Thursday, January 31, 2013

UBICABS Offers Minicab And Taxi App, Hospital and Network Rail Taxi Services: How Can This Be Allowed? By Jim Thomas

How can this company keep getting away with breaking the law.
It is illegal to operated a minicab service without being licensed by TfL.
Private hire companies can not use protected terms such as Cab, Cabs, Taxi or Taxis. The law is quite clear and straight forward on this.

Some time ago I complained about a company (Ubicabs) providing freephones, advertising in major hospital as a "Hospital Taxi service". This same company advertises online as "Paddington Station Taxis", "Victoria Station Taxis", "Liverpool Street Taxis" and so on. It has many online adverts offering a Professional Taxi service.

The reply I got back from the director of LTPH was that nothing could be done because this was a third party who passes on bookings to local minicab firms and wasn't itself licensed as a PH company.



This unlicensed company UBICABS now has an app that takes bookings for minicabs and misleads the customers that they are getting a Taxi service, as this image from the app clearly shows...



By offering a Taxi booking service wether online or in an alleyway off a high street, this company is acting as a minicab operator, wether it farms out the work or not.

The action of this company is tantamount to touting by an unlicensed minicab.

So why has nothing been done?
Why is nothing being done about this firm?
Why is it still operating with impunity?


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


Paul Bond, Vice Chair of the RMT, took up my complaint with LTPH:

Can we assume that if its a London PH operator who misuses the word taxi and fails to have such advertising withdrawn after contact from LTPH then their operators licence will be suspended?

Even if they use a 'third party' to display or place them on the web, they are no doubt paying for them to so do.

I can't call myself a medical doctor with impunity, even if I did use an advertising agency.

Director of LTPH, John Mason Answered Paul's Email:
You can assume that if a licensed Private Hire operator is in contravention of the Act and refuses to take remedial action when we raise the failure with them we will seek to prosecute them and any such failure to comply will be taken into consideration with regards to on-going fitness to be licensed.

I appreciate what you are saying but our powers do not extend to third parties, only those that we license. The use of a 3rd party isn’t excuse if, for example, that third party has designed the operators website or publicity but it does get tricky where a search engine returns a PH operator when someone types in “taxi”.

Paul then Replied:
Can you confirm if TfL have ever taken any such action against a London PH Operator passing themselves off as Taxi services or using 'protected' term?

TfL need to be asking the Met. to prosecute Google/Microsoft etc. for touting as they are the enforcing authority for the non licensed? No one is above the law and the intentions of Parliament by statute.

Maybe even a letter from yourselves would make Google et al do something, as per my example you dont see bogus UK doctors or barristers etc. on there so they must have some control about who can state what..

Paul Bond

The examples I sent to Mr Mason are not the result of a search engine such as Google or Microsoft, they are the direct result of a company who is purposely confusing the public into thinking, they are booking a Licensed Taxi service. If This company is not licensed to offer a PH or HC Taxi service then it is breaking the law and one would expect Mr Mason, in his role as director of Licensed Taxis and Private Hire, to contact the Proper authorities on our behalf.

If LTPH can't stop Firms advertising a Taxi service in Hospitals/Supermarkets Clubs and bars,
If LTPH can't enforce against lines of minicabs illegally plying for hire outside venues,
If LTPH can't protect against contraventions of the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire acts,

What are we paying for in our license fees?

NYPD Lift Two Ton Taxi Off Man.

Taxi Rescue: Man Stuck Under New York Cab
Footage shows the frantic efforts to rescue a critically injured man who had been hit by - and got stuck under - a two-ton taxi.9:40am UK, Tuesday 15 January 2013

Video: Officers from the 40th precinct lift the two ton taxi off Luis Velasquez


A man stuck under a taxi after he was hit by the vehicle has been rescued by police who used their bare hands to lift up the car.

At least a dozen officers took part in the operation to free 19-year-old Luis Velasquez from beneath the cab, which weighed two tons.

Police said the victim had run into traffic after officers responded to a dispute outside a restaurant in New York.

The rescue was filmed by resident Rico Elias who saw it happen from the window of his flat on East 138th Street.

He told CBS: "The sarge said 'let's get it up' and they got it up, and they broke their butts doing it."

He added: "They lifted it up. There was no jack. They used their hands and backs and lifted the car up and over and got him out."

The man is in a critical condition at Lincoln Hospital.

The taxi driver will not face any charges over the collision in Mott Haven, The Bronx.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Limit taxi numbers in Cambridge or risk 'blood on the streets' by Chris Havergal

Competition between cabbies could boil over into violence if the number of taxis in Cambridge is not limited, it is claimed.

Councillors agreed to consider capping the number of hackney carriages allowed on the city’s ranks after drivers said having more taxis made it ever harder to earn a living.
Numbers are at an all-time high, with 293 hackney carriages, which can be flagged down on the street or hired at a taxi rank, licensed for the city.

They are vying for trade with 217 private hire vehicles – which cannot be regulated by the council – and another 701 registered in South Cambridgeshire.

This contributes to cabs sitting in long queues which snake out of ranks and drivers being forced to work ever longer hours.

A study commissioned by the city council estimated hackney carriage drivers now spend 51 per cent of their working time waiting, rather than on a job, and found the city had an “extremely healthy” provision of taxis compared with other areas.

Cllr Jeremy Benstead, vice-chairman of the licensing committee, said this should be an impetus for action to limit the number of taxis.

He said: “We know there has been blood on the streets within the taxi trade in other towns and cities, do we want to sit back and do nothing?”

Source: Cambridge News

Comment
Sound familiar?

Licensing authority, with private hire numbers out of control, caps a license Taxi trade which is a sitting duck.

It seems Cambridge Council's answer to the problem caused by an unregulated Private hire trade, is to cap the issue of Hackney carriage licenses. 293 Licensed Taxis vying for work against an army of 918 minicabs the Council have no control over.

In London we also face a problem of over issue of PHV licenses. Daily 22,000 Taxi drivers have to compete against an un-enforced 80,000 minicab drivers who regularly illegally plying for hire and tout at clubs, bars, supermarkets, shops and in extreme cases alleyways and doorways.

As private hire numbers in London increase rapidly, this issue will soon have to be addressed by TfL/LTPH or we risk "Blood on our Streets". But will TfL, like Cambridge Council attack the license Taxi trade to seek a solution?

If they can cap Yellow Badge numbers in certain sectors, why can't they cap PHVs?

Where is the new young blood in the License Taxi Trade?

Has London really changed that much in the last 25 years that it required going from 18 to 44 months to complete the knowledge?

Currently, there are more drivers over the age of 70 driving London Taxis than there are under 30. Currently, Licensed Taxi drivers are outnumbered by minicab drivers by nearly 4-1.

No cap on PH drivers, no cap on PH Operators, no cap on Satellite Office numbers.
While license Taxi rank spaces disappear on a daily basis, Satellite Offices expand at an alarming rate.

We have shown previously that Satellite Office licenses are being issued with no proper checks and balances in place. One company managed to acquire 39 new licenses within 12 days of registering as a PH operator, contra to TfL's own guild lines that a PH operator has to be registered for at least 12 months before license variation can be granted. A clear case of malfeasance.

It seems its not what you know but who you know.

Conspiracy Theory:
Are TfL using the STaN Agenda to drive us, with the help on the Law Commission Report, into a one tier system controlled by a private company run by ex bus drivers?

Conspiracy, or bang on the money?

Remember Follow The Money!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

LTPH, Age Limit On Drivers, Surely Not John?

Taxi Leaks has recently come into procession of two emails, the first, sent to the Director of LTPH on behalf of a driver who has been unable to work owing to the fact that his FX4 had been refused a license under the Mayors Age Limit policy. The letter points out that the revocation of the vehicles operating license has made the owner prematurely redundant.

******************************************************
Excerpt from Appeal Email:
Mr xxxx will be retiring next year anyway, but because of the shambles of the TX4 steering box issue, and the lack of "rentable" taxis, buying a vehicle is out of the question, xxxx is struggling to make ends meet.
******************************************************
.

The appeal also points out, the vehicle has been kept in immaculate condition, has a current MOT and would pass all inspections to meet CoF and safety issues.
The appealed also made reference to three other instances where extensions to the age limit had been granted.

But John Masons reply seems to have crossed the line on what is or should be acceptable from the director of Taxis and Private Hire.

In his reply Mason states that any extension granted to the working life of this vehicle would only be considered if he received confirmation in writing from the driver that he would indeed surrender his badge and bill when the license (if granted) expires.

