Friday, November 30, 2012

Taxi Trade Open Forum Report: From Taxileaks Roving Reporter.

A well attended event with a good spread of representatives from trade orgs. Fleet Owners, a Radio circuit and Ecocity cabs.

John Mason chaired the meeting along with a large cohort from Plastera including KOL staff and various policy people.

What was abundantly clear is that TfL are as far away from solving the issues that face us as they were on day one in the year 2000.

We will list some questions and the response from TfL:

1. Will TfL relax the 15 Year Age Limit to assist in the TX4 crisis?

TfL: No, Mr Mason updates the Mayors Office ever day and is aware that the situation is getting worse every day as cabs come off the road and drivers can't get a replacement. Sympathy but no solution.

2. Will the 'cabbies cabinet' result in a wider representation from the cab trade and will Mr Mason abandon his current engagement policy?

TfL: It's up To the Mayor who is invited but he is aware that the lack of representation is an issue with the trade. As for the engagement policy, Mr Mason seemed unable to grasp that as he stated it was his policy, he could change it without reference to anyone above. As he has said in the past he can't, we question if it is really his policy at all.

3. How many prosecutions for illegal plying for hire has there been since TfL took responsibility for cab trade licensing?

TfL: Helen Chapman said none since she took over and we can find none before. She added that her legal advice had previously stated that, as there were now so many satellite offices (in venue operating centres) prosecution would fail, then confusingly added they are looking for a test case.

People then informed them that in the rest of the UK there had been many successful prosecutions for this offence. Lots of weasel words and then an astounding revelation from one of the policy staff where they admitted that they viewed cars parked unbooked as illegally plying for hire. The feeling from the floor was that TfL are not dong anything anytime soon to preserve our rights.

4 . Tfl were asked about the breaking scandal of PH testing at SGS Hanwell where PH vehicles were passed without ever appearing for testing. TfL's account differed from our reports however TfL refused to state how many PH vehicles were involved, whether they were on or off the road etc. etc.This evasive answer has nothing to do with prejudicing any criminal matters. We have passed this matter on to the National Press to see they can brush them off so easily.

Other issues were raised about the Rwandan Mass Murder suspect driving a PH vehicle, again John Mason refused to confirm or deny if this man was carrying the public.

In conclusion, more heat than light, nothing came from TfL that inspires confidence that they either understand fully our issues or have either the capability or will to solve them.

One can only wonder what is discussed when the UTG meet with them, whatever it is it seems not to offer any solutions.

Everyone who attended left disappointed, a missed opportunity but we have to persevere for our sakes.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

SGS staff sacked for selling post-dated PHV license roundels.

We have been informed that:
On a routine stop, police noticed that a PHV's license roundel, was out of date. When questioned, the driver informed the officer that his new replacement roundel was back at the office.

This raised suspicion and the driver was accompanied back to the office where he produced an envelope containing a bundle of brand new PH vehicle license roundels.

After police made further enquiries at the SGS's Hanworth passing station, three senior staff members were arrested. One was later released without charge, but two have been bailed to appear in December. Subsequently, two members of SGS staff have been sacked.

LTPH have known for over two months that defective vehicles, some which could be in a dangerous, life threatening condition, are being used as minicabs, having not passed proper inspection.
The scale of the problem, which could be massive, is unknown.

Statement from LTPH:
Can't say much as its an ongoing case, but the problem was identified by SGS and LTPH called in the police.
They also said the problem wasn't wide spread. This is contra to what we have been told by our source.

When confronted at yesterday's Taxi Drivers forum at Palestra, they had no more to add.

So what have LTPH done about this?
Have we seen CO's turning up outside clubs and late night bars with lines of PHVs waiting to become hired?

No of course not

Have we seen police stop check points checking PHV vehicle's condition and documentation?

No of course not...

Have we seen all the PHVs passed by the two sacked members of SGS staff, recalled for re examination?

No of course not ...

Have we seen the continued harassment of Taxi drivers subjected to frequent badge and bill checks?

Yes of course we have...

This latest scandal is just another in a list of scandals that have hit LTPH recently

Over the last few weeks.

...We've seen an expose' about a man wanted in connection with genocide and mass murder, who has been working as a licensed minicab driver in east London for the last 12 years... When asked about this, LTPH said they can't comment on individual cases!

...We have seen the sale of 39 satellite office licenses to a company that had only been trading for 12 days, contra to LTPH's own guild lines... Notice how LTPH are moving away from calling them satellite offices. They are now referred to as operating centres!!

...We have seen a plethora of PH companies offering a Taxi service or private hire Taxi service, contra to private hire act 1998... Apparently LTPH are unaware of the contravention of acting as a Taxi driver without badge and bill.

Non of these problems have been satisfactorily dealt with by the current Director of LTPH.

We've known for a long time, just how easy it is to set up a minicab that looks fully legal.
(And so do the sexual predators, who pray on victims, hiding within lines of PHVs, illegally plying for hire.)

Roundels can be sourced from breakers yards and forgeries are readily available. Secondhand minicab vehicles can be bought fully licensed for a whole year by non PHV licensed drivers. Plus some are used to avoid the congestion charge.

LTPH pre-booked only stickers have been available on eBay for as little as £1 each (I managed to purchase 4).

And now this... Genuine roundels being sold for cash.

IT'S TIME FOR THE GLA TO INVESTIGATE THE GOINGS ON AT PALESTRA

TfL are about to launch the usual Christmas message on behalf of Safer Travel at Night.

Be safe, make sure your minicab is booked
They even have a cabwise iPhone app.
But will they be informing the public that the minicab they're getting into could be a life threatening cut and shut?



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Cardiff taxis leader vows to sue minicab drivers for illegal pick-ups

A taxi drivers’ leader has declared war on minicab drivers by vowing to sue them for allegedly picking up so-called flag downs.
Mathab Khan, chairman of the city’s hackney carriage association, claims some minicabs are costing Cardiff’s black and white drivers around £2m a year in lost fares.

It is illegal for unmarked minicabs to pick up people flagging them down – they are only allowed to carry passengers who have pre-booked.

Mr Khan said he has repeatedly approached the council to inform it of the alleged licence breaches in the hope it would take action but claims the authority is allowing minicab drivers to “flout the law”.

He said if a minicab driver picks up a fare without a booking then their insurance becomes null and void and they become unlicensed taxis.

He said that last weekend members of the Cardiff Hackney Carriage Association recorded 127 minicabs operating illegally and it is now willing to bring a civil action against any minicab driver picking up flag-downs.

Mr Khan said he has requested the names and addresses of the taxi drivers whose licence plates he has reported from the council but it has refused.

“This has been going for the past five years and the council are doing nothing about it,” he said.

“Since August I have reported more than 100 drivers to Cardiff council, giving them the time and place they were illegally working and their plate number. I’ve also provided them with examples of legal precedence in case they want to prosecute.

“The council have continued to ignore me about this issue so I’ve requested they provide me with the names and addresses of all those I’ve reported so that I can prosecute them on behalf of the association.

“Unfortunately they don’t want to give me the details though.”
He added: “These drivers are constantly flouting the law and the authorities are allowing it to happen.

“I’m having so many complaints from my members because they are losing around £2,000 a year each – that’s about £2m.”

Bryan Roland, general secretary of the
National Private Hire Association, said he was aware some minicab drivers had taken to picking up passengers without bookings in order to boost their income.
But condemning their actions he said: “As an association we do not defend the criminal actions of any of our members.

We tell them if they have been caught driving too fast or illegally plying for hire then don’t come to us. This association will not support illegal actions and we believe everyone should obey the rules.”
A Cardiff council spokeswoman said: “Licensing enforcement officers have investigated Mr Khan’s claims with regards to private hire vehicle’s illegally plying for hire.

“They have extensively monitored the area in which Mr Khan claims this to be happening, which has included ‘mystery shopper’ type exercises.

“There is no evidence to show that the private hire vehicles parked in the area are illegally plying for hire, they are acting legitimately and simply waiting for pre-booked fares.

“Officers have checked evidence of fare bookings.
“There are many business and hotels in the area that frequently utilise private hire contracts, which accounts for the number of private hire vehicles in the area.

“We are unable to divulge personal details of individual drivers to Mr Khan due to Data Protection Act restrictions.”

source: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/

Urgent discussions are underway at the RMT London Taxi Branch Committee to consider a similar approach here.

This man is a hero. Note the usual pathetic 'head in the sand' form the Licensing authority.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Taxi Trade goes down the pan as LTPH take the piss!

Tout till your hearts content, no action. Pee in the street? Lose your badge!

Seeing as how London's Councils have consistently closed most of the public loos in budget cuts, selling some more prestigious ones off to be used as flower shops and sandwich bars, where do they expect Taxi drivers to answer the call of nature?

Most hotels turn away taxi drivers wishing to use their facilities and we have been told by LTPH not leave the cab unattended on Taxi ranks. TfL say we can use underground station toilets, but their is no consideration for parking. Plus this is no help for late night drivers.

There are a few urinals scattered sparsely around, but where are women Taxi drivers supposed to answer the call of nature?

