Sunday, December 30, 2012

NEW YEAR’S EVE 2012 – MONDAY 31 DECEMBER

It would seem that TfL will be carrying on their bias treatment of the Licensed Taxi Trade in true Olympic fashion (so much for legacy) by refusing any temporary Taxi ranks to facilitate the publics safe removal from the restricted areas on New Years Eve.

The Rickshaws they say they want to ban will of course be given full access to the forbidden zone. Police will again (as they do most nights) be turning a blind eye to the lines of minicabs, illegally plying for hire around the periphery.

Below is a letter from the Mayor, sent to residents contains important information about restrictions that will affect them as residents or businesses on New Year’s Eve 2012.

The Mayor of London has once again commissioned a New Year’s Eve fireworks display at the London Eye.

FIREWORKS DISPLAY
The display will follow a similar pattern to previous years, with music and a countdown as midnight approaches, followed by a ten-minute firework display at midnight.

Due to the popularity of the event, everyone will need to be prepared for large crowds and to plan well in advance to ensure they have a safe and enjoyable time. Only a proportion of the several hundred thousand people in central London will be able to watch the fireworks in the official viewing areas, which will close as soon as they are full.

We will, once again, be putting in place a number of measures to ensure that all of those wanting to access the event area will be safe. These measures will affect traffic, public transport and pedestrian access to the area.

ACCESS TO YOUR PROPERTY
Once the designated viewing areas on Victoria Embankment, Westminster Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Lambeth Bridge and Belvedere Road/York Road reach capacity, a number of closures will be put in place restricting pedestrian access to specific areas. Each of these closure points will be supported by a team of event stewards who will be briefed to allow access to any resident and any guests of residents should they require. Please be aware that once these barriers are closed there will be considerable crowds both sides of the barriers so they will take some time to cross. Closures come into effect between 21:00 & 23:00.
To ensure your evening runs as smoothly as possible, we would suggest you and/or your guests carry something with your name and address which can be shown to the event stewards when passing through closed barrier points. This is not obligatory; however it may speed up your and/or your guests’ movements within the area.

For those who are unable to carry proof of address (a utility bill) resident wristbands are available for those living within the barrier closures, for Addington Street, York Road, Chicheley Street and Belvedere Road. On the night please show your wristband to the stewards who will let you though the barriers, enabling you to access your property. If you would like to apply for a wristband, please send a stamped addressed envelope to:
Hayley Shingles, Jack Morton Worldwide, 16 – 18 Acton Park Estate, The Vale, London, W3 7QE, detailing the names of those who require them.

If safe to do so, the Police enforcing the road closures may allow residential traffic through road closure points so you can access your property during the closure times. However, due to large crowds and public safety there will be no vehicular access to York Road, Belvedere Road, Victoria Embankment, Whitehall Place and any roads leading south of the Strand or Fleet Street between the closure time and the time it is deemed safe to reopen the roads (circa 01:30 – 03:00). Please ensure any guests invited to your property are made aware of this fact.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Special services will be provided on buses, Tube and National Rail on the night. However, please note the following measures will be put in place:
Westminster station will be exit only to Parliament Street from 21:30 on 31 December 2012 and will close when public safety requires it due to large crowds in the area no later than 22:00 or earlier. The station will fully reopen no later than 02:00 on 1 January 2013.
Exit from Embankment station will be via Villiers Street only. Embankment station will be closed briefly at
23:30 on 31 December 2012 and will reopen at 00:15 on 1st January 2013. Access will be via Villiers Street only.



Charing Cross station will be exit only for London Underground from 23:45 and operating as normal for National Rail. London Underground services are anticipated to be restored no later than 03:00 on 1 January 2013.
Temple station will be closed if public safety requires it due to large crowds. If closed the station will fully reopen no later than 02:00hrs on 1 January 2013.
For information on Blackfriars station, please check online: www.london.gov.uk/nye
Waterloo station will operate as normal; however, large queues are anticipated after 00:10 on 1January 2013.
Lambeth North will close from 23:30 on 31 December 2012 and reopen no later than 03:00 on 1January 2013.
Holborn, St Paul’s and Mansion House will operate as normal.
Further details on public transport on New Year’s Eve are available online at www.london.gov.uk/nye and will be available at all staffed stations.

PEDESTRIAN RESTRICTIONS
All pedestrian access across Westminster Bridge will be restricted from 20:00 on 31 December 2012 until approximately 01:00 on 1 January 2013.
Pedestrian access in both directions across Golden Jubilee Bridge/Hungerford Bridge will be closed at 20:00 on 31 December 2012. Access across the bridge is unlikely to be reopened until approximately 00:40 on
1 January 2013 or when the majority of the crowds have dispersed.
The Queen’s Walk will be open from the Westminster Bridge entrance only after 20:00 when a ‘looped’ one way system will be put in place with entrance and exit from Westminster Bridge only. Access will be maintained to any of the Queen’s Walk restaurants that are open until 22:30.
Pedestrian crossing of the river will be possible from Lambeth Bridge to the West and from Waterloo Bridge to the East until such time when these viewing areas also become full. At this point Southwark Bridge to the East and Vauxhall Bridge to the West will remain open for cross river access.

TRAFFIC RESTRICTIONS
Please be aware that these have changed since last year
On 31 December 2012 Whitehall Place, Whitehall Court, Horse Guards Avenue, Northumberland Avenue, Craven Street, Great Scotland Yard, Horse Guards Road, John Adam Street, Adam Street and Villiers Street
will close at 16:00. Victoria Embankment, Savoy Street, Carting Lane, Savoy Place, Arundel Street, Whitehall, Richmond Terrace, Derby Gate, Canon Row, Whitehall Gardens and Westminster Bridge will close at 17:00.
All other roads in central London will begin to close from 20:00 and will remain closed until the crowds have dispersed and the litter cleared (circa 01:30 – 03:00) on 1 January 2013 or it is deemed they are safe to reopen.

Please refer to the map on the reverse which highlights the areas affected by road closures. The roads closing at 16:00 are highlighted in red, those closing at 17:00 are highlighted in blue, those closing at 20:00 are highlighted in yellow, and those closing at 22:00 are highlighted in green. If public safety requires it due to large crowds, the area highlighted in green may be closed earlier.
This map along with further information and updates will be available at www.london.gov.uk/nye
Please do not hesitate to contact our Neighbour Liaison Team at our appointed event management agency Jack Morton Worldwide on NYE@jackmorton.co.uk if you require any further information or assistance at this stage.

For enquiries on the night of 31 December 2012 please contact our Event Liaison Team on 0208 735 2382.




Friday, December 28, 2012

CABWISE Or CABFOOLISH: Is TfLs Smart Phone App Biased?

Taxi leaks has received complaints from both licensed Taxi drivers and members of the public, concerning the efficiency of TfL's flag ship smart phone app. Apparently it doesn't work as one would expect, when it comes to booking a licensed Taxi.

So we decided to test, to see how difficult it could be to book a licensed Taxi. We used an iPad then an iPhone in our investigation.

The first platform we tried the Cabwise app on, was the iPad. It become clear within a few seconds that the iPad app had a serious programming flaw which made it impossible to get in contact with a licensed Taxi, using this app. Every time you select call a licensed Taxi, you are put through to a page and invited to book a minicab. Even after deleting and re-installing, it still failed to make contact with a licensed Taxi provider.

We then tried the Cabwise app on the iPhone.
This platform seem to run much smoother, except private hire and licensed Taxis are not treated on an equal footing. If you want to book a minicab, you are presented with a text box where you can enter details. This is a perfect solution if you are in a noisy club or bar. You get a text to let you know when your minicab has arrived. But if you wish to be picked up by a licensed Taxi, you are given no more than a phone number to call.

If you have ever been in one of London's night venues, the first thing you notice, is how noisy these places are. It's almost impossible to have a conversation with friends standing next to you, let alone hold a phone conversation. Most potential customers will choose the easier option of booking a minicab.

Some time ago moves were made by licensed Taxi App providers Hailo and Get Taxi, to seek approval from TfL's MD of communication, Mr Vernon Everitt, for inclusion on TfL's website. Strong resistance was mounted by Mr Everitt who seemed convinced this approval would be challenged by private hire and seen as a bias towards licensed taxis.

As head of Communications for TfL, Mr Everitt is totally responsible for the format of the Cabwise app. In our opinion this app is totally biased, in favour of private hire.

On the other hand, customers at late night clubs and bars will probably not use this app, as they will be approached by door staff as they exit and escorted straight into waiting minicabs illegally plying for hire in the street outside. TfL and LTPH has shown very little apatite to deal with touting and have shown no will (thats zero cases reported in ten years) in dealing with illegal plying for hire.

It seems to us that TfL and LTPH are terrified by what Mr Steve Wright has to say about anything and yet give no credence whatsoever to the LTDA's very own Bob Oddy.

Questions need to be asked of Mr Everitt as to why he has authorised such a biased app that pushes custom towards private hire.