******************************************************
Excerpt from Email: (including typos)
Can you please ask Mr Xxxxx to submit to me, in writing (either paper or email), copied to Luke Giles (copied to this email):

· Full details of his taxi

· Full details of his reasons for requesting an extension / stay on the age limit requirements

· Confirmation that he would be retiring at the end on expiry of the licence (should it be granted is would be a condition that he surrenders his licence)

· Any other details he feels is relevant (financial, health etc)

This would then be considered by the licensing team and should it be refused he would have a right to appeal.
******************************************************

It now appears that John Mason has taken it upon himself to extend the Mayor Age Limit policy to include Taxi drivers, as well as vehicles.
Surely this request would have no legal standing?

The driver involved may wish to change his mind through circumstances beyond his control at a later date.

Good Luck to all FX4s, may they live forever:
Good luck to any driver who secures an extension to the age limit. Some of these vehicles being taken off the road have produced better emission readings than new TX4s, but it all seems to depend on who you are and who you know.

The idea of an age limit was bought about by the Mayors Air Quality Strategy, with pressure from three London Council leaders (Camden, Westminster and City of London)

But BORIS now talks of a change of thinking on CARBON EMISSIONS.
Just this weekend, Boris made an amazing statement in a newspaper column based on advice from a scientist, Piers Corbyn, Director of Weather Action. The Mayor said he now has an open mind, as to wether Climate Change was in fact caused by Carbon emissions. He was taken with the views of some that see solar influences as most important, or in other words, it's the Sun what does it really (his words not mine).
If this truly is Boris belief, it makes the Vehicle age limit hypocritical and he should repeal the amendment to the Cab Act immediately.



If a change on emphasis is on the cards at City Hall, then I believe many Taxi drivers are due a nice fat rebate for the massive increase in road fund license fees we have had to pay, due to the amount of Carbon in our emissions.

Plus drivers who have had to retire, prematurely should receive relevant compensation.
Surely the UTG will be working hard to sort this mess out?

Nissan LEAF electric cars become taxis in Zurich

Ten Nissan LEAF electric cars have secured themselves employment as taxis in the Swiss capital of Zurich.

The city follows in the footsteps of Amsterdam, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City and Sao Paulo in turning to Nissan for supply of zero-emission vehicles for taxi services.

Wrapped in a vivid green colour, the new LEAF taxis will be truly zero emission thanks to supply of 100 per cent renewable energy to fast chargers placed around the city.

Initially, ten Nissan LEAFs will be used as taxis in the city with a further ten joining the scheme by mid-2013. By 2015, it is envisaged that 15 per cent of the Zurich taxi fleet will be electric and that the city will boast an extensive network of fast chargers, which can replenish a depleted battery from 30 to 80 per cent capacity in just 15 minutes.

The fleet will not just help the city cut its transport emissions, but will serve to prove that electric cars are a viable alternative to gas-guzzlers.

World Economic Forum
The Zurich Green Taxi Initiative has been pioneered by a group of young Swiss leaders ,who are all part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. Shapers are aged between 20 and 30 and all have a desire to serve society and improve local communities.

The Zurich scheme was launched last Friday by Nissan Europe and Global Shapers at the Zurich hub during the annual World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

"We are delighted that the undoubted benefits of a green taxi fleet have been recognized by an organization as significant as the World Economic Forum," said Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

"With the backing of the Global Shapers Community, many thousands of citizens and visitors to Zurich will be able to discover first-hand how zero emission electric vehicles cars like Nissan LEAF are ready to change the world in which we live," he added.


ANNIVERSARY: BBC report This Day 29th January 1976

Explosions rock London's West End
A series of bombs have exploded in the West End of London during the night - one person, believed to be a taxi driver, has been hurt.
Twelve devices went off - four of them were outside employment agencies and another was found in Selfridge's department store in Oxford Street.

A 13th device was discovered later in an HMV record store.

Police say the bombs were small, between about 3-5bl (1.2-2kg). Several of them started small fires.

They say it is too soon to say who planted the bombs, but anti-terrorist officers are investigating.
Officers say the bombs were probably planted during the day and timed to go off at night.
There was a loud bang and a lot of smoke in the street

John Jenkins, witness

The taxi driver was injured in an explosion at the junction of Foubert's Place and Kingly Street. A boilerman is also reported to have been trapped in the basement of a shop in Duke Street after a bomb exploded. He was rescued by police.

The reception manager of the Miranda Club heard a bomb go off in Kingly Street.

John Jenkins, said: "There was a loud bang and a lot of smoke in the street. I was told a bomb had gone off in a letter box."

Another witness told the BBC: "We heard a very loud explosion and some old lady screamed her head off over the back there. That was all we heard, we tumbled out of bed and came down to see what it was all about."

Officers cleared the area as soon as the explosions began.

Much of Oxford Street has remained closed for most of the day while searches continue for more devices.

The bombings are a surprise - the first in central London for more than a year.

In November 1975 a bomb planted by the IRA exploded in a restaurant killing two people and injuring more than 20.

Did the security services learn anything from these attacks?

On the 29th June 2007, a car bomb was left in a line of illegally parked, illegally plying for hire minicabs outside Tiger Tiger, with another strategically parked at the bottom of the Haymarket.

London's Taxi drivers finally expected something would be done about this type of serious laps in homeland security.

The very next day the touts were back in the same spot, illegally plying for hire unabated by the police, local council wardens or the security service.

To this day, even in the wake of 9/11, 7/7... anyone can park a vehicle outside any busy night venue and not raise suspicion. At night CCTV cameras are turned off or turned away. It's a miracle that up to now, a major attack hasn't happened.

.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Warning: Muggers Using Eggs To Stop Taxis.

If you are driving at night and eggs are thrown at your windscreen, do not stop to check the cab. Do not operate the wipers and do not spray water from the washers, because eggs mixed with water become milky and block your vision up to 92.5%.

If you stop at the point of attack, you could become victim to gangs of muggers who are using this technique to stop and rob motorists.




China: Clean fuel trial could extend to all buses and taxis: Where is London's Cleaner Fuel?

MORE than 50 taxis in Minhang District are using a cleaner fuel that can be expanded to all the city's buses and taxis to help control PM2.5 pollution, legislators said yesterday.

Exhaust emissions from motor vehicles are the biggest single source of PM2.5, accounting for 25 percent of fine particles in the city's air, according to the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.

The Minhang taxis are burning dimethyl ether - a non-toxic, cleaner-burning hydrocarbon gas that generates neither sulfur nor nitrogen particles, said Ding Kuiling, director of the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry and a lawmaker.

"It is time for the city to expand new energy among buses and cabs, which would help better control PM2.5 pollution," Ding said.

Engines only need slight modifications for the fuel, while it will power vehicles for long distances without a refill, so few refuelling stations are needed, Ding said.

Dimethyl ether, somewhat similar to LPG gas, costs just 3,000 yuan (US$482.10) a ton, cheaper than gasoline, he said.

A dozen of the city's No. 147 buses launched a test operation using dimethyl ether in 2007 that showed it to be cleaner than conventional fossil fuel and safe.

The city has more than 300 buses using cleaner power sources, mainly electricity, hybrid technologies or dimethyl ether. Many were used during the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.

"There is no technical barrier to the expansion of new energy to the city's buses," said Yin Bangqi, an official with the city's Science and Technology Commission and also a legislator.

There are many companies in Shanghai that have been developing new energy for buses, Yin said. Refuelling and recharging stations are needed only at the terminus for buses, and they can be charged or refilled at night, he added.

Some simple refuelling locations should be built across the city for new-energy taxis, said Zhang Hailiang, managing director of Shanghai Volkswagen and another legislator.

Zhang said "fast charge" stations should be installed at public parking lots and commercial areas for urgent use and "slow charge" centers at residential areas and office buildings.


Comment:
So why at we dragging our feet in this country with cleaner fuel production?
It's easy Follow the money!

Dimethyl Ether ton for ton is cheaper than diesel or petrol, delivers more miles per gallon, which multiplied by just 24,000 London Taxis means substantial less fuel tax and VaT.

It seems when it comes to better Air Quality, better health for the population... Tax collection wins every time.







Saturday, January 26, 2013

Romford minicab driver, called by street pastors, raped girl passenger, 17

A minicab driver, who had been called by Good Samaritans to drive a drunken girl home safely, has been jailed for eight years for raping his teenage passenger.

The 17-year-old victim passed out after drinking too much while out with friends in Romford, police said.

She was helped by door staff and street pastors - church volunteers who look after vulnerable partygoers - who arranged for a licensed minicab to take her to her home in Basildon, Essex.
But the driver, Nicolae Talaba, 35, took advantage of the girl’s drunken state and raped her after stopping near her home, police said.



Romanian-born Talaba, formerly of Mawney Road, Romford, carried on working after the attack in February 2012.

He was arrested when he returned to England after a holiday in Romania in July 2012.
Talaba was found guilty of one count of rape after a six-day trial at Southend Crown Court and was sentenced on Monday.

Senior Investigating Officer DI Danny Stoten, of Essex Police, said: “This was a lengthy and painstaking investigation that lasted almost a year.

