Friday, October 31, 2014

Dover Street Wine Bar Closed After 35 Years, Sold To Novikov For £1m.

Well-known West End bar Dover Street Restaurant and Bar has closed after being sold to a Russian restaurant chain.


The site has reportedly been bought by chain group Novikov, for a lease of more than £1m, according to the London Evening Standard. It is not yet known when or if the group plans to open the site.

The London newspaper reported that a notice on the wine bar door stated: “It is with deep regret that Dover Street Restaurant and Bar has officially closed, following the passing of its owner in July…thank you for your custom…and for all the great times that we have shared together in this very special place.”

The wine bar has been in operation for over 35 years, and often attracted celebrity clientele. It also regularly played live music.




Uber, not as cheap as some may think, new survey shows,

London is the fifth most expensive city to travel around, according to research by online transport platform Go Euro.

The company ranked 60 of the world’s major cities based on the cost of their urban transit options including public transport, taxis and peer-to-peer platform Uber.

London’s average cost for a public transport ticket was £4.68 for a single journey while a 10-kilometre taxi ride cost £17.91 and a similar length journey using Uber was £20.78. So, people standing by Taxi ranks and using their phones to call up an Uber car, are paying more in most cases than if they just jumped into the Taxi on point.


Only Stockholm, Zurich, Gothenburg and Rotterdam were more expensive for similar journeys, while Manchester ranked as the 18th most expensive for urban transit. 

Public transport cost £2.58 per ride in Manchester while taxi and Uber journeys were £12.94 and £12.61 respectively. Again not such a great saving while standing about, watching vacant Taxis drive by while waiting for an Uber car to locate you with their sat-nav.

The top 10 cheapest cities were dominated by Asian hubs with New Delhi, Mumbai, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City taking the top five spots.


Anti Piracy Campaigner Branson Sinks Small Fortune Into Pirate Car Ride Share Service...by Jim Thomas


After seeing the failure of his North America investment in Hailo and still wanting to be involved in the people transportation business, Sir Richard Branson, has invested a small fortune in a San Francisco based ride-sharing service "Sidecar". 

Sidecar has announced the $15m funding injection will help them roll-out of the service nationwide. The ride share service allegedly allows users of a smartphone application to share car journeys.

Technology website ZDNet has reported Branson as saying: 
“Technology has turned transportation on its head, it’s fundamentally changing the way we get around. We don’t need to own cars; services like Sidecar can get us around town. Sidecar is developing an everyday travel solution that sits side-by-side with public transit.”


While Branson has been seen to be a massive anti-piracy campaigner in the music business, most people in the Taxi industry would consider sidecar to be no more than a pirate car service. 


Thursday, October 30, 2014

City Hall Tories call for midnight traffic light switch off.

London’s transport bosses and local councils have been urged to switch traffic lights off over night to help cut journey times and reduce pollution caused by car emissions.


Conservatives on the London Assembly suggest the move would cut vehicle emissions by ending cars sitting with engines idling at red lights and reduce delays by 2,251 hours every day.

They also claim drivers would see time and fuel savings worth £40m by 2020

The recommendation is contained in a new report published by the group today which calls on Transport for London and the capital’s local boroughs to pilot the proposal during daytime off-peak hours.

TfL is also urged to regularly review traffic lights on roads it controls “to see if any are redundant.”

Richard Tracey AM said: “Every year Londoners waste over 170 million hours sitting in traffic, costing London’s economy £4bn. Many of these journeys in our city are unavoidable.

“But rather than hurting motorists with ridiculous charges and taxes, we should look at innovative ways to cut congestion and make traffic flow more smoothly.

“Turning off traffic lights at night, like they do in parts of Europe and North America, is one measure which would boost the economy and help the environment.”

Editorial comment:
I have been an advocate of turning off certain traffic signals at night for many years. That was until TfL started to fill the night streets with untrained, unprofessional drivers, who spend most of their time looking at the screens on their smart phones or sat-navs, rather than looking where they are going. Drivers with scant regard to any road signage let alone traffic lights.