We all know what the men at TfL and LTPH think about women's safety, just look at the way they irresponsibly turn a blind eye to strangers with cars picking women up outside clubs and bars, all over London at night

Question:
Is it legal to urinate up the rear wheel of your car if you have your hand on the car?

Answer:
There is no evidence that a man can urinate in public if he aims for his rear wheel, while his hand is on his vehicle. You can be fined for urinating in public, but you have to be caught in the act by a police officer or have a complaint made against you.

According to the Ministry of Justice, the 1986 Public Order Act makes "disorderly behaviour" in England and Wales, including public urination, an offence punishable with a fine. The Law Commission stated that a police officer may make an exception for an expectant mother.

Public urination is also regulated by local bye-laws that state "No person shall urinate or defecate in any public place". There was an attempt to insert an amendment into the Criminal and Justice Police Act 2001 to create a specific offence for public urination, but the amendment was rejected.

Why has no one at TfL stood up for better facilities for taxi drivers, such as unisex toilet facilities accompanied by a rest rank. Stephan Bischof created a type of wheelie bin, which incorporates a urinal, to help combat the antisocial behaviour of drunken misfits. The wheelie bin urinal has been trialled in many towns including London, in a bid to stop public street urination, but this is totally unacceptable for women drivers.

Instead of being instrumental in supplying more, desperately needed rest ranks, Director John Mason now threatens to revoke existing working ranks.

See TfL notice below.


Transport for London
London Taxi and Private Hire
Notice 24/12

Driver Behaviour – Urinating in the Street

We have received reports that there are ongoing problems with both licensed taxi and private hire drivers urinating in the street in certain areas.

Areas where this issue has been reported include:
Cornwall Gardens, Kensington and Chelsea
Ecclestone Square, Westminster
St George’s Square, Westminster
Vincent Square, Westminster

Problems have also been reported in other London boroughs and this
unacceptable behaviour reflects badly on the licensed taxi and private hire
trades as a whole and will not be tolerated.

Urinating in the street is unpleasant and unacceptable for the people who live and work in these areas. It is also a criminal offence and we will advise the public to report all such offences to the police, as well as to Transport for London (TfL), so that the drivers responsible can be charged and appropriate action taken.

Any licensed taxi or private hire driver who is charged and subsequently
convicted will have their fitness to remain licensed reviewed and risks having their licence suspended or revoked by TfL.

Some of the offences committed by licensed taxi drivers are occurring near taxi ranks and where offences continue TfL, along with the London borough, will review the taxi rank and if necessary revoke the taxi rank to help stop offences occurring.

TfL is aware that access to toilets for drivers is an important issue and we will continue to work with all Local Borough’s to increase access and availability to toilets for drivers.

A map showing toilet facilities at underground stations is enclosed and
information about other public toilets in each London borough is available on the internet.

You can find this map at tfl.gov.uk/maps and tfl.gov.uk/accessguides

John Mason
26 November 2012 Director, Taxi and Private Hire
Follow us on Twitter @tfltph
For previous Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph


BORIS SPENT £125m ON BORIS BIKES AND £120m ON NEW BORIS BUSES.
HOW ABOUT BUYING THE WORLDS BEST TAXI SERVICE A FEW DOZEN OF THESE



Swedish cabbie flags unique London career

As London gets swept up in "Scandimania", one Swede has found himself in the driver's seat. The Local talks to the only licensed Swedish cab driver in London about his unique career, getting the Swedish PM in his cab, and Sweden’s presence in London.
As London gets swept up in "Scandimania", one Swede has found himself in the driver's seat. The Local talks to the only licensed Swedish cab driver in London about his unique career, getting the Swedish PM in his cab, and Sweden’s presence in London.

“No one else from Sweden, past or present, has managed to go through the ridiculously hard testing system: The Knowledge of London,” Andreas Eriksson trumpets to The Local.

Not until now.



Eriksson, a 38-year-old from Västerås in central Sweden, was the first Swede to ever pass the test and became an official London cab driver in September.

He believes his background puts him in a unique position – in fact, some passengers have even suggested he contact the Guinness Book of Records for managing to become Sweden's only driver of a London "black cab", as they are commonly known.

“While a Swedish carpenter can go to Greece or anywhere else and ply his trade, a taxi driver from Stockholm or Gothenburg can’t just turn up in London and start driving," says Eriksson.

"He or she will first have to qualify to become the second ever Swedish national!”

And that’s no easy feat.

The Knowledge Test, a famously rigorous probe into the most intimate understanding of London’s streets, was initiated in 1865 and usually requires several years of study.

And now that Eriksson finally got the green light, he is keen to investigate how to use his nationality to his advantage.

While he admits painting the cab in blue and yellow may be one patriotic step too far, his first thought was to provide Swedish holiday travellers with city tours in their mother tongue.

In the past, Swedes on holiday in London have hired translators who have had to sit in on tours, making the process often doubly expensive for the passengers, he explains.

“As I have been trained on all London areas I can pretty much offer a spoken tour tailored to each customer based on their interests, be it rock ‘n’ roll, architecture, or just the classics - all in Swedish,” he explains.

Meanwhile, Eriksson is a keen participant in London’s Swedish community.

He writes a column for LondonSwedes.com, keeps in touch with other Swedish business owners, and even drove Millennium actor Sven-Bertil Taube to an event at the Swedish church.

As to why London seems to have caught a case of Sweden, and indeed Scandinavian, fever, Eriksson explains that the answer is simple:

“Sweden has a lot going for it and has always had a reputation abroad as being one of the best places on earth to live,” he says.

“In a quite deep recession such as the one Britain is struggling through, I think people look for inspiration in places where it seemingly isn't as harsh and miserable.”

While Eriksson admits he’d love to have Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in the back of his cab one day, the plan for now is to just keep driving.

“The good people of London have places to go, people to meet and things to sort out,” he tells The Local.

“It is my job to assist with that as best I can.”


Source: The Local, Sweden's News in English

Are Loyal Addison Lee Customers Being Punished For Their Loyalty?

As a business owner, it’s all too often that I notice companies losing touch with their customers. Unfortunately I was on the receiving end of this recently with Addison Lee, a taxi company I have been loyal to for around seven years.

When I first started using Addison Lee, its prices were competitive and its innovative use of technology made it stand out in the market. However, over the past six months I have noticed prices creeping up and benefits disappearing. A recent monthly bill had increased by £70, thanks to the addition of a £40 admin fee and substantial price increases (e.g. 10 minute journey from Kennington to South Kensington cost £17).

As a priority account holder with a monthly bill, it would have been easy for these increases to go unnoticed, and I wonder how many other customers are being charged more without realising it. Being a loyal customer with a premium account, I would expect to be rewarded with lower prices - but thanks to new admin fees and higher rates for account holders, it seems I am actually paying more for my loyalty.

It’s something that is all too common with big successful businesses - they add more management layers and begin to lose touch with their customers - the thing that made them successful in the first place. It seems that once the company has secured a customer’s loyalty, they stop taking care of them.

Unfortunately while Addison Lee have become complacent, they have opened up a space for a new competitor. I recently tried Hailo, an app for hailing nearby taxis, and was very impressed with its innovative technology. Not to mention that the cost of my 10 minute Kennington to South Kensington journey was half the price at £8.80.

Addison Lee have made the mistake that many companies have made before them - they have taken their existing customers for granted and lost touch with their needs. Companies need to realise that in a tough industry, loyal customers want to be rewarded or they will seek out other options - namely, their competitors.

Anthony Karibian, CEO of bOnline

Source:
http://www.businesszone.co.uk/blogs/bonline/ceo039s-blog-backing-small-businesses/are-customers-being-punished-loyalty

Sunday, November 25, 2012

TFFail show what can be done

TFFail are meeting with the Deputy Mayor of Transport

TFFail is proud to announce we’ve successfully secured a meeting with Isobel Dedring, Deputy Mayor of Transport and Vernon Everitt, MD TFL Group Marketing and Communications.


Our meeting is soon, but never the less we would love to receive questions set by our followers that we can put forward to both Isobel and Vernon. Please be creative with your questions as we are aware that a lot of commonly asked questions are answered on the TfL website.

Please email all of your questions to questions@tffail.co.uk Note: only questions received via this email will be considered.

We would like to thank everyone who has helped us along the way. We honestly couldn’t of done it without your continuous support and we hope to only progress in becoming a unified voice for disgruntled commuters. We’ve got this far with your help and truly believe we can get a lot further with your continued help.

When we set up our website we wanted to have over 5000 followers on Twitter before the end of 2012. Unfortunately we’re a long way off but the year is not finished yet. We also wanted to meet with a senior member of TfL and are happy to have secured a meeting. It is fair to say we’ve so far achieved 50% of our yearly goals.

We will be compiling a hard copy edition of Underground Thoughts to take with us so keep sending in your #UndergroundThoughts, as of this post we will be taking the best #UndergroundThoughts and entering them into the Underground Thoughts book. Please keep them PG rated.

