Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Workers Protest by Locking Themselves In Factory


Workers at the troubled Coventry-based maker of London black cabs are believed to have locked themselves inside their factory after being told of job losses.

Manganese Bronze had to call in administrator PWC after failing to gain new funding.

Unite expressed “outrage” that 156 workers were to be made redundant and called on the Government to step in to save the manufacturer of the famous vehicle.

National officer Roger Maddison said: “Only last night PWC were telling us there were significant interested parties. Now the administrators are ruthlessly sacking over 150 highly-skilled workers.

“The black cabs are world-famous and we believe this company has a future. How can PWC treat this company as a going concern with virtually no staff?

“The black cab is part of Britain’s car manufacturing heritage. The Government must now be on standby to save this historic company from being left to the vultures.”

Today's Update From Manganese Bronze.

The administrators have today met with staff to explain that, regrettably, there will be 156 redundancies with immediate effect.

Matthew Hammond, joint administrator and PwC partner, said:

"Regretfully, without financial support to overcome the Group's operational issues we have had to make staff redundancies. While the steering box recall remains, there is a voluntary suspension on vehicle sales, and we are now concentrating all resources on testing the solution to the steering fault. We have retained sufficient numbers of staff across the dealership, head office and production network to address the operational, technical and financial circumstances that the business faces."

In total 108 staff have been retained or laid off. The 12 that have been laid off have been sent home on partial pay and will be called back into work should vehicle production start up again.

Of the 176 employees based at the Group's head office and manufacturing site in Coventry, 99 have been made redundant and of the 98 employees based at the dealerships in London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Coventry, 57 have been made redundant.

The retained staff based in Coventry will continue to focus on finding a solution for the steering fault alongside head office resource to keep the business running. The remaining staff based in the dealerships across the UK will continue to service taxis and will be involved in the steering box refit once a solution has been found.

Blind Woman Dumped Miles From Home, By Laughing Minicab Driver.

A blind woman who also suffers from epilepsy was stranded two miles from home by a minicab driver who mocked her disability.
The callous cabbie laughed at Lisa Medgett after she told him she could not see various local landmarks.
Lisa, from Lee in South London, ordered a mini cab from Sure Cars in nearby Hither Green to take her to Bromley some four miles away in order to do some shopping.
But after getting into the cab, Lisa, 42, was ‘horrified’ at the attitude of the driver, who laughed at her disability and ‘goaded’ her for not being able see where she was going.

The driver then marooned her at a petrol station in Downham - two miles from her home and still another two miles from Bromley town centre - telling her she was ‘at her destination’.
Miss Medgett only found out what had happened when a passer-by told her she was not in Bromley and helped her order another taxi to take her home.
She told reporters; “He was really abusive - he was making fun and mocking me.

“He said ‘you should be able to point things out,,,, you should know where you are - it is your fault you can’t see’.
“Then he dumped me by a petrol station in Downham instead of Bromley - it was very frightening.”

Miss Medgett also said the driver tried to charge her £50 for the two-mile trip despite being quoted £9 by the minicab firm last week.
Michael Ellis, speaking for Sure Cars, says the incident was a misunderstanding and that Miss Medgett had been reimbursed for the trip.
Mr Ellis added: "The whole situation has been resolved satisfactorily. "Miscommunication is the only conclusion that can be drawn.
"There are three sides to every story, her story, the driver’s story and the truth."
He went on to say the driver was satisfied that he had dropped Ms Medgett at the correct destination and speculated that 'language barrier issues' may have been at the root of the misunderstanding.

Source: Daily Mail On-Line


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Light At The End Of The Tunnel? Or is that another train coming head on?



It is though more than 50 interested parties have expressed interest in buying Manganese Bronze

Buyers are queuing up to salvage a future for embattled black cab maker Manganese Bronze, its administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers has claimed.

PwC said it is in talks with “a number” of potential suitors which have approached the company. The talks come after Manganese shares were suspended earlier this month after it revealed it was in the midst of a funding crisis following its urgent recall of 400 cabs after a steering fault was detected.

It is thought that PwC has received more than 50 expressions of interest.

“We have one of the world’s most recognisable cars. We have had hugely encouraging interest already from the UK, Europe and internationally, and from motor manufacturers and financial buyers,” said Matthew Hammond, who is leading the process for PwC.

He added that any further interested parties should contact PwC “as a matter of urgency”.

Mr Hammond said the immediate priority was to correct the engineering fault that initially triggered the recall of the Tx4 taxis, enabling the taxi drivers affected to get back to work.

“We are working tremendously hard with the management team, and with UK and Chinese suppliers to reach a solution,” Mr Hammond said. “We are acutely conscious of the needs of London’s taxi drivers.”

It is thought that the process of correcting the fault could take a number of weeks, because once a solution has been found changes will have to be made to around 1,000 vehicles, including those that have already been sold and those waiting to be sold.

If PwC cannot secure sufficient funding to restructure the business it will seek to sell the company and its assets. Assets include a manufacturing facility in Coventry, where Manganese is based, as well as a dealer network across the UK. It employs 280 people in the UK.

The company has been plagued by a series of troubles and losses over the past four years, and chief executive John Russell said on Tuesday that the recall had proved the “fatal blow”.

“We’ve had a tough old four years, with lots of problems with the economy, and some of them self-inflicted. You think you’re getting through it and then something like this comes along and it was a fatal blow really,” he said.

Mr Russell said there was “inherent value” in the company. “I remain confident we will come out of this with a future. We go into this with a tremendous amount of goodwill.”

The faulty steering boxes were supplied by a Chinese company, introduced to Manganese by Geely, which has a 20pc stake in the London cab maker.

Manganese last month revealed a £3.6m pre-tax loss for the first half of the year.

Source The Telegraph

Press Releases: Manganese Bronze Holdings pl

Manganese Bronze Holdings plc, LTI Limited, MBH Services Limited and MBH Property Services Limited – in administration

30th October 2012

Matthew Hammond, Tony Barrell, Ian Green and Mike Jervis were appointed joint administrators of Manganese Bronze Holdings plc, LTI Limited, MBH Services Limited and MBH Property Services Limited (“the Group”) on 30 October 2012.

The Group is the manufacturer and retailer of the iconic London taxi, sold in the UK and abroad. It provides a retail and maintenance service through its wholly-owned dealerships throughout the UK, under the trading name The London Taxi Company. It has a turnover of £75m and 277 employees in total including three overseas employees. 175 employees are based at the Group’s head office and manufacturing site located in Coventry with the remaining employees spread across dealerships in London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Coventry.

The culmination of several issues led to the Group being placed into administration. The Group has been making losses for four years due to a combination of poor UK sales, supply chain issues, and high warranty costs. These issues were further impacted by the discovery of material accounting errors in the first half of 2012 which increased the extent of the Group’s losses. More recently, the discovery of a steering fault resulted in the recall of circa 400 vehicles and a suspension of sales which had an immediate detrimental impact on the Group’s cash flows.

Following a suspension of its shares earlier this month, the Group has been unable to secure sufficient funding. Without financial support to overcome these operational issues, the Group came to the conclusion that it could not continue to trade as a going concern. As a result the directors placed the Group into administration. LTI Limited is concentrating all its resources on fixing the steering fault. The administrators have entered into discussions with key stakeholders to secure funding to support the business through this period whilst the administrators seek a sale of the business and assets as a going concern

Matthew Hammond, joint administrator and PwC partner, said:

"Our immediate priority is to secure funding in order to explore the options rapidly developed by the Management team and key suppliers to resolve the steering box recall. We are reviewing the existing financial position to develop a range of options to rescue the business or alternatively dispose of it to an investor that can continue the business to a secure future for the iconic London Black Cab. We have immediately commenced discussions with an encouraging list of UK and International interested parties and would encourage any further interested parties to contact us as a matter of urgency."

Julian Alison, Should be Offered Mason's Job: Part 2 comment by David Clegg.

Oxford City Council must be applauded for this stand against illegal activity from the Licensed Private Hire racket. It is to the eternal shame of TfL that they do not practice the same thing here in London. In fact the opposite seems to be the case.

In the STaN Report TfL even made suggestions that LPH vehicles actually should break the existing Hackney Carriage Acts by being able to wait outside 300 city and west end clubs (specially identified by them) and other venues contrary to High Court case Law that expressly makes it illegal for such vehicles to be in public view.

