikers start $mart Car Hunting to run mobile CCTV fine machines out of townFind a smart car. Once spotted by a hunting team, initial contact is made with the pray by a friendly wave to the car.
Then sooner or later, the chase is on!
Step two:
The second phase of the hunt involves the mobile fine machines being provided with an ‘escort’ of riders who alert all road users to the presence of a CCTV unit that may have not been there before. But please note this well! A key rule of Smart Car Hunting that must not be broken ever is that the pursuit is purely and simply of the car and it’s camera system, and NEVER it’s occupants – who are merely employees of a private contractor who are going about their lawful business – albeit one that involves them breaking parking control regulations whenever they feel like it.
Step three:
The hunt is declared successfully over  when the CCTV Smart Car buggers off back to it’s shed.
Alternative interim move before step three:
Occasionally the occupants of the Smart Car may experience a misguided feeling that they are the focus of the chase, and may be being subject to some form of harassment, and to a point where they call for police  intervention and a premature end to the hunt. In these situations the Smart Car Hunting team must dismount from their motorcycles or scooters and engage in a polite conversation with the officers called to the scene. During the course of the conversation the hunters must politely explain that they have no interest whatsoever in the occupants but are only interested in escorting the  Smart Car and seeing where it goes, and that as cars have no feelings they cannot experience any meaningful sense of harassment.
Experiences of teams engaged in the sport so far shows that the police officers called in these situations are well aware that cars can not feel harassed and are therefore fully prepared to except that no harassment has taken place during the course of the event. I have no idea what impact this new sport may have in due course so all I will say for now is Happy Smart Car Hunting for those who care to, and Tally Ho!

Monday, January 10, 2011

TfL Boss Gives Green Light to Spend Cash, After Cuts to London's Disabled Taxi Card Scheme...

Tube chiefs have been given the green light to blow cash on lunches, flowers, hotels and management consultants, as loyal staff are made redundant, Private Hire enforcement levels drop to an all time low and cuts are made to the disabled account, Taxi Card. Click here for story


Also, in the wake of a Critical Terror Alert for London, Peter Hendy gives green light to Tube bosses, as stations are left unstaffed and Taxi ranks left unenforced.


In a circular to top tube bosses, Boris Johnson’s Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy, tells managers that they now have a green light from the top to spend money on a wide range of luxuries, at a time when the RMT union has exposed plans to leave a third of tube stations unstaffed as station security alerts have just been upgraded to severe.

The items on Peter Hendy’s tube managers authorisation list include

· Lunches or refreshments

· Hotel accommodation

· First class post

· Management Consultancy Contracts

· Personal headed paper, compliment slips and business cards

· Newspapers and periodicals

· Flowers and Greetings Cards



RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“Just at the point that London Transport is put on severe terror alert, and while the staff who deal with emergencies are being hacked back leaving stations unstaffed, Boris Johnson’s transport chief has given the green light to a spending spree on luxuries and hospitality that will create a tidal wave of anger.

“While tube fares are being jacked up by nearly 7%, and safety critical staff are being hacked to the bone, the top bosses are being allowed to rack up millions of pounds of spending on hotels, flowers , hospitality and consultants and that is a national scandal.

“This latest news will strengthen the resolve of our members to fight the tube cuts with every tool at our disposal.” END.
..................................................

Editorial Comment.




So as TfL management are told they can spend spend spent by Peter Hendy...


London's disabled are told to cut back and contribute more. 
Taxi ranks throughout the Capital will be left exposed, at the hands of potential car bombers and sexual predators because of the un-enforcement from TfL's Cab enforcement officers.


Its nice to know that while his ex-loyal staff visit the job centre, Peter Hendy can have the whole of the 14th floor of Windsor House covered with flowers as he sticks the first class stamps on his personalised mail, before trotting off to lunch with his outside team of consultants where he can pick up the bill at a nice 5 star hotel.  

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Picking Up Pre Booked Jobs, Now Case Law.

Read Case in full Click Here


Case No. CO/4743/2009 

Barrie's Comments:


The general rule of law is now confirmed that taxi drivers, minicab drivers and any other drivers are allowed to wait for as long as necessary on single or double yellow lines for the purpose of picking up a passenger and/or their luggage. In the case of black cabs which can be hailed by a passenger in the street it is easy to see what time is taken and in the normal course of events that pickup time is clearly necessary.