Time is finally running out for this secretive, manipulative public body as GLA assembly members are waking up to what's going on and asking awkward questions. Lambs will now be thrown to the wolves as top officers try to safeguard their own position.



LTPH WINTER NEWS LETTER 2012.

Welcome
John Mason, Director, Taxi and Private Hire Directorate
Welcome to the winter edition of the Taxi and Private Hire Newsletter which we hope you find interesting and informative.


If there are any particular topics you would like to read about please do get in touch with us using any of the contact details at the end of this newsletter.

In the previous issue, we told you about our new Twitter feed, @TFLTPH, and how we hoped to use it to provide real time updates during the Olympics and to get important information out to the taxi and private hire trades. We now have more than 2,000 followers on twitter and we will continue to use this channel as well as the more
traditional methods to try and reach as many of you as possible.

We know how important communication is to the taxi and private hire trades and that there is always room for improvement. That is why, on 29 November, we held the first of our open Question & Answer forums which we intend to make a regular feature. Look out for more information later in this newsletter.

Finally with the festive season fast approaching the entire Taxi & Private Hire team and the rest of Transport for London extend warm wishes for the festive period and a happy and prosperous New Year.
TPHNews
London Taxi and Private Hire
MAYOR OF LONDON Transport for London
Winter 2012 tfl.gov.uk/tph

Index
Page 1 Intro and welcome
Page 2 Ranks news
Page 5 Law Commission update
Page 6 Suburban Review
Page 7 Licensing update
Page 8 Re-let and modernisation project
Page 9 New Taxi Licensing Regime
Page 10 STaN campaign 2012
Page 12 TX4 recall

Ranks news
Richmond upon Thames

We’ve been working closely with local drivers and the borough to make some improvements in Richmond:
• Teddington Station – a new taxi rank has been appointed at the station in Victoria Road and a rank has also been appointed in Station Road
Whittaker Avenue – the taxi rank has been moved to outside All Bar One which is in a more prominent position to serve the late night economy
These changes have been made under experimental traffic orders and the new taxi ranks will be monitored. It is essential that drivers serve the ranks to ensure that these experimental orders can proceed to full consultation with a view to making them permanent. If the ranks are not used then the borough may remove them.

Morden
A night-time taxi rank has been appointed in London Road, near Morden Station. The taxi rank uses the loading bay on the red route and the rank is operational between 19:00-07:00.

Winter Wonderland Taxi Rank
Winter Wonderland is taking place again in Hyde Park; it started on Friday 23 November 2012 and is open everyday between 10:00 to 22:00, except Christmas Day, until Sunday 6 January 2013.

A taxi rank to serve Winter Wonderland has been appointed in the same location as last year. This rank is for 12 taxis and is along the west side of Aspley House, Hyde Park Corner, and runs between Hyde Park Corner and South Carriage Drive.
London Taxi and Private Hire

The taxi rank has been very successful in previous years but there have been some problems reported with drivers not using the rank and instead waiting and picking up passengers on South Carriage Drive. All drivers are requested to make sure that if they do wish to pick-up passengers from Winter Wonderland then they use the designated taxi rank.

Piccadilly (Fortnum and Masons)
A new three space taxi rank has been appointed outside of Fortnum and Masons. The taxi rank is operational 24 hours a day.

Victoria Station Upgrade (VSU)
As part of the ongoing Victoria Station Upgrade works, the location of taxi ranks at Victoria station changed at the end of October 2012.

The Victoria Station forecourt is now closed and the taxi ranks in Wilton Road and Neathouse Place have been removed. The head of the taxi rank is now in Hudson’s Place, on the east side of Victoria Station with a taxi feeder rank in Bridge Place and an extended taxi rank in Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Taxis can set down passengers on the east side of Wilton Road, outside the Apollo Theatre, in addition to a designated space in front of the rank in Hudson’s Place for taxis to drop off disabled passengers. The previous taxi rank in Gillingham Street has also now been converted to a rest rank. A map of current taxi rank arrangements can be found in PCO Notice 14/12.

Change to Gatwick Express entrance and exit at Victoria Station, air deck rank/station car park The entrance and exit from the air deck rank/Victoria Station car park to the Gatwick Express trains have been swapped and the new entrance is now where the old exit used to be, with the new exit where the old entrance used to be.
When dropping off passengers please try and drop them near the new entrance.

London Bridge
In recent weeks TfL has received an increasing number of complaints regarding problems caused by taxis over-ranking at London Bridge Station and reports of some taxi drivers being abusive towards bus and station staff.

While TfL understands that access to the taxi rank at London Bridge is problematic in peak periods, especially with the temporary closure of the feeder rank, over-ranking at the station is causing serious problems at present including:
• Obstructing buses entering the bus station
• Obstructing taxis entering the station to drop-off passengers
• Blocking the pedestrian crossing at the entrance to the station
• Delaying other road users on Borough High Street and the surrounding area

The current over-ranking is preventing buses and other taxis from entering the station and is causing safety problems as passengers cannot be safely dropped off at the bus stops and designated drop-off areas and passengers are being forced to exit buses and taxis into the road and the path of oncoming vehicles.

TfL has also been informed that some taxi drivers have been abusive towards bus station staff. Any incidents of drivers being abusive will be reported to Transport for London (TfL) and the police so further action can be taken.

The police have informed TfL that action will be taken against drivers who continue to cause an obstruction and Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) will also be issued when taxis obstruct the entrance to the station or obstruct buses or other taxis.

While TfL recognise that some of these current problems will be exasperated by the on-going closure of the feeder rank and are currently actively engaged with Network Rail and Southwark Council to get the feeder reinstated, we suggest taxi drivers to take all possible steps they can avoid over-ranking at London Bridge or risk being issued with a PCN.
Drivers are also reminded that abusive behaviour of any kind towards bus or station staff or members the public is completely unacceptable, tarnishes the reputation of the taxi trade and will not be tolerated. Any driver behaving in this way is likely to face having his or her licence suspended or revoked.

Finsbury Park
Following a report of taxis committing offences at Finsbury Park Station and warnings being issued to drivers about these offences the police have reported that there are fewer problems now.
However, a small number of drivers have continued to commit offences including:
• Obstructing the cycle lane, forcing cyclists into the lane used by buses entering the station
• Parking on double red lines
Double parking next to the loading bay, forcing cyclists across two lanes used by buses entering the station
• Reversing the wrong way out of the station onto Seven Sisters Road
• 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, as well as pedestrians crossing at the entrance to the station. These offences put taxis, buses, cyclists and pedestrians at risk.
Any driver who continues to obstruct the cycle lane, obstruct buses or commit any other offences in or around the station risks being issued with a PCN.

Overranking
Reports continue to be received of overranking in a number of areas and particularly at the rank on Tooley Street and at Lewisham Station.
Overranking causes disruption to other road users and can often put them at risk. The police have advised TfL that PCNs will be issued to taxi drivers that continue to overrank at both these locations.

Intercontinental Hotel works
Essential resurfacing works on the hotel forecourt of the Intercontinental Hotel at Hamilton Place start on Monday 10 December 2012.
The resurfacing works are expected to last until February 2013 and during this time drivers will not be able to use the taxi rank on the hotel forecourt.

During the works the taxi rank in the centre of the road in Hamilton Place, which feeds the hotel forecourt, will still be available.

The kerbside taxi rank in Hamilton Place - which is directly outside of the Intercontinental Hotel and is normally used as the third feeder rank for the Hilton Hotel –
should be used to pick up passengers from the Intercontinental Hotel The centre of the road rank which normally acts as a feeder rank for the forecourt should be used as a feeder rank for the kerbside rank.
There will be space in front of the kerbside taxi rank for drivers to drop off passengers plus two members of staff from the Intercontinental Hotel will be present at all times to direct drivers and assist passengers.
Once the works are completed the forecourt taxi rank will be reinstated.

Consultations
You can find details of the current TfL consultations here:
• Proposed improvements at the junction of Mile End Road and Burdett Road
• Barclays Cycle Super Highway 5: New Cross Gate to Victoria
• Improving river crossings
Other consultations currently open include:
• Plans for development of Euston area
• Proposals to change Liverpool Street and surrounding areas

Law Commission update
After extensive engagement with regulators, the taxi and private hire trades and other interested parties the Law Commission published a consultation paper on taxi and private hire services with their provisional proposals for reform in May this year.

The consultation document was a comprehensive and in-depth review, running to 241 pages and containing 73 provisional proposals and questions where they invited responses and further comments. Some of the proposals were quite controversial including removing quantity restrictions where they exist and introducing national mandatory standards for private hire operators, drivers and vehicles. However, it did reflect the concerns that TfL had previously expressed to the Law Commission by proposing to retain the clear distinction between taxis and PHVs.