We would really appreciate it if everyone could retweet this message so we can get this out to a lot more than just our followers as we truly believe there is a missing link between TfL and the commuters.



THIS COULD HAPPEN IN HERE: WE MUST MAKE SURE IT NEVER HAPPENS IN LONDON
As the licensed Taxi industry in Ireland became deregulated, it emerged that 1 in 7 Taxi drivers now being licensed, have a criminal record. Some serious issues have come to light with drivers convicted of offences such as rape being allowed to drive Taxis.

See this investigation into the matter posted on YouTube some months ago.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Shades Of The Olympic Legacy As Victoria Revamp Sees Taxi Drivers Shoved Out Of Sight

TfL/LTPH in league with Network Rail have let the Taxi trade down big time.

It would appear preferential treatment has been given to the buses (now there's a surprise) and the bus station remains intact in Terminus Place. Taxis however, just like during the Olympics, have been hidden away around the back of the station, completely out of sight. To add insult to injury, the exit door leading from the station to the rank in Hudson Place is closed between 12:30 and 4:30am by direction of Network Rail.

TfL/LTPH have been tweeting that marshals are informing passengers as to where they can find a Taxi. After hearing complaints from drivers that they are not receiving work at the rank between these times, I decided to go down to the station and check it out.

I got to the station main entrance around 12:30 and tried to find out what the reported marshals were doing. Once inside the station, which could only be accessed by the front entrance in Terminus Place, it took me 5 minutes to find a station assistant who simply did not understand the concept of the words Taxi Rank. It appeared that the only direction I could get from inside the station, was how to leave by the entrance I had just arrived at. This left me back outside in Terminus Place.

I eventually came across another station assistant standing by the the point of old taxi rank.

"Could you direct me to the Taxi rank please" I inquired.
"It's closed" he said "but there is a minicab place just round to the right"
"No I want a black cab" I replied
"You'll have to go out in the road then and flag one down, there's loads of people out there though".

THIS IS THE QUALITY OF THEIR MARSHALS ???

Allegedly, Peter Hendy has made a field trip to Victoria and believes that the rank is suitably sited for the next 5 years.

THIS IS WHAT TfL THINK OF THE BEST TAXI SERVICE IN THE WORLD???

I then went around to the rank to see if the drivers were aware of the situation.



We asked the LTDA for a statement about this situation and they said:

"Prob at Vic is, Network Rail insist on locking access door to rank at night. Only solution is new rank but where? UTG considering boycot of Vic".

Friday, November 23, 2012

More Bullshit From TfL After Mayor Meets With selected Trade Groups:

This notice is issued further to TPH Notices 19/12, 20/12 and 22/12 and is intended to provide taxi drivers with an update on the TX4 taxi steering box recall. The notice also outlines further assistance TfL is providing the taxi trade by temporarily suspending the minimal requirement that all taxis new to licensing must be Euro 5 standard introduced on 1 April 2012.

This suspension is being implemented to further assist drivers experiencing difficulties in purchasing or renting taxis during the current exceptional circumstances following the TX4 recall and LTC entering administration.

As was outlined in the previous Notices issued on this matter, following the recall of a total of 325 London taxis by the London Taxi Company (LTC) TfL took immediate steps to suspend the licences of all impacted taxis on the advice of LTC and VOSA. Since the recall LTC and it’s holding company Manganese Bronze have entered administration and the administrator, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP have been seeking a resolution to the steering box fault while seeking to secure the long term future of the company.

Despite TfL taking steps to allow LTC to licence Euro 4 taxis and waive the vehicle licensing fee in order that drivers impacted by the recall could be provided with replacement taxis by LTC / the administrator, very few drivers were assisted in this manner.

TfL and the Mayor have been in daily contact with the administrator and are pleased that they have finally identified and tested a fix and are in the process of rectifying the steering box fault and getting those taxis and drivers impacted by the recall back on the road. The administrator has informed TfL that they expect this process to be completed by 14 December and TfL is having daily meetings with them to track progress and provide assistance wherever we can.

Despite the progress now being made to rectify the steering box fault it is clear that there is significant increased demand for taxis in London in the current climate, especially for taxis to rent. While TfL has been assured by the suppliers of the Mercedes Vito taxi that they are able to meet any demand for new taxis, TfL and the Mayor are aware that the lack of new and used TX taxis in London is causing some drivers difficulty in sourcing taxis especially on a part-time rental basis.

As a result, following discussions with the Mayor it has been agreed that it is appropriate to implement a temporary relaxation of the requirement that all taxis new to licensing must be Euro 5 compliant.

Therefore, with immediate effect:
The requirement that taxis new to licensing must be Euro 5 standard is suspended until further notice
TfL will now allow taxis new to licensing (and those previously licensed by TfL but which have not been licensed for some time) to be a minimum of Euro 4 standard for up to 5 years but only within the maximum age of the taxi of 15 years.

No taxi in scope will be allowed to exceed the 15 year age limit
The 15 year age limit for taxis and all other licensing requirements in terms of vehicle conditions and licensing requirements remain unchanged.

In summary; these changes mean that individual drivers and garages can now source Euro 4 taxis that would have otherwise not been licensed by TfL and can present these taxis to meet the licensing inspection standards in the normal manner. However any Euro 4 taxi new to licensing will only be licensed for a maximum of 5 years and will not be allowed to exceed the maximum age of the vehicle of 15 years.

TfL will review the impact of this suspension on a regular basis and will end it once it is satisfied that there is improved stability and availability of taxis.

Individual drivers and garages who source Euro 4 taxis which they wish to licence in London can now proceed and do so by following the standard taxi licensing and inspection process.

TX4 Warranty: Where You Stand.

Source: The National Archives, MG Rover Warranty Issues Fact Sheet
Main Points:

Owners with manufacturer warranties who believe they have a claim under the warranty should in the first instance take up the issue with the dealer or supplier from whom they bought their car.

Warranty or no warranty, consumers have their normal rights under sale of goods legislation to expect that any goods they buy (including cars) are satisfactory quality. Responsibility in relation to these rights rests with the retailer, not the manufacturer.

If goods or services have been bought via a connected finance agreement, the finance company may also be jointly liable (with the supplier) under the contract of sale. Consumers may be able to look to the finance company to put matters right where the supplier has failed or is unable to do so. This might also apply where the provision of a warranty formed part of a transaction paid for or part paid for with a connected finance agreement.

Consumers can obtain free advice on their own concerns from:
- their local Citizens Advice Bureaux
- Consumer Direct
Note: The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) is not able to intervene in individual disputes and cannot give detailed advice on the circumstances of individual claims or disputes. The following represents the views of BERR only and should in no way be taken to be legal advice or to be in any way definitive. Only the courts can decide on the application of the law in any individual case.

More detail:
WARRANTY/GUARANTEE
1. Where a warranty has been provided by a manufacturer, or a third party provider, it is a separate agreement (aside from the agreement between retailer and consumer for the sale of goods) between the manufacturer or third party provider and the consumer.

The warranty is usually only enforceable against the manufacturer or third party provider (even though in the case of new car warranties it is usually the retailer network which actually provides the work and parts, the manufacturer or third party provider pays for that work).

2. The ability to enforce the agreement will depend on whether the party providing the warranty or guarantee is in a position to honour the agreement.

3. In the event that the manufacturer is no longer in a position to honour the warranty agreement, the retailer is unlikely to be under any obligation to provide any service under that warranty (there would be little or no prospect of that work being paid for by the manufacturer).

However, independent of any warranty, consumers still have their normal rights under sale of goods legislation to expect that any goods they buy (including cars) be of satisfactory quality. These rights are enforceable against the retailer, not the manufacturer (see below).

4. It is important therefore to establish exactly who the warranty agreement is with. For example, second and third year warranties for cars are sometimes referred to as dealer warranties and it may be the case that the dealer or retailer, or a third party warranty provider, has obligations under those agreements, rather than the manufacturer.

5. If a warranty has been provided by a company which goes into liquidation, and the warranty is not backed by independent insurance, and the company is not in a position to honour the warranty, any claim by the consumer will be considered an unsecured, non-preferential debt (the consumer would need to make their claim known to the liquidators and would join the queue of creditors).

SALE OF GOODS LAW
6. The law relating to the sale of goods is set out principally in the Sale of Goods Act 1979. The Act applies to all buyers, but consumers are entitled to a greater range of remedies. ‘Consumers’ are defined as people who do not deal or hold themselves out to be dealing in the course of a business.

7. When goods are faulty and there is no separate warranty agreement or manufacturers guarantee, buyers can generally only obtain a remedy against the retailer. Buyers may also have additional rights against a credit card company or finance house if the goods are purchased, or part purchased by means of credit and cost more than £100 (see below).

8. Buyers are entitled to goods of satisfactory quality, taking account of any description, the price and other relevant circumstances. If an item has a fault that is present at the time of the sale (which may be a ‘latent’ or ‘inherent’ fault), the consumer can take the issue up with the retailer once it is discovered.