TfL (John Mason) said that they had taken 'advice' from their legal team over this and then claimed that such vehicles were not breaking the law. This 'legal' advice has never been disclosed to prove that John Mason really had taken advice, in fact serious doubt has been cast over whether he really did take legal advice or exists at all.

If the stand taken by Oxford City Council's leader Julian Alison is in fact the right legal approach then John Mason has misled every one in London and misrepresented his position and defied the High Court precedents and acted against the very laws that govern our industry - The Hackney Carriage Acts. Such contempt for Acts of Parliament from someone in his High Office does not bode well for any law-abiding taxi driver but must give succour to the nefarious activities of the LPH racket.

His conduct, in my view, is clearly wrong and his position is untenable. We sorely need a man like Julian Alison to take over the helm as Director of LTPH and take on the task of righting all the wrongs John Mason has done since taking up this position he has shown to be totally unsuitable for.

We could be forgiven for thinking that he is actively encouraging some of the LPH racket to break the law due to ignorance of the law on his part. This is legally known as incitement and is little different to the situation where John Griffin was openly asking his drivers on Addison Lee to ignore the Bus Lane on the M4 approach into London. In our trade we feel that Mr Griffin should have been prosecuted for this and Mr Mason should be no different.

We need better and more qualified people at the helm and especially those who wish to maintain the Acts of Parliament and protect the travelling public. We can hardly say this under Mr Mason's time in office

Monday, October 29, 2012

Julian Alison, Should be Offered Mason's Job

A CLAMPDOWN on cab companies forcing their drivers to break licensing rules has been launched by Oxford City Council.

The council’s licensing team leader Julian Alison said the local authority would prosecute private hire firms that make employees ply for trade.

Private hire vehicles must be booked in advance and are not allowed to ‘ply for hire’, which means they can’t queue in a rank or be flagged down in the street.

But Mr Alison said he believed many firms were telling their drivers to flout the rules.

He said: “We have a number of licence-holders who will listen to what the operators say because they want to keep their jobs.

“All the operators want is bums on seats, they don’t care about the individual drivers.

“We have seen examples of private hire drivers turning up at hotels, having removed their stickers and pretending to be exempt vehicles.”

Mr Alison told a meeting of the council’s general purposes licensing committee that enforcement officers would target companies on the wrong side of the law.

He said: “You should expect to see the operators up in front of you in future.”

Committee chairman Colin Cook, praised officers and said the council’s tougher new policy on law-breakers had been successful.

He said: “My feeling is we have said ‘cheerio’ to far more people than we used to. I think it’s working.”

Green group leader David Williams also expressed concerns about unsafe vehicles being used and people with poor eyesight being drivers.

He said: “We just can’t have the situation of death traps being driven around and we can’t have the situation of drivers who can only see 25 metres in front of them. This committee and the officers are the guardians of public safety.”

Ever Taxi representative group, every Taxi driver in London, should be lobbying the Mayor for this man to be given the position of Director of LTPH. The present administration under John Mason does not appear to have the backbone to take on private hire, when it comes to illegal plying for hire. Even the Green Party in Oxford are supporting this clampdown.

Hope On The Horizon For LTI



BLACK cab maker LTI has a bright future, a leading city councillor believes.

City development chief Coun Lynette was among a delegation of politicians and trade unions to meet with chief executive John Russell on Friday.

LTI went into administration last week after efforts to secure more funding from investors.

And during that meeting they pledged to do all they could to secure the company which employs 300 people at its factory on Holyhead Road.

Further talks are planned with the administrators later this week.

Coun Kelly told us: "It's clear that although the company has financial problems the basic company is sound, and their product, the classic London taxi, is still in demand worldwide.

"It's good to see local and national politicians and trade unionists working positively with the company to support jobs in the city.

"It was important for us to talk directly to LTI as soon as possible to understand the latest position and to see if there was anything we could usefully do at this stage.

"I definitely feel more positive now about the future of the factory and the future for the workforce."

Also in Friday's meeting was city council leader John Mutton, city development chief Lynnette Kelly, MPs Bob Ainsworth and Geoffrey Robinson, and Peter Coulson and Roger Maddison from Unite as well as senior shop stewards at the factory.

Coun Mutton added: "We will do everything we can to support LTI and the workforce at this difficult time, but it seems clear there is a future for the firm and we hope that taxi production in Coventry will resume as soon as possible.

"I will meet with the administrators as soon as I can to get that message across to protect the future for staff here and to make sure this iconic Coventry brand has a future."

Source: Coventry Observer


One of the first motorised London taxis were built by Scottish company Beardmore. These were used for several decades but eventually faded from popularity.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Please Help Get these Ranks Back For Suburban Drivers.

There are 2 Planning Application for the continuing use of the kiosks within the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames to be used as minicab booking offices.

At present, the Private Hire Operators and their drivers constantly flout the law, creating traffic congestion in that area with Private Hire Vehicles forming illegal ranks and blocking the flow of traffic including the local bus service passing through Horse Fair Junction.

Licensed Private Hire drivers brazenly break the law by making the illegal turn from Kingston Bridge into Clarence Street which only buses and licensed Taxis are permitted to do so.

They also make an illegal turn on their way out of Clarence Street.
None of this conduct can be considered as suitable and in compliance with a planning application.

Earlier this month LTPH released an unsigned statement threatening the suburban drivers who use Finsbury Park Station Island Rank, with prosecutions or similar behaviour. No such Statement has been issued about the behaviour of the Private Hire drivers in Kingston.

Please leave a comment on the planning application shown below.
Also, why not write to Transport for London (TfL) and LT & PH as well to see if they are opposing this application.


The current closing date for comments on this application is: 09-Nov-2012. Please note this date can change over the lifetime of the application.

Click on the links shown below
Then on the line= Click here to send comment on this application.


Lets help get the suburban ranks back for the Suburban drivers.
And remember "Unity is Strength".

LAND AT HORSE FAIR JUNCTION, CLARENCE STREET, KINGSTON UPON THAMES
Renewal of existing permission (07/12697/FUL) for GRP kiosk to be used as minicab booking office.

Click here to comment

PAVEMENT AREA ADJ TO, KINGSTON RAILWAY STATION, WOOD STREET, KINGSTON UPON THAMES, KT1 1UJ
Renewal of existing permission (07/12676/FUL) for GRP kiosk to be used as minicab booking office, for a period of 5 years.

Click Here to comment

Friday, October 26, 2012

RMT Branch Secretary Mike Tinnion, Statement About Trade Unity

My name is Mike Tinnion and I'm the Branch Secretary of the RMT's London Taxi Drivers Branch.

Just a couple of points.

"Unity is Strengh" is the moto of the RMT, I live and die by it.

Sadly there are certain groups or people within these groups who's wage packet or stand down payments prevent them from doing what's right for the trade. I will sit down with the Devil himself, if it gets the London taxi trade back on its feet. Sadly the devil would be easier to get a meeting with than TFL and UTG.

It's strange because when I've spoken to the leading members of the UTG they want the same thing as the RMT does.

• A taxi trade that is robust
• A taxi trade that is fit of purpose
• A taxi trade that is sustainable for years to come.

This is my third offer of a meeting.
I ask the members of the UTG to join forces with the RMT and fight the injustices in the trade. Fight private hire and the sattelitte offices and demand a strong working environment which includes more ranks in better areas.

If the London taxi trade is to survive we must speak as one Unity is Strength.

Individual Meters for Taxi companies.

TAXI drivers in Henley are asking South Oxfordshire District Council to set their fares in order to make prices fairer.

The district council wants taxi drivers to use meters set by individual operators from June.

But the South Oxfordshire Taxi Drivers’ Association says fares should be fixed by the council in order to prevent smaller companies being disadvantaged.

The cabbies do not currently have to use a meter and many display fare cards showing the minimum fare and the price of each mile thereafter. Companies are able to set their own fares.

About 25 drivers from Henley attended a meeting with the council last week.
Munir Hussain, secretary of the association, said: “We don’t mind using meters but we want the council to fix the charges rather than individual operators setting their own.

“It would lead to more friction between the companies and the drivers on the rank. If there were 10 drivers on the rank that could mean 10 prices and we don’t want that. Most operators want the council to set the prices. There would be more complaints if every private company could set its own price.”

Mr Hussain, of Streamline Executive Cars, used to work in Reading where the council sets the fares and he says the system works well.

Drivers also objected to plans which would mean taxis could only have MOTs carried out at two garages in Didcot.

The association asked for at least one garage to be available in Henley or Reading for the 250 drivers working in Henley.