“Talaba took advantage of the trust placed upon him and committed this terrible offence against a vulnerable teenage girl.

“When the rape was reported the offender’s identity was unknown. He was previously from Romania and so he was not on the DNA database. The hard work of the officers involved in the initial investigation, the co-operation of the public and some excellent investigative skills identified Talaba as the offender.

“He was arrested at Dover upon his return to the UK. He has shown no remorse and denied the offence throughout. This meant that the victim had to give evidence against him.

“The hard work, dedication and expertise of the investigating team ensured that the victim received justice. The victim and her family have received a great deal of support and have also contacted officers to thank them for all the work that led to the jailing of Talaba.

“He now has a very long time in prison to ponder upon his horrendous act.”
Tabala was also placed on the Sex Offender Register for life.

Judge Spares Paedophile Jail, Because He Was Taught At Islamic School, Women Are Worthless.

A muslim who raped a 13-year-old girl he groomed on Facebook has been spared a prison sentence after a judge heard he went to an Islamic faith school where he was taught that women are worthless.

Is this the reason we see so many young women sexually assaulted by Muslim men in this country.

Adil Rashid, 18, claimed he was not aware that it was illegal for him to have sex with the girl because his education left him ignorant of British law.
In every walk of life in this country, ignorance of the law is no defence.

Yesterday Judge Michael Stokes handed Rashid a suspended sentence, saying: ‘Although chronologically 18, it is quite clear from the reports that you are very naive and immature when it comes to sexual matters.’

My god this man is a criminal rapist and the judge hands him the opportunity to repeat his heinous crime, because the accused was naive and immature. You just couldn't make this stuff up...

Earlier Nottingham Crown Court heard that such crimes usually result in a four to seven-year prison sentence.

But the judge said that because Rashid was ‘passive’ and ‘lacking assertiveness’, sending him to jail might cause him ‘more damage than good’.
Rashid, from Birmingham, admitted he had sex with the little girl, saying he had been ‘tempted by her’ after they met online.
So you could argue that Rashid was assertive enough to groom, meet and rape the 13 year old girl...

They initially exchanged messages on Facebook before sending texts and chatting on the phone over a two-month period. Typical grooming practises.

They then met up in Nottingham, where Rashid had booked a room at a Premier Inn.
So, the rape was in fact premeditated...
The girl told police they stayed at the hotel for two hours and had sex after Rashid went to the bathroom and emerged wearing a condom.
Not bad for a passive rapist, lacking assertiveness...

Surely every muslim applicant for a job which involves dealing with female members of the public, such as a private hire license, should be required to attend special re schooling where they could be taught that women in this country are of equal standing to men and do not deserve to be the target of sex attacks, no matter where the applicant was schooled



Ignorant: Rashid (pictured above) didn't know it was illegal to have sex with a 13 year old girl.
If this is Justice from the law, then in the words of Dickens, "The Law is an Ass."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Judges rule CRB checks 'incompatible' with Human Rights Act


CRB checks require the disclosure of all criminal convictions or cautions, regardless of their relevance to the job.

Blanket criminal records checks are not "compatible" with a key part of the Human Rights Act, the Court of Appeal has concluded.

The checks, known as CRBs, may prevent a persons right to a private or family life, a draft judgement has found.

Judges rule CRB checks 'incompatible' with Human Rights Act
2 hours ago

CRB checks require the disclosure of all criminal convictions or cautions, regardless of their relevance to the job.
Blanket criminal records checks are not "compatible" with a key part of the Human Rights Act, the Court of Appeal has concluded.

The checks, known as CRBs, may prevent a persons right to a private or family life, a draft judgement has found.

The ruling was made based on the case of a 21-year-old man, who had been forced to reveal details of two police warnings given to him a decade earlier.

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, said the CRB system must be reformed.

The draft judgement was made on 21 December 2012, but was not revealed at the time amid concerns about its implications for the government over the CRB system.

CRBs require the automatic disclosure of all convictions and cautions to certain employers, regardless of their relevance to the job.

'Pull finger out'
In the case of the unnamed 21-year-old, known as "T", he had been forced to reveal he had received warnings from Manchester Police in connection with two stolen bikes.

He was 11-years-old at the time of the alleged offences.

"T" had been CRB checked when he applied for a part-time job at a local football club aged 17 and later for a university course in sports studies.

At the hearing at the Court of Appeal on Friday, Lord Dyson insisted the government should "pull its finger out" over the issue, which he claimed they had known about for some time.

The court said it hoped to deliver a formal judgement next week.

Proportionate system
The "T" case had been supported by human rights campaigners Liberty.

Corinna Ferguson, legal officer for Liberty, said: "The overzealous CRB system has allowed old, minor and unreliable information to wreck the lives of too many hardworking people in the UK.

"The government can't put off dealing with this any longer. We look forward to seeing urgent proposals for a proportionate system that properly balances the aim of public protection with privacy rights."

CRB checks are governed by the Police Act 1997 and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975.

For some types of work, especially involving children and vulnerable adults, an employer may request an enhanced or standard CRB check.

In March 2012, new figures from the criminal records bureau revealed the the checks had prevented more than 130,000 unsuitable people, including rapists and paedophiles, from working with children or vulnerable groups.

A government-backed review into CRB checks last year recommended the introduction of a "filter" to remove old and minor conviction information from the checks.

But the coalition has not yet announced any intention to introduce such a system.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why Is This Not Standard Practise TfL?

Liverpool City Council to introduce stricter checks on taxi drivers from overseas

COUNCIL chiefs in Liverpool are to introduce stricter checks on foreign taxi drivers’ backgrounds.

City licensing officials are to ask new applicants for a certificate from their country’s embassy or consulate because they are currently unable to fully check the criminal records of drivers from abroad.

While all applicants must have had a UK or EU driving licence and undergone a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check, there is currently no way to check convictions overseas.

The new system will require drivers from abroad to provide a letter from their consulate or embassy confirming good conduct.

Plans were revealed following a Freedom of Information request from Jim Bradley, a taxi driver in the city for more than 20 years.

Mr Bradley said: “I contacted the council as I was concerned about the fairness of the checking process.

“Our city is cosmopolitan and that is a fantastic thing, but for the safety of the public we need to be sure the backgrounds of everyone are checked to the same high standard.”

A Liverpool City Council spokesman said: “All applicants for a taxi driver’s licence have to have had a DVLA or EEC licence for a minimum of 12 months and all applicants are CRB checked.

“We do not have the power to carry out CRB style checks in foreign countries.

“However we are introducing a system shortly where applicants who come from abroad will be asked to provide a certificate of good conduct from their consulate or embassy.”

Source: Liverpool Echo

Holliday Surcharge To Be Included In Meter Drop.

Just heard from our man in south east London, that TfL have asked Meter providers Digitax, to include Christmas and new year charge to be shown with initial fare. So Christmas Day/Boxing Day and New Years Eve/New years Day, meter drop will show £6.40.

TfL have asked for this change to be included in this Aprils fare increase.

Also to be remembered is that from the 1st of January 2013, it is no longer a requirement to provide a printed recite. In cab printers will now be optional as hand written recites will be acceptable.

Further Clarification on New Vehicle Licensing Service Requirements TfL Notice 06/13

Further to Notices 01/13 and 02/13, this notice provides additional information and clarification regarding the new vehicle licensing service provided by NSL Limited, specifically the MOT process for taxis and the application of licence fees.

Vehicle Licensing Service Provider
SGS will cease providing vehicle licensing services on behalf of TfL on 27 February 2012 when the responsibility will transfer to NSL.

To book a vehicle inspection on or after 28 February 2012 contact 08432 241 777 To book a vehicle inspection before 28 February 2012 contact 0845 378 2345

Fees
The fee payable for taxi and private hire vehicle inspections is reviewed annually and is based on the cost incurred by TfL to deliver licensing services.

New fees will be applicable from 2 April 2013 and TfL are currently in the process of approving these. While we anticipate there will be a reduction in these fees we are unable to announce details at this stage.

Please note all inspections undertaken prior to 2 April 2013 will be charged at the current fee.

We understand some owners booking their inspections feel aggrieved at paying the current charge, however, as with any fee review there is a date when new fees will apply. In previous years where fees have increased from April, owners booking inspections before the annual increase have benefitted from booking at the lower charge.

Vehicle owners who book their annual inspections now for an early April appointment will benefit from this anticipated lower fee when booking at same time in future years.

Given the significant change taking place we strongly advise vehicle owners to continue to book early to ensure they guarantee a slot for inspection.

Licence Duration
Please note there are no changes to the length of a vehicle licence as a result of the transition in service provider. Currently vehicles can be tested up to a maximum of 30 days prior to expiry of your existing licence. If your vehicle passes the inspection first time, your new licence period will be calculated from the expiry date of your current licence, however, this does not apply if the vehicle fails the inspection.