While there are many junctions that could be better managed and some would even benefit by having the lights removed, personally I believe it would be irresponsible and dangerous of TfL and the local councils to turn off all the signals at night regardless. 
TtT.

  Martin Hoscik MayorWatch URL: wp.me/pjXdQ-9nf

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Minicab driver jailed for ‘appalling’ sex assault on passenger.


A pervert minicab driver who carried out an “appalling” sexual assault on a passenger has been jailed for six years.

David James still maintains he was innocent of the terrifying attack on the vulnerable woman in the back of his minicab in the early hours.

Recorder Simon Taylor QC told the 72-year-old great grandfather that drivers were in a position of great trust.

“You breached that trust in the most foul way by taking advantage of this young woman – of her being alone and in drink,” he said.

“I have no doubt whatsoever that the harm will be lasting to some degree. There are also elements of degradation and humiliation.”

James, of Sturdee Avenue, Gillingham, denied assault by penetration but was convicted last month.
Maidstone Crown Court heard James was working for a Chatham minicab firm when he drove the woman, 25, and three friends home from a nightclub in November last year.

She was the last to be dropped off in the early hours. As she took the change from her fare the father-of-three he kissed her, thrusting his tongue in her mouth.
She dropped her purse in the footwell and then found James had joined her in the back.

She tried to escape but James kissed her again and put his hand down her top. He then lifted her dress, pulled down her tights and assaulted her.

The victim told of being left in a “sobbing heap” and said she afterwards repeatedly showered and scrubbed herself because she felt so unclean.
James claimed the woman was “up for it” and twice snogged him. He insisted nothing else happened.

He said: “I was a bit surprised getting a kiss from a young girl. I thought: ‘Happy birthday.”

Asked if he sexually assaulted the woman, he replied: “No, definitely not. I am a bit old for that.”
Recorder Taylor said he had given anxious consideration to imposing an extended sentence for public protection.

But he added: “Although your attitude to women, and in particular to the victim, is appalling and gives rise to real concern to a risk of reoffending, I don’t think you meet the criteria for an extended sentence within the Act.”

A sexual offences prevention order was made and James’ name will appear on the sex offenders’ register for life.

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


From A Legal Perspective: Solicitor Ted Mercer's View On The Uber App.