TfL has now submitted its full response which had the full support of both the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police. The Law Commission will make all the responses public in December but some of the key points in TfL’s response were:
We support national minimum standards for both taxi and private hire services
• We should retain the ability to set standards appropriate for London
• We rejected the idea of mandatory national standards for private hire
• Clearer definition is needed regarding what services should be licensed as private hire
• Greater control is needed over limousines and novelty vehicles
• We should be given wider powers to deal with touting and other illegal activity
The Law Commission is now assessing all the responses and plan to publish their final report and a draft Bill this time next year, but in the meantime we will continue to work with them to help shape the future of taxi and private hire regulation. tfl.gov.uk/tph

Suburban Review
At the end of 2011 TfL committed to undertaking a review of suburban taxi licensing. The review started in September with a well attended trade workshop attended by over 40 suburban drivers and representatives of driver groups and other trade bodies. This was the first stage of the review and consultation process which will examine all issues affecting suburban taxi drivers. The ultimate aim is to understand the taxi trade’s issues and concerns and seek to create a sustainable suburban taxi driver licensing system that benefits both taxi drivers and the travelling public.

In early December we undertook a further workshop where some of the ideas put forward were explored in further detail. There were also presentations from the trade giving details of some initiatives that can benefit drivers. A copy of the presentation has been sent out and notes will follow shortly. The next steps are to examine all the ideas and proposals in closer detail and use these to form the basis for a consultation that will happen in early 2013.

All Suburban drivers are encouraged to spend time talking to their colleagues in their individual sectors to garner ideas and suggestions which they should e-mail to us at TPHSuburbanReview@tfl.gov.uk.

Updates from the licensing team
Telephone enquiry line
As a result of your feedback, we have now extended the opening hours of our licensing telephone enquiries line by one hour. Our Licensing Teams are now able to answer your calls from 08:00 – 18.00 Monday to Friday. We will endeavour to answer your calls as quickly as possible. Please contact the PCO enquiry line on 0845 602 7000.

CRB checks changing from 1 December
As you are aware, part of your Taxi or PHV Licence application requires you to complete an Enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check this includes checks being carried out against both the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) Children’s Barred List and ISA Vulnerable Adult’s Barred list.

TMG CRB has been appointed to administer CRB applications on behalf of London Taxi and Private Hire (LTPH). You will need to make your CRB application prior to submitting your licence application to PCO. Your CRB application can be made either online or via a paper application. Applying online is cheaper and quicker than a paper application and full guidance notes can be downloaded from www.tmgcrb.co.uk/tph. If you do not have access to a computer, you can request a paper application pack by contacting TMG CRB on 0845 251 5000.

From 1 December 2012, paper applications can only be handled by TMG and the CRB will not accept those forms processed directly by PCO.

Renewal applications
We are continuously working to improve the processing times for renewal applications for all licence types. However, delays in processing can often be caused by licensees not checking their forms thoroughly. In order to ensure we get your licence out in time, please ensure that you comply with the following:
• Upon completion of your application form, check it thoroughly to ensure all parts of the form including your signature are completed accurately and no sections of the form are missed
• Please ensure that the form is legible and can be read easily by an administrator. This may result in delays to your application
• Please ensure that all the required documents i.e. copy of your current driving licence, photograph etc are checked and enclosed with the form
• Please ensure that the correct and current payment information is provided and that you have sufficient funds in your account to avoid declined payments and delays to your application

Re-let and Modernisation (RAM) project New inspection Sites and changes to the Taxi Licensing Regime announced
Location
Address
Key information
North – Enfield
Unit 2, Watermill Business Centre, Edison Road, Enfield, Middlesex, EN3 7XF
6 inspection bays
South – to be confirmed
To be confirmed
To be confirmed
East – Canning Town
1 North Crescent, Canning Town, London, E16 4TL
3 inspection bays
1 limousine bay
West – Hounslow
20A Airlinks Industrial Estate, Spitfire Way, Heston, Hounslow, Middlesex, TW5 9NR
6 inspection bays
1limousine bay
South East – Crayford
Unit Q1, Acorn Industrial Park, Crayford, Kent, DA1 4AL
5 inspection bays
North West – Staples Corner
Unit 2, Aquarius Business Park, Staples corner Priestly Way, NW2 7AN
3 inspection bays
1 limousine bay

What is the RAM project?
For a number of years, PCO has been working with limited, non-integrated and outdated IT functionality which relies on manual systems, with it becoming increasingly difficult for TfL to support these systems.

The Re-let and Modernisation project (RAM) will allow PCO to introduce a number of changes to improve continuity to the taxi and private hire vehicle inspection and licensing services and aims to facilitate a modern, efficient, effective and resilient service to taxi and PHV owners, drivers and private hire operators.

Over the next few months we will be providing regular updates on the work PCO is undertaking to modernise and improve our inspection and licensing regime. Please keep an eye out for regular email bulletins, PCO
notices and presentations at the trade forums.

New Inspection Sites
As you are aware, the vehicle licensing and inspection service is due to be transferred from SGS to NSL Ltd as part of the RAM project. This will coincide with the new taxi regime (change to two MOTs) being introduced.
As part of this new service, six new inspection sites will be available across the Greater London Area, all of which will undertake both taxi and private hire vehicle inspections.

NSL has made progress on the identification of suitable locations. The key factors taken into consideration are the size and accessibility of the site as well as ensuring the right facilities for visitors.

A summary of the sites is as follows:
New Taxi Licensing Regime
As a result of the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy (MAQs) TfL will be contracting NSL Ltd to license taxis under a new licensing regime. This regime will commence from 1 March 2013. The PHV regime will remain unchanged.

The new taxi licensing regime will require all vehicle owners to ensure their vehicles have passed two standard (class 4) MOT’s per year. The first MOT must be issued no more than 14 days prior to the taxi licensing inspection and the second MOT is to be issued six months from the date the taxi licence is granted. This second MOT brings it in line with the current PHV requirement to ensure an MOT is carried out every six months and is to ensure the taxi and private hire fleet remains safe to the general public.

NSL will only carry out a taxi inspection where clear evidence is available that a standard MOT has been issued within the 14 day period. The only exception will be for new taxi vehicles which are exempt from the requirement to carry out an MOT for the first 12 months from the date of first registration. Any vehicle which is found to be exempt from the requirement for an MOT at the point of licensing will also be exempt from the following six month MOT requirement.

You can find the Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy (MAQS) on the GLA website at: london.gov.uk/publication/mayors-air-quality-strategy.

As part of the new contract with NSL Ltd we will also be introducing new functionality to help with the driver and operator licensing
services and processes. The ability to apply and renew licenses, change address etc. will all be possible online. Further details will be made available over the next few months.

Further details on all these changes and how they may affect you will be provided during the next few months.

New System
As part of the new contract with NSL Ltd, a new system will be introduced within the directorate. Key features of this system will include:
• Online accounts for all licensees to apply and renew online and track its progress in real-time
• Handhelds for the compliance team who will be able to undertake licensing checks, whether driver, operator or vehicle in real time on-street
• Operators will be able to upload details of drivers and vehicles online, making part of the compliance inspection possible remotely. It will also highlight those drivers not connected to operators and assist with targeting compliance activity
• Knowledge students will be able to track their progress of knowledge online and see appointments (NB they won’t be able to change appointment times) they will also be able to book their written tests online (including payment)
• All licensees will be able to receive messages direct from PCO such as alerts or comms and make enquiries and upload information/documents online as required

Most of these key features and benefits will be realised from 1 March 2013 onwards on the same date that the new inspection centres go-live however some of the functionality, such as the hand-held technology for the compliance team, will go-live later in the year.

Further and regular updates will be provided over the coming months.
PCO Customer Charter and Licensee Code of Conduct TfL is currently proposing to develop a Taxi and Private Hire Passenger Charter which sets out the quality of service passengers should expect when travelling by taxi or private hire vehicle that has been licensed by TfL. The Charter will also outline standards of behaviour expected from passengers. It is proposed that the Charter will be made available to passengers in taxis and private hire vehicles in leaflet form with a small sticker advising them that the Charter is available. The Charter will be made available on TfL’s website, at transport hubs and targeted locations which have a high number of taxi and private hire users such as hotels and large corporate businesses.

In parallel, TfL proposes to establish a Licensee Code of Conduct which sets out the behaviours that are expected of all our licensees.

The Code will set out what TfL deems to be unacceptable behaviour or an unacceptable level of service offered to passengers.

We are planning a short consultation to understand the views of the trades and other affected parties such as safety and passenger groups. Further details will be provided in early 2013.

Removal of mandating meter receipts in taxis
With effect from 1 January 2013, taxis are no longer required to have electronic taxi meter receipt printers installed as a condition of the cab licence.

Although the mandatory requirement for this type of equipment has been removed, drivers must still provide a fare receipt on demand. However, from 1 January 2013 taxi drivers will have a choice of how they meet this requirement which may be through issuing paper receipts or, if they prefer, still using an operational taximeter printer.

Please note that 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 PCO.Enquiries@tfl.gov.uk.