New Taxi Licensing Regime and MOTs
As you were informed in Notice 01/13 the new taxi licensing system will commence on 1 March 2013 and will require all taxis to undertake two standard (class 4) MOTs per year.
Only taxis licensed under the new system will require a MOT and these must be no more than 14 days old on date of testing.

NSL taxi inspections will be shorter in duration, reducing from the current average of 30 minutes to an estimated 20 minutes. Inspections will include the issue of licence plates, a meter check and other taxi specific aspects of the vehicle not covered by the MOT. We will not as routine duplicate the MOT inspection process, however, please note that as the Licensing Authority for London, TfL still has a legal duty and responsibility to ensure any vehicle licensed by us as a taxi or private hire vehicle is safe and roadworthy regardless of whether an MOT has been issued within 14 days in line with the new licensing system.

TfL maintains the authority, and will use it, to fail vehicles where we feel it does not meet clear, basic safety standards.

As is already the case taxi owners will have the ability to challenge any decision made by licensing officers through an escalation process. All appeals can be made to the inspection centre customer liaison or team leader.

We are working hard to ensure a smooth transition to NSL and will continue to keep you informed of changes. Further communications including reminders of the new taxi licensing system and the service that will be provided by NSL Ltd will be sent out over the next eight weeks.

We appreciate your patience and understanding and would strongly recommend that you register to receive regular email updates via our distribution list by contacting TPH.Enquiries@tfl.gov.uk

23/01/2013
John Mason
Director, Taxi and Private Hire

Consultation launched over Hackney Carriage licences granted by the Royal Borough of Windsor.

THE council will give Hackney Carriage drivers the chance to have their say on the number of licences issued.

The Royal Borough announced it will launch a 28-day consultation into Hackney Carriage licences and proposed MOT changes, at a Licensing Panel meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall, St Ives Road, on Tuesday.

Councillor Andrew Jenner, panel chairman, said: “The consultation will give everyone a chance to have their say on the issue.”

Council Dilemma
The council, which issues five additional licences per month, has received three conflicting petitions in the past three months calling for an increase in the number of licences issued, a reduction and to stop them. They are all signed by Hackney Carriage drivers or residents.

*As part of the consultation, proposals for Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicle drivers to book MOTs at council-approved garages prior to licensing or re-licensing to counter safety concerns will also be discussed.

The consultation is due to start on Monday and companies affected will be sent documents. For details, call 01628 683800.
source: http://www.windsorobserver.co.uk/


*The shape of things to come, perhaps.
.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Oxford Council show the way again as private hire drivers are caught out in stings

A CRACKDOWN has seen dozens of private hire drivers fined hundreds of pounds for illegally plying for hire in Oxford.

Only black cabs, known as Hackney carriages, can pick up customers in the street.

Ignoring the rules – brought in during the 1960s – invalidates private hire drivers’ insurance.

Oxford City Council’s licensing team launched its first crackdown on the practice just over a year ago.

It sends officers out across the city several times a year to try to catch drivers in the act.

Private hire drivers caught are fined between £60 and £610, were ordered to pay costs of up to £200 and seven of them received six points on their licences.

The city council refused to give details that will allowed the public to know the identities of the drivers who have been fined.

Private hire driver Richard Barlow, 59, said he felt the team did valuable work.

He said: “It’s important for them to do it because private hire drivers aren’t supposed to pick up unless they’ve been booked.

“It does annoy me when I see drivers doing it. I try to report it when I can, but you need to be able to prove it.”

City council enforcement officer Allan Hibberd said the crackdown was to ensure public safety.

He said: “Private hire drivers work through an operator, and if you want their services you have to phone up and book the vehicle and it will be dispatched to you.

“That is the only way you can use a private hire vehicle legally. They are not allowed to stop if someone hails them, and the drivers know the difference.

“This whole operation is about private hire drivers who operate illegally by operating as an unlicensed Hackney carriage.


“If they do that, they’re also committing a second offence, which is more serious, because their vehicle is only insured to operate through a pre-booking system – if they are not pre-booked, they are driving without insurance.”

No reported accidents have taken place while a driver was uninsured over the past year.

In plain clothes, the council officers attempt to hail private hire vehicles or approach them if they are stopped.

If the driver takes the fare, the officers secretly record the vehicle’s and driver’s details on a mobile phone, and then meet Mr Hibberd at an agreed location.

Potentially, these private hire drivers can lose their licence, but so far none in Oxford has for illegally plying for hire.

Private hire drivers are not allowed to be flagged down first and then booked over the phone

Mr Hibberd said firms allocated their drivers based on availability and fairness, to ensure all drivers get fares, so passengers would not be guaranteed to get the one they have flagged down.



City councillor Saj Malik, who represents Cowley Marsh, has been a taxi driver for more than 20 years.

On an evening which saw him carry passengers who were mostly the worse for wear to Wolvercote, Cholsey, Greater Leys and Risinghurst, he said: “You pick up all sorts of people in the back of your cab.

“I have picked up George Galloway and Douglas Hurd, but it is the youngsters you have got to watch out for – the ones aged between 17 and 21 – because when they are on a night out, they don’t know when to stop.”

Mr Malik said: “On Saturday nights us cabbies are the eyes and ears of the police.

Source: Oxford Mail

COMMENT
Wonder if the Officer in charge of Oxfords licensing team, wants John Mason's job?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Collapse of Manganese Bronze – the insider’s view

I was one of the 156 made redundant by LTI in October, so hope I can throw in my penny’s worth …
A lot has been said about the TX4 needing to be updated. This is very true, it was starved of development cash and the number of R&D staff at LTI had already been reduced by over 60% over a two year period – the directors actually converted their department into a plush new directors suite! How ironic.

To the public, it did appear that LTI were looking at new, greener drivetrains – especially the much publicised hydrogen fuel cell TX4. This was a sham, they did practically nothing in developing this, but some creative accounting ensured that government grants were passed between the ‘pioneering’ development partners. Hydrogen will not work anyway, not without the fuelling infrastructure – just ask Honda.

LTI directors had a golden opportunity to save the company as far back as two years ago, in the shape of a fully engineered electric TX4 developed by a Dutch company. Electrification is one of the few things that is in the TX4′s favour. With its old fashioned ladder chassis, it can carry twice the battery power of a ‘modern’ monocoque vehicle. Hence why the eTX4s operating in Amsterdam had a range of 250km, more than enough for a taxi shift – and a fast charge time of under two hours.

So what did the exhalted leader of LTI do when he discovered that a third party had developed this sure fire winner for him? Nothing. For fear of losing hydrogen grant monies and worried that LTI’s Chinese partners would ‘steal’ the technology (plus a blinkered ‘it’ll never take off’ attitude), the CEO of LTI never even got of his well paid butt to view the car. Now, the chance is gone.
It would be easy for me to appear as a bitter ex-employee, but it’s more than that. Some of the decisions taken over the past 6 years by the Manganese Bronze and LTI boards have been bordering on criminal negligence. It’s no surprise either that of the 156 people made redundant in October, not a single one was a director. Despite the administrators running the company from that date, all directors remain in employment to this day.

Anyway, enough of my rant. What happens next? Geely will buy out the remains of LTI. NOT because they want to develop the TX4. All they want to do is ensure that they are not the ones seen to have killed the iconic London Cab. They will produce it in China and use the UK operation as a sales arm only. The reason why? They want to break into the UK general car market and don’t need negative PR at the outset, so they’ll ‘save’ the company and build a sales operation with a view to car sales, not taxis.

In reality, there are no assets to sell off – the Coventry site was sold and leased back years ago, so no other asset strippers would be interested. The numbers don’t make sense to any other party to manufacture the cabs, the development cash required is just too great.

I’ll leave it at that as I’ve just realised how much I’d typed – sorry for boring you all. What happens next to the London Taxi market is a very interesting one – although I know for a fact that it’s being protected using some pretty underhand measures at present. Boris is desperately trying to keep the current conditions in place in the hope that the London Cab will return – but I don’t think it will, and the market will legally have to open up.

The TX4 had the potential to be great. Great concept with a great workforce behind it – but it was put through a slow death by incompetent board direction. You cannot just blame the Chinese – they saw an opportunity and took it. Unfortunately, the blame lies very much closer to home.


Further comments from Matt Insider.
As you’ll know, the only two cabs that meet the conditions of fitness at the moment are the TX4 and the Vito, but you can only buy a Vito at present because LTI are in administration. The Vito is £41950,a pretty expensive cab, but it has a current monopoly on the London market only because of it’s rear wheel steering to meet the 25 foot turning circle laid down in regulation 181. However, it’s the trade’s worst kept secret that most Euro4 Vitos have suffered from serious problems with their RWS.

I know for a fact that many Vito drivers pull the fuses on the RWS and are therefore operating in London without meeting reg 181.