9. If a product that was not of satisfactory quality at the time of the sale is returned to the retailer, the buyer is entitled to a full refund (if it is within a reasonable time of the sale), or, if a “reasonable time “ has elapsed, to a reasonable amount of compensation. Any legal proceedings to enforce a claim must be started within 6 years of the date of sale.

10. Alternatively, consumers can choose to request a repair or replacement (the retailer can decline either of these if he can show that they are disproportionately costly in comparison with the alternative). If neither repair nor replacement is realistically possible, consumers can request a partial refund.

11. Generally, the consumer needs to demonstrate the goods were not of satisfactory quality at the time of sale. This is so if the consumer chooses to request an immediate refund or compensation. It is also the case for any product returned more than six months after the date of sale.

There is one exception – this is where the consumer returns the goods in the first six months from the date of sale and requests a repair or replacement or a partial refund. In that case, the consumer does not have to prove the goods were faulty at the time of sale. It is assumed that they were. If the retailer does not agree, it is for the retailer to prove that the goods were satisfactory at the time of sale.

FINANCE AGREEMENTS AND CREDIT
12. Under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, a consumer may have the ability to enforce the contractual rights that he would have had against the supplier of goods or services, against the provider of the credit that financed the purchase of those goods and services.

13. Essentially, where there has been a breach of contractual obligations (for example, the goods are faulty or a service has not been provided) and where the supplier of the goods or services is not able to rectify the failure, the provider of the credit may be asked to assume joint liability with the supplier for the loss to the purchaser.

14. There are conditions:
– The transaction must be a debtor–creditor–supplier arrangement – i.e. the purchase must be financed by credit provided by a lender who has a relationship with the supplier. This will include where part of the purchase price has been paid by credit card.

– The transaction must be for an amount between £100 and £30,000. But the amount of finance does not have to cover the full amount of the purchase price – for example, the use of a credit card to pay a deposit.

Consumers who believe that they may have such a claim should contact their credit provider.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Another Licensing Authority Shows How It Should Be Done.

Illegal taxis are being driven out of borough

Taxi drivers have been celebrating a court case victory that will put the wheels in motion to drive out operators that have been illegally touting for business on their patch.

On Monday Omar Ashfaq, who owns Ash Travels, was convicted at Watford Magistrates Court on eight charges of operating in Dacorum without a licence for the area.

The business owner was giving the impression he was local by using a telephone number for his home in Berkhamsted.

He was given a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

The ruling will be a warning for other drivers touting illegally in the area.

Dacorum Borough Council spokesman Madeleine Taggart-Smith said: “This was the first prosecution for operating a private hire taxi illegally within Dacorum.

“Further action may be pursued against other illegal private hire operators and drivers where the council has sufficient evidence to place before the courts.”

The conviction came after months of protests by taxi drivers in the borough whose livelihoods are being affected by taxis from other areas taking their business.

Driver Luke McIvaney said: “It was an ecstatic day for Dacorum taxi drivers. We can now work without fear of losing big chunks of business to drivers from other areas.

“We are looking forward to our licensing authority pursuing more cases and we will do further protest action if other illegal drivers don’t go in reasonable time.”

Dacorum drivers have been campaigning against illegal drivers stealing business for more than three years.

Mr McIvaney estimates there are about 20 to 30 cars still operating in the area.

He said: “From a public safety point of view people will be able to trust they are being picked up by taxis licenced by Dacorum Borough Council, which adhere to the council’s high safety standards.”

Source: Hemel Today

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

John Mason, Just Incase You Forgot!

TfL/LTPH Notice 25/10

Advertising - Private Hire Services

Despite repeated reminders and clear guidance and advice issued by Transport for London (TfL) we continue to receive a high level of complaints, information and evidence showing that some licensed London private hire operators continue to advertise their services using words ‘taxi’ or ‘cab’.

Again we would like to inform all operators that the advertising of their services in this manner is clearly not permitted under the conditions set out in section 31 of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.

This section clearly states that no private hire advertising can use the words ‘taxi’, ‘taxis’, ‘cab’ or ‘cabs’, or words closely resembling any of those words, and that any person who contravenes this is guilty of an offence.

TfL will always take appropriate action against those licensed operators who commit such an offence but such activity is very time consuming, is not a cost effective use of our resources and has a direct adverse impact on the private hire licence fee.
( This statement is just so week, LTPH are telling Operators that although they know they are doing wrong, LTPH can't afford to chase them. If these firms continue to break the law, double their license fee and do the enforcement job properly. Grow some balls.)

Operators are therefore reminded that they are not permitted under any circumstances to use the terms ‘cab(s)’, ‘taxi(s)’ or any words closely resembling these terms in advertisements and that they must comply with section 31 of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998.

Failure to do so can result in the revocation of your operator license and / or legal action. (that's if they can scrape the money to get her to pay their legal team)

I thank you for your co-operation with this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or queries regardings the above.


John Mason
7 September 2010 Director, Taxi and Private Hire


Dear John Mason
Either these notices actually mean something, or they are not worth the Internet space they are posted on

By your continued reluctance to deal with matters of this ilk, should we take it that these TfL notices are all worthless?




Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Is It A Constant Uphill Struggle Against LTPH?

Just seen this interesting article on the National Taxi Association website.
Click here to read. 

It explains why the city of San Francisco have issued unlicensed Taxi services offered by Uber, Lyft and SideCar with $20,000 fines.

These companies state in their defence, that because jobs are dispatched by smart phone, they are not Taxis services and as such don't have to play by the rules that licensed Taxis do.

Last week, Lyft, SideCar and Uber were each cited $20,000 by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) (which is a similar set up to our own LTPH) for running unlicensed taxi services. The services have 20 days to pay the fine or appeal.

Making matters worse for Uber, two drivers for San Francisco-based Luxor Cab have filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming the high-end livery service is unfairly taking money from the pockets of traditional cabbies by not playing by the same rules.

The state regulators have said, if a business dispatches a motorist to pickup a passenger, then the company is a taxi service that has to be licensed and meet insurance requirements. Drivers need permits requiring clean driving records.

Well, what has this got to do with us?
This is exactly the service that the unlicensed minicab provider UBI cars is offering with their Hospital Taxi service, Hospital free phone direct line, Paddington Taxi app and UBI Taxi and minicab app.
This company is acting as a minicab company it supplies smart phone apps which carry the company's name. But they have not bothered to get a license. The private hire act of 1998 prohibits any company from offering a taxi or minicab service without first obtaining a license from TfL. So this company is breaking the law.



Why are the UTG not shouting from the roof tops about this issue?
Are they scared they won't get a seat on the "Cabbies Cabinet" if they rock the boat?


So why is John Mason saying there is nothing he can do, because this firm is not licensed by TfL/LTPH?
Why is it a constant uphill struggle to get Mason to do anything that protects licensed Taxi drivers and their livelihood?

Earlier this year we saw Mason refuse to do anything about a number of private hire companies, which set up free taxi rank services as part of advertising promotions.
Surely that was the idea of the Private hire act, to stop these back street fly by nights pitching up and putting the publics safety at risk?

But then again, protecting the publics safety hasn't been one of LTPH's strong points, over the last 3 years. We've seen the escalation of satellite offices to a state where they are now completely unenforceable, the Killer on the knowledge leading to the licensing of a minicab driver wanted for mass murder and Genocide.

Soon we will be bombarded with the seasonal announcements from The Safer Travel division, stating;
"An unbooked minicab is just a stranger with a car".
It's just a pity that senior staff at Palestra and Windsor House don't read their own propaganda.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

To Comply Or Not Comply? That Is The Question.

THE TIME HAS COME TO FIGHT BACK HARD

This weekend saw Regent Street become a massive illegal private hire rank!
PHVs were parked on both sides and in the middle of the road by Swallow Street, including the Taxi rank spaces. Heddon Street was awash with scabs on foot openly touting with their abandoned vehicles illegally parked in the bus lane. Westminster Parking Wardens have been threatened and intimidated and are now walking by the illegally parked PHVs and saying nothing.

The Met police refuse to get involved and of course the LTPH teams are too busy doing Badge & Bill checks at station ranks.

Are they still looking for the stollen bills which disappeared when the PCO moved from Penton Street to Palestra?
How do we get this ineffective licensing authority to do what we pay them to do?


SHOULD WE ADOPT A POLICY OF NON COMPLIANCE.
There is currently nothing in the TfL version of the Abstract of Law that says you have to legally comply with compliance officers from LTPH. We have been told on numerous occasions, they have no powers. The Old COs from the Met had the power to stop you and order a cab off the road.

In a four week period in March this year LTPH carried out just 90 checks on PHV drivers while checking the Badge & Bills of nearly 400 licensed Taxi drivers. This action in itself shows the bias towards our trade and the lack of appetite to tackle the rout problem of the high number of serious sexual assaults and rapes frequently occurring in un-booked minicabs.

Their action in checking the documents of 90 PHV drivers shows it can be done. Lets tell them we will not comply until we see them checking PHVs for documentation and proof of booking as they form illegal ranks. Lets see some action on the touts in Regent Street, Dover Street, The Kings Road, Fabrics and the City, the list is endless.