Safer Travel at Night - a new campaign in the run up to the festive season
A new multi-channel campaign that highlights the dangers of getting in to an unbooked minicab will run from 25 November in the run up to and during the festive season this year.

As part of the Safer Travel at Night (STaN) initiative – a joint initiative between the Mayor, TfL, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the City of London Police (CoLP), this year’s advertising campaign will be played in cinemas, with posters displayed across the Capital and leaflets distributed to members of the public - specifically 16-40 year old women - at key hot spot locations.

To support the campaign, a new CABWISE app free-to-download (available on iTunes and Google Play) allows users to book a licensed minicab or taxi which is closest to their current location in three easy steps. Alternatively users can visit tfl.gov.uk/cabwise on their Smartphone and simply bookmark the page or, if there is no signal available at the location, the app defaults to the Cabwise text messaging service (60835) offering customers on all platforms the opportunity to use the service and to get home safely.

During November and December, police officers – funded by TfL – will also be stepping up enforcement activity against unbooked minicabs in the lead up to Christmas. This will involve officers from the Safer Transport Command Cab Enforcement Unit, Safer Transport Teams and TfL Taxi and Private Hire enforcement officers, working together to deter and disrupt illegal minicab activity.

Please report any minicab touting activity to tfl.gov.uk/cabenforcement which allows the police to tackle this issue at the right areas.

Download our free cab-booking app to book a minicab in three easy steps
If it’s not booked it’s just a stranger’s car
If you would like to contact us:
General enquiries PCO.enquiries@tfl.gov.uk
Taxi ranks tphranksinterchange@tfl.gov.uk
Complaints coms@pco.org.uk
Telephone 0845 602 7000
Fax 020 3054 3160
Reporting touting, misuse of identifiers or
enforcement issues
www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/19382.aspx
If you’d like to write to us:
TfL – London Taxi and Private Hire
Palestra, 4th Floor
197 Blackfriars Road
London SE1 8NJ

Please make sure you mark your correspondence for the
appropriate section of PCO. Don’t forget you can also visit our
website Printed on recycled paper for information, the address is www.tfl.gov.uk/tph

Get in touch
Remember you can find all of the PCO notices issued this year on the TfL website and future notices will be posted there too.
London Taxi and Private Hire
Winter 2012 tfl.gov.uk/tph

Monday, December 24, 2012

30% BLACK CAB INCREASE WITH NO NEW RANKS SAY DRIVERS

COUNCIL'S BLACK CAB NEGLECT

Since deregulation of Salford's hackney carriages three years ago, there's been a thirty per cent increase in cabs but no proper new ranks. Now, with the old Salford Precinct rank closed and an unsuitable replacement `horseshoe' rank in place, drivers are going public with their concerns…

It's a wet Monday morning and cabs are semi circling around a new, horseshoe shaped rank in no-man's land at the far end of what used to be Pendleton Way, between the huge new Tesco and Salford Precinct.

No-one's walking to the cabs, the rank being too far from Tesco to cart shopping, and almost out of sight of most shoppers on the Precinct. So the black cabs queue, waiting to get the word that one of the three cabs that are allowed to rank at Tesco's entrance has moved off and another can take its place.

The three cab rank came about only after disabled people complained at the original Council planning meeting for the Tesco store that they needed easy access to black cabs for wheelchairs and such. So now three cabs can wait at the entrance but those left at the horseshoe can't see when one is moving off. To say that the drivers are unimpressed with the new horseshoe rank would be an understatement…

"People can't get to it and can't see it" says driver Stuart Ryan "There's not one finger sign within this Precinct saying where the rank is. They just shut the old one at the old Tesco and gave us this, which isn't even big enough for the cabs that were there."


Click here for full article.
Source: the Salford Star

SOUND FAMILIAR:?

LONDON IS DIFFERENT
That's the slogan, but as Salford and elsewhere demonstrates its the same issues that face us all, Licensing Authorities, who just want the fees without any regard to how the drivers can earn a living, even worse, Ranks disappear without a care. Ring any bells?

So as we all take a short break to spend time with our families (or in the feeder park!), we need to reflect on how we are to safeguard our living in 2013. It won't be easy, PH out of control, LTI fiasco,and a licensing body that seems to only be interested in press releases and spin.

All overseen by our well known friend Peter Hendy!

There is hope.

GLA members and certain M.P.'s are starting to ask the right questions, the TaG (Twitter Action Group) is back up and running to harass PH illegal plying for hire outside every club & bar..

If your a radio driver and think its nothing to do with you, just count the PH stickers outside ex taxi accounts or even worst, taking the cream with the collaboration of the circuits YOU built!
It's like Tesco building a store and allowing Sainsbury's stock in there.

If your a day driver and again believe its not a problem that ranks disappear and that PH don't take work that should be in your cab,wake up!

Some trade organisations are still not taking every word from Palestra as gospel and do what they can despite TfL using every means to keep us divided. surely the Olympic stitch up should have taught us a lesson?

Now to YOU the working cab driver.

YOU need to get fighting for YOUR living, YOU need to attend meetings and question what people do on YOUR money?

YOU don't have a choice, YOUR family depend on it!

Merry Christmas all!

I'm Spartacus.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Revellers warned to avoid unlicensed minicabs over festive period

Christmas revellers have been warned not to accept rides from unbooked touts over the festive period.

A police campaign urges partygoers, particularly lone women, to only use licensed taxis or pre-booked private hires on the way home from a night out.

Christmas Message!
This is certainly the season to be jolly but we shouldn’t let that extra Christmas spirit mean taking ill-advised decisions about getting home after a night out.

Women in particular take real risks by getting into vehicles that are not licensed taxis to get home – that is why We urge them to take extra care this festive period.

If you’re picking up a cab off the street don’t put yourself in danger by getting into anything other than a licensed taxi.

Private hires should always be booked in advance and never picked up off the street.

Make sure that your details and destination are known to the company and the driver. If they’re not, don’t take the risk.

Getting a safe and secure journey home should be everyone’s priority and if that means paying a little extra or taking a bit more time to organise, then we should all make that effort.

Many people rely on licensed taxis to ensure they are protected from harm when travelling home late at night. This is particularly true for vulnerable individuals, such as lone women, at this time of year.

We urge passengers, never get into an un-booked minicab. Only use a licensed taxi or a pre-booked minicab, anything else is unvetted, unsafe and illegal.

A great statement from the Police...
So why do they do nothing to stop the lines of unbooked, unvetted, unsafe and illegal cars seen parked outside every night venue in the capital.

WORDS ARE CHEAP, ITS ACTION THAT COUNTS...
And so far we have seen absolutely no action from the Met or City Police, local council parking services or TfL/LTPH.

They all turn a blind eye just to get the late night streets cleared of revellers. They are all guilty of feeding victims to sexual predators hiding within the lines of cars illegally plying for hire.

This was this scene last night:


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Letter from Jennette Arnold OBE AM With Reply From Jim Thomas.

Dear Editor,
Last Saturday millions of women across the world marched to demand justice for rape survivors and ‘reclaim the night’ - to give women a voice and put the issue of safety for women back on the agenda.
A survey released earlier this year reported that a quarter of women in London don’t feel safe on public transport. Moreover, there were 103 minicab assaults in 2011/12 and 10,121 reported sexual offences in London in total. Domestic violence in the capital numbered 45,000 last year and 3,000 rapes were reported to the Metropolitan police.
As the nights continue to get longer and the festive season gets underway I want to emphasise the importance of staying safe when travelling home. TfL recently launched a new ad campaign to warn the public, particularly women, of the pitfalls of taking illegal minicabs home, which I fully support.
By using Cabwise you can ensure your safety by being met by a licensed cabbie, with the registration number sent to your mobile. TfL’s campaign over the last two years has resulted in a 26 percent drop in sexual assaults but more needs to be done to stop these violent crimes against women. It’s easy, quick and free to download. By texting CAB to 60835 you can get the numbers of two local minicab companies and one licensed black cab number.
Illegal taxis are not worth the risk. Stay safe this winter.
Yours,
Jennette Arnold OBE AM
Assembly Member for North East including Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest



Jim Thomas AKA Thomas the Taxi Answers Jennette's letter:

Thank you Jennette for the time and effort you have put in to this problem. We will continue to keep you informed of our fight to get TfL to recognise the dangers to women by their policy of constantly turning a blind eye to the offence of illegally plying for hire by minicabs.

It is greatly distressing to constantly go round in circles, as every time we complain that nothing is or has been done in regards to this offence, TfL give the same answer, the same statistics using the arrests for "Touting" which is a completely different offence and issue.

Women are being put at risk by being herded by clipboard controllers, into waiting minicabs who illegally ply for hire, in lines outside night venues. A great deal of the time, no record of the journey is kept and this offence, although not arrestable (but is reportable) carries the same penalty as touting (level 3: source, TfL Abstract of Law).
LTPH have a compliance team that could undertake this work but are ordered to concentrate on badge and bill document checks at licensed Taxi ranks. Looking at statistics for these checks show a bias from LTPH against the licensed Taxi trade.