A quick call to Transport for London made it clear that they knew of problems but seemed to be turning a blind eye because ‘if we took them off the road, there wouldn’t be any cabs to supply’.

The supplier of the vehicle, KPM, appear to be fully aware of the problems and that cabbies have been pulling fuses. A call to VOSA confirmed that they knew of the issue too, but they will not force a recall as it’s not life threatening due to the RWS only operating at under 5mph. So, why? I suspect that regulation 181 is being kept in place in order in the hope that LTI get back into production. The London administration want to keep the ‘iconic’ London Black Cab, but it’ll never return to the levels it enjoyed in the past without massive investment – most cabbies have just had enough. Also, Vito driving cabbies don’t want a recall either – they’ve seen what happened when LTI had to pull 400+ cabs off the streets of London!

It’s a ridiculous situation though and, even though every other major UK city has thrown out regulation 181 and opened up the market to other makes, it appears that London is digging it’s heels in. It can’t last though, there has already been a judicial review in Liverpool stating that the regulation is unjust and against a free market.
It’ll end up going to court again and TfL will spend lots of taxpayers money fighting a fight they can’t win.

Much as I hate to say it, the regulations will get overturned sooner or later and, unless a buyer is found for LTI with very deep R&D pockets, the TX4 will be fighting for it’s life again. A Chinese built TX4 without immediate development isn’t going to find many buyers in London, not given recent events.

I’m hearing the same very strong rumours about the Nissan failing a COF test – very interesting!! Also hear that TfL are very close to a re-think of the London COF. They always very protective of their specific conditions (ie the turning circle), but it doesn’t appear that there’s any appetite for a fight as newcomers try and open up the market. Probably a good thing, what with the continued uncertainty (what are the administrators doing?) over LTI’s future and the increasing concerns over the Vito’s rear wheel steering. If, as is widely predicted, Geely take over LTI and build soley in China, then the TX4 becomes a far less relevant product. Already seen as under-developed and of low quality, I can’t see a ‘made in China’ sticker driving huge numbers of cabbies into their showrooms. Equally, the Vito’s reputation is taking a hammering at present – the RWS issues persist along with rumours of a large number operating in London with it disconnected – a serious breach of the London COF.

All a bit of a mess really……..


Source:http://www.aronline.co.uk/blogs/marques/lti-vehicles/blog-manganese-bronze-the-insiders-view/

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Just in case you missed it: Parking Mad

IMPORTANT Public Consultation From 2006: how come no one asked us?

Work has started on a completely new concept for the Euston underpass junction. There appeared to be a public consultation in 2006. Below is an excerpt from that consultation.



Euston Road and Tottenham Court Road Improvements

Dear Sir or Madam
Camden Council and Transport for London are asking local groups and directly affected residents and businesses for their views on:

• Improving the Euston Road/Tottenham Court Road/Hampstead Road junction
• Introducing two-way traffic on parts of Tottenham Court Road and Grafton Way
• And, the principle of introducing two-way traffic on the whole of Tottenham Court Road and
Gower Street, as a second stage of the project.

This booklet describes the proposals and the impacts. We are still working to find funding for them. Enclosed is a separate questionnaire for you to complete so that we can gauge support for the project. If there is sufficient support, there will be further opportunities to comment on the details. We believe these proposals would greatly improve the Euston and Bloomsbury area for all.

Background
The Council and Transport for London believe that the junction of Euston Road and Tottenham Court Road is an important place and the improvement of Euston Road and the surrounding area has been identified as a key objective. The site serves a number of functions. As well as carrying a great deal of traffic, it provides access to and from major employment, retail and residential areas, two tube stations and a major hospital. Such a significant site in central London should be a safe and pleasant environment for everyone who uses it.

The proposals for this consultation result from discussions with architects, urban designers, London boroughs, local landowners and stakeholders, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London. They are about giving space back to pedestrians and creating new public spaces, and are the first stage in meeting the objective to make the most of Euston Road and the surrounding area, making it a more pleasant place to live, work and visit. They help to change the main junction from an unfriendly place where it is difficult to cross, to a junction that is easy and simple to cross, and where traffic no longer dominates.

Proposals
Euston Road/Tottenham Court Road/Hampstead Road junction
• Covering part of the underpass to create new public space above the road with possible room for shops and exhibition areas.
• Using some of the space taken back from traffic, to plant trees.
• Making it easier to cross Euston Road by reducing the complexity of the junction from
thirteen individual crossings to just eight.
• New paving at the junction and in the surrounding area.

Euston Road pedestrian crossings
• New crossing across Euston Road at Fitzroy Street.
• New crossing across Euston Road at Gower Street.
Introducing two-way traffic
• Making Tottenham Court Road two-way between the junction with Euston Road and Grafton Way.
• Making Grafton Way two-way between Gower Street and Tottenham Court Road.
• Improvements to the bus network, reducing journey times and increasing reliability.

The introduction of two-way traffic helps to make the junctions simpler to use, but also opens up the possibility of introducing two-way traffic on all or part of Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street/Bloomsbury Street. Although this has not yet been designed, this consultation also asks for your views on whether you would support this further stage, in principle. Camden and Transport for London believe that this would have significant benefits.

If the work proceeds there will be additional consultation on this proposal. However, we would welcome your comments at this stage.

Source: public consultation 2006:
To see the whole of the consultation booklet please click here

Big Brother Will Soon Be Watching You, Even Closer.

We have heard, that a new form of ID badge will be issued to all of London's Taxis, later this year. But will it be the business, or just another waste of license fee money.


A few years ago, there was a serious accident in Victoria Street, where three elderly passengers had to be cut out of a Licensed Taxi, as it laid on its side. Alarm bells started ringing when it was revealed the driver had absconded from the scene. On investigation, the Taxi was found to be a fleet cab and the garage was in possession of the drivers copy Bill.
(A Taxi drivers license is commonly referred to as a Bill, because it used to be issued by the Met and not the DVLA)

The Bill turned out to be part of a batch that had allegedly "gone missing" during the move from the PCO in Penton Street to the new Palestra building in Blackfriars. Despite requests, no information about the accident has ever been released by either the police or LTPH. There followed a major security issue as more of the the missing Bills started showing up.

After reports that it had become common practise for many suburban drivers to work in central London using Sat-Nav technology, it was decided to introduce green and yellow ID badges. Soon counterfeit ID badges were appearing in the pubs alongside the stolen Bills.

TfLs answer to the stolen bills issue, was to change the design of the document and hope that the problem would disappear over a 3 year period. As for the copycat ID badges, LTPH stepped up document checks at major Taxi ranks around the capital.

TfL have used immense resources in dealing with the issue of Cloned Badges and Bills, but on the other hand, there has been hardly any reaction to the news that many PHV drivers have been illegally purchasing their vehicle license for cash from SGS. It emerged that batches of PH license roundels were found in a west London minicab office. Met police officers investigated the matter and two senior employees of SGS have been arrested.

We have been unable to determine if all the vehicles dealt with by the two employees involved, have been recalled and re-checked to see if the were indeed fit for service. This could involve many thousands of private hire vehicles that could be driving the public around London in a dangerous condition.

LTPH took no time in suspending the licenses of hundreds of LTC TX4 taxis involved in the steering box saga, but seem to be dragging their feet with any issues appertaining to private hire.

TfL and LTPH seem to be very tight lipped about the whole issue surrounded the roundels for cash case, but then again, going on the bias treatment we normally have to put up with from LTPH, we wouldn't expect anything else.


Earlham Street Experimental Road Closure, Seven Dials, Covent Garden

Camden is working with the Seven Dials’ Trust to make the Seven Dials area more attractive for residents and businesses as well as encouraging more people to walk and cycle.

Taxis and other vehicles use Monmouth Street, Earlham Street and Shorts Gardens as a short cut to avoid traffic queues on Shaftesbury Avenue. Therefore these streets are often busy with traffic which makes the area less pleasant for residents and businesses.

The Council would like to undertake a trial closure of Earlham Street at the junction with Shaftesbury Avenue (the closure would not apply to cyclists). In addition, it is proposed to change the direction of traffic in Tower Street to one-way eastbound (from Earlham Street to Monmouth Street). Therefore, traffic on Earlham Street would be able to exit Seven Dials via Tower Street and Monmouth Street (south). Traffic would also be able to access Shaftesbury Avenue via Mercer Street (west).

The closure would reduce traffic on Earlham Street and Monmouth Street (north) making these streets more attractive as well as encouraging people to walk and cycle. The closure is likely to lead to an increase in traffic on Mercer Street (west); however this route may not be as attractive to use as a short cut. The closure should also help to reduce congestion on Shaftesbury Avenue as currently vehicles turning out of Earlham Street block other traffic approaching the traffic lights.

The closure of Earlham Street at the junction with Shaftesbury Avenue will be on a trail basis for 6 months. During the trial, traffic surveys will be undertaken to assess the impacts of the closure. After the 6 month period Camden will make a decision on whether to make the closure permanent or not.