I shall be upfront about my preferences in this area.  I like London Black Cabs.  
A number of times they have saved my bacon in delivering me to some unknown destination in the Metropolitan area that I would never have found by myself in time for whatever meeting or Court hearing I have had.  
Moreover, although some of them can be a trifle surly from time to time, the majority of cab drivers I have consistently found are helpful, pleasant and often an unexpected fountain of knowledge.  
This blog, however, is prompted by not taxis I suppose but by the Uber App and a service which enables you to hail a car by app and then have the price of the journey calculated by the distance from the point of pick up to the point of drop off.
What I am about to comment is actually prompted by the Chairman of the Commons Public Accounts Committee suggesting that the Uber App is in someway anticompetitive.
The starting post for my examination of the law as it relates to the Uber App is however to look at the situation from a different perspective.  
It’s a wonder Transport for London (“TFL”) may consider that it does not need to licence Hackney Carriages but that, as they say, is not the point.  
The point that TFL needs to consider is that whether in so acting, not whether it is doing what it is required to do by the general law, but whether or not in terms of Competition Law it is actually discriminating against Hackney Carriage drivers.
Why should they have made to go through “The Knowledge” and maintain their cars in a certain way and keep to the, one might say, relatively archaic rules relating to London cabs, most of it dating from the 19th Century and governed by a set of 1934 Regulations.
The fact is that when it comes to controlling who effectively applies for hire on City streets the person in control of the market is TFL.  
That is because they have a public duty in respect of both transport generally and of public safety in respect of certain forms of transport and in respect of enforcing the law.  
It is, with respect, not good enough to want to argue that new, particularly internet borne, forms of competition should not be subject to unnecessary regulation but rather why should you subject existing forms of competition (i.e. taxis) to regulation?
Nobody should take this as a plea that Hackney Carriages are no longer regulated in respect of their ability to publically apply for hire.  I am actually specifically not arguing that it is unnecessary to licence Black Cabs.  I think they are a wonderful feature of London life and personally I would very much not like to see competition drive them out of the business.  
When it comes to a legal analysis of the situation that they face themselves over Uber and the app the position I think they need to adopt is to argue how they are discriminated against.
TFL needs to be faced with a scenario where there is a free-for-all as being the only way to go forward, not one group that can do what they like and one group that is subject to a form of regulation which even in Dickensian times was probably regarded as onerous.
What TFL has to acknowledge is that it is the person who controls and is the dominant player in the market.  It controls competition and having that dominance it needs to use it in a way which does not lead to discrimination.
Now TFL is probably then going to try and utilise the unappetising argument and say that it is an excuse to abuse a dominant position by exercising discrimination to have to comply with UK Legislation.  Compliance with UK legislation is a Competition Law “get out of jail free card”.
I do not think, however, you need to be a genius to move to a position where Hackney Carriage Legislation in fact needs to be struck down as being incompatible with EU law on competition.  
If push comes to shove, maybe that is what the taxi drivers might just do but I would suggest that it would be a brave Mayor of London and, in terms of “Yes Minister”, a politically courageous Mayor of London who would abandon the Hackney Carriage legislation.  
I think Londoners, and indeed visitors to London, rather like Black Cabs manned by people who, in the majority of cases, indeed the vast majority of cases, seem to know where they are going.
The result of the Uber App question may be that all regulation of cabs disappears.  One wonders, in an existential sense, if that is a place any Mayor wants to go.

Mablaw.com



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Boris Wants To Launch World’s First Ultra-Low Emission Zone

Yesterday, the Mayor launched a public consultation into the ULEZ which he claims will half emissions in the capital by 2020




Now watch Dave Davies from Cabbies Against Boris, interveiw on London Live


Dave Davies tells London Live about Boris's record so far:

In the six and a half years he's been in office, Boris introduced the low emission zone and the Taxi Age limit. Neither were evidence based and as a direct result of the failure of these policies, there's been no reduction in emissions. Curently in London, over 80 people die each week from pollution related illnesses.

Looking forward to the Ultra Low Emission Zone, Dave predicts it will be exactly the same unless the process, the decisions of the Mayor and TfL are evidence based. He said the only way this will happen, is if there is a public inquiry into the failure of these policies and what can be done to address this.


He went on to say there are things that could be done immediately that aren't being done. In Sweden they use a clean diesel that reduced pollution by 30% in all diesel vehicles instantly, why hasn't this been adopted here?

Boris seems to be accountable to no one and there needs to be some accountability before decisions are made.

This is a must watch interview as Dave Davies is the first person to actually speak up for the trade that makes any sense on this issue.


Monday, October 27, 2014

TfL Notice 12/14 Ultra Low Emission Zone Consultation.


Transport for London (TfL) on behalf of the Mayor of London is launching a public consultation on the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London. The ULEZ would improve air quality and public health, reduce CO2 emissions and help stimulate the market for low emission vehicles. The consultation will be open for 10 weeks from 27 October 2014 to 9 January 2015.

Everyone has their part to play in improving London’s air quality and public health. In a survey about air quality in London conducted by TfL earlier this year, respondents indicated that all vehicles types should be included in measures to improve air quality, including taxi and private hire licensees.