Period 13, 4 March to the 31 March
a) 373 document checks made on Taxis.
b) 90 such checks were made on Private hire/minicabs.
As PH outnumber Taxis by a ratio of 3 to1 this shows genuine bias against the licensed Taxi trade.

The amount of revocations of drivers convicted of touting show a different story to the one painted by the Mayor and TfL

2010/11...330
2011/12...189
2012/13...195 to the end of period 8 - 10 Nov.

Pitifully low in respect of the thousands of incidents that take place nightly.

Since TfL took charge of licensing the Taxi and Private Hire trades, not one case of illegal plying for hire has come to court. Fact is, in the eye of many support groups such as the Heavens Rape Crisis centres illegal plying for hire is one of the main causes of serious sexual assaults on minicab passengers.

Other towns and cities around the country have a good record of prosecutions for illegal plying for hire and recognise the dangers of turning a blind eye to the lines of cars illegally forming ranks outside night venues. It would seem its only LTPH, the Met/City Police and local councils in London who turn a blind eye in order to clear the late night streets of revellers.

The first half statistics for 2012 ( which you have omitted from your statistics) shows a sharp rise of 20% in minicab related assaults including rape. These new figures given to GLA Assembly members by the mayor and TfL show that the current system of turning a blind eye to what TfL/LTPH feel and have always felt a lessor offence, isn't working. The good work done in the previous three years, getting the number of reported minicab related assaults down from 145 to 103, is being destroyed by arrogance and complacency on the part of TfL, the Met/City Police and local council parking services.

In conclusion, I would suggest that the offence of illegal plying for hire has to be addressed to finally make an impact on these terrible statistics. It has been announced by support groups such as the Heavens, that at present, trust in the handling of victims by the police is at an all time low and as little as 1 in 10 attacks actually get reported. We have even seen cases where serving police officers have been sacked for manipulating the records of serious assaults and rape. This alone brings into disrepute the figures from 2010/2011.

TfL can no longer turn a blind eye to this offence. It is time the public were given the protection that the law allows.

Jim Thomas
Licensed Taxi Driver
39 years service.


TfL legal department has just lost a case against Diamond cars. How bad must their evidence have been to lose. This footage made by a lone Taxi driver, could be replicated virtually every night of the week.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, Puts In Bid To Buy Manganese Bronze: Confirmed.

It has been confirmed on the Bloomberg website, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. has submitted a bid to buy Manganese Bronze Holdings Plc, the maker of London’s black cabs that’s under creditor protection, two people familiar with the matter said.

Zhejiang Geely, which owns Swedish automaker Volvo Cars, is offering to buy 80.03 percent of Manganese Bronze, one of the people said, declining to say how much the company is offering for the stake. Both people asked not to be named because the talks are private.
Enlarge image

A purchase of the cab maker will help Zhejiang Geely, the closely held automaker headed by Li Shufu, speed up its overseas expansion. Manganese Bronze, which has made taxis in Coventry, England since 1948, is fighting for survival after going into administration (a form of creditor protection) on Oct. 30 after the tie-up with Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, failed to yield savings.

Geely Auto, the Hong Kong-traded unit of Zhejiang Geely, owns 19.97 percent in the cab maker. The listed unit isn’t involved in the bid, one of the people said.
A Zhejiang Geely spokesman declined to comment.
A London-based spokeswoman for Manganese Bronze’s administrator, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC, couldn’t immediately comment on the bid.

Geely Auto and Manganese Bronze entered a cab-making joint venture in 2006 in Shanghai to reduce costs of producing the iconic taxis. Under the deal, the British manufacturer bought components and body parts from Geely before assembling them in the U.K. Geely in return can sell the cabs in China and parts of Asia.

John Mason and Helen Chapman Banned from the London Taxi Drivers Forum.



A Statement From The LTDF Taxi Drivers Forum.

Yesterday afternoon, a subscriber to the LTDF posted an allegation regarding Director of PCO John Mason's conduct in a pub whilst allegedly out with some Knowledge Examiners.

John Mason then logged on to the forum using Helen Chapman's account to report this post to the Administrator, threatening legal action where he would be seeking substantial damages from anybody who said unsubstantiated and hurtful things about him.

His complaint to us requested that we remove the post in question, and any posts where this had been quoted and issue a warning to all forum members of the action he intends to take.

This we did immediately.

We posted Mr Mason's complaint for all members to read so they at least knew what it was he was unhappy about, because we think it would be very difficult to warn members not to do something when we can't inform them of what it is that they shouldn't be doing.

Had we simply written "Please do not say hurtful things about John Mason or he will sue you" we feel nobody would have been none the wiser about what they are or are not allowed to say.

The original post, although not something that John Mason would particularly want you to know if it were true, did not contain any allegations of corruption or illegal behaviour and was merely an unsubstantiated rumour that may or not be true. It was also followed by the original poster's opinion of the allegation.

Because this was an unsubstantiated allegation we decided to remove the original post, and I believe the original poster understood our reason for doing so.

Then a strange thing happened.

A short while later whilst administering this forum we noticed that the post we had written containing Mr Mason's complaint had disappeared.

We checked the security log but could find no record of it having been removed by any of the moderation team.

Very strange indeed. The security log records all actions on this forum, yet there was nothing to say that the post had been removed.

Were we suffering from an attack of the Gremlins?

What later transpired was that Mr Mason was unhappy that we had posted his complaint in its entirety and complained to Proboards who host this forum. and somebody from Proboards had simply removed this post on Mr Mason's say so, without so much as even contacting us to inform us.

This we think is wrong and totally unprofessional of both Proboards and Mr Mason.

At no point in Mr Mason's complaint did he specify that he did not want his complaint to be displayed to members, and as previously stated we can't think how it would be possible to warn forum members about what they should not be doing if we are not allowed to tell them what it is they should not be doing.

This does however throw up some questions.

Did Mr Mason use his public position to demand that Proboards remove comments made about him during his personal life?

Why did Mr Mason feel the need to go above our heads when we had already immediately complied with his wishes?

Why did he simply not contact us again to tell us he was unhappy with the action we had already taken.

Why did Proboards act on his wishes when they have no affiliation to LT&PH, TfL or anyone else connected to this trade?

Why did Proboards not even bother to contact us to either
a) ask us to take action, or
b) Inform us that they had taken action?

Is Mr Mason planning to use TfL's legal team, of which we pay part of, to take legal action against anyone who makes unsubstantiated allegations pertaining to his private life?

Are members not allowed to have opinions anymore?

Using another member's log in details is also forbidden on this forum, along with multiple usernames, and both are bannable offences.

Neither John Mason nor Helen Chapman are Taxi drivers and have been allowed to use this forum as our guests.

We have therefore taken the view that Mr Mason's actions are unacceptable and we no longer want him or Helen Chapman on here, until further notice.

Thank you.

Comment;

John, instead of worry about your public image and threatening to take legal action against Taxi drivers, why don't you just do the job your paid (Rather handsomely) to do.
Here's a good start:
http://www.exclusiveairports.com/
This advert is in contravention of the private hire act 1998 sec 31. Show some backbone and take legal action against them...Or do you just find the license Taxi trade an easier target?


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Deputy Mayor, Allegedly Fondled Female Member of Staff.

The senior Boris Johnson aide who has been accused of harassment has been named as deputy mayor, Stephen Greenhalgh. The Tory, who is paid a whopping £127,784 per year, has apologised after allegedly fondling the bottom of a female member of staff in a lift.

Despite claiming that he could not remember the incident, Greenhalgh gave the following statement to Snipe late last night:

“I would like to apologise unreservedly for anything that could be or may have been construed as inappropriate behaviour on my part.”

Greenhalgh has apologised "unreservedly" following an allegation that he molested a female member of staff in a city hall lift.

Greenhalgh, the former Tory leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council, who now holds day-to-day responsibility in the mayor's office for policing and crime, allegedly patted a female member of staff on the bottom while in a lift last month.

The allegation surfaced after the female member of staff told a colleague, and it was relayed to management. However, no complaint, formal or otherwise, has subsequently been made.

Greenhalgh met Boris Johnson on Tuesday evening after the Conservative mayor was made aware of the alleged incident, though the mayor's office declined to say whether the meeting led to a reprimand.

Greenhalgh, who Johnson appointed following his re-election in May, later issued an "unreserved" apology in a statement, despite insisting he had no recollection of the incident.

He said: "I have no recollection of this event and I understand no complaint has been made. Nonetheless I would like to apologise unreservedly for anything that could be or may have been construed as inappropriate behaviour on my part."

Labour said the statement was "absurd" and called on Johnson to act.

Len Duvall, leader of the Labour group on the London assembly, said: "If he didn't do anything wrong why did he apologise? Boris Johnson needs to get to the root of this immediately. It is completely unacceptable that someone in such a senior position cannot recollect whether such a serious incident occurred only a few weeks ago.