We must insist that compliance officers check to see if the illegally ranking PHVs have genuine booked jobs. If not they should be reported for illegal plying for hire. If they are illegally plying for hire then they have no valid insurance. By forming an illegal rank they are also acting as a licensed Taxi driver without Badge & Bill.

Illegally plying for hire carries the same level 3 penalty as touting. In fact its easier to prosecute as you do not have to prove solicitation. It's reportable not arrestable, so a non warranted officer can report for a case to be bought against the driver.

It's already being successfully done up and down the country by other licensing authorities such as Manchester, Reading, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford, St Albans, Milton Keynes and many others.

In Cambridge recently, PHVs illegally plying for hire, have been given £120 fines, £150 +6 penalty points for no insurance, then ordered to pay £2000 court costs. They can't afford to get caught more than once, after that it's a non driving holiday.

FOLLOW THE MONEY
We have shown in the past that LTPH are only interested in the money they make from a private hire. A prime example being the 39 new satellite office licenses issued to a company that had only been trading for 12 days, contrary to TfL's policy that a company has to be trading as a private hire company for at least one year before it can be considered for license variation (Satellite office status)

We have seen TfL/LTPH's complete lack of appetite to address issues appertaining to the London cab act 1968, where PH companies openly offer "Taxi" services. People are currently being put at risk by a company called UBI Cars, offering a Hospital Taxi Service to and from many National Health Hospitals. They have a smart phone app and also advertise as a Paddington Station Taxi service.
After a recent complaint to Director of LTPH John Mason, he said "there's nothing we can do as this firm is a third party and as such not licensed as a private hire company". You couldn't make this stuff up.





ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
If we get no result from non compliance and LTPH still refuse to do the job, then we should hit TfL were it hurts them the most, their beloved buses. Block the most lucrative bus routs. The run up to Christmas is their busiest time. A series of well executed Demos could block the whole of central London using localised hit squads at strategic points.

At present, the Police turn a blind eye to serious sexual assaults and even rapes just to get the streets cleared. Why would they worry about a few parked cars.

This must be bought to the attention of the media (Dispatches, Panorama and the like, as well as the press)

Has anyone wondered why the rape and assault figures for 2011 haven't been published yet?
Let Hendy explain that on the Eddie Nester show!

The tout squads of both the Met and city police are heavenly subsidised by TfL grants. Lets insist that if their performances don't significantly improve, then these generous grants are stopped.

Nearly 2 years ago, I reported to the police and PCO the gang of unlicensed touts that work Piccadilly Circus into Regent Street. I repeated this complaint 6 months ago.
Friday night they were still there.

On Thursday night, last week, it was reported on Twitter that the City of London Police were ticketing licensed Taxis parked outside the Piccolo cafe in Gresham Street, while mini cab touts were being left alone to form illegal ranks outside the many night bars in the area.

This situation is disgusting. We have seen from the CPOP report, the police are only interested in clearing the streets regardless of people's safety.

Enough is enough, it's time to get tough.

Want to get personally involved?
Join the campaign and contact you MP and Assembly Member
Click here for details and template letter.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

When Are LTPH Going To Start Doing The Job Properly.

At first we had Birmingham, then Oxford, then Cambridge and now Milton Keynes take the initiative to prosecute Licensed private hire drivers for picking up un booked jobs.

Jonathon Arthur, 39, from Turnmill Avenue, Milton Keynes, pleaded guilty to illegally plying for hire at Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court last Friday (November 9).

He also admitted to having invalid insurance.
Any private hire vehicle that picks up an un booked job, has no valid insurgence!

Arthur was fined £150 for each offence. He also had six points endorsed on his driving licence and was ordered to pay legal costs of £800.

Magistrates heard how in February 2011 a joint Milton Keynes Council and Thames Valley Police test purchase enforcement operation was carried out.

Officers approached a waiting minicab outside the Groove night club in Central Milton Keynes and were taken to their requested destination without the fare being pre-booked.

Licensed minicab drivers in a private hire vehicle must only accept fares that are pre-booked via an operator.

In this instance Mr Arthur accepted a fare that had not been pre-booked, which breaks the terms of his licence, breaches the legislation and invalidates his insurance.

Head of the regulatory unit at the council, Karen Ford, said: “Stay safe this Christmas by planning your evening, pre-booking a ride to get you home and not getting into a cab with ‘pre-booked only’ on the door unless you have booked that taxi in advance.

“The only time you should get into a vehicle without pre-booking is a licensed ‘hackney carriage’ and these will have the word ‘Taxi’ in a light bar on their roof.”

source: http://www.miltonkeynes.co.uk/


JOHN MASON, LEON DANIELS 

ARE YOU READING THESE CASES?

OUR TRADE IS FED UP WAITING FOR YOU TO START EARNING YOUR WAGES!

WHO'S REALLY PULLING THE STRINGS?


Friday, November 16, 2012

Rally to drum up support for Coventry black cab makers LTI

A RALLY is being held in Coventry on Saturday to drum up public support for the city’s troubled taxi firm LTI.




Members of the Unite union, which represents workers at the Holyhead Road plant, will be with a black cab in Broadgate handing out flyers and asking people to sign a petition.

Spokesman Peter Coulson said gaining public support would help strengthen the campaign to save the company, which went into administration last month.

"Over the past week we have met with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, met with the three local MPs, and met with the London Taxi Association," said Mr Coulson.


"Everybody is pointing in the same direction in that these iconic cabs should be saved. Now we are holding an event in the city centre to kickstart public support.

"It’s not a demonstration, we will just be handing out Save Our Cab flyers and asking people to sign a petition."

He said a similar event would be held in London on Friday, November 23. Meanwhile, the deadline for bids to buy LTI ends on Friday.

Dozens of organisations have already registered their interest, with a shortlist of five or six expected to be announced by the end of November.

LTI was plunged into crisis in mid-October when 400 cabs had to be recalled because of a steering fault.

Administrators Price Waterhouse Coopers later made 156 workers redundant, including 99 of the 176 at the Coventry plant.

Some staff locked themselves inside the factory after being given the news.

A further 12 city workers were laid off and sent home on half-pay, but could return to work if production restarts.

Earlier this month business secretary Vince Cable refused to offer any financial help, saying the problems were a matter for the administrator.

But he said he had written to Chinese private automaker Geely, which has a 20 per cent stake in LTI owners Manganese Bronze, to enquire about its plans, after crisis discussions over a £15million loan fell through.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

LTC Latest Update: Solution Found. Work Starts This Weekend

The administrators of Manganese Bronze Holdings are pleased to announce that an engineering solution to the steering fault has been found for the TX4 model taxi.

Since being appointed, the joint administrators have focused their resources on developing and testing a solution to repair the steering manufacturing defect as quickly as possible, working closely with Transport for London (TfL), the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) and the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA). The administrators today confirmed they have secured supply chain availability and logistics to begin a rapid replacement of the affected parts in the recalled fleet with new steering boxes from a UK supplier. Starting this weekend, the programme of works is targeted for completion by 14 December.

Matthew Hammond, joint administrator and PwC partner, said:

“I am pleased to be able to report that the company's employees will be part of a massive effort to begin fitting the new UK-supplied steering box to the recalled fleet within the next 48 hours. Having secured replacement parts for the entire recalled fleet, the programme to fit these new components has been devised so that all recalled fleet cars will be fitted with new replacement parts by mid-December.

“I fully appreciate the difficulties that the recall has created for individual taxi drivers, fleet operators, dealers and availability of taxis in the London black cab market. I hope that within a matter of weeks we will have addressed the main difficulties faced by drivers and the under-supply of vehicles to the London black cab market. We are working to get taxis back on the road as quickly as possible but clearly, with the large number of vehicles affected in London and also in the regions, this work will take several weeks to complete.

“The support of the Group’s management, employees and unions has been outstanding and a critical factor in getting to this stage. We are grateful for their ongoing support and resolve, and we all remain focused on securing the future of the company.”

The joint administrators will continue to work closely with TfL and the LTDA, providing progress updates until work is completed. They will also shortly commence deploying new replacement parts to the 500-strong fleet of new unregistered vehicles currently in the Group's stock holding. Once the new components have been fitted the new unregistered vehicles can be considered for release into the market in early 2013.

Ends

Source: http://www.london-taxis.co.uk/news


Why They Lost.

It has to be admitted, somewhat reluctantly, that the Magistrate is probably right in his decisions in this case - given the circumstances of the evidence. If it was a Stipendiary Magistrate then he/she would be a Barrister and not a Lay Magistrate who would not have the legal training.

The whole point of issue here is in the wording of the 1998 Act where the word ‘at’ is used. The Diamond Cars defence team spotted it straight away.

Like much of this poorly-drafted Act the wording is just not precise enough. If the property boundary of the said premises includes the doorway/porch of the premises, then the word ‘at’ is being adhered to as the doorway area is ‘at’ the said premises.

You don’t have to be a genius to work that one out – but I think it shows that there are not enough geniuses on the compliance team. What a waste of time and money this all was.