If approved by the Mayor, the ULEZ would require all vehicles driving in central London to meet specific exhaust emissions standards (ULEZ standards) in order to drive in the zone without paying a charge. It would operate in the same area as the Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ) and operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

This would be in addition to the Londonwide emissions standard for heavy vehicles which is already in place under the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

The ULEZ charge for non-compliant light vehicles, such as cars and vans, would be £12.50 a day. For heavier vehicles, such as lorries and coaches it would be £100 a day. It is proposed that the ULEZ standards would be enforced using the existing camera network and failure to pay would result in a penalty charge notice. ULEZ charges would be payable in addition to any applicable LEZ or CCZ charges.

The ULEZ proposal would also require changes to the taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) licensing requirements. Together, this will mean:

• All new taxis and PHVs must be zero emission capable from 2018;

• A 10 year maximum age limit for non zero emission capable taxis from 2020 (irrespective of date of licensing). All taxis will be exempt from the ULEZ standards;

• Zero emission capable taxis will have a 15 year maximum age limit;

• All PHVs driving in central London must meet the ULEZ standards from 2020 or pay a daily charge.

In considering the impact of the reduced taxi age limit, the Mayor and TfL are proposing a specific fund to assist taxi drivers to replace their vehicles. We will work with representatives from the taxi and PHV trade in order to shape how this funding will be apportioned. We will share more information on this when it becomes available.

In addition, we have been in regular dialogue with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to ensure their new £500m funding allocation specifically supports taxi and PHV drivers to purchase zero emission capable vehicles. This is in addition to a supporting fund for on-street rapid charging infrastructure.

For further information about the ULEZ and to provide us with your views about the proposal please visit our website at 
tfl.gov.uk/ultra-low-emission-zone 
or alternatively email 
ultralowemissionzone@tfl.gov.uk.

Helen Chapman 
General Manager
For previous Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/tph Transport for London

New Style Licences, New IDs And New Holders. PHV Numbers Reach All Time High...by Jim Thomas



Drivers are now starting to receive the new style Licences and IDs. 

Included in the pack are new style ID pouches with an indent, to make removal easier. The IDs have a slight pigment on the reverse, but once inside the pouch, the new pigment is almost unnoticeable.

the new drivers licence has a broken foil strip down the right hand side which unlike the one found embedded on bank notes looks like it has been printed on. The licence now carries the bar code which should match the ones found on the ID cards. 

The driver's photo is slightly smaller than on the old licence and the word Taxi has been removed from the TfL roundel.

Unlike the previous new issue licence, you are reminded that it is an offence to refuse to carry a guide dog unless you have a specific medical exemption. The accompanying letter also states that the IDs are not to be tampered with, laminated or altered in anyway. Clear instruction is given as to where the IDs should be displayed.

From the 17th of November 2014, it will be mandatory to display the new identifiers and we are informed that any driver displaying old identifiers will be subject to compliance action.

I have never had a problem with displaying an ID to let the public know I am licensed for the area I'm actually working. But I feel uncomfortable displaying my badge number so prominently. 

Why does our badge number need to be so large?


 PRIVATE HIRE PARADOX  
Clause 10 has recently been abandoned from the deregulation bill currently going through parliament. This would reflect the view that all over the UK (excluding London), it is deemed a huge safety issue and that only licensed private hire drivers should be driving licensed private hire vehicles.

Unfortunately for the traveling public in London, TfL say that anyone can currently drive a private hire minicab around the capital, whether they are licensed or not. 

Because of this factor, it then seems incredible that the only mandatory notification on a PHV, to show that it is in fact a licensed vehicle, is an unreadable yellow roundel, that nine times out of ten is obscured by tinted windows. 

Even though the Taxi trade have to have a purpose built vehicle, carrying both a registration number plate from the DVLA and also a TfL Hackney Carriage plate, it seems strange that we should also need our badge number emblazoned on the ID card identifying the driver.

Considering the security status we currently find ourselves in, only TfL licensed registered drivers should be allowed to drive minicabs. PH drivers should also be identifiable and should be matchable to a particular vehicle by means of their badge number, displayed on front and rear windows.
If it's good enough for Taxis...then it's good enough for PH. 