The following changes are proposed for a minimum of 6 months:
A. Close the exit of Earlham Street onto Shaftesbury Avenue to all motor traffic, except cyclists.

B. Change the direction of traffic in Tower Street to one-way eastbound (from Earlham Street to Monmouth Street).

C. Relocate 1 x residents’ parking space from outside 2 Tower Street to 1-5 Earlham Street. Parking and loading would then be banned outside 2 Tower Street to allow vehicles to safely turn into Tower Street.

D. Relocate 2 x Pay and Display parking spaces from Earlham Street to outside 31 Shelton Street. Parking and loading would then be banned in this small section of Earlham Street to help provide safe access for market trader vehicles to the closed end of Earlham Street.
The market trader’s pitches will also be standardised to a slightly larger size (4 metres x 2 metres) by extending them onto vacant pitches.

Source: Public Consultation November 2012.

We would be very interested to see the Joint Ranks committee and the United Trade Groups response to this consultation, if such a thing exists. We would be only too happy to post on this blog. M Holder.

Friday, January 18, 2013

North West Taxis, 100% First Time Pass Record For My Taxi Still Stands.

Again North West Taxis have done me proud.

Over the 11 years I've been going to them, I have had a 100% 1st time pass rate, when my Taxi has been presented for its yearly overhaul. And today was no different.

North West even paid the cost of certain warranty work that had been reported earlier in the year, but advised to wait for overhaul. LTC are paying for some warranty work under a so called good will policy, but it comes with strict guidelines. Many items that you would expect to be covered are considered as cosmetic and not essential.

However, when I picked my Taxi up I was amazed to see that it hadn't even been washed, let alone polished. The windows were stained with rain drops and there was splash residue on all side panels. Why have the standards of fitness dropped since SGS took over from the PCO.

The hose pipe ban has been lifted, but when was the last time you heard of a Taxi getting a stop note for being too dirty?

I remember in 84, having to re-polish a cab I'd spent a whole day valeting, because it had rained overnight and I had leathered it off. Steve from Kings Cross arches who was presenting my Cab to the PCO said we've got to give it another quick polish or they'll knock it back.

The PCO would fail Cabs that had dust on any surface in the interior.

Can't believe I have to now go to the car wash before I can comfortably pick up the public after being plated at SGS.

With major Taxi garages doing their own MoTs from March, will we be putting our lives at risk, renting a spare cab from a garage?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Yet More Incompetence From LT&PH.

Below is the response from London Taxi & Private Hire, regarding a complaint made against an All London Driver recently who claimed that a suburban driver had no right to accept a hiring from the Hilton Hotel Heathrow.

He then took the passenger out of the suburban drivers taxi and in the process gave him (the Suburban driver) a load of verbal in front of the passenger.

So what is the point of John Mason and Helen Chapman telling Suburban drivers to report these incidents if they have no power to investigate?

We now appear to need to rely on the Police and/or the Courts to inform London Taxi & Private Hire before they can take any steps to bring the taxi driver in question to task.

Why employ someone just to pass the information sent to them back to the sender and tell them to contact the Police.

Why not tell the complainant to go direct to the Police in the first place.

Yet more incompetents from London Taxi & Private Hire.


Dear Mr Xxxxx,

Thank you for your recent email regarding the conduct of a licensed taxi driver. Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you.

Unfortunately, London Taxi & Private Hire (LTPH) have no legislative power to investigate criminal offences including racial incidents. These complaints are investigated by the police, as they are the only UK authority with the legislative power to investigate complaints of this nature. I note that a number of witnesses can verify the racial abuse you experienced, and I would therefore encourage you to contact the Metropolitan Police at http://content.met.police.uk/Site/ContactUs.

If, following a successful police investigation and prosecution, the driver is convicted of racial abuse, PCO will be notified. This is highly likely to result in his fitness to practice being reviewed by the Licensing Authority.

I am sorry that I could not be of further assistance, however, thank you again for bringing this matter to our attention.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Alabdalla
London Taxi & Private Hire
Transport for London

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Exclusive News Flash: Nissan London Taxi Presented For Passing.

Unconfirmed reports have reached Taxi Leaks, that a Nissan NV200 Taxi was presented for licensing as a London Taxi at an SGS testing centre today.

It has been alleged that the vehicle presented, did not conform to the conditions of fitness as the door openings were not of the required width. It was felt that the doors were too small to receive certain types of wheelchairs.

This could be quite a substantial set back to the company who are planning to make the model generally available to the trade by October 2013.

Originally Nissan hoped to launch the NV200 London Taxi earlier in 2013 but put back the launch date to October so the front end could be redesigned to look more Taxi like for the London market.

The Last Remaining Morris Taxi Goes To Auction.

Having survived the Blitz as well as the addition of ballast in the form of an unexploded bomb, a car thought to be the sole surviving Morris London Taxi will make the journey to Brooklands for Historics’ spring auction on Saturday, March 9.



Originally an export model called the Empire Oxford and designed to boost overseas sales, poor demand from abroad meant many of the 1,700 vehicles manufactured were returned to the UK, with 840 re-commissioned for commercial use.

Built in 1929, UL8563, nicknamed Uncle Lima, saw 10 years of service accruing fares in the capital, before it was purchased by a farmer and adapted for use as a tractor to support the war effort.

During routine army maneuvers the hay rake it was pulling collected some scrap iron, which the farmer opted to add to the back of the vehicle to give greater stability, but when Uncle Lima was put up for sale postwar, the scrap iron was removed and discovered to be two unexploded mortar bombs and an anti-tank rocket.

Following restoration and a return to its former guise, Uncle Lima made a public appearance at the 1975 Commercial London to Brighton run, and has been in constant use since, competing at numerous rallies and events, as well as being put to good use as a family wedding car.

Featured in a book by Bill Munroe titled A Century of London Taxis, the car also appears in a 1933 motoring magazine advertisement used to paint a picture of typical London lifestyle, perfectly illustrating the historical significance of the last remaining Morris London Taxi.

Although based largely on the Morris Oxford, scaled up to fit a modified 13cwt lorry chassis and running gear, most of the Empire parts were retained and incorporated into the new cab, including the 15.9hp engine (2513cc), the four-speed gearbox and an overhead worm drive rear axle.

Strict regulations set by the Public Carriage Office led to a number of design peculiarities, with all cabs required to carry hay and water for a horse. Uncle Lima accommodating the hay in a box on the running board and water in the radiator.

Granting privacy to passengers, the car was prohibited from having a rear view mirror, while the folding rear hood was designed as a safety feature, allowing swift escape in the event of an accident, and the door handles were recessed to prevent injury in the event of a door slamming shut.

With Morris celebrating a century since the introduction of its first car, the Morris Oxford “Bullnose,” this unique car comes to auction with a comprehensive history file and a full MOT. With plenty of life to live and potential fares to take, Historics is anticipating strong interest and estimates offers in the region of £25,000 to £30,000.

For more information call 0800 988 3838, e-mail: auctions@historics.co.uk, or see the website, www.historics.co.uk.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Enforcement...What Enforcement?... By Jim Thomas

It's got to be the worst value for money, in the history of the taxi trade. A one million pound contribution from license fees to be set aside annually and used towards Cab Enforcement.

The present annual operating costs of the Cab Enforcement Unit are £4.1m. £1m comes from LTPH licence fees. Surely part of this enforcement should be used to protect the public. It's a known fact that sexual predators use illegal ranks outside night venues to source victims.

The lines of illegally plying for hire minicabs have escalated like a virus. Even at venues where sexual predators have violently raped passengers (Egg, Swallow Street, Spearmint Rhino, Fabrics), the lines of touts are treated as if completely legal by Police, LTPH, Cab Enforcement and local council wardens.
And yet Taxis, find themselves ticketed or moved on at every opportunity. The touts are left alone to get on with illegal practises and are given carte blanche to form illegal ranks, wherever they please.



No Response From Westminster's MP STC SNT.
Drivers are now reporting, no one is answering the landline advertised on Westminster Safer Transport teams website. Also after numerous messages left on the mobile line voice mail, not one driver has received a follow up call. This is a disgusting state of affaires when an obvious blind eye is being turned towards licensed Taxi driver and their concerns. This behaviour is leading to serious sexual assaults taking place on unsuspecting members of the public.


The Mets Westminster's Borough Commander, Alison Newcomb has some explaining to do. Perhaps every Taxi driver should contact their MP, to ask her why Westminster's Safer Transport Command and Safer Neighbourhood Teams are not responding to calls for enforcement and why they are turning a blind eye to the concerns of the licensed Taxi trade.

While a recent late night Tag Squad hit was taking place at the junction of Regent and Swallow Street, one of our more active drivers dropping a passenger in Kingsley Street, noticed a line of minicabs illegally forming a rank.