The question arises (and this was dealt with by the court): what is the necessary time for a a taxi driver or minicab driver to pickup a passenger when they receive a pre-booked cab fare. I have won many cases at the parking adjudicator arguing that there has to be a time period to pick up a passenger starts when the vehicle arrives, the driver looks for his passenger and the passenger comes from their premises, finds the cab and enters the vehicle. My view is that that is all part of the process of waiting for the purpose of picking up the passenger. I am pleased to say that the court confirmed my view.



Background

Nearly all councils have taken the rigorous view ( in my view totally incorrect and illogical) that when a taxi driver or minicab driver receives a pre-booked fare the driver cannot wait at all and that the passenger has to be at the kerb ready to get into the vehicle. Some parking adjudicators have agreed with the councils’ view, but many parking adjudicators have not agreed. Indeed one parking adjudicator said that it was preposterous to suggest that a driver arriving to pick up a passenger should act like a Formula One driver performing a pitstop with the passenger diving into the vehicle and the vehicle taking off.

The High Court has now clarified the law on this issue and has stated that councils are wrong to adopt the position they have taken so far.

The learning judge stated that when a driver arrives at the destination, the time taken looking for the passenger or waiting for the passenger to identify the vehicle are all a necessary part of the process of picking up the passenger - and accordingly any parking tickets issued in those circumstances must be cancelled.

The judge also decided that if a driver arrives at the destination to pick up the passenger but the passenger then cancels the journey this is still nevertheless part of the process of picking up the passenger and accordingly any parking tickets issued in such circumstances must be cancelled..

Barrie Segal’s Final Comment: This is a very important clarification of the law which demonstrates that councils have been unfairly penalising licensed taxi and minicabs.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

You might find this very interesting!

Submitted by john.

Nothing to do with Taxi's but very interesting...

This is an excerpt of a transcript from Hansard for the 1st November 2010 column 1538 - House of Lords. If you are unaware of Hansard, it is a record of what is being talked about in the Houses of Parliament.
At this stage, I will refrain from commenting on this transcript and will open up the comment feature, as I would love to hear anyones opinions about the subject(s) being talked about. This was brought to my attention this morning by a friend and to be honest Hansard is not something I look at now, but this I must admit has certainly got my interest.