"Stephen Greenhalgh is responsible for overseeing the Metropolitan police and providing effective leadership for our capital's police service. He is responsible for making sure the Met's officers and staff maintain the highest standards whilst carrying out their public duties.

"Regardless of whether a formal complaint is made or not this needs investigating. This is a serious matter that needs urgent clarification. If it remains unclear or unresolved then he should step down. I understand that this has been going on for four weeks. We need to know who knew what and when in the mayor's office. Boris needs to establish what has been going on."

So, after a sexual assault on a member of staff by a deputy Mayor, an apology is all that's needed???
Had this been a Taxi driver with a member of the public, he would have been arrested and charged. His license revoked and on conviction (even if he did apologised), he would have been added to the sex offenders register.


This actually happened about 18 months ago, to a 72 year old Taxi driver who accidentally touched a passengers breast as he tried to remove her from the taxi. After a complaint was made he apologised and said it was an accident. But the judge found the apology to be an admission of guilt and he was found guilty, his license revoked and he was added to the sex offenders register.

So that's one rule for Taxi drivers and another rule (or should we say guideline) for deputy Mayors.

Source: Politicalscrapbook.net and the Guardian



Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Heathrow Meeting: by Taxi Leak's Airport Reporter.

Direct action has been taken by HATDU against HALTS by standing next to the 'Taxi Information' desks in terminal 1 advising all the walk up passengers to go straight out to the rank and get a Taxi from there, instead of having the HALTS rep encourage them to pay for their journey there and then by credit card, for which they add on their bit, and pay the driver less.

An announcement was made in the canteen that they had stopped hundreds of jobs being hijacked by HALTS throughout the day. He said there were 25 alone in the first hour.

Action has continued with help from other trade orgs and as a result a meeting was convened. Called for by the LTDA and held in Unites cabin, the meeting was attended by representatives from LTDA, Unite, LCDC, RMT, UCG and HADTU.

A survey will shortly be launched that will be asking drivers
1. Should the taxi information desks at Heathrow revert to information only, as they were originally intended.
2. Should booking taxis and creating credit card pre-payments through the desks, be stopped;
3. Are drivers happy to continue paying 78pence to HALTS from the gate money each time they enter the taxi feeder park.

There needs to be more information given to drivers, who may not know the issues well enough, before giving their answers.

I'm not too sure if the results of such a survey will be enough to convince BAA to change anything if drivers state that they want the taxi info desks here for info only and don't want to pay the 78pence to HALTS.

BAA has plans for the taxi trade at Heathrow and it'll take a lot of persuading to get them to alter course. I don't think this survey will be enough in itself to make a difference to these plans.


What a survey like this may do, if properly carried out, is to open the debate in a general sense and to create an atmosphere which gets drivers thinking about where things might be heading at Heathrow.
All eyes at present are on the situation at London City Airport were the airport has entered into a partnership with a private hire company.

Recently the London Taxi trade has seen an escalation in the issue of private hire satellite office licenses at major venues and termini, with one company able to acquire over 30 licenses within days of registering as a completely new company. Underground Station Taxi ranks have been revoked and replaced by in-station minicab offices, all over London and the suburbs. Suburban sectors have been flooded with new drivers. One suburban sector has over 1000 drivers and only 98 rank spaces.

Taxis are being turned away from popular venues by security firms who have made deals with certain private hire companies. PH clipboards are now turning up at functions and openly taking straight away bookings on the street.

On street touting is now completely out of control with both the licensing authority and the Met Police unable and unwilling to enforce adequate protection in regards to public safety. Regent Street by Swallow is a prime example.

Let's hope that this newly found attitude of our representative groups, who have for the first time sat down together at the same table, escalates into a united trade front to take the trade forward, instead of continued infighting

THE UNITED TRADE FRONT:
THAT'S ONE GROUP I WOULD GLADLY PAY TO BELONG TO



Chinese Take Away! Geely To Buy up Sole Control of Manganese Bronze After Christmas.

Zhejiang Geely Automobile Holdings reportedly plans to purchase the entire Coventry-based black cab manufacturer Manganese Bronze Holdings after Christmas so as to sharpen its manufacturing technology and management skills, China Business Journal reported over the weekend, citing an anonymous source.

This move comes after the British carmaker's October 30 bankruptcy filing, which will allow Geely to buy sole control over Manganese Bronze (MB) for a fairly low price, the source said, without revealing the specific amounts. Before going into bankruptcy, the company asked for a bailout from its second largest shareholder, Geely, but was refused.

The Global Times was unable to reach a Geely representative with knowledge of the deal by press time.

In order to help the 64-year-old British cab maker regain its footing, Geely has twice bought stakes in Manganese Bronze, in 2006 and 2010. Currently, Geely holds a 19.97 percent stake in Manganese Bronze and 52 percent of their joint venture Shanghai Maple Automobile, while the other 48 percent stake in the JV and the right to sell black cabs outside Asia belongs to the British side.

Manganese Bronze was burdened with 11.4 million pounds ($18.4 million) in net debt and saw a loss of 3.6 million pounds in the first half of the year, with 1,081 black cabs being sold in England compared with 1,222 over the same period in 2011.

Despite the debt, the potential acquisition would still be a win-win, providing Geely access to Europe's mature markets thanks to Manganese Bronze's powerful sales channels and well-established brands there, Cui Dongshu, deputy secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, told the Global Times Sunday. Geely sells its vehicles to over 50 countries, mostly in the developing world.

However, Geely has to develop new vehicle designs instead of continuing to use the model of the TX4, a business vehicle produced by its Shanghai JV, when breaking into new markets, Cui said.

The TX4 model, based on MB's classic black cab, not only faced quality scandals in the overseas market, but also has not sold well in China since its debut in 2009, Cui noted.

On October 12, MB said it would recall some 400 TX4 black cabs due to defects in a new type of steering box, and that it would stop the development of new vehicle designs.

Data from domestic news portal Sohu Automobile indicated that 500 TX4s were sold in China for the 10 months through October, a 45.07 percent decrease year-on-year.

If reports of the deal are true, the integration of the two firms will be a concern, given their history of difficulty cooperating, Cui said, noting that since 2007, Geely has been marginalized by MB.

In 2010, Geely bought the Volvo passenger vehicle business from Ford, ending four consecutive years of sliding sales for Volvo Car Corp.

Geely is expected to improve its brand value via cooperation with other global automobile makers, which will help it attract more consumers in China and abroad, said Wei Guangju, an industry analyst from Adfaith Management Consulting.

source "GLOBAL TIMES" china

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What Type Of Scumbag, Performs Acts Such As This?

Police are appealing after Christmas presents destined for sick children were stolen from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Police were notified yesterday afternoon (Monday, 18 December) by the hospital that the wrapped presents destined for children in the Intensive Care Unit were stolen from the hospital.

The items stolen include portable DVD players, DVD's, Nintendo DS consoles, games and toys.

The items were stolen between Friday 14 and Monday 17 December from a non-public area of the hospital

Officers from Camden borough are investigating. The items had been bought from the hospitals charity fund.

Insp Neal Anderson said "To steal presents that were supposed to be for children too sick to be at home with their families at Christmas is beyond belief.

"I would urge anyone who has information about the individual, or persons responsible, to contact officers so that we can try and get the items back before Christmas day.

"I would also urge the thief to try and think about their actions and do the decent thing and return them.

Anyone with information is asked to call 101 and ask for the CID office at Holborn. If you wish to remain anonymous then please call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111



Source: Met Police

SOME USEFUL ADVICE ABOUT SCAMS, FROM THE MET:

Watch out for charity scams this Christmas
The Charity Commission and Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) have joined together to produce some guidance on how to avoid giving donations away to fraudsters this Christmas.

Almost all collections are genuine, but some people will try to abuse the generosity of others for their own gain. With some charities having experienced fraud, it is vital that the public know that their donations are going to the right place.

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, and Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB), the self-regulatory body for the UK also conducted a survey which showed that 2 in 5 adults do not make any checks when approached by a collector for a charitable donation.

When approached by a collector, checking whether the charity is registered is a key step in preventing fraud. This can be done by asking the collector for ID, checking the tin for a number, or checking the Charity Commission online register. Donors can also check for the FRSB ‘give with confidence’ branding, which indicates that the charity’s fundraising is regulated.

The charity commission has urged people to follow these tips to avoid charity scams this Christmas:

• Before giving, check the charity’s name and registration number. You can verify this at the Charity Commission’s website at www.charitycommission.gov.uk.

• When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed.

• If in doubt, ask the collector for more information - a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.

• Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity’s name, registered name and a landline contact number. Be wary of those that list only a mobile number.

• Look for the FRSB tick logo indicating that the charity is signed up to fundraising regulation, encouraging you to give with confidence. www.givewithconfidence.org.uk.