TfL recently announced that PH driver numbers currently exceeded 71,000. A recent FOI request by Taxi Leaks staff, has uncovered that in the first six months of 2014, there were over 8,600 new PH driver applications granted.

              
    HOW HARD WOULD THIS BE TO IMPLIMENT?


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Uber’s ride-sharing service was halted Friday, just hours after it launched in Nevada.

Uber’s ride-sharing service was halted Friday, just hours after it launched in Nevada.

Carson City District Judge James Russell blocked Uber from offering any rides in the state through at least Nov. 7. A hearing is set for Nov. 6.

The state’s attorney general sought the temporary order late Friday afternoon.

State and county taxi officers also were trying to stop the Uber drivers earlier in the day, but managed to do so on a much smaller scale.

On Friday afternoon, at least five drivers — four in Las Vegas and one in Reno — had been cited by regulators, according to Teri Williams, spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Business and Industry. Those drivers face fines of up to $10,000, Williams said.

Uniformed officers were at the Fashion Show mall on the Strip late Friday to meet Uber driver Michael Elsner with a ticket.

Five unmarked white Nevada Taxicab Authority vehicles surrounded his blue Ford Focus as he was driving east on Fashion Show Drive about 3:30 p.m. He was pulled over while trying to drop off two passengers. Two undercover officers wore black ski masks.

Elsner appeared annoyed but handled himself with humor.

During a call to an Uber hotline operator, he told officers and reporters, “They’re [Uber] worth more than $18 billion. Do you think the Nevada Taxicab authority is going to win? I mean, Come on, come on.”

He continued by telling the operator what happened. “It’s like a sting. It was crazy, man. They had one cop on the front telling me to get out of the car, if I had any drugs. It was wild.”

When asked by the operator if he needed anything else, he told her, “I want my car to be taken out of impound as soon as possible because I have to go to work tomorrow morning, but I know that won’t happen. And I don’t want to have to pay any fines so put some of that $18 billion you all have behind me, will yah?”

Elsner politely thanked the operator before hanging up the phone. His Focus was on top of a tow truck at 4:30 p.m.

Uber western region spokeswoman Eva Behrend said in an email Friday that the company will pay the fines, at least for now.

“Uber vigorously defends the rights of our partner drivers and firmly stands by them when they are wrongly cited or impounded. We will cover any financial or legal costs associated with these unjust actions,” she said.

But she did not respond to an email seeking comment on the court action.

Tom Ely, recently appointed interim director of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, said most citations Friday resulted from tips to authorities, but that Uber cars are easy to find.

“Uber does have an app out there that can be viewed and we can see where their vehicles are,” Ely said. “Since they don’t have the certificate of conveyance so they can operate legally in Nevada, we’re taking the proper enforcement action.”

Philosophical differences have driven the debate over Uber and other ride-sharing companies seeking to operate in the state.

Regulators say Uber drivers are transporting people without a license, which goes against state law.

But Uber management says the company is a technology platform that connects people who need rides to drivers who can provide them. They say they aren’t a transportation company and the drivers who will operate in Southern Nevada are independent contractors who sign an agreement that enables them to use the company’s app, which also provides electronic payments from the passenger to the driver.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Colton Lochhead atclochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Find him on Twitter: @ColtonLochhead. Contact Ricardo Torres at rtorres@reviewjournal.com and 702-383-0381. Find him on Twitter: @rickytwrites.


Milton Keynes Minicab Clipboard Johnny charged with touting.

The Daily Mirror reported that Sohail Masood 34, put on a yellow high-vis jacket with ‘Book a Cab Here’ on the back and approached people at a train station, ahead of waiting black cab drivers

A court heard he had already clashed with rival drivers outside the rail station in Milton Keynes, Bucks, on a previous occasion before he was arrested.