Lord James of Blackheath: At this point, I am going to have to make a very big apology to my noble friend Lord Sassoon, because I am about to raise a subject that I should not raise and which is going to be one which I think is now time to put on a higher awareness, and to explain to the House as a whole, as I do not think your Lordships have any knowledge of it. I am sorry that my noble friend Lord Strathclyde is not with us at the moment, because this deeply concerns him also.
For the past 20 weeks I have been engaged in a very strange dialogue with the two noble Lords, in the course of which I have been trying to bring to their attention the willing availability of a strange organisation which wishes to make a great deal of money available to assist the recovery of the economy in this country. For want of a better name, I shall call it foundation X. That is not its real name, but it will do for the moment. Foundation X was introduced to me 20 weeks ago last week by an eminent City firm, which is FSA controlled. Its chairman came to me and said, "We have this extraordinary request to assist in a major financial reconstruction. It is megabucks, but we need your help to assist us in understanding whether this business is legitimate". I had the biggest put-down of my life from my noble friend Lord Strathclyde when I told him this story. He said, "Why you? You're not important enough to have the answer to a question like that". He is quite right, I am not important enough, but the answer to the next question was, "You haven't got the experience for it". Yes I do. I have had one of the biggest experiences in the laundering of terrorist money and funny money that anyone has had in the City. I have handled billions of pounds of terrorist money.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Where did it go to?
Lord James of Blackheath: Not into my pocket. My biggest terrorist client was the IRA and I am pleased to say that I managed to write off more than £1 billion of its money. I have also had extensive connections with north African terrorists, but that was of a far nastier nature, and I do not want to talk about that because it is still a security issue. I hasten to add that it is no good getting the police in, because I shall immediately call the Bank of England as my defence witness, given that it put me in to deal with these problems.
The point is that when I was in the course of doing this strange activity, I had an interesting set of phone numbers and references that I could go to for help when I needed it. So people in the City have known that if they want to check out anything that looks at all odd, they can come to me and I can press a few phone numbers to obtain a reference. The City firm came to me and asked whether I could get a reference and a clearance on foundation X. For 20 weeks, I have been endeavouring to do that. I have come to the absolute conclusion that foundation X is completely genuine and sincere and that it directly wishes to make the United Kingdom one of the principal points that it will use to disseminate its extraordinarily great wealth into the world at this present moment, as part of an attempt to seek the recovery of the global economy.
I made the phone call to my noble friend Lord Strathclyde on a Sunday afternoon—I think he was sitting on his lawn, poor man—and he did the quickest ball pass that I have ever witnessed. If England can do anything like it at Twickenham on Saturday, we will have a chance against the All Blacks. The next think I knew, I had my noble friend Lord Sassoon on the phone. From the outset, he took the proper defensive attitude of total scepticism, and said, "This cannot possibly be right". During the following weeks, my noble friend said, "Go and talk to the Bank of England". So I phoned the governor and asked whether he could check this out for me. After about three days, he came back and said, "You can get lost. I'm not touching this with a bargepole; it is far too difficult. Take it back to the Treasury". So I did. Within another day, my noble friend Lord Sassoon had come back and said, "This is rubbish. It can't possibly be right". I said, "I am going to work more on it". Then I brought one of the senior executives from foundation X to meet my noble friend Lord Strathclyde. I have to say that, as first dates go, it was not a great success. Neither of them ended up by inviting the other out for a coffee or drink at the end of the evening, and they did not exchange telephone numbers in order to follow up the meeting.
I found myself between a rock and a hard place that were totally paranoid about each other, because the foundation X people have an amazing obsession with their own security. They expect to be contacted only by someone equal to head of state status or someone with an international security rating equal to the top six people in the world. This is a strange situation. My noble friends Lord Sassoon and Lord Strathclyde both came up with what should have been an absolute killer argument as to why this could not be true and that we should forget it. My noble friend Lord Sassoon's argument was that these people claimed to have evidence that last year they had lodged £5 billion with British banks. They gave transfer dates and the details of these transfers. As my noble friend Lord Sassoon, said, if that were true it would stick out like a sore thumb. You could not have £5 billion popping out of a bank account without it disrupting the balance sheet completely. But I remember that at about the same time as those transfers were being made the noble Lord, Lord Myners , was indulging in his game of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic of the British banking community. If he had three banks at that time, which had had, say, a deficiency of £1.5 million each, then you would pretty well have absorbed the entire £5 billion, and you would not have had the sore thumb stick out at that time; you would have taken £1.5 billion into each of three banks and you would have absorbed the lot. That would be a logical explanation—I do not know.
My noble friend Lord Strathclyde came up with a very different argument. He said that this cannot be right because these people said at the meeting with him that they were still effectively on the gold standard from back in the 1920s and that their entire currency holdings throughout the world, which were very large, were backed by bullion. My noble friend Lord Strathclyde came back and said to me that he had an analyst working on it and that this had to be stuff and nonsense. He said that they had come up with a figure for the amount of bullion that would be needed to cover their currency reserves, as claimed, which would be more than the entire value of bullion that had ever been mined in the history of the world. I am sorry but my noble friend Lord Strathclyde is wrong; his analysts are wrong. He had tapped into the sources that are available and there is only one definitive source for the amount of bullion that has ever been taken from the earth's crust. That was a National Geographic magazine article 12 years ago. Whatever figure it was that was quoted was then quoted again on six other sites on the internet—on Google. Everyone is quoting one original source; there is no other confirming authority. But if you tap into the Vatican accounts—of the Vatican bank--— come up with a claim of total bullion—
Lord De Mauley: The noble Lord is into his fifteenth minute. I wonder whether he can draw his remarks to a conclusion.
Lord James of Blackheath: The total value of the Vatican bank reserves would claim to be more than the entire value of gold ever mined in the history of the world. My point on all of this is that we have not proven any of this. Foundation X is saying at this moment that it is prepared to put up the entire £5 billion for the funding of the three Is recreation; the British Government can have the entire independent management and control of it—foundation X does not want anything to do with it; there will be no interest charged; and, by the way, if the British Government would like it as well, if it will help, the foundation will be prepared to put up money for funding hospitals, schools, the building of Crossrail immediately with £17 billion transfer by Christmas, if requested, and all these other things. These things can be done, if wished, but a senior member of the Government has to accept the invitation to a phone call to the chairman of foundation X—and then we can get into business. This is too big an issue. I am just an ageing, obsessive old Peer and I am easily dispensable, but getting to the truth is not. We need to know what really is happening here. We must find out the truth of this situation.
If you would like to read the full transcript then please see.http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldhansrd/lhan57.pdf
If you scroll through the PDF to the time stamp 10.42pm and column number 1538 you find the section that contains this information. I was advised about this by someone at the House of Lords information office this morning, who helped me find the section that I needed. Thank you whoever you were.