• To check whether a fundraiser is authorised to collect money in a public place, contact your local authority or, if in London, the police. If it is a private place, check with the owner.

• Take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity’s website to ensure that they are genuine. Instead, search online for your favourite charity to check you have the right web address.

• Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to ascertain whether they are from a genuine charity.

• After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud online and inform the Charity Commission.

• If in any doubt, contact your favoured charity direct to make a donation.

Read more about the fraud on the Charity Commission’s website.

Please note: Action Fraud is not responsible for the content on external websites.

To report a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

VeriFone Sued Over In-Taxi Ad Contract

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK, Dec 17 (Reuters) - VeriFone Systems Inc was sued on Monday by Creative Mobile Technologies for at least $250 million over an agreement to place advertisements on monitors in New York City taxis.

Creative Mobile claims VeriFone breached the agreement to damage the company and remove it as a competitor, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in New York State Supreme Court.

Andy Payment, a spokesman for VeriFone, which is based in San Jose, California, declined to comment.

Creative Mobile was founded in 2005 to install passenger information monitors in taxis, the lawsuit said. It now has monitors in over 6,600 New York City taxis, as well as in taxis in 60 other cities in 30 states.

The company, based in Queens, New York, entered into a sales agreement with Clear Channel Taxi Media in 2006 to place advertising on the in-taxi screens, the complaint said.

At the time, Clear Channel Taxi Media was a unit of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc. VeriFone, a manufacturer of credit card swipe machines, acquired Clear Channel Taxi Media in 2009.

VeriFone "maliciously violated and interfered" with Creative Mobile's rights under the agreement, including failing to supply the information necessary to calculate amounts due and refusing to pay revenues on non-Creative Mobile screens, the lawsuit said.

VeriFone also allegedly put advertisements in taxis outside New York without offering the opportunity to Creative Mobile, as required by the agreement.

The case is Creative Mobile Technologies v. VeriFone Systems Inc, New York State Supreme Court, No. 654379/2012.

Source: Thompson Reuters News Insight

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Truth About Euro 5 DPFs

Just before LTC went belly up, the taxi trade was informed that all new vehicles had to be euro5 compliant. To achieve this LTC fitted a DPF to all new vehicles and put the price up by £3,000. Cost of the DPF is £930 plus LTI garage fitting charge is £75.
EVER FELT LIKE YOU'VE BEEN HAD?
And just how effective are these filters.

What is a DPF?
DPF stands for "Diesel Particulate Filter". It is a device that can be installed into the exhaust system of a diesel engine to "filter out" a portion of the particles of combustion known as "soot" or "particulate matter". These particles are mostly too small to be seen with the naked eye, although on older diesel engines the largest of them are visible as black smoke. The particles are harmful to human health and have been linked to lung ailments, cancer and heart disease.

The DPF is also known by the names "particulate trap" and "trap oxidizer". Probably the most popular DPF is one developed by the Catalytic Systems Division of Johnson Matthey known as the CRT or Continuously Regenerating Trap. This device has the ability to 'clean' itself of the collected particulate automatically.

What Does ADPF do?
The DPF traps diesel soot particles down to about 2.5 microns in diameter. This is the range of particles that most tests measure. The DPF reduces particulate emissions in this size range on the order of about 60-70% over a non-DPF-equipped engine. This reduction in particles has obvious public health benefits, since particulate is one of the two most hazardous emissions released by diesel engines.

The DPF has also been shown to concurrently reduce specific hydrocarbon emissions such as non-methanous hydrocarbons (NMHC) and carbon monoxide. The reduction of these emissions also has health and environmental benefits.

What Can the DPF Not Do, and Does It Have Negative Repercussions?
While the DPF does make a meaningful improvement to the emissions profile of the diesel engine, it is important to recognize that it is NOT a 'magic pill' that can turn the diesel into a zero emission engine. Even when equipped with a DPF, diesel engines still produce significant pollution. Because of the cruder nature of diesel fuel, research in the area of exhaust aftertreatment technologies likely has the potential to make a bigger difference in 'cleaning up' gasoline and CNG engines (whose emissions have a lower toxicity in the first place) than diesel engines.

The particles not trapped by the DPF (released into the air) are mostly ultrafine nanoparticles. These are precisely the particles that present the greatest threat to human health. The mucous membranes of the lungs are better at dealing with larger particles than ultrafine ones. Ultrafine nanoparticles pass easily through the lung's mucous membranes, carrying toxins and carcinogens directly into the bloodstream and circulating them throughout the body.

The DPF does not have a significant effect on nitrogen oxide emissions. NOx is the second of the two most harmful constituents of diesel exhaust. NOx has a toxic effect on red blood cells, and it combines with moisture in the lungs to form nitric acid. Exposure to nitrogen oxides can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems. NOx adsorber catalysts to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions are still in the development stage.

Tests show benzene emissions from diesel engines equipped with DPF devices are variable. Benzene is a strong carcinogen. In addition, mutagens (which cause genetic mutations and birth defects) are still detectable in the exhaust of DPF equipped vehicles, although there appears to be some reduction.

The use of DPF devices actually increases carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. CO2 is the primary gas associated with global warming, and its reduction is targeted by the Kyoto Protocol. The additional CO2 is created both through the operation of the DPF itself, as well as through the production of ultra low sulphur diesel fuel (ULSD). In addition, using ULSD results in slightly poorer fuel efficiency (despite its higher cost), which contributes to higher fuel consumption and an increase in CO2 emissions.

DPF does not reduce the noise associated with the operation of diesel engines in large vehicles such as buses and trucks. The noise associated with diesel engines, particularly in high traffic areas as well as for maintenance personnel, has been identified as a health concern.

The precious metals (like platinum, rhodium, palladium) used in exhaust aftertreatment devices slowly erode over time and are released into the atmosphere. These precious metals have been discovered imbedded in the ice in Greenland. Platinum, the precious metal used in the CRT and many automobile catalytic converters, shows a 40-fold increase since about 1976. It has been demonstrated that these metals have entered the food chain in many parts of the world, making this a global problem.

There is no doubt that Diesel Particulate Filters do reduce some of the harmful effects of diesel emissions, and this is beneficial. But the DPF does not make the diesel bus a substitute for cleaner, quieter and proven electric technologies like trolleybuses and electric light rail. Wherever possible, zero emission technologies using wind, solar or water power, should be actively promoted and implemented to preserve our environment, protect our health, and ensure our quality of life.

Sources:
Ahlvik, Peter. Swedish Experiences from Low Emission City Buses: Impacts on Health and Environment. Ecotraffic. Conference paper, Portsmouth, August 2001.
Ayala, Alberto; et. al. Diesel and CNG Heavy Duty Transit Bus Emissions over Multiple Driving Schedules. California Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board. 2002.
Ayala, Alberto, et. al. Highlights from CARB's Study of Emissions from Transit Buses. California Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board. Conference paper presented at SAE International Truck and Bus Meeting and Exhibition, Detroit, November 2002.
"Car Converters Backfire." Daily Mail, February 8, 2001.
DPF-Info: Diesel-Particle Filter Systems. Johnson Matthey GmbH, Energy and Environmental Technology, 2000.
Environmental Catalysts and Technologies. Web page by Johnson Matthey USA, http://www.jmcsd.com/crt.html
"Green Monster: Devices for cleaning car exhausts are backfiring on the Environment." New Scientist, February 2001.
"Green Diesel is Harmful To Earth." Belfast Telegraph, November 18, 2000.

Running The Gauntlet at Minster Court... By Givati

Last saturday night, I went to a close friends private party at Minster Court. We had a great night but it was marred at the end, when we left.

There are a number of venues at Minster Court.

Mister Court has a very wide exit with steps going up and a ramp on the side. When we came out of the venue we approached the ramp but was blocked from using it by a scab marshall and was forced up the steps and through the big gates. The gates were closed with only a small gap open to allow one person at a time out so the another scab marshall could interrogate you as you left.

I promised the missus I would not kick off and it got to our turn and my interview began.

Scab: "where you going"

Me: "home"

Scab: "where do you live"

Me: i"n my house"

Scab: "don't get funny where is your house"

And then it kicked off, with me ending by telling him I am going to send an email to John Mason to complain. His answer was quite shocking considering there were children waiting to get out.

He said " I couldn't give a fxxx if you tell John Mason, he is a cxxx and if he talks to me he will get a knife in his neck."

One small child was very upset and on the verge of tears.

What interested me most was the set up they had, with roped off area and a very professional stand with a computer booking screen on it.

There must have been about twenty scabs parked up.

The thing was if you did not know better it looked so official and professional, yet they were desperately touting for work and it was obvious they needed to tout as there was simply not enough legitimate work to be had.

Most shocking was my eldest and her boyfriend said that that is the the norm at clubs and it can sometimes take ten minutes to get out as they block the doorway.

One positive note is my friends said there are some clubs they have stopped going to because of the intimidation when leaving and most of their friends prefer Hoxton because there is less of a problem getting out of the clubs.