Masood, who owns Northants-based ‘Starline Cabs’, was found guilty of soliciting people for private vehicle hires.

It is believed to be the first time the Crown Prosecution Service has managed to secure a conviction for the charge, commonly known as ‘taxi touting.’

Dad of two Masood, from Milton Keynes, told the city’s magistrates: “The first time there was an incident between myself and taxi drivers there.

“The black cab drivers were not very happy about it. They were shouting at me and pushing me to try to stop me from what I was doing.

“I stayed calm and did not retaliate. I was just doing my job.”

He said on that occasion police attended and calmed the situation down and told him to move on to diffuse the situation.

Masood insisted that he did not approach anyone and only booked ‘minicabs’ for customers who approached him 

as the council had told him he could legally do.

Prosecutor Matthew Knight said: “You wore a high visibility jacket that said, book your cab here’. 

“Which means that your actions were enticing people to come to you and book their ‘taxi’ with your company.”

Shiraz Rustom, defending, said Masood was a reputable businessman of good character.

He said: “Mr Masood faces losing his livelihood for something he made the effort to make several checks on about whether he would be breaking any laws. 

He believed his actions were within the law.”

Although Masood was convicted, he was then given an absolute discharge, meaning he faces no punishment because the magistrates said he had tried to find out if he would be acting within the law.

He was ordered to pay £150 court costs.


Mirror survey: Should touting for passengers be a crime?  Click here to take part and read this story on the Mirror website


Editorial comment:

Over the years there have been many convictions and there is much case law, but for illegally plying for hire. 
Many touts have been arrested most take a police caution. 

This is the reason why it's imperative "plying for hire" must be defined in Law when the Law commission finally submit their report.

This is the first conviction for Touting and has indeed set a  precedence.
But again there is much wrong with this case.
Ignorance of the law, should not have affected the sentence. 

We waited many years for LTPH to bring a case of touting to court. They always said that it would be a dangerous area. 
Mason and Chapman said they were waiting for an open and shut case.....they took Diamond Chauffeurs to court....and then lost.

Unfortunately, there is no appetite from TfL to seriously enforce against touting or illegally plying for hire. Once convictions statistics start mounting up, everyone would be able to see the scale of the problem. TfL prefer to stay low key on this. 

Complaints are misplaced, no arrests=No problem 
FOI requests return same answer, "we don't keep statistics on these issues"

The police see this as a low priority and in some cases, actually facilitate touting. Same with councils. 

Let's hope that now we finally have a first conviction, that we can now go forward from here on.  



Uber Arrives In Las Vegas Today...battles with taxi companies loom.

Technology company Uber has arrived in Las Vegas and plans to launch its ridesharing service today, a move that could spark an all-out battle with local taxi companies intent on keeping the competitor out of the market.


Uber’s launch is timed to coincide with this weekend’s Life is Beautiful festival, which will draw tens of thousands of people to downtown Las Vegas. The company expects many will be looking for rides to and from the festival grounds to avoid parking headaches. The service should be available starting around midday and company spokesman Lane Kasselman said, p hundreds of drivers are already signed up to offer rides.

Uber has made lots of fans as it’s rolled out its service, which allows users to order a ride through a smartphone app to more than 100 cities across the country since launching in 2010. Before today, Las Vegas was one of the largest cities Uber hadn’t launched in. The company is also launching its service in Reno and Carson City.

Uber officials were coy about what took them so long to arrive in Las Vegas, stating only that they were waiting for the right time to launch. Experts have said that Las Vegas’ highly-regulated taxi industry and unique structure of the market, that 95% of the region’s 26 million cab rides take place at the airport or on the Strip, making it a more challenging environment than most cities.

The app works by connecting riders with a network of independent drivers, who use their own vehicles to transport passengers. The rides are touted as being 10 to 20 percent cheaper than a traditional taxi ride with faster pickup times.