Since then, the council has said five to seven garages will be made available to drivers but their locations are still to be chosen.

A Truly United Front? What Have We Got Left To Lose

If all the trade groups adopt the stance of "Our door is open - you only have to knock" I think we all know that to save face none of the trade leaders are likely to make the effort.

The seemingly bitter differences of opinion and objectives between the trade groups and the desire to maintain and even increase their memberships is what most of their differences are all about.

The RMT, in this instance, is inviting talks with the other groups, but who will be the first group to see common sense and arrange (privately) to talk.

Let the so-called leaders of the groups have off-the-record phone calls and see where they can find ANY common ground.

We will all suffer if they cannot bring themselves to at least make 'private' approaches to one another and form some sort of consensus as to how the trade should proceed with a 'Strategy' and an 'Action Plan'.

It seems they all want to protect their own little 'Fiefdom' regardless of how much damage our trade suffers whilst no consensus can be reached.

They surely cannot all be that stupid that they cannot see the dangers of NOT talking presents.

John Mason must be laughing his socks off at the lack of professionalism portrayed by groups only putting their own interests first and perhaps too scared to budge from an intransigent position.

That, I'm afraid is not Leadership from within our representative groups, who all appear to be afraid of even talking or being seen talking together.
Why? - Why? - Why?

The RMT may wish to get together with the other trade groups (and why not) but they are wasting their breath if those who they feel they sought to talk to, deliberately don't want to listen and say "our door is open too!" How stupid and damaging is all this petulant self-serving posturing?

Rome burns whilst Nero fiddles?

If the members of these organisations seriously want their leaders to enter talks with one another - let them write in and demand it and see what (if any) response they get.

Let all the trade groups put one question to their own members - "Would you like your committee to enter into dialogue with the other trade representative groups to try and form a consensus for a collective dialogue with TfL and air our trade grievances with a 'UNITED' front"?

This, at least, could be a start.
The effect of this general consensus would have on the strength of our negotiating position could be immeasurable.

Unity from us it what John Mason fears most.

As with the STaN Report, the silence from some of these groups might be deafening, but we should live in hope that some common sense will prevail.

If any of this fails then I believe as a trade we will have failed and we can't blame that on the minicabs.... can we?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

RMT London Taxi 0930 Branch An Appeal to Every Taxi Driver in London Time to Stand Together

In the same week that once again, London’s Taxi Service was voted No. 1 in the world for a record breaking 5th year, we are still reeling from the TX4 Steering box Fiasco and what it means to all of us.

Remember it’s not just the desperate souls whose cabs are ‘against the wall’ with no remedy in sight to get them back on the streets;
Spares Availability,
Warranty for earlier TX4’s,
Rental charges,
resale value etc.
All are critical issues, indeed whether the TX will ever be made again is another.

Earlier in the week we issued a press release that called upon TfL to suspend the flawed 15 Year Age Limit and give other assistance to the trade, they have unsurprisingly refused to do so.

Later we had the Director of LTPH at TfL John Mason on the TV & Radio advising drivers affected that ‘Mercedes Benz had over 150 cabs ready to go’.

So after spending nearly 36K on a non- working cab, the helpful advice from TfL is to finance another 42K plus on a Vito, all of course whilst not working.
What planet are these people on?

This statement from a senior manager at TfL is at best insensitive and at worst a cynical jibe at drivers in a desperate situation and exemplifies the attitude and contempt shown to us by them, remember the Olympics?

We therefore call upon every Cab Driver Fleet Owner and Organisation to come together and demand:

1. An open GLA led enquiry into TfL/LTPH and its mismanagement of the world’s finest Taxi Trade (Satellite Offices, Air Quality, Lack of PH Enforcement etc.)

2. An independent public review into who knew what, when about the steering issue on the TX4 and who approved it for use?

3. A Cab Trade Working Party to look into being moved to another Licensing Body fit for purpose and deserving of our support and licence fees.

These issues are far too important for Petty Politics and Personality Clashes to stand in the way, we may always agree to disagree on many issues but we will be inviting every organisation to discuss a plan of action.

IF you are a member of any other organisation, urge them to take part in the discussion, we may agree to disagree on many issues but be sure the one thing TfL won’t like is a 100% response from us all.

Don’t let them divide and rule.

Let’s make it happen for all our futures!
Contact londontaxi@rmt.org.uk or call 07899 786433

TfL Press Release – Locations for new inspection centres announced

From TfL Press Office

Locations for new inspection centres announced

London Taxi and Private Hire (LTPH) has confirmed the locations for six new vehicle inspection centres to be managed by NSL from February 2013.

NSL won the contract to provide the vehicle licensing and inspections service for London’s taxis and private hire vehicles in March this year.

Following discussions with the taxi and private hire trades and NSL, the six new vehicle inspection centres will be at the following locations:


North Site – Watermill Business Park, Enfield
South Site – Redlands Industrial Estate, Coulsdon
East Site – Acorn Industrial Park, Crayford
West Site – Air Links Industrial Estate, Hounslow
Central East – 1 North Crescent, Canning Town
Central West – Aquarius Business Park, Staples Corner

NSL will be licensing taxis under the new licensing regime which requires taxi vehicle owners to ensure their vehicles have passed an MOT no more than 14 days prior to inspection and to carry out a further MOT six months from the date the licence is issued. The private hire vehicle licensing regime will remain unchanged.

Helen Chapman, Deputy Director for Taxi and Private Hire, said:
“After positive discussions with members from both the taxi and private hire trades, we are pleased to confirm the locations for the new inspection centres. We believe that drivers will find the inspection centres are in convenient locations and will meet their expectations.”

Dale Wood, Business Processing Director for NSL, said:
“We’re excited to be working with TfL in providing taxi and private hire vehicle drivers with greater and more state-of-the-art control and accessibility in booking their inspections, renewing and applying for licenses, as well as offering a great choice of inspection locations.”

As well as providing the taxi and private hire vehicle licensing and inspection service, NSL will also be responsible for the provision of an end-to-end IT system which will be used by LTPH staff for all other licensing and compliance activities.

Did LTPH Fail Taxi Trade, Under Conditions of Fitness? Part 2

In the most recent Notice from TfL -

TPH notice 20/12 – Steering Box Fault in TX4 Taxis / London Taxi Company in Administration -

In a letter written by John Mason (who obviously hasn't resigned) they say:

"Work should not be carried out on taxis until any engineering solution has been appropriately tested and approval has been granted by LTC and VOSA and then authorised by TfL.
TfL has had regular contact with the administrators & LTC management".

So, it begs the question - Who tested and approved the original and 'failed' steering box on our taxis that is now seen as dangerous? We can only hope that the inspection/testing that they are now saying must take place is better than it was in the first place. Somebody is lucky they haven't got blood on their hands.

The public and the London taxi trade deserve better than this.


In today's STEERING BOX RECALL UPDATE: 25 OCTOBER 2012 from the London Taxi Company (LTC) it states:

STEERING BOX RECALL:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHO AUTHORISES THE VEHICLE TO GO BACK ON THE ROAD?
"Any solution we prove solves the fault will then be tested and validated by MIRA, VOSA and passed by Transport for London and other affected Licensing Authorities".

The question still remains - how did this current 'failed and dangerous' steering box come to slip through the net in the first place and get fitted to London taxis? Did it have the required vigorous testing - was it originally approved by all these Agencies now being quoted?
.
Who is watching our watch-dogs?

 



 It seems that Taxi drivers in India know more about the next London Taxi than we do hear in the UK.


 

Did LTPH Fail Taxi Trade, Under Conditions of Fitness?

With regard to the problems with the new steering-box, introduced into the production of our cabs in February this year, one wonders if it had been given the usual close scrutiny and testing under the PCO Conditions of Fitness for any major component BEFORE it went onto the assembly line.

Did this steering box from a new supplier have to undergo rigorous road testing or have to provide assurances with it from its manufacturers as to the efficacy and safety of this vital component?

One wonders how a defective component on one of the most important parts for the vehicle’s safety cannot be identified prior to it being part of the vehicle’s production.

It seems that the defect has manifested itself quite early in the life of some vehicles and it also seems quite incredible that this was not picked up by those whose job it is to subject London’s taxis to safety inspections/tests.

Inappropriate humour? 
If Mr Mason is still in post he should be asked to account for how this has all come about. In the event that he has resigned then his successor should provide the answers at the earliest possible opportunity.

A lot of questions need to be asked about how this serious matter has been allowed to develop and it is indeed fortunate that no-one has been injured or killed.