The wording of this section of the Act needs to be strengthened and it seems the compliance officers have not understood the difference between the wording of the Act and the LTPH guidelines given in respect of it. It has to be said that the Magistrate is probably right on this too and the fault lies with the compliance team who mistakenly confused ‘the Act’ with the TfL/LTPH ‘guidelines’.

It is quite surprising that the compliance team were not clued up enough to know the difference. Having read the Magistrate’s decision it now seems certain that the LTPH enforcement teams have learnt a hard lesson here and that their guidelines are not in fact LAW.

The same applies to us to a certain extent with our ‘Abstract of Laws’ which are not definitive – and also like the Highway Code – that too is not LAW. Just printed for guidance purposes.

Much as we would like to see these scumbags prosecuted if they are breaking the law we have to be sure of our ground and, if necessary, get the wording in the Act changed to define what ‘at’ actually means and specify where and how bookings may be taken, on or in any satellite office. Even if it was changed for the word ‘within’ it would, in this case, one suspects, not have brought about a different result.

It’s a point of law and we (or anyone seeking a prosecution) have to be clear as to how an offence is being committed. We have got to be just as smart as the minicab defence lawyers and make sure that any case that is brought is CLEARLY a breach of the existing 1998 Act and NOT based on an interpretation of it for ‘Guideline’ purposes’ as appears was done here.

This ‘win’ for the minicabs will make them even bolder than they are now and perhaps makes LTPH somewhat reluctant to bring any further prosecutions of this nature.

If LTPH/TfL has egg on their faces it is their own fault and it is difficult to understand why the involvement, and evidence from the LTDA, never brought this ‘legal’ point out. Between them someone should have spotted this flaw in their case - it should not have been overlooked. Do these minicab opportunists have smarter lawyers than the LTDA or LTPH/TfL?

This is all part of a very embarrassing ‘learning curve’ that the enforcement teams have had to go through as for all our sakes this sort of ‘screw-up’ must not be allowed to happen again.

It causes us to lose a lot of our precious licence-money in wasted prosecutions and allows the minicab racket to cock-a-snook at us - and at TfL through its own inadequacies.

They must try harder and learn a bit more on how to do their job properly. They often refer to us as acting unprofessionally in the things that we do - but this criticism can also be aimed at them as this case surely illustrates.

All in all it is a difficult pill for us all to swallow.


Just when you thought " it can't get no worse"

If you thought the STaN report was damaging to our trade, if you thought it couldn't get any worse, have a read through this report we have come across on the Problem orientated Policing website.

No one in the taxi trade media is interested in publishing this report WHY.

It reveals how the Met police colluded with local unlicensed touts and helped them form little groups to operate from satellite offices in the borough of Wandsworth.
It also reveals that 343 satellite offices licenses have been issue in the Wandsworth borough in just over one year.

Ultimate proof that the police are turning a blind eye to many crimes such as;
illegal plying for hire,
driving a passenger in an unbooked PHV with void insurance
and openly touting by clipboard johnnies,
in order to clear the streets at busy times.

This report is yet another winner of the prestigious Goldstein Award

CLICK ON LINK BELOW TO READ

http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2011/11-18.pdf






Wednesday, November 14, 2012

TfL v Diamond Chauffeurs Ltd

In the Westminster Magistrates Court


In the matter of Diamond Chauffeurs Limited
(Appellant)
AND

Transport for London – Taxi & Private Hire
(Respondent)

AND

In the matter of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998


Judgement of District Judge (Magistrates Courts) Fanning

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. By s.4(1) of the Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 (“the Act”), the holder of a London Private Hire Vehicle operators licence shall not accept a private hire booking other than “at an operating centre” specified in his licence.

2. The Appellant is the holder of such a licence which includes (in addition to 13 others) an operating centre at Abacaus, 24 Cornhill, London (“the Premises”).

3. On 28th February 2012, the Respondent notified the Appellant of its decision (under s.19 of the Act) to vary his licence by the removal of the Abacus operating centre on the [grounds set out in its letter of 28th February 2012 ]


following grounds:

a. the Respondent had received complaints of “incidents of taxi touting and a breach of licensing obligations at the premises”;
b. As a result of the investigation that arose from that complaint, on 17th February 2012 two of the Appellants operators were observed “accepting bookings outside the operating centre located inside the Abacus nightclub premises;” and
c. “Therefore, you have failed to demonstrate that you are complying with the requirements of ……the 1988 Act. The evidence of the complaint, coupled with the result of the investigations, indicates a pattern of unacceptable conduct and a breach of obligations by you and those acting on your behalf…..”

4. In summary, the Respondent’s case proceeds upon two limbs, and on a joint and several basis, either or both amounting to justification for the variation of the Appellant’s licence:

a. The first issue is this – the Respondent being of the opinion that in placing his operators outside of the doors of, rather than within, the Premises, the Appellant is in breach of it’s Public Carriage Office Notices and, in turn, s.4 of the Act;
b. The second issue is - the evidence, the Respondent says, of the Appellant’s operators “touting” for business at the Premises.

5. For his part, it is the Appellant’s case that the word “at” in s.4 of the Act does not mean “within the doors of” or “inside” the operating centre.

6. Further, he says that the contents of the PCO Notices is guidance only and not in itself the law, and that the interpretation of the law within the notices is wrong.

7. In any event, if I find against him on that point of law, and if I found that “touting” has taken place, the Appellant avers that the decision to vary his licence in response was disproportionate.

8. The first issue turns on phraseology – specifically, whether the word “at” in s.4(1) necessarily implies that bookings must take place inside the doors of the Premises (as the Respondent insists), or whether it permits bookings to be taken outside the doors of the premises.

9. The second issue turns on whether there is evidence of “touting” at the Premises by or on behalf of the Appellant, and whether if there is, this either alone or in tandem with the first issue warranted the variation.

10. I have seen a series of photographs of the premises, and looked at both the Land Registry plan, and a copy of the plan annexed to the premises licence. I have heard from a number of witnesses including Mr Lamb, the general manager of the Premises, and Mr Sarr, a compliance officer who is familiar with them.

11. In fact, the access doors are not aligned with the boundary of the Premises, but are set back. There is some dispute as to by how far, but it can be gauged from the photographs. That recessed area is partially covered by the floor above. The whole area is effectively a box, with a floor beneath, a roof covering most of what is above, enclosed on three sides but open to the pavement on its fourth.

12. When the premises are open for business, that fourth side is bounded by ropes, and access is controlled by doormen and, on busy nights, Mr Lamb himself. Potential customers must queue on the pavement before being permitted (or not) to leave the pavement, cross onto the premises and approach the doors. They make payment once within the doorway.

13. On Friday 17th February 2012, Perry Kissin and Natasha Young, employed by the Respondent as compliance officers, attended the Premises. They observed two of the Appellants operators standing within what they described as “a covered and roped off area” but outside the glass doors.

14. Again, in short, the Respondents case is that the Operators asked Mr Kissin & Miss Young if they wanted a taxi. The compliance officers were of the view this amounted to prohibited touting (wherever that approach took place – indoors or out), and, their view being that bookings had to take place inside an operating centre rather than on the street or pavement, a breach of s.4. Accordingly, they cautioned and interviewed the operators – pointing out the offences being committed as they saw it.

15. It was as a result of this incident, following as it did a complaint from the Licenced Taxi Drivers Association (which had provided earlier evidence allegedly showing “touting” by the Appellant’s operators) that, ultimately, led the Respondent to vary the Appellants licence (although I do note that this was not the first occasion that the Appellant had been challenged by the Respondent about his operating practices at the Premises).

16. Turning to the nub of this case. As to the s.4 point: I illustrate my decision with an analogy. Imagine the Premises were in fact a boat moored on the Thames, with a short gangway leading from the Premises to the embankment, and with access from the embankment to the gangway patrolled by doormen and a rope. Could it be said that the Appellant’s operators, stood on the outside deck of the boat, were operating other than “at” the premises? Could it be said that they were on the street or the pavement? Could there be a risk of confusion between members of the public as to who were licenced operators “at” the premises, and those who were not, being on the embankment?

17. In my view, in this case, and having regard to the particular geography of the entrance area to the Premises, the operators were standing in an area to which access was controlled by doormen and which was clearly separate, and distinct from the pavement and street. I don’t think my analogy is too far fetched. I am satisfied that the operators were operating at the Premises. There was no breach of s.4.

18. There then arises the issue of how I square that interpretation with the Policy notices, my finding being contrary to that guidance. I do so in two ways:

a. Firstly, unlike the policies discussed in the authorities before me today, the Respondent’s policy is non-statutory. Whilst entitled to draft and publish it, and to use it as a guide for the discharge of its functions under the Act, it is no more than that – a guide. I doubt that the only course of challenge to it is by way of judicial review;
b. Secondly, Mrs Chapman made it clear in her evidence that the Policy permits discretion, to be exercised on a case by case basis, as to the application of the policy. She confirmed two venues at which there have been operating centres permitted out of doors.

19. Accordingly, if I am required, for the purposes of this Appeal, to step into the shoes of the Respondent when adjudicating upon its decision, I can, if I see it as appropriate, exercise that same discretion.