Uber drivers will not be allowed to pick up riders on the Strip or at the airport, although they can drop off passengers at those locations. Instead, the company says it will focus on outlying residential areas it considers underserved by traditional taxis.

“We’re focusing on launching for people who live and work here,” Kasselman said. “There’s no question about the Strip having lots of transportation options, but the people that actually drive the economy in this city don’t have those options.”

Uber shies away from comparisons with taxicab companies, maintaining that it’s merely a technology platform that connects users in need of a ride with drivers willing to share their vehicle for a price.

Uber’s success in other cities has made it some high-powered enemies at taxicab companies. Las Vegas taxicab operators have argued for months that Uber’s service would be illegal if launched in Nevada.

Uber has pushed back against these claims, and Kasselman said the company is confident it can legally operate in Nevada. In fact, Kasselman argues, state regulations don’t even consider a service such as Uber, leaving a gray area that needs to be further defined.

Uber’s presence in other cities has drawn fierce challenges and many lawsuits in cities such as Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco, but the company has largely weathered the opposition and continues to operate in those cities. In many cases, new regulations were passed specifically addressing and legitimizing the ridesharing model championed by Uber and similar companies such as Lyft and Sidecar.

In Nevada, Uber will have to contend with the state’s powerful taxi lobby, which has given more than $3 million to political candidates since 1990, the highest amount of any state in the country, according to data from the Sunlight Foundation.

For now, the company is not launching its Uber Black service, which involves luxury town cars, in Nevada because state law requires those vehicles to be booked at least an hour in advance and to include a minimum fare. Neither of those requirements fits in Uber’s current business model.

    Source VegasInc

Friday, October 24, 2014

Questions In The Commons.


John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead, Labour)

What steps he is taking to improve passenger safety in taxis and private hire vehicles.

 

Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport); Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative)

The Government’s principal role in relation to taxis and private hire vehicles is to ensure that the legislative framework and the guidance to licensing authorities are fit for purpose. Our best practice guidance for licensing authorities stresses the importance of adequate safety checks and enforcement to ensure that these services are safe.

 

John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead, Labour)

But the Government are also planning to allow taxi operators to subcontract calls to other taxi operators without consent. What implications will that have for safety, especially for women?

 

 

Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport); Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative)

All the taxis will have been licensed, albeit by a neighbouring authority. I cannot see the difference between getting into a minicab in York to go to Scarborough, so I am being driven around Scarborough in a York minicab, and a firm in Scarborough ordering a York cab for me because it is so busy owing to the success of our resort.

 

Julian Smith (Skipton and Ripon, Conservative)

I urge the Government to look one more time at the provisions in the Deregulation Bill, which is currently before the Lords. In northern towns such as Skipton, taxis have been a key part of the problem of child sexual exploitation.

 

Robert Goodwill (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport); Scarborough and Whitby, Conservative)

It is up to licensing authorities to carry out all the necessary checks. If people who are not the designated driver are driving vehicles, it is a matter for enforcement. The changes that the Government propose would make no difference to that.


Editorial comment:

Robert Goodwill mentioned the word "ENFORCEMENT" twice in this report.


When any authority dishes out licences/permits/authorisation, etc, it is absolutely essential that that authority has a stringent and efficient ENFORCEMENT programme fully operational and effective, built into the structure.


Without it, abuse and total breakdown of compliance is the obvious outcome.


London is a classic and prime example of what happens when a Government Authority dish out licences, without first ensuring that an adequate and effective ENFORCEMENT programme is backing it.


TFL have an Enforcement Team, but we have seen them in operation, absolutely woeful.


I have extensive contacts in elite security operations, and believe me, if any of TFL's Enforcement & Compliance Team gave their CV's to my contacts, they would be laughed out of town !


Massively inadequate compliance, ludicrously off target most of the time and an appalling rate of successful prosecutions.


So although Robert Goodwill mentions the need for active enforcement, actually acquiring a professional unit capable of serving the remit, is a different ball game.


8829 Semtex