It is not inspiring any confidence to public safety or to the credibility of the manufacturers if it was known that a serious problem existed and the vehicle was still being sold to unwitting customers. As has already been pointed out, this in itself is a very serious matter.

If financial considerations were taking priority over the safety of the driver, the vehicle, the passengers and other road users, then someone has got a lot of explaining to do. We have a Licensing Authority whose job (statutory duty) it is to prevent any of this from happening, hopefully BEFORE the defects manifest themselves.

To protect the integrity of us being recognised as the ‘best taxi service in the world’ this matter should be thoroughly investigated to ensure that it can never happen again. It is not a good advert for the so-called ‘icon’ that so many people call our vehicles.

We may have an iconic shape to our vehicles but a London taxi has to have more to it, rather than just an aesthetic shape. It has to be robust, reliable, safe, value for money and most important of all ‘Fit for purpose’.

What a disaster this is for our trade, but it has to be determined how it all came to pass. This is one occasion where the drivers cannot be blamed for the problems.
In this case we cannot be blamed for “not driving them properly”, It was most certainly a characteristic of their design

Notice 20/12 Steering Box Fault TX4

Notice 20/12
/12
Steering Box Fault in TX4 Taxis / London Taxi Company in administration
This notice is issued further to PCO Notices 17/12 and 19/12 regarding the manufacturer/VOSA recall and subsequent suspension by Transport for London (TfL) of the licences of late model TX4 taxis affected by a steering box fault. It also provides information related to the announcement on Monday 22 October that Manganese Bronze and the London Taxi Company would be entering administration.
Since the recall announcement, TfL has been in constant dialogue with the London Taxi Company (LTC) and the administrator to understand the technical nature of the recall, the steps that LTC are taking to identify and implement a solution and the impact of the decision to enter administration.
TfL’s priority is, and will remain, ensuring the safety of drivers, passengers and other road users and assisting drivers where possible affected by the recall.
The current position is as follows:
440 taxis in the UK are affected by the steering box fault and recall. Of these 316 are TfL licensed taxis.
A full list of the affected taxis as provided to TfL is attached as Annex A. This includes an additional 13 taxis which were not listed in PCO Notice 17/12 but which were subsequently found to have been affected by the recall.
The recall is due to a serious fault in the steering box and therefore the affected taxis must not be used under any circumstances.
While the recall has been described as “voluntary” this does not make it any less serious or imply that drivers/owners should not comply with the recall. The licence of every one of the 316 licensed taxis was immediately suspended by TfL and remain suspended at this time.
Where TfL identify any of the 316 affected taxis being used in any circumstances then the taxi vehicle licence plates will be removed immediately.
Only LTC have been given permission to temporarily license Euro IV taxis which have not been previously licensed in London, and these taxis are only for use by drivers directly affected by the TX4 recall.
Page 2 of 10
Drivers and other taxi proprietors and garages are not permitted to license Euro III and Euro IV taxis which have not been previously licensed in London.
Any solution to the steering box fault and replacement must have the full approval of the vehicle manufacturer, LTC and VOSA – TfL will work with and support garages who believe they have a solution, however any solution proposed must have LTC and VOSA approval.
Work should not be carried out on taxis until any engineering solution has been appropriately tested and approval has been granted by LTC and VOSA and then authorised by TfL.
TfL has had regular contact with the administrators & LTC management and have expressed our concern at the delays in providing replacement taxis and the provision of inconsistent and/or lack of information to impacted drivers.
As well as being in constant dialogue with LTC, TfL has also contacted KPM who have assured us that they have a significant number of taxis in stock and have committed to assisting drivers affected by the recall any way they can.
At present there is no intention to relax the age-limits for taxis in London which are still in force. This decision will be kept under review as the situation develops.
TfL appreciates that taxi drivers and the trade in general are concerned and worried by recent events. We will endeavour to provide regular updates and inform you of any changes as and when they arise.
Further information and guidance visit the LTC website at london-taxis.co.uk, call the LTC Customer Support line on 02476 572000, contact TfL by emailing TPHEnquiries@tfl.gov.uk or contact your driver association.
John Mason
25 October 2012 Director Taxi and Private Hire
For previous PCO Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph
Follow us on Twittter @TfLTPH

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

LTPH Continued Threats On Taxi Drivers

LTPH have issued this unsigned statement after Taxis were allegedly found to be over ranking at Finsbury Park Station.

Taxis at Finsbury Park Station
Transport for London (TfL) has been advised that despite previous advice being issued and the local police speaking to taxi drivers, a small number of drivers have continued to commit offences at Finsbury Park Station and put other road users, cyclists and pedestrians at risk.

The offences are primarily focussed around the loading bay, outside Costa Coffee, and include:

1. Obstructing the cycle lane, forcing cyclists into the lane used by buses entering the station

2. Parking on double red lines
Double parking next to the loading bay, forcing cyclists across two lanes used by buses entering the station

3. Reversing the wrong way out of the station onto Seven Sisters Road

4.Driving the wrong way out of the station onto Seven Sisters Road

Finsbury Park Station is a busy interchange with buses, taxis and cyclists all passing through the station plus pedestrians crossing at the entrance to the station. These offences put taxis, buses, cyclists and pedestrians at risk.

The police have advised TfL that Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) will be issued to taxi drivers who continue to obstruct the cycle lane, obstruct buses or commit any other offences in or around the station.

MORE THREATS FROM LTPH, BUT ADDISON LEE CAN RANK WHERE THEY LIKE.
But nothing said as Addison Lee form an illegal taxi rank on double red lines at the PR Week Awards held at Grosvenor House Hotel.

Its not just Addison Lee, the enforcement CCTV camera on the corner of mount street is frequently turned away from PHVs who park on the Taxi rank outside The Grosvenor House Hotel.

LTPH Director is seen to have no appetite to take on the issue of private hire illegally plying for hire. Not one single case has been taken up by TfL since taking over from the Met.

RMT Considers Legal Action Against Manganese Bronze.



The maker of London's black cabs knew about vehicle steering problems that led to the company's collapse for more than a month before it ordered a recall of 400 taxis, according to drivers and unions.

The manufacturer, Manganese Bronze, which is due to call in administrators this week, could face an investigation by the Financial Services Authority, or the Insolvency Service, if it is proved directors knew about the problems before informing the stock market in a timely manner.

The RMT union, which represents black-cab drivers in London, said it was consulting lawyers about possible legal action to recoup any financial losses from the firm's collapse.

The union has called on the London mayor, Boris Johnson, to suspend his scheme to ban any taxi which is more than 15 years old, due to the recall that is leaving fewer cabs on the road.

It has been revealed that the two incidents that finally led to the company recalling the cabs took place in London and Edinburgh on 30 September and 4 October, but that the firm continued selling the £35,000 vehicles. One sale to a driver occurred only hours before the recall.

The collapse has left 1,500 cab drivers across the UK without a warranty on their vehicles, while the 300 owners of the faulty TX4 models are unable to use them.

Martin Adkins, a taxi driver from Carshalton, south London, said he drove his brand new TX4 off the London Taxi Company's showroom forecourt on the afternoon of 11 October. At 7.30am the following morning, shares in Manganese Bronze were suspended and later that day 400 cabs were recalled.

He said: "I bought the taxi in good faith and did a shift that same night. Then, a day later, I was told the cab had been recalled. I was absolutely gobsmacked. I couldn't believe it. They must have known that there was a problem when they sold it to me."

Jason King, a driver from Hertfordshire, who has been driving black cabs for 10 years, said he first informed Manganese Bronze, which trades as the London Taxi Company, on 4 September of steering problems after he bought a cab.

King said: "Immediately, I could tell there was a problem with the steering and called up the company.

"They told me to bring it in a few days later and the tracking was tightened, which made a slight difference. However, it was still pulling the vehicle towards the kerb.

"I phoned on three occasions and was told 'it is a characteristic of the cab'. Even when I bought the cab I had heard about problems with the steering, but had been assured these had been fixed."

Between the time King contacted the company and the recall on 12 October, the firm had sold a further 99 cabs.

Manganese Bronze knew about steering issues in 2011 and decided to replace steering boxes with parts from a new supplier in February this year, although directors did not think it necessary to inform the stock market at their annual results launch in March. However, the new parts also failed and the steering reliability was an ongoing issue for several drivers.

On Tuesday, Manganese Bronze declined to comment.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, said the company had known about steering issues for several months.