20. As to the “touting” issues. Technically, I can see that the s.167 offence is made out if the operator makes an approach to a customer rather than the other way round. The Appellant concedes that to be so on the evidence. However, the Appellant has operators on the Premises at the request of its management. They are clearly identifiable as operators for the Appellant’s firm. They stand at a designated location. They operate in tandem (now in triplicate) one to accept bookings, another to convey customers to a particular car – thereby protecting the paying public from un-licenced and unregulated operators whom I am told are a regular danger in the immediate vicinity of the Premises. Given the mischief at which the regulation of taxi firms is directed, the breach observed on 17th February 2012 was a minor one, and not one that was inimical to public safety.

21. Accordingly, having regard to the evidence adduced and to the particular facts of this case, I am satisfied that approaching the matter afresh, and standing in the Respondent’s shoes, but with the benefit of these proceedings, and the presentation and testing of evidence within them, to vary the Appellants licence as was done is unsustainable for these reasons:

a. I find no breach of s.4; the wording of the Act clearly permitting the Appellants controllers to operate at the premises in the position that they were;
b. I believe that the Respondent should, in respect of its policy, have in any event exercised its discretion to permit the Appellants operators to stand on the external side of the doors to the premises, it being unreasonable to conclude that there was a real risk of the public confusing the Appellant’s operators in that position with the unregulated touts located in the street beyond; and
c. the Respondent’s response to the “touting” was, given the technical nature of that breach as I see it, a disproportionate one.

22. Accordingly, I allow the Appeal.

Latest Statement From LTC

As part of the Steering Box Recall announced on Friday 12th October, The London Taxi Company has identified an additional 16 VIN numbers that are affected by the recall.

The VINs are for vehicles that formed part of the original trial for the steering box and these vehicles have been identified as part of an ongoing checking process to ensure that all affected vehicles are removed from service and the road.

There is no wholesale recall of vehicles; only a limited number of vehicles identified by specific VINs.

The VINs of all affected vehicles can be checked by going to The London Taxi Company website (www.london-taxis.co.uk) and inputting the last 6 digits of a vehicle VIN number. Drivers and owners of this latest batch of vehicles have already been contacted and informed that they have to take their vehicle off the road.

Only vehicles that are featured on the VIN list will need to be taken off the road.

With regards to a fix for the steering box fault, The London Taxi Company can confirm that they are confident that a solution will be ready soon, and that vehicles will begin to be rectified and put back on the road shortly.

Customers can contact the Steering Box Recall Team on 02476 572000 for more information.

Woman Sexually Assaulted on Victoria Station Concourse.

Appeal launched after woman is sexually assaulted at London Victoria
Officers are appealing for information after a man sexually assaulted a woman on the concourse at London Victoria rail station.

Investigators have released a CCTV image of a man they believe may have information about the incident, which took place around 8am on Saturday, 27 October.

Detective Constable Andrew Parkinson said: “The victim, a 48-year-old woman from London, was walking towards the Wilton Road exit of the station when the incident happened.

“As she passed a man who was walking towards her, she felt him touch her indecently.

“She immediately confronted him and he started shouting at her, prompting members of the public to intervene.

“The male then became more aggressive and had to be restrained by passers-by, while the victim left the station.”

Extensive enquiries have been carried out since the incident and, as a result of these, officers have identified the man in the CCTV image as being crucial to the investigation.

DC Parkinson added: “This assault was extremely intimidating and distressing for the victim.

“No one should be made to feel like this and it is very important that we trace the man responsible.

“Incidents like this are rare, but this was clearly a very upsetting experience for the victim.”

Anyone with any information about the incident should call 0800 40 50 40 quoting B8/LSA of 13/11/2012. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Victoria Station Rank Fiasco

Latest Press release from TfL:
Following the relocation of the taxi rank at Victoria Station to Hudson’s Place there have been problems with Gatwick Express passengers who arrive at the station between 12.30am and 4.30am accessing the new taxi rank.

Too true! The minicab firm in Buckingham Palace Road can be observed most nights walking passengers round from the old Exit in Terminus Place to their minicabs outside their office.

To help ensure that Gatwick Express passengers reach the new taxi rank between 12:30am and 04:30 marshals are now in place at the station forecourt and Little Ben Island to direct passengers from the station to Hudson’s Place.

The marshals started work on Monday 5 November and have been successfully directing passengers to the Hudson’ Place taxi rank.

This is not the case. On Friday night/Saturday morning I watched marshals from the minicab firm who service the night club Pasha in Victoria street, escorting passengers round from the station to the line of illegally plying for hire minicabs ranking opposite the nightclub.

The marshals will be in place whilst additional signage from the station to the taxi rank in Hudson’s Place is prepared and installed.

Taxi drivers should use the taxi rank in Hudson’s Place late at night so as Gatwick Express passengers being directed there can get a taxi.

Actually the Point of the rank needs moving, it's really quite simple.
Just swap the drop off point and point of the rank over.

Cabs should rank outside the Apollo theatre opposite the side entrance to the station and cabs should drop off in Hudson place.

Plus the no left turn into the station should be suspended allowing a few taxis into terminus place to use old rank.


YES IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE

Toyota Recalls 2.7Million Cars with Steering Issue.

Toyota announces a major recall with its Prius and Corolla models owing to, wait for it,
A STEERING PROBLEM.

Will LTPH director John Mason be recalled from annual leave to issue a similar suspension of the Prius which are currently being used as PHVs?

The Deputy Director of LTPH needs to issue an immediate statement about this new issue

This is the second major recall from Toyota in a month affecting over 10 million cars in total. Plus in 2009 12 million vehicles were recalled with breaking problems.

And yet not a word from TfL or LTPH about these vehicles which are some of the most popular used nationwide as private hire cars.

London's iconic TX4 has seen over 300 vehicles removed from service by TfL/LTPH after a steering box fault was discovered in some late models.

This from the BBC this morning

Toyota has said it will recall 2.7 million cars worldwide because of problems with the steering wheel and water pump system.

The recall affects nine models, including the Toyota Corolla and the second-generation Prius.

It comes four weeks after the firm recalled more than seven million vehicles worldwide, including some Corolla and Camry models, over faulty window switches.

Toyota is Japan's biggest carmaker.

Joichi Tachikawa, a spokesman for Toyota, told the BBC that the problem with the steering wheel was to do with "insufficient hardness of the steering shaft".

He explained that due to this, the splines which connect the extension shaft to the gearbox may deform if the steering wheel is "frequently and forcefully turned to the full lock position while driving at a very slow speed".

"This may create an increased backlash and the splines may eventually wear out over time, which could result in loss of steering ability," he added.

However, Mr Tachikawa said that no accidents due to this fault had been reported so far.

'Nobody is perfect'

The latest recall, which includes nearly 75,000 vehicles in the UK, is the latest in a spate of such moves in recent years.

Toyota's reputation was damaged in 2009 by a recall that ended up involving 12 million vehicles and fines from US regulators.

The Japanese carmaker is still trying to rebuild its reputation and regain customer trust after that fiasco, which saw the firm's head apologising to consumers.

Its efforts to do so have been dealt a blow over the past few weeks, as it has announced recalls totalling nearly 10 million vehicles.

However, some analysts said that while the latest recalls, which are voluntary, were a setback, they might not cause as much damage to its reputation as the ones in 2009.

"Nobody is perfect. Vehicles nowadays are very complicated," said Koichi Sugimoto, an auto analyst with BNP Paribas in Tokyo.

"The company is taking appropriate measures to fix the problems, so I don't think this will cause significant damage to Toyota's reputation."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

LTC: Steering Issue Problem Escalates.

This post from the Mr Black Cab Taxi forum.

We received word from London over the weekend that the London Taxi Company have been contacting owners of TX4’s, some up to 2 years old, and telling the owners their cabs are unfit for use.

It came as no surprise to hear engineers were in Manchester yesterday, Monday 12.

At least one owner was told his cab is no longer fit to work. He was advised to park it up.

He has refused to do so!

Who can blame him, he is paying £135 a week finance for this vehicle.
He cannot afford to pay another £180 a week to hire a cab to keep on working until this mess is cleared up.

Is the driver committing an offence ?

The answer must be no.
The council have not issued notice of suspension. At its last inspection, the same council found it fit for purpose.

Please bear this in mind if LTC contact you. Do not let them inspect your vehicle, they have no idea how many are affected, why put yourself out of work.

Why have LTC not notified Manchester Licensing of these inspections ? The answer must be they are trying to play down the size of the problem. There are two reasons for this.

1. They still hope to get a mug to bail them out.

2. They do not want anymore drivers joining the Class Action started by the big London trade group, for compensation.

Some owners have started giving back the vehicles to Black Horse Finance and walking away.


60 Suspension and revocation of vehicle licences

(2) Where a district council suspend, revoke or refuse to renew any licence under this section they shall give to the proprietor of the vehicle notice of the grounds on which the licence has been suspended or revoked or on which they have refused to renew the
licence within fourteen days of such suspension, revocation or refusal.