So there you have it, my mate spends a 5 figure sum on a do and his guests are treated like cattle.

He did not know this when he booked and unfortunately for the venue there were a number
of very high powered lawyers there and he will be getting a very large discount when they are finished with the venue.

For John Mason

Hi John

Welcome to our third world city which you have been part of creating.

What a wonderful legacy you will leave for you children to grow up in.

This post has been sent to Director of LTPH John Mason by the UCG who now wait for his reply.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

New Year Traffic Misery at the Bush.


SERIOUS TRAFFIC disruption across Shepherds Bush and into neighbouring Kensington and Chelsea during a month-long closure of a westbound section of Shepherds Bush Green in the New Year.

Residents, commuters and road users are being warned about a series of major, essential roadworks in Shepherds Bush planned from Monday 28 January so that National Grid, working with Skanska, can replace aging metal gas mains with tough new plastic pipes on the eastern far corner of the Green.

It means the road will be closed to westbound traffic from Monday 28 January to Monday 25 February, with diversions in place.

The project will take place in three phases, beginning on Monday 14 to 28 January 2013 where preparatory work will be carried out in Shepherds Bush Green with one single lane closed outside W12 Shopping Centre.

The westbound carriageway of Shepherds Bush Green will be completely closed between Holland Park Roundabout and the W12 Shopping Centre during phase two, from January 28 to February 25.

The bus stops on Shepherds Bush Green, near the W12 Shopping Centre, will be suspended and some local bus services will change during this time.

During phase three from Monday February 25 for approximately eight weeks single lane closures will continue on both Uxbridge Road (opposite Shepherds Bush station) and Shepherds Bush Green (outside W12 Shopping centre) as further gas main replacement work is carried out.

The diversion route takes motorists travelling from Holland Park Avenue and Holland Road up to West Cross, the A40 Westway, Old Oak Road and Askew Road. The bus lane from Uxbridge Road to Shepherds Bush Green will remain open to all traffic while the closure is in place.

National Grid will be sending letters to local residents and businesses at the start of the New Year and will regularly update them throughout the project. Local bus passengers will also be updated about any changes to their bus routes.

Source: Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle


Friday, December 14, 2012

PwC administrators to London Taxi Company announce completion of steering fix to recalled vehicles

For immediate release
14 December 2012

PwC administrators to London Taxi Company announce completion of steering fix to recalled vehicles

The administrators of Manganese Bronze Holdings are pleased to announce that all of the 401 vehicles recovered as part of the taxi recall have been fixed and are back on the road.

The joint administrators are now commencing the second phase of the fix programme. Over 600 largely new and unregistered vehicles, which have come off the production line in Coventry, will see the same new steering replacement system fitted.

This phase of work will be completed at a faster rate than the first as the majority of vehicles are at a single location within a secure compound. The administrators expect that the second phase of the fix will be completed by late February, which will conclude the replacement programme for all steering boxes.

The 12 production employees laid off from the Coventry plant at the end of October have now returned back into full time employment to assist with the ongoing operations of the business.

The administrators remain in advanced, positive negotiations with all bidders that submitted offers in the second round. The deadline for second round bids fell on Friday 7 December and the administrators are currently evaluating offers. Discussions are likely to be ongoing through next week and into the Christmas holiday period.

Matthew Hammond, PwC partner and joint administrator, said:

“I am delighted that all the taxis are now repaired and back on the road. I want to thank the company's employees who have been part of a massive effort to get all the vehicles repaired. They have worked extremely hard to ensure the affected taxis were returned to their drivers as quickly as possible and back on the road before Christmas. It’s been a tough time for all those affected, so it’s pleasing to have completed this phase of works on schedule.

“Throughout this process we have worked closely with the Mayor and Transport for London to provide daily updates on the repairs. Our key suppliers have been enormously helpful and rallied to the cause of helping get the cabs back on the road. There’s a great deal of goodwill towards this iconic vehicle and we are all committed to securing the best outcome for the company. Although it's too early to say definitively, we are hopeful that we will sell the business as a going concern

“The ongoing support of the group’s management team, employees and unions has been unwavering and very welcome.”



Well that's all very cosy and nice.

So now, what do you intend to do about the thousands of taxi drivers, who have laid out over £30,000 and now find their Chinese vehicle, fitted with Chinese components, with no warranty?

Is the Goodwill policy just all smoke and mirrors?
Perhaps we should publish a list of drivers who have been told by LTI agency garages "Sorry that's not covered by our goodwill policy" and explain what they have been turned down for.

Who in their right mind is going to purchase one of these new vehicles with no warranty.
Just how cheap will these vehicles be sold off?

Or will they be exported?

Wonder what steering boxes were fitted to the 2000 Geely Taxis sold to Baku?
Perhaps we need to ask the Azerbaijan Trade Attaché.

Allegedly, there's no problem with Geely's 20% of the company.

Another meaningless notice from TfL...

TFL PRESS RELEASE

Mayor seeks ban on dangerous pedicabs

• Mayor’s call supported by businesses and safety campaigners
• Vehicles have disproportionate effect on congestion and drivers frequently arrested for obstruction and dangerous driving

The Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) have today called for a change to legislation that would allow them to effectively ban dangerous pedicabs in the capital.

In its submission to the Law Commission’s consultation ‘Reforming the Law on Taxi and Private Hire Services’ TfL proposes that pedicabs and other ‘novelty’ vehicles should be brought under the same legislative framework that governs taxis and private hire vehicles. This would give TfL the power to remove pedicabs from the capital’s roads as they don’t meet the rigorous safety and licensing standards that taxis and private hire vehicles must adhere to.
Blah, blah, blah...

This would also give TfL the right to charge them a license fee when some form of safety standard is agreed. Rickshaw ranks, coming to a street near you soon!

Remember Minicabs?
Ken Livingston said, "When we license them their numbers will drop by half overnight".
We were told, "touting will be their problem not ours".

The only touting problem minicabs face today, is where to illegally ply for hire from. The choice seems endless as LTPH dish out satellite office licenses like sweets to hungry kids.

As for touting, a minicab driver has more chance of winning the lottery than being done for illegally plying for hire, FACT.

FOLLOW THE MONEY.




This from the RMT.

RMT London Taxi Branch 0930 Trade Notice


TfL to ban Pedicabs?

TfL & the Mayor’s Office have announced that they as part of the Law Commission Submission wished to include Pedicabs as Hackney Carriages and therefore be subject to the Condition of Fitness and controls that would remove many of them from the streets.

Good News! Yes if it ever becomes law and TfL enforce it.

TfL’s current record of enforcing illegal plying for hire by PH and unlicensed vehicles (no convictions ever!) give us grave doubts.

As ever the story behind the headlines is more interesting.

 It was TfL along with Westminster Council that proposed a Voluntary Registration Scheme via an Act of Parliament.

 It was the RMT’s Sponsored MP John McDonnell who opposed this clause at every stage in the House of Commons leading to its withdrawal from the bill.

 It was this action by the RMT and its Parliamentary Group and this alone that has forced TfL’s ‘change of heart’.

So before The Mayor, TfL and others trumpet their concern and action on behalf of the Cab Trade and Travelling Public, you now know the truth.

Remember the Olympics!

In 2013 we have the start of two MOT’s plus a cab inspection, another woeful tariff review (Zone 1 Cash fare on the Tube is £4.70 per person), our flag fall for 5 people is a pitiful £2.40? It just gets worse and worse.

Make a New Year Resolution, Join us and protect your livelihood. We hold Monthly Member meetings and the last one was standing room only London’s Largest Taxi Trade Union

Contact londontaxi@rmt.org.uk or call 07899 786433 (24/7)

We're Back, Drivers Flocking To Join Up.


And so the fight back begins
Drivers fed up with empty promises, have taken it upon themselves to form a volunteer group, who will actively turn up and take the work back being stolen every night by touts.

At the recent Taxi drivers forum held in the Palestra Building, Blackfriars, LTPH finally, openly admitted that it is indeed illegal for minicabs to wait outside a venue or operational centre to become hired.
Derbyshire solicitor and licensing expect James Button states on his website;
A standing PHV waiting to become hired, constitutes illegally plying for hire. A successful prosecution carries the same penalty as Touting.

A spokesperson for LTPH also openly admitted that since TfL took over from the Met there hasn't been one conviction of illegally plying for hire.

So if they are not prepared to do anything about these lines if touts stealing our work...it's up to us.

Will you just sit back and let scab touts steal your work?
Or will you join with us and fight back?



NO DRIVER WILL BE ASKED TO DO ANYTHING ILLEGAL

Join the Twitter Action Group ( @TAG_Hit_Squad ) today and get regular updates of events and details of actions to take place. Only licensed Taxi drivers need apply.




GOING AWAY FOR THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY?

GET A MINICAB TO THE STATION OR AIRPORT

AND

GET BURGLED