He said: "Drivers I have spoken to have been experiencing steering problems for some time, long before this recall. The company has tried to fix the problems in the past but obviously this time they can't. It has left 1,500 drivers without a warranty, 300 without a cab, and there's not a single taxi in London available to rent."

Paul Bond, press officer of the RMT said; "The RMT have written to Boris Johnson and TfL on behalf of our members, asking that the age limit on older Taxis be suspended.

Mike Tinnion, of the RMT, said eight union members had submitted details which were being looked at by the union's lawyers for possible legal action.

He said: "A number of our members have said to us they experienced driving problems with the cabs … It is difficult to believe the firm didn't know about the steering problems before the recall."

The company announced plans to call in administrators on Monday after an emergency cash injection from its Chinese partner, Geely, failed to materialise.

About 300 jobs at its Coventry plant, which has made the Hackney carriage for more than 100 years, are under threat.

The first some drivers heard about the recall was when 18 TX4 vehicles were stopped by Transport for London from taking part in an annual trip to Disneyland Paris for sick children.

A spokesman for the Johnson said: "The mayor's team at Transport for London are in contact with Manganeze Bronze in order to establish the full implications of the company's decision to go into administration for cab drivers in London.

"To help drivers affected by the recent recall of vehicles we have temporarily suspended the requirement to source taxis from inside London, although all taxis operating in the capital will continue to have to meet the 15-year age limit. We hope this decision will help affected drivers to obtain replacement vehicles as easily as possible and minimise any potential losses on their part."

Source: The Guardian

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Excerpts From Unlicensed Mini Cabs Operating In Wandsworth: Part 3

The next part of this award winning CPOP report beggars belief:

Analysis
Clapham Junction's specific problem
We identified the problem as; late at night (between 00:00 - 0400) on Fridays and Saturdays there was an influx of drivers illegally touting for hire in the Battersea Rise and Clapham Junction area.
(Notice the removal of the term unlicensed minicab drivers)

The motivating factor for these drivers was money and the abundance of fares in the busy transport hub, which has a thriving nigh time economy and houses numerous pubs and nightclubs. Our survey revealed the problem was compounded by the fact that members of the public who employ the touts are often drunk, do not wish to stand in line at a black cab rank or are merely unaware of the potential dangers. There was also a lack of access to legal private hire vehicles in the immediate vicinity.
(licensed PH operators were complaining that customers were being touted before they could reach minicab office)

There are further issues regarding the road worthy condition of the vehicles being used as mini cabs, some of which fall well below recognized safety standards. In addition to this many drivers are not insured for hire and reward. Indeed, checks on regular offender’s car registration numbers revealed that many of them were not registered cab drivers, often holding no valid insurance or MOT.
(Would we be right in thinking that these regular offenders are the same 8 referred to earlier in this report)

Why were police required?
There were numerous demands for police intervention from the high volume of complaints from independent parties.
The significant amount of touting that our research told us was occurring had a direct impact on legal businesses and as such undermined confidence in the police by people working in the local area. This was enforced by the amount of complaints received from local businesses and legal cab firms.
The stream of vehicles plying for hire around the busy transport hub also caused a constant disruption to traffic and blocked major routes when stopping to harass members of the public.
(So, although the Met have always turned a blind eye and a death ear to complaints from the licensed Taxi trade concerning illegal plying for hire, the met have produced this report on behalf of local minicab firms complaining that PHVs from outside the area are nicking "their" work)

What could we do?
Our next step was to contact the Cab Enforcement Team (CET), who specializes in offences regarding mini cabs and Hackney carriages. We did this to gain advice on police powers and to learn what we as police officers could use as disposal options for taxi touts and their vehicles.
(As the Word Taxi can only be legally used when referring to a licensed Taxi are we to believe that some complaints from these local minicab firms involved licenses Taxis plying for hire?)

We already understood that we could arrest offenders, but wished to find out what other avenues were open to us in relation to not only punishing those found to be breaking the law, but re-directing them to a legal means of working. It was hoped that once put in place, a system to direct touts to registered employers would permanently reduce the number of illegal cabs.
(So, instead of arresting persistent PH touts, which is in the power of the police, they decide to get these drivers to sign up to working for local minicab firms, increasing that companies revenue. Also as the police admit they direct these persistent touts to work with registered employers eg. a Satellite office, we must assume that these drivers are not as the title of the report suggests, unlicensed minicabs. You couldn't make this stuff up)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Breaking News: Manganese Bronze Calls in Administrator

Manganese Bronze announced the move in a statement, saying crisis talks to save the business had collapsed.

"The Board has therefore concluded that the Group is no longer a going concern and has filed notice of intention to appoint administrators," it said.

The embattled black cab-manufacturer, which has been reporting losses since 2008, had hoped that a deal could be reached with Chinese carmaker Geely - its second largest shareholder.

However, the firm said it remained "hopeful that the fundamental strengths of the company, the TX4 model and its global reputation" would provide the platform for a successful business in the future.

Problems developed with a safety defect in the new models of the TX4 - as well as accounting issues following the introduction of a new IT system.

The company - based in Coventry in the West Midlands - launched an emergency recall of 400 TX4 Hackney carriages earlier this month after discovering a steering box fault.

The product recall on October 12 prompted a halt in sales, while shares were also suspended in the company.

Since then, the financial position of the firm has remained unclear.

"A speedy resolution of the product recall ... remains the top priority for the Group and will continue to do so throughout the administration process," the company added.

Grant Thornton UK LLP will be handling the administration process.

The recall is the latest in a spate of issues that have plagued the taxi maker at a time when rival Eco City Vehicles, which sells the Mercedes Vito taxi, has been gaining market share.

Manganese Bronze's shares had lost more than two-thirds of their value since the beginning of the year to October 11 - the last trading day before the stock was suspended.

Midlands manufacturer Russell Luckock said: "The demise of Manganese Bronze was not really a surprise, although the speed of this disaster has caught some British suppliers.

"Their problems with the steering box was going to be very expensive.

"Geely might do a deal with the administrators, but the market is such that any supplier of this type of vehicle will find it a marginal operation."

Source: Sky News


STATEMENT FROM LONDON TAXI COMPANY
22nd October 2012


Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC (the "Group"), the manufacturer of the world famous London taxi, today announces that discussions with various parties to secure funding on acceptable terms to address the Group's financial needs have proved unsuccessful. The Board has therefore concluded that the Group is no longer a going concern and has filed notice of intention to appoint administrators.

A speedy resolution of the product recall announced on 12 October 2012 relating to the discovery of a steering box fault remains the top priority for the Group and will continue to do so throughout the administration process.

The Board remains hopeful that the fundamental strengths of the company, the TX4 model and its global reputation will provide the platform for a successful business in the future.

A further announcement will be made in due course.

 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Excerpts From Unlicensed Mini Cabs Operating In Wandsworth, London:Part 2

The next part of the report concentrates on putting over the concept that all these offences are committed by unlicensed minicabs which, as every Taxi driver knows, is definitely not the case. 

Demand
Complaints originated from local bars on Battersea Rise (who now have satellite offices, so no conflict of interest there), who say they were concerned about the safety of their patrons and the influx of unlicensed touts outside their premises at closing time.
(By unlicensed, do they mean minicabs who didn't pay commission to the door staff?.. Nowhere in this report is it mentioned that door staff were taking back handers from minicabs to supply them with work. Are the Met seriously asking us to believe this wasn't going on)

Security staff from Stop Shop Security, Clapham Junction, also complained that the amount of touts at the front of the station caused disruption to travelers and presented a genuine risk to health and safety.
(From the word "touts" are we to understand these are licensed minicabs touting)

Numerous Metropolitan Police crime reports link unlicensed mini cabs to a variety of offences on the traveling public and late night revelers. This was research was based on information gleaned from police databases and Safer Transport Intelligence reports and have been a well documented problem Pan London.
(Still insisting that all these offences are being committed by unlicensed minicabs)

This was compounded by documentation sent in by the London Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) containing registration marks of offending vehicles and photographs of illegal touts.
(The evidence from the LTDA shows licensed minicabs touting, this seems to be skipped over by report)

Local legal mini cab firms (Grand Cars and KVC Taxi’s) also expressed concerns that unlicensed mini cabs take their custom and pose an unfair competition to their legitimate businesses.

When and where
We took into account the complaints we had received but deemed it necessary to conduct our own research into the times and location of the problem.