Source: http://www.mrblackcab.proboards.com/index.cgi

Today LTC announced that in spite of what Mayor Boris Johnson may be saying, the offer of to provide specially approved replacement Taxis to affected drivers in London, was withdrawn when the company went into administration.

These statements appeared on the @LondonTaxiCoUK twitter page today:

TfLTPH provided us with additional opportunities to provide loan vehicles & that plan was put into action.

Unfortunately, that plan has been put on hold due to the fact that the company went into administration.

When asked how much longer this fix was going to take, they said:

"The process to identify the fault, replicate the fault, test solutions & validate is now in the final phase.
We need to be confident that the fix we implement is safe and robust.
We appreciate that the lack of detail is frustrating. When we have confirmed detail, we'll tell affected drivers".


Monday, November 12, 2012

Another Licensing Authority Shows How It Should Be Done.

An uninsured minicab driver has picked up a fine for illegally plying his trade in Cambridge after a crackdown. Well lets face it, you didn't really expect it to be in London, did you?

Asaddar Ali, a private hire driver, was caught in a joint operation by Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire police. And you didn't really expect it to be LTPH and the Met either!

Ali, of Bullen Close, Cambridge, has been convicted of unlawfully picking up passengers following a joint investigation.

The 50-year-old was found guilty by city magistrates this week of plying for hire for which he was fined £110.

Did you hear that Mr Mason, it does exist, Illegal Plying For Hire. And the case went before a magistrate that knew and understood the law!

Because he wasn't booked, Ali's vehicle was found to be uninsured against third party risks, for which he was fined £150 and issued six penalty points.

It now has to be pointed out that this is always the case, for illegal plying for hire as well as touting. LTPH once told me they concentrate on touting because its a more serious offence, which simply is not true.

Ali already had six points on his driver’s licence and so was disqualified from driving immediately for six months.

Ali is the last of the nine drivers who have been convicted of unlawfully picking up passengers on the evening of February 24-25 in the operation. did you see that Mr Mason, 9 drivers convicted of illegal plying for hire in 24 hours. As opposed to TfL's record of 0 drivers convicted ever of illegal plying for hire, under their watch as licensing authority.

Cllr Colin Rosenstiel, the council’s licensing committee chairman, said:
“We will always try to educate the taxi and private hire traded and provide guidance on appropriate practices, but where this approach fails we have no alternative but to deal firmly with breaches".

I have it on good authority that there are also no mass murderers, or anyone wanted in connection for genocide, driving minicabs in Cambridge.
He went on to say:
“The licensing team from Cambridge City Council has a commitment to ensure that the trade keeps within the law and ensure public safety.”
Hope you caught that Mr Mason, Mr Daniels and Mr Hendy!

"Only hackney carriages are licensed by Cambridge City Council to ply for hire in the city".

"Private hire vehicles are only licensed to take pre-booked fares and cannot be hailed to pick up passengers on the street.


Cllr Jeremy Benstead, vice chairman of licensing, said:
Cambridge City Council has a commitment to ensuring that licensed activities stay within the law"
which is more than can be said for TfL/KTPH.
"Illegal use of private hire vehicles can put the public at risk, and won’t be tolerated".
Perhaps this is why London has such an appalling record when it comes to serious sexual assaults and rapes in minicabs.

The vast majority of private hire drivers operate within the law, but the city council will ensure that those who choose to operate outside of it are dealt with firmly.

Unfortunately people's safety in London is compromised by TfL, LTPH and the Metropolitan police with a policy of turning a blind eye in order just to clear the streets.

NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE, HOW DO THESE MEN SLEEP AT NIGHT.


NEWS JUST IN FROM READING
Private hire driver fined £2,000 for illegal pick-up
November 07, 2012
A private hire driver who illegally picked up a customer in the town centre has been ordered to pay more than £2,000 after appearing in court.

Mohammed Arif, of Northumberland Avenue, denied plying for trade in Friar Street on December 8, 2011, but was found guilty after a trial at Newbury Magistrates Court on Tuesday, October 30.

The court heard Arif, 61, had been caught during an undercover operation by Reading Borough Council with Thames Valley Police officers acting as customers.

Magistrates fined Arif £110 and ordered him to pay costs of £2,016.60.

Councillor Paul Gittings, Reading’s lead member for environment, said he was pleased with the outcome.
“Most people who flag down a private hire vehicle in the street do not understand it is illegal and they are uninsured for the journey,” he said.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

In Flanders Fields: A poem by Lt. Col. John McCrae.

How Did LTPH Manage To Lose?

8th of March 2011
One of our undercover reporters made a film about the touting outside Abacus. It was short and to the point.

It showed the clipboard man 20 yards from the entrance standing next to one of Diamond cars. After telling drivers to make their way to another touting hot spot, Tiger Tiger (Abacus was closing) this man turns and asks "minicab sir, need a cab?".

The film was published and Diamond Cars complained to Google who asked for an explanation. After reading a report from the Taxi driver involved, Google found in his favour and the video was allowed to stay on Youtube.

A copy of the video was sent to LTPH who didn't even reply.



25th Feb 2012
This Video was made showing Marshals from Diamond Cars holding back Taxis so their cars, illegally parked in a narrow one way street (some even facing in the wrong direction) could be escorted down to the exit of Abacus before Taxis could join the rank.

A copy of this video was sent to LTPH and got the same no reply.



3rd of March 2012.
This video shows Marshals and door security working hand in hand to tout customers leaving the night club Sway in Great Queen Street. The undercover Taxi driver who took this video was also assaulted by a security guard who knocked the camera out of his hand with an extendable truncheon.

A copy of this video was sent to LTPH, as of yet, still no reply.



2nd Sept 2012
Again, another hot bed of touting!
Embargo on the Kings Road. This time it's Munster Cars openly touting. But TfL, LTPH, Cab enforcement unit and the tout squad of the Met Police seem unable to put a case together.



Friday, November 09, 2012

Magistrate: Clipboard Johnnies, Offered a Valuable Service to the Public

LTPH legal team lose court appeal
Not only have LTPH managed to lose the appeal against Diamond Cars regarding their license revocation at the late night city bar Abacus, but this time, more seriously, the Magistrate made the most damaging statement this trade has ever heard.

His statement, that Clipboard johnnies offer a valuable service to the public is a green light to every satellite operation in the capital. It will hail the return of pavement clipboard johnnies openly touting, feeding lines of illegally plying for hire minicabs.

The repercussions of this Statement from this Magistrate will have a devastating affect on our trade and could result in the death of the night Taxi trade.

As a direct result of this damaging statement we will see the serious sexual assault and rape figures jump to new heights as predators join the mass of illegal minicab ranks, looking for easy pickings.

Up until now, many establishments have kept their clipboards away from view, worried that undercover officers from LTPH might report there activity and lose them their license to tout.

This will no longer be necessary as LTPH back away from the little enforcement that they did occasionally carry out. Now it will be a free for all as CB Johnnies reappear in doorways, alleyways, kiosks and shops.

Below is a great post taken from the London Taxi forum, made by our old friend Semtex.
Never one to hold back, it contains strong language.



Forget the rape statistics. These revenue chasing headhunters have no conscience of appalling acts like rape, and they couldn't care less.

All they know is the fact that them mini cab green discs are akin to selling crack cocaine. The profits are huge, the demand high and the supply by TFL is unlimited. They won't let a few thousand sexual assaults and rapes rob them of what they regard as prime importance........MONEY !

The pressure is definately on us at the moment. What with many of our colleagues marooned down to the LTI steering abortion, and the onslaught of our 300 year old platinum service to London brought into disrepute by a two bob, washed up LBC disc jockey.

We need to regroup and plan our next move.

Personally, I believe the time for polite and demographic negotiating is over.
I think that the balaclavas and gloves should go on, the windows blown out and the insurgents are served three in the head each.

We cannot afford to be abused like this for another moment. When you have judges in the courts overturning laws to convenience illegal touting, is the time that we should realise that a conspiracy to rid London of its taxi trade was not scaremongering at all.

All of these operations to make life difficult for us since the Olympics, simply cannot be coincidence. They want rid if us. We are not profitable enough for them, and we have too much say for their liking.

I say this time we go in blasting.
Fuck letting the police know,
fuck communicating with the media,
fuck dispersing when they decide we disperse,
fuck TFL,
fuck Hendy,
fuck Daniels,
fuck Mason,
fuck being bullied and
fuck being polite.

The lot of these parasites have kicked the shit out of us for too long now.
Any minute now we will have nothing left to lose.

If they want a fight lets fucking have one with them.

If you kick a dog up the bollox every time you see it, it will do one of two things. It will run away......or bite you.

The London Taxi Trade has served London and its people with pride and passion for over 300 years.
Thanks to the roughshod and disrespectful onslaught by TFL over the years, we have nowhere to run away to anymore.

I guess that leaves the dog's second option now then, and our teeth are razor sharp !

Keep punching folks, don't let these civil service pricks wreck our gold heritage. They started the fight, so lets fucking give them one !

8829 Semtex