He approached to ascertain the situation and was immediately tackled by a compliance team from LTPH. After complaining and asking the officers to move these PHVs on, he was told that it is quite legal for the cars to wait, as a controller inside the venue, was dispatching jobs to the waiting cars. The compliance team then subjected him to a full documentation Badge and Bill check.

The driver has since complained and been told that the officer concerned, denies this allegation. We believe an investigation is to be carried out by LTPH.

Document checks by LTPH compliance teams, have been completely bias against Licensed Taxis, when compared to Private Hire vehicles. In one example recently posted, in the month of March, 373 Taxis had their documentation checked, as opposed to only 90 private hire vehicles. And yet there are well over three times as many private hire vehicles as there are Taxis.

So where has this enforcement money been spent.

Also, just a word to the board of TfL:
To charge enforcement fees to Licence fee payers is illegal and contrary to European Law.

As far as I'm concerned, I want the £35 from my license fee back and I believe LTPH should be charged with misappropriation of funds.


TRANSPORT FOR LONDON BOARD

SUBJECT: TAXI AND PRIVATE HIRE LICENCE FEES
DATE: 2 FEBRUARY 2012


1 PURPOSE AND DECISIONS REQUIRED
1.1 The purpose of this paper is to ask that the Board note the annual taxi and private hire licence fee review, which is proposed to take effect from 2 April 2012.
1.2 The Finance and Policy Committee considered a similar paper at its meeting on 19 January 2012 and endorsed the recommendation.

2 BACKGROUND
2.1 The Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, as amended by the Greater London Authority Act 1999, enables the licensing authority (TfL) to charge for taxi driver licence and taxi licence applications, and for licensing application tests and re-tests as well as charging for driver and vehicle licences. Changes to taxi driver and taxi licence fees do not require a regulatory change and may be changed by the Managing Director, Surface Transport. Since 2000, changes have been introduced to reflect the principle that licence holders and applicants alike should pay for the costs of the licensing resources they
use.
2.2 Licence fees are reviewed every year. The principle behind fee setting is to reflect the cost of carrying out each licensing activity without cross subsidy from one activity to another.
2.3 In accordance with previous practice, the Board will be asked to note a price freeze on all taxi and private hire application and licence fees.

3 LICENCE FEES
3.1 A review of licensing fees for 2012/13 has been undertaken based on the quarter 2 forecast for taxi and private hire licensing costs for the five year period to 2016/2017.

4 POLICING COSTS
4.1 The annual operating costs of the Cab Enforcement Unit are £4.1m. £1m of this came from TPH licence fees in 2011/12 and will again in 2012/13. While there may be scope in the future to increase the contribution made through licence fees towards the costs of operating the Cab Enforcement Unit, no further increases to the current £1m per annum contribution are proposed at this time.
4.2 Licence fees can only be used to offset the cost of policing where it can be clearly shown that the enforcement activity is enforcing taxi or private hire legislation.

5 PROPOSED FEES
5.1 It is proposed that a price freeze will apply for all taxi and private hire application and licence fees. This will be the third consecutive year that driver fees have been subject to a freeze and the second consecutive year for vehicle licence fees.
5.2 Over the past year, TfL has held several workshops with the taxi trade focussing on the Knowledge of London. These workshops were established to discuss ideas and initiatives for further improving the quality of service provided to candidates and to discuss different charging options for the process. The cost of administering the Knowledge of London process is currently subsidised by licensed taxi drivers by approximately £430,000 per annum. Through these workshops, feedback was received that increasing the fees for Knowledge applicants to reflect fully the cost of administering the process would not be desirable at this time as it would deter potential applicants. Consequently, it is proposed that these fees will not be increased at this time. However, TfL will continue to work with the trade on possible alternative charging structures in the coming year.

6 CRIME AND DISORDER
6.1 There would be Crime and Disorder impacts if the Cab Enforcement Unit is not adequately funded. The ongoing £1m contribution from moneys collected as licence fees will help ensure that the Cab Enforcement Unit can continue to carry out its valuable work.

7 FINANCIAL
7.1 The proposed freeze on licence fees, together with ongoing savings from efficiencies, should ensure that taxi and private hire licensing costs are met from fee income, as allowed by relevant legislation, without incurring a net cost to TfL.

8 RECOMMENDATION
8.1 The Board is asked to NOTE the paper and a price freeze on all taxi and private hire application and licence fees as detailed in this paper and a £1m per annum contribution to Cab Enforcement costs to take effect from 2 April 2012.

9 CONTACT
John Mason, Director of Taxi and Private Hire, Surface Transport
9.1 Contact:
Number: 020 3054 1537
Email: JohnMason@tfl.gov.uk




Moneybox junction: The West London traffic light 'trap' that rakes in £2.7m a year

Cameras trained on the yellow box on the junction of Bagley's Lane and New King's Road, West London, catch more than 100 drivers every day
Observations of the junction found that at least one vehicle gets stuck inside the box every time the lights change
Many receive £65 fines, which rise to £130 if not paid within two weeks
Similar traps could spring up across the country if councils have their way



They probably generate more sheepish looks and furious hand signals than any other part of the road network.

But this particular box junction infuriates drivers more than most.
Angry motorists have dubbed the cross-hatched area the ‘Moneybox’ after it generated £2.7million in fines for the local council last year.

A total of 40,634 penalty notices were issued to motorists in 2011-2012 – an average of 111 a day.
This is nearly three times the number of motorists caught out in the previous 12 months and more than five times the amount two years earlier.



Suspicious drivers have accused Hammersmith and Fulham Council, in West London, of designing the junction to deliberately catch them out and create a cash cow.
As a result, many are receiving £65 fines, which rise to £130 if they are not paid within two weeks.

Similar traps could spring up across the country if councils outside London have their way and win the right to impose fines for a variety of highway offences.

Drivers should enter a box junction only if the exit road or lane is clear. They can wait inside it if they want to turn right and are stopped from doing so by oncoming traffic or other vehicles queuing to turn right. Motorists are getting caught as they wait to turn right into Bagley’s Lane from New King’s Road, because they are not being stopped from leaving the box by oncoming traffic.

Motorists argue that the Moneybox – at the junction of fashionable but heavily congested New King’s Road and Bagley’s Lane in Fulham – has two sets of traffic lights which allow more motorists to enter the controlled area than can leave it.

Victims include Susanne More, who lives in Twickenham, South-West London, and has been fined twice. She said: ‘There’s something fundamentally wrong with the number of fines issued to drivers going into this junction. It seems the council has decided this is a really good money-making scheme.
‘The yellow box is far too long. It doesn’t give you enough time to get out and the signalling is awful.’
Musician Jonathan Majin added: ‘Drivers are frequently lured into the yellow box and trapped there by traffic lights. It is a complex, confusing and unclear junction.’
Fines are being issued to drivers heading along New King’s Road towards Chelsea. As they enter the junction, another set of lights 110ft up the road remains red for between 25 and 40 seconds.
Only four cars can wait legally behind the first lights, leaving the rest at risk of being spotted on CCTV. Tickets are automatically sent to the vehicle owner.

A council spokesman said no one would be penalised if they ‘just stuck to the rules’, but Transport for London said it would consider improving the junction.
About 20 councils have asked to take over enforcement of 26 road offences from police, including those involving box junctions, U-turns and cycle lanes. Critics say they will be used to generate income.

A few years ago, Hammersmith and Fulham Council had to pay back millions of pounds worth of fines when the scheme was first laid out. It was found by a campaign group that the road marking were illegal as they did not conform to the legislation know as the 'Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions' (TSRGD) 2002. The council was ordered to stop issuing fines and had to pay back all the fines previously issued.

There are clear guidelines which this box junction was in serious breach of, however the council applied to the Secretary of State and received special planning permission for the lay out.

The actual fine is for being stationary in the box junction for a period of more than five seconds
So If you find yourself trapped with no where to go, just keep rolling backwards and forwards until eventually you can leave the box. When appealing asked to see the video evidence which must be kept by the council. A photo graph is not proof that you stopped for more than five seconds.

If you need any advice one PCNs please use the sight http://www.ticketfighter.co.uk

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Is This The Shape Of Things To Come From Net Work Rail In London?

Roads shake-up paves way for fewer taxis in Waverley

NEW pedestrian crossings and roundabouts are to be built around Waverley Station to improve access when there is a reduction in taxi provision later this year.


Network Rail intends to cut down on the number of black cabs allowed into the transport hub as part of a Home 
Office anti-terror policy.

A complete ban was originally proposed but has been scaled back due to concerns that it would make access difficult for those with disabilities and young children in 
particular.

New measures – which are still awaiting around 
£1 million funding from the UK Department for Transport – include extended taxi ranks in the streets around the station and a new crossing on Waverley Bridge, along with improvements to pavements.