To establish the peak of these offences, police databases (CAD, CRIMINT & CRIS) were scanned over a six month period (October 2009 to March 2010) for evidence of arrests and relevant information reports, which provided us with quantitative data. In addition to the complaints we had received this provided a realistic indication of times/dates.

The Clapham Junction Hub Team gained qualitative data by conducting public surveys around the Clapham Junction and Battersea Rise area (12th March - 09th April 2010, 458 people surveyed), asking if they had been approached by touts and if so when. The questions were as follows;

1. Do you live in or socialize in the Battersea Rise/Clapham Junction area? 2. Do you travel home late at night, if so what time?
3. What venues do you frequent and what time do you usually leave?
4. What is your usual means of transport to and from the area?
5. Have you ever been offered a mini cab, if so where/what time? 6. What day/night does this usually happen?
8. Do you take these cabs, if so why?
9. Would you consider hitch-hiking on your journey?
10. Do you question a cab driver or ever ask for company identification? 11. What potential dangers do you think taking a mini cab could be?

(Notice the question missing?...Do you know the difference between a licensed and unlicensed minicab?)

This gave an accurate timescale as to when most activity was occurring, namely Friday and Saturday nights in the early hours when the pubs and nightclubs were emptying.

Police officers conducted plain clothed intelligence operations, spanning one month (April to May 2010). The data from these was collated and a database opened highlighting repeat offenders and detailing the time, dates and scale of the problem.

Baseline
Research identified twelve regular unlicensed mini cabs and drivers in the Battersea Rise and Clapham Junction area. Our observations told us there was average of between four and eight irregular visiting touts also visiting these areas.
(At last an admission! Of all the hundreds if regular offenders touting in this area the Met only managed to identify 8 irregular unlicensed Minicabs. Lets remember that their research took place over a 13 month period.)
**************************************
This report has been written in the same style of the smoke and mirrors we get regularly from LTPH and TfL.

Excerpts From Unlicensed Mini Cabs Operating In Wandsworth, London:Part 1

We have recently come into possession of a report made by the Metropolitan Police to identify, analyse and respond to the problem of illegal and unlicensed minicab touting in the Wandsworth area. Particularly around Clapham Common and Battersea rise.

This report will be published in parts over the next few days.

Part 1
Summary

Clapham Junction and Battersea Rise, SW11, was rife with illegal unlicensed mini cabs touting for business.
Pan London, unlicensed mini cabs who tout for business are linked to numerous sexual assaults on lone vulnerable females. These offences are primarily committed late at night, the victims being women traveling home after frequenting bars or nightclubs, often under the influence of alcohol.

Additionally, the vehicles used to ferry passengers often fall well below recognized safely standards and are uninsured for the purpose of hire and reward.

Taxi touts harass members of the public and obstruct the highway at the busiest transport intersections around Clapham Junction. They also take business from licensed black cabs and legally run private hire companies.

Our response was to research the scale of the problem by gathering intelligence to identify our local repeat offenders and create a baseline. We initiated plain clothes operations in order to arrest and prosecute the main protagonists.

Furthermore a separate strategy of increasing the availability of licensed mini cabs and directing customers towards them was put in place,

thus denying the touts access to fares and removing the motivating factor, namely money.
The implementation of satellite offices was part of this strategy.

We aimed to eliminate the demand for unlicensed cabs with a publicity campaign, which was rolled out to educate the traveling public on the dangers of taking unregulated transportation.

This focused on reaching the maximum number of people through mass text messaging, leaflet drops and street pastor services.

Partnership working with outside agencies has been a cornerstone of our approach allowing us to tackle this problem from a number of different angles.

We have utilized the services of Immigration, VOSA, the Cabs Enforcement Team and LTDA (London Taxi Drivers Association), all of whom had a stake in the problem.

We have been diligent to ensure the problem has not merely been displaced and since putting our procedures into practice have gathered intelligence on bars and nightclubs immediately outside our target area.

The problem is such that there are occasional transient offenders who come from other areas to work in the busy Clapham Junction transport hub and still cause a problem, however our original identified repeat offenders are no longer operational.

By focusing on a long term strategy and eliminating regular unlicensed offenders our recent intelligence tells us there has been a dramatic drop of 90% in the Battersea Rise area.

Scanning
Identifying the problem

It was important to understand the problem in order to see the main dangers presented by unlicensed mini cabs. To do this we contacted the Public Carriage Office (PCO) and asked the difference between a legal and illegal mini cab. We were told that mini cabs have to be pre booked and are not permitted to simply turn up at a venue with the hope of touting a fare.

When a driver touts for business and picks up a fare illegally there is no record of who the driver is, the passenger details or indeed where the fare is supposed to be taken. This amounts to getting into a car with a stranger and leaves a person in a very vulnerable position in respect of being a potential victim of crime.

Our investigations revealed the problem was often compounded by the fact that members of the public who avail of unlicensed cabs are often drunk or are merely unaware of the potential dangers.

Figures gleaned from the Safer Transport Intelligence Unit told us that between 200 and 250 cases of sexual assault concerning unlicensed mini cabs are reported across London every year, however it is conservatively estimated that five times that number go unreported. That gives an average total of 1,125 offences per year, approximately 22 every week.

This excludes other crime figures, such as robberies and thefts.

Source:The Centre for Problem-Oriented Policing

The mission of The Centre is to advance the concept and practice of problem-oriented policing in open and democratic societies.

****************************************

This report was made after a survey carried out between March 2009 and April 2010, where 458 people were surveyed.

As a direct result of this report 343 operator and satellite office licenses have been issued in this area. 

It is our opinion that these measures were not put in place as a result of complaints from the general public about unlicensed minicabs, but from establishments, who have drivers paying them commission for work, complaining that this work is being stolen by other unbooked licensed private hire drivers. 

The many establishments in this area have had clipboard door staff operating illegal minicab ranks for many years, its not a recent issue. It would seem that after over a year of investigation, the Met Police are unfortunately still unaware of the problems and dangers to the public from unbooked, unrecorded, uninsured licensed minicabs. The Met's own estimate of cases of sexual assault including rape concerning mini cabs, (1,125 offences per year, approximately 22 every week) would show just how dangerous this issue has become.

But by far the biggest danger is that in this report, the Met have stated that all the sexual assaults and rapes have taken place in unlicensed minicabs. Yet where perpetrators have been caught, this has most definitely not been the case.

We all know and understand that touting is an arrestable offence, but illegal plying for hire by licensed PHVs is also a reportable offence. Since TfL took control of Taxi and Private Hire from the Met, not one case of illegal plying for hire has been pursued.

Neither the Met or our licensing authority have the will or political appetite to address the problem of illegal plying for hire. 

We have seen many licensing authorities outside London take positive steps to address this issue, so why can't TfL/LTPH.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Victoria Taxi Rank, Point Made! Now Move Point!

Why have TfL/LTPH not seen sense and moved the point of the Victoria Station Taxi rank, to where the majority of passenger exit the station in Wilton Road?

Drivers are reporting long waits as passengers vacating Victoria leave by side exits flagging down passing cabs, completely unaware of where the rank is situated. Taxi marshals are proving to be ineffective.

Since the rank was first advertised as moving to Hudson Place, I have pointed out, on many occasions, that passengers leaving by the exit in Wilton Road would just hail passing cabs.

As with the Olympic venues, the rank is hidden away and not in line-of-sight of people leaving the station. At busy times, this assumption has proved correct, as passing Taxis are flagged down everywhere around the station, while drivers on the rank lose out.

I have suggested that the point of the rank should be moved to the side exit but have been castigated on twitter for my suggestion by members of the joint ranks committee. TfL are to spent £500m on the new station forecourt, but seem unwilling to invest in the welfare of the best Taxi service in the world.

My hopes were raised last night, as I passed and saw Taxis lining up on the old feed rank in Wilton Road. Passengers leaving the station could see the Taxis and it seemed to be working well. I honestly thought that TfLTPH had seen sense. But alas, this morning the point if the rank is back hidden away in Hudson Place.

It's like the Olympic scandal all over again. Cabs are now dwelling by the exit and getting off, while ranking cabs are spending more time than necessary hidden away from sight.

TfLTPH can't used the wheelchair card as the Taxi rank at London bridge operates from the off side and TfLTPH have seen nothing wrong there!!! Or if that worried they could move the Bus stops to Hudson Place.

Again this just goes to prove that the inexperience of LTPH's ranks and highways officers are proving detrimental to our trade.

Rank ready for use.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Notice 19/12: Steering Box Fault in TX4 Taxis: New Update

This notice is issued further to TPH Notice 17/12 regarding the manufacturer/VOSA recall and subsequent suspension by Transport for London (TfL) of the licences of 303 licensed London taxis. London Taxi Company (LTC) has now advised TfL of a further 13 licensed London taxis that are affected by this recall bringing the total to 316. This is due to a steering box fault in late model London Taxi Company TX4 taxis and has also halted the supply of new vehicles

Since the recall announcement, TfL has been in constant dialogue with LTC to
understand the technical nature of the recall and the steps that LTC is taking to identify and implement a solution.

The Mayor and TfL are aware that there are drivers who, as a direct result of this manufacturer’s recall, may be unable to work. We are pressing LTC to do all they can to provide all available assistance to affected drivers, making sure that they communicate effectively with their customers and make clear their intentions. This includes the supply and fitting of replacement steering boxes, suitable compensation for drivers unable to work (where appropriate) and the provision of a clear timetable for resolution of the problem.

TfL continues to encourage the taxi trade, through their associations, to work together in partnership to identify possible taxi sharing arrangements to assist those drivers impacted by this problem.

To further assist affected drivers, following a formal request from LTC and representations from driver associations, TfL is, with immediate effect, implementing temporary measures in London for the licensing of taxis. These temporary measures will allow LTC to license Euro III and Euro IV taxis that
have not previously been licensed in London and provide them directly to drivers impacted by the TX4 recall.

TfL is hopeful that this temporary measure will enable LTC to provide replacement taxis to those affected. Only taxis that are licensed and supplied by LTC qualify for this concession and are for those drivers directly affected by this recall. TfL will work with LTC to ensure licensing of these vehicles can
occur as quickly as possible.

TfL has indicated to LTC that individual owner/drivers who cannot work must have priority over fleet vehicle proprietors who have a greater ability to move vehicles around to keep drivers working.

For further information and guidance please see the LTC website: london- taxis.co.uk, contact the LTC Customer Support line on 02476 572000, TfL via TPHEnquiries@tfl.gov.uk or contact your driver association.

John Mason
Director Taxi and Private Hire

We've Done It Again, London Taxis, Best In The World.

London's Black Cab drivers are the best in the world... and it's not just us saying it!

Perhaps it is our unrivalled ability to talk about everything and anything. Or perhaps it's our complete professionalism and outstanding knowledge.

The London Taxi trade is appreciated by the many visitors to the Capital, from countries all over the world.

London's black cab drivers have again come comfortably top in a poll of world travellers by Hotels.com.

Second were New York cabs, followed by taxis in Tokyo, Shanghai and Bangkok.

The results are based on responses from 1,600 travellers in 28 countries, the survey showed that UK cab passengers were more than twice as likely to "become amorous" in a taxi than travellers worldwide, with 26% of global travellers having kissed in the back seat.

More than half (56%) of travellers have nodded off in a cab, while 19% use a journey to touch up their hair or apply make-up.

The poll also revealed that 15% never tip a cabbie and 39% are fairly stingy with their gratuities.

London was top in five of the seven categories used to determine the city with the best cabs, only failing to be the pick of the taxis for availability (with New York chosen) and for value (Bangkok).

The world's biggest spenders on taxis are Australians, while Italians splash out the least.

Hotels.com senior communications director Alison Couper said: "It is great news again for London to be the home of the best taxis.

"London's iconic black cabs are recognised around the world as being the highest quality and it's due to the impressive expertise of London taxi drivers that they're seen to have the best local knowledge compared to any other city in the world."

What a shame that our own Mayor and licensing authority don't feel the same way...Boris wants us to jump off Tower Bridge and Transport Commissioner Peter Hedy says we should stop complaining and get out more often.

But lets wait and see if they try to capitalise on our great achievement.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

LTPH Compliance Bias? Surely not.

On Friday night/Saturday Morning I had a job to Charing Cross Station. I followed a Toyota into the station who dropped his fare just in front of me.

As I was being paid off I saw the drivers hand beckon people on the queue at the Taxi rank to approach him.

He was approached by a group of people who spoke to him briefly then got in his vehicle.

At the same time an Addison Lee driver who had dropped two young ladies in front of the Toyota, was directly approached by another couple from the rank queue.

They got in his vehicle but then the man got back out and ran off towards the shops, probably to draw cash out of an ATM (as the driver was blagging, he couldn't take a card). The woman stood talking to the driver.

Just as I made my way towards the point of the rank, I noticed more people from the back if the rank, heading towards another minicab dropping behind me.

Where are the compliance teams when this blatant touting is going on?

Why do they only appear when the rank is full of Taxis?


Taxi driver David said:
"They put all their resources into policing the best Taxi service in the world, trying to catch drivers who may have left their documentation, or badge at home and yet right beside us are touts, operating completely illegal, who are raping and pillaging the public, many involved in drug trafficking, prostitution and terrorism and they turn a blind eye. It's so wrong. Why are they doing it this way, what are they trying to achieve ?"




Video Courtesy of Thomas the Taxi

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

LTPH Notice 18/12: Necessity For In Cab Printer Scrapped

Review of Fare Receipt Policy Provides Taxi Drivers with Freedom of Choice and Reduced Overheads

With effect from 1 January 2013 taxis will no longer be required to have electronic taxi meter receipt printers installed as a condition of the cab licence.

In 2003, as part of a review of the Conditions of Fitness, Transport for London (TfL) took the decision to require all London taxis to install taximeters which have the facility to issue printed receipts.

TfL is committed to evaluating the impact and relevance of licensing policies and to support changes that reflect the demand of the taxi industry, with a view to achieving efficiency whilst also reducing any likely costs impact.

TfL Taxi and Private Hire received a number of representations from individual drivers and driver trade associations questioning the continued effectives and relevance of the mandatory electronic meter receipt policy.

Having reviewed this policy and the cost it imposes on drivers TfL considers that requiring all drivers to have receipt printers installed as a mandatory requirement is no longer appropriate.

Although TfL is removing the mandatory requirement for this type of equipment, the requirement that drivers must provide a fare receipt on demand by a passenger remains. However, drivers will now have a choice of how they meet this requirement which could be through issuing paper receipts or, if they prefer, still using an operational taximeter printer installed in their taxi.

For credit and debit card transactions it is still a legislative requirement that a printed receipt is provided to the passenger and this obligation remains operating.

If you have any questions on the change of this policy please do not hesitate to contact us via email to TPH.Enquiries@tfl.gov.uk.
***************************************


So, as the notice points out:
"For credit and debit card transactions it is still a legislative requirement that a printed receipt is provided to the passenger and this obligation remains operating"

Does this mean that transactions using the popular Adelanti's Taxi Pay system, Dash payments, Hailo, Get Taxi and other iPhone apps which email receipts to customers, are not allowed unless you have a receipt printer?

What about Pay pal?
Does this necessitate a need for a printer?

What about manual Credit Card machines, what's the legislation on them?

How will this be enforced?

Will it be by the same joke team that enforce illegal plying for hire?
Or will drivers be asked to "Grass" each other up?

The question on everyone's lips:
When will LTPH start using common sense and joined up thinking?

Mason Replies, After Calls For Moratorium on Age Limit.

In reply to letters sent to director of LTPH, asking a moratorium on the scrapping of older vehicles while the current issue with TX4 steering boxes is sorted out, John Mason says it would be inappropriate to make any changes to the taxi air quality strategy requirements.

Really John, is that what it's all about, Air Quality?

So after taking over 2000 of the oldest vehicles off the road since the scheme was introduced in January 2012, you would think there would be a marked improvement in air quality across London as we were told these vehicles were responsible for up to 30% of the pollution.

Well think again!
The leaders of three London councils have called for the age limit to be reduced to ten years as air quality has become increasingly worse this year, with Hammersmith and Fulham reporting the biggest increase in pollution levels in their borough.

There also seems to be some confusion as to whose older vehicle gets scrapped!!! SGS have just re-plated a 22 year old Metro, which has caused an outcry in trade media and amongst proprietors who have had their vehicles scrapped. So far Mason has been tight lipped on the Metro case.

Apparently the conditions surrounding the 22 year old Metro case are personal and confidential.

One of the letters sent to John Mason:

Dear Mr Mason

The under bonnet fires and subsequent result that 600 taxis were taken off the road created economic hardship and a shortage of taxis for the whole trade, not least the drivers who were directly affected. The latest announcement by Manganese Bronze that TX4 sales have ceased, along with the suspension of its shares, proves that the TX4 is a liability to the economic well being of the London taxi trade. PCO Notice 17/12 effectively takes more than 300 taxis off the road with immediate effect and, yet again, the London taxi trade is faced with a crisis because of this company's poor quality control.