A new roundabout beneath North Bridge – at the junction of East Market Street and Jeffrey Street – would be built to manage the flow of traffic to the new pick-up/drop-off bays.

Provision for taxi stacking on Market Street will also be made to allow controlled access into Waverley Station.

Network Rail intends to reduce the number of taxis from around 27 at present to somewhere in the region of 12. Access to the station will be managed by an electronic barrier system.

Security changes are being made as part of a UK-wide programme to prevent vehicular access to all stations, due to concerns that a vehicle could be driven into a train or packed concourse.

Waverley has been granted a reprieve due its geographic position in the Waverley Valley. The taxi ban was originally scheduled for last year and due to the wait in funding is unlikely to come into force until after the summer.

Lesley Hinds, the city’s transport leader, said: “The council has been working very closely with Network Rail and I’m pleased to say we’ve come a long way since last summer when it seemed as though access to Edinburgh’s principal rail hub could be seriously compromised, particularly for less mobile station users.

“The designs the council has produced, coupled with Network Rail’s investment into new lifts and escalators, will make it much easier for everyone to access Waverley Station as well as improving the surrounding area with resurfaced carriageway and footways and a new pedestrian crossing at the junction of Market Street and Waverley Bridge.

“With up to three taxis a minute entering the station at peak times, it’s crucial that we find ways of managing the traffic on Market Street and Waverley Bridge. The proposals up for approval offer a range of measures which will do just this, as well as enhance the amenity of the whole area.”

A report detailing these proposed measures and requesting elected members’ permission to progress the £1m project will be considered by the transport and environment committee on Tuesday.

A Network Rail spokesman said: “Discussions with the council are progressing positively and we remain committed to removing unrestricted vehicle access from Waverley to improve security and enhance the station environment for passengers.”

Source
rory.reynolds@edinburghnews.com

Friday, January 11, 2013

None Enforcement Of Parking Regulations At Regent And Swallow.

Last Night, Thursday the 10 of January, private hire touts began illegally plying for hire in the bus lane just before the junction of Swallow Street, from as early as 10:30pm. The surveillance CCTV camera in the middle of the road at Vigo Street, pointing directly at the Touts parked up illegally in the Regent Street bus lane. The bus lane is in force till midnight and is restricted for the use of buses, Taxis and cycles only. After midnight it reverts to a double yellow line.

Our investigations show, it is the same minicabs that assemble at this point night after night. So it's safe to assume PCNs are not being issued to these vehicles, or they wouldn't keep returning. It is alleged, Westminster Parking Services (currently run by NSL ltd) has instructed it's wardens not to issue tickets at this location, so the touts are being given carte blanche to illegally plying for hire and tout.

GLA TO INVESTIGATE
We have contacted GLA assembly members and asked them to carry out an investigation as to why these vehicles are being allowed to break the law and why an agency that will soon be taking on the responsibility for licensing Taxis and PHVs, has instructed it's CEOs to turn a blind eye to the parking restrictions contraventions in Regent Street. We have been asked to supply all our evidence, which we have done.

After years of being left alone to steal work from honest, working Taxi drivers, it would appear the trade is no long willing to roll over and has united, deciding enough is enough. With this new found fighting spirit from within the taxi trade, the touts are being denied the chance of having it all their own way. Last night united cabbies again took up position, filling the ranks in the middle of the road. Hardly anyone leaving the clubs and bars in Swallow street went away in a minicab, almost all opted for a real, legal Taxi.

NEW SERVICES ON TWITTER
Regular updates were put out, giving details of availability of rank spaces on twitter utilising the new @Tag_Hit_Squad and @UCGup accounts. Both offer a free service to all cabbies that is easy to use, plus there is no joining fee.
Just follow on Twitter and when you have been confirmed you can join in. Regular work and traffic updates are also given out and so far over 500 drivers have taken the opportunity to signed up to these accounts.

The Tag Hit Squad even has a channel on an iPhone app that works like the old CB radio. The app is called Zello and can be downloaded from the App Store. This is real fun and breaks up the monotony of a quiet night.

Soon we may be seeing multiple hits as this group expands and more volunteers get involved.
As a famous man once said: This isn't the end, its not even the begging of the end (as there is so much more to deal with). But it is the end of the beginning.

THE BEGINNING OF TRUE TRADE UNITY
We haven't won the war yet but we are winning the opening battle.
Get involved
Take the work back and starve out the touts.


GOOD NEWS
Yes your eyes are not deceiving you, there is some good news. A new rank for two Taxis has been situated bang outside the exit to the restaurant/bar The Collection in Brompton Road by Brompton Cross.

A veritable hot spot of touting activity, thousand of jobs are lost to minicabs illegally plying for hire outside. All you have to do is service this rank and the customers will use you, they want and prefer real Taxis after years of being ripped off

Last night I went to the restaurant to take a couple of snaps and even though the Bar wasn't open, I got a walk up. So did I get the first official job of this new rank? Did anyone beat me?



Thursday, January 10, 2013

Record number of taxis loaded at Las Vegas airport

The arrival of the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show this week helped shatter a year-old record for the most taxis loaded in a single day at McCarran International Airport.

Airport officials said that on Monday, 17,084 taxis were loaded at Terminals 1 and 3. The previous record was 14,495 on Jan. 5, 2011, also during CES.

During the peak of arrivals on Monday, customers waited 30 minutes to board a cab, officials said.

Officials speculate the increase could be attributed to more airport arrivals and a larger loading area at Terminal 3, which opened in June. Shorter wait times for taxis also contributed, because fewer people gave up waiting for a cab for other transportation options, officials said.

McCarran officials also said that for 2012, 3.3 million customers boarded cabs at the airport, 2 percent more than in 2011 and also a record.

There are 16 cab companies that serve Clark County, but some are not authorized to pick up passengers at the airport.

Swallow Street Tout Free For All: Tag_Hit_Squad Fights Back.

Last nights action at Swallow and Regent, put the smile back on my face.

I felt something I haven't felt for a long time, Pride. 

Pride in my fellow drivers, who decided enough was enough and just went out and took back the work from the band of thieves operating unhindered by police or parking wardens, too frightened to move them on or dish out tickets. 

I worked the rank at swallow street most of the night. It was great to see drivers from every trade org uniting, in spite of the current climate between their representative group leadership. When drivers unite irrespective of representative group, we are unstoppable.

I took this opportunity to engage with the customers.
It seems they are only too willing to take real taxis, as they have been constantly been ripped off by these licensed touts. 

Example:
One punter was asked £20 to Novikov, a journey that normally costs under £7 in a real Taxi.

But the people who use the facilities in Swallow Street, don't like waiting around. They will use these illegal services if we are not at hand.


Some time ago Westminster council carried out a survey on behalf of TfL. They found that customers leaving late night venues would get into the first transport they see outside, when leaving a bar or club. The late night revellers interviewed, believed minicab's have the legal right to pick up in this manner as this is the way it has worked for nearly a decade under TfL.

Westminster's conclusion was, the best way forward was to install Taxi ranks outside night venues with the point Taxi as close to the main exit as possible.
These findings were never acted upon by TfL. Possibly because they thought it might affect the revenue from the escalation of license applications that were flooding in. 

Its highly dangerous for customers who, more than likely have been drinking, to cross such a busy road as Regent Street to get into a Taxi. Therefore, a kerb side night rank for three Taxis, 11 pm till 4am, (similar to the one in Charing Cross Road by Bear Street) should be Installed ASAP. The rank could be fed from the middle of the road and enforced by the CCTV camera at Vigo Street, fed from Rank in the middle of the road, with the occasional visit of CEOs from Westminster Parking Services.

Last night proved there is a need for such a rank.

If we put on and service this rank, they will use.
Although It started off a bit slow around midnight, it picks up and runs well from about 1 am.

Don't engage with the touts! Keep it legal:

The private hire touts have started to get very aggressive. I was assaulted with in minutes of arrival by a couple of minicab drivers, as I collected registration numbers, so stay in your Taxi.

We have been informed by individual CEOs from NSL that Westminster Parking services has instructed it's wardens not to ticket the touts as their officers were regularly being assaulted.
They will now only attend if accompanied by Police officers which in the current political climate, is not high on the met's priority list.

If NSL cannot enforce parking at this location, what makes TfL think they are the right company to take over licensing of Taxis and Private hire vehicles from SGS?

Taxi Leaks is in possession of emails to and from NSL and Westminster council which backup our claim.

<B>We will be contacting our GLA members to investigate these claims.</b>


We will also be contacting the Media both Papers and TV, although we have in the past been let down badly by both on numerous occasions, so wont be holding our breath.

Please help your fellow Taxi drivers, don't just sit back and let others do all the work. If you see a hit on a club or bar, join in and help take the work back.

Follow @Tag_Hit_Squad on twitter for updates. Run on a similar line to CabUp only Taxi drivers need apply.




Only took four of them to get me in the road</>