I urge TfL/TPH to suspend the 15 year age limit on taxis for at least 2 years so that the London taxi trade can recover from this situation without suffering too much unnecessary hardship.

I look forward to your speedy response.

And John Mason's standard reply sent to all drivers with similar enquiries:

Dear xxxxxx

Thank you for your email regarding the announcement in Friday that 303 licensed London taxis are being recalled by the London Taxi Company.

We are in constant discussions with the London Taxi Company regarding this matter and how and when they are likely to resolve the problem. At this early stage it would not be appropriate to make any changes to the taxi air quality strategy requirements.

Kind regards

John Mason

After this letter appeared on Taxi forums, drivers are now calling for a mass demo!

It was interesting to read the statement on the LTC website which said drivers not involved should go about their business and consider sharing their vehicle to affected parties.

It is also reported that ECO City Vehicles (ECV) who provide the Vito Taxi, have seen their share value saw as sales increase. Poor old Tim Yeo who had to resign because of conflict of interest must be kicking himself.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Breaking News: Geely Geely executive says unaware of talks with UK taxi firm on cash injection



BEIJING (Reuters) - A senior executive at China's Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd said he was unaware of talks on a possible cash infusion into struggling taxi manufacturer Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC.

Manganese Bronze was expected to discuss a cash injection with Geely, which owns around 20 percent of the taxi maker, the Sunday Times newspaper reported, as the British firm said it had no income stream for the foreseeable future after discovering a safety flaw in its new model.

Lawrence Ang, an executive director of Geely, China's 10th-biggest carmaker by sales, said on Monday he was not aware of recent communication between the firms about that matter.

In 2006, Geely paid 53 million pounds ($85.26 million) for a 23 percent stake in Manganese Bronze and 52 percent of a Shanghai-based joint venture with the firm, but in 2008 took a charge of 100 million yuan ($15.96 million) to write down that investment.

Manganese Bronze, which makes London black cabs, suspended trading in its shares on Friday and said its financial position was unclear after it discovered a safety defect in its new TX4 model that led to a recall and halt in sales.

"Geely is only a minority shareholder in the company and we have made provisions for the investment in our books years ago," Ang said.

"Our CEO and myself used to sit on Manganese Bronze's board but we've cut down to only one non-executive member now," he said.

Manganese Bronze, which has built more than 100,000 black cabs at its Coventry plant in Britain since 1948, turned to Geely in 2006 in response to high manufacturing costs which limited its growth.

Manganese Bronze has reported losses since 2008, and sales of London-style taxis in China have failed to take off.

In the first nine months of this year, Geely sold only 710 Chinese-made black cabs, around 0.2 percent of its overall sales during the period, Ang said.

Geely, whose parent company also owns Swedish car maker Volvo, now holds roughly 20 percent Of Manganese Bronze, worth 610,000 pounds, according to Reuters calculations based on the British company's closing price of 10 pence per share on October 11, its last trading day.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Black cab firm hails Chinese for emergency bailout



EXECUTIVES from Geely, the Chinese car maker, will fly in to Britain tomorrow for emergency talks that may trigger a bailout of the maker of London’s distinctive black taxis. Geely owns a 20% stake in the Coventry-based Manganese Bronze, which was forced to suspend its shares on Friday after recalling 400 cabs because of a fault with their steering system.

The loss-making vehicle manufacturer has halted sales until the problem is fixed. With no income stream for the foreseeable future, it is expected to discuss a cash injection with Geely. John Russell, chief executive of Manganese Bronze, said: “We have a supportive partner in Geely. We have to work through the options. I remain optimistic that they will continue to give us additional support while we navigate through this situation.”

Source: The Sunday Times

RMT Press Release: LTC TX4 Recall.

RMT London Taxi 0930 Branch Press Release

TX4 Steering Issue

As the London Cab Trade attempts to recover from the economic disaster of the Olympics caused by the scaremongering publicity from TfL (since admitted and regretted by the Mayor of London) and the decision by TfL to exclude us from the Games lanes.

We were again dismayed when TfL suspended the licences of over 300 new Taxi’s following a steering fault that could have endangered the lives of Driver and Passenger alike.

The RMT therefore demand the following:

 The IMMEDIATE SUSPENSION OF THE 15 YEAR RULE to ensure that those owners can continue to work so that the effect of the TX4 ‘interruption to the supply chain’ is mitigated and that the Cab fleet can cope with demand coming up to the Peak period.

 The London Taxi Company (Manufacturer) release its stock of pre-owned Taxis to the Drivers affected on a complimentary hire basis until such time as the issue is resolved and settle direct any hire charges with other Taxi Fleet Owners if demand exceeds supply.

 TfL instruct SGS (The Cab Testing Company) to act as necessary to assist in this matter by offering no cost to Driver licensing appointments if necessary on a 24/7 basis and that trivial matters ‘Livery, Missing Ashtrays etc.’ are set aside to ensure the maximum amount of cabs are on the road.

 TfL and/or LTC appoint a liaison officer to talk to Banks and Finance houses etc. so that any demands for Hire Purchase payments to Drivers affected are held over or settled direct by LTC.

 Once the issue is promptly resolved and the Cabs are back on the road an enquiry ( held in public) is conducted to examine matters including:

1. When the fault became apparent?

2. When the authorities were alerted and their subsequent actions?

3. The robustness of the approval system of TfL for such safety critical items?

4. To enquire if ‘cost saving’ was a factor in any decision making?

This enquiry must be independent of both TfL and LTC and in the open. An ‘internal review’ is not acceptable.

 This issue is obviously causing very real hardship to the Drivers and families concerned, RMT Driver members are assured they have the full support and resources of London largest Taxi and Britain’s Specialist Transport Union behind them as this critical time.

Contact londontaxi@rmt.org.uk or call 07899 786433



Friday, October 12, 2012

TfL Press Release 17/12: 303 Taxi Licenses Suspended

Steering Box Fault in TX4 Taxis
The taxi manufacturer London Taxi Company (LTC) has informed Transport for London, Taxi and Private Hire, of a potential fault within the steering box of TX4 taxi models, within a defined Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) list, which may cause loss of steering control of the vehicle.

LTC has commenced an immediate campaign to identify all the taxis possibly affected by this fault and will then contact the taxi owners to inform them that they should not use the vehicle.

Following advice from LTC to TfL and other licensing authorities around the UK, we regret that TfL has no option but to suspend the vehicle licence of all taxis that have been identified as being within scope of this steering fault. This suspension takes place with immediate effect.

A list of all affected taxis licensed by TfL (a total of 303 taxis) is provided below.

The taxi licence suspension will remain in place until such time as we have confirmation from LTC that any rework and/or repairs to individual taxis have been carried out. This action is being taken to minimise the risk to passengers, drivers and other road users.

Transport for London will be providing a supporting role to assist in ensuring all affected vehicles are identified as soon as possible and providing advice and support to London taxi owners wherever possible.


Lastest News from Manganese Bronze

Drivers expecting to pick up new TX4s From Brewery Road today have been told to sit tight and wait as LTC announce product recall.

Faulty steering boxes means approx 400 vehicles are to be recalled.

Drivers now wait with baited breath to see if LTPH has anything to say about 400 dangerous TX4s driving around London, although they said nothing when Toyota recalled thousands of vehicles due to a faulty breaking system.

Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC

12 October 2012
Product recall

Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC (the "Group") announced today a recall of approximately 400 of its TX4 London taxis and suspension of sales of new TX4 models as a result of the discovery of a defect in the steering box. The steering box is a new design from a new supplier that was introduced in production at the Group's Coventry factory in late February 2012.

Discussions are being held with Geely to put in place a robust technical solution for the steering box faults.

The suspension of sales will have a very material and detrimental impact on the Group's cash flows and the board are working to establish the options available to the business given the impact on working capital. Until such time that a technical solution is developed to rectify the fault, the financial position of the Group remains unclear and trading in the Company's shares will remain suspended.

For further information, please contact:

Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC

John Russell, Group Chief Executive
Tel: +44 (0) 24 7657 2108
Peter Johansen, Group Finance Director
Tel: +44 (0) 24 7657 2214

FTI Consulting

Nick Hasell
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7269 7291

Grant Thornton UK LLP

Philip Secrett/Melanie Frean
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7383 5100

This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange