Saturday, October 10, 2015

Press Release From The UCG, Regarding Demo Suspension.

The Next Steps

The UCG Committee agreed to suspend one of the remaining three demos to give the Metropolitan Police Cab enforcement unit, the Metropolitan Police and TfL Compliance Officers a chance to prove to us they have got the message. The message is a simple one Enforce the Law, this is an all encompassing statement. There are many facets to it, but the message is ANYTHING that PHVs shouldn't be doing must be dealt with promptly and not for a month, but it must become the new "Normal".

 That's Touting, Cruising and responding to Hails, Vehicles being driven by persons other than the person the PHV license appertains to, the correct insurance, Apps circumventing the law. One of our demands was an E-Hailing policy, this has still not been addressed and we haven't forgotten this. But we need to start somewhere. The "somewhere we are starting" is on street operations. The UCG will accompany both visible and undercover compliance officers and the cab enforcement teams.

 The Police have shown an interest in the serious allegations about Uber that have been "popping up" all over twitter, we have between 10k and 12k logged now, some not so serious, just gripes, others are very serious. Senior Met Police officers have asked us to hand over the evidence we have so that they can investigate the serious issues. The very same list that TfL didn't want to see back in the spring of this year.

 Another of our demands was a cap to the number of PHVs, our legal advice was different to both TfL and LTDA's lawyers. TfLs barrister QC Chamberlain will meet with our Barrister to find the best solution and discuss ways to fix this.

 You have seen how much resource the police were instructed to throw at our last demo in Victoria. That level of deployment is seriously expensive and not one they can sustain without other budgets being robbed (peter to pay paul).

 The Police are far more serious about dealing with this than TfL ever were. Perhaps Boris doesn't want this level of disruption, who knows what is going on behind closed doors? What is apparent to us now is that this problem is on everyone's radar.

 There is a saying, "speak softly and carry a big stick" This was always our approach, you cannot negotiate a settlement from a position of weakness (or perceived weakness). This is why in all our dealings with the authorities we will maintain that we ALWAYS reserve the right to return to the streets if promises are not delivered.

 But why would they make any promises if no matter what they try we continue to demonstrate?

 The issue we must now address is... Do we continue regardless of the assurances we are getting? The last time we suspended our demos we stated we reserve the right to return to action. We also told them it would be an escalation. And did we escalate it!

 As a sign of good faith we suspended ONE of the remaining three.

 The Hogarth Roundabout to Hammersmith and Back to Hogarth is going to cause significant disruption. Trevor Merralls our campaign manager is under a lot of pressure from the Met to confirm whether the remaining two demos will go ahead. They have to do a lot of resource planning to cope with this.

 But as a democratic organisation We ask you the members for your input. It's up to you...

 Are we going to agree to suspend the remaining two demos? or not?

 The UCG committee will meet with senior Police Officers and TfL Compliance heads next week. Between now and then the committee will formulate an acceptable response requirement. We will ask for KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure the response to this problem with dates and tangible, measureable outcomes. Ask all parties in the meeting to sign up to these or amended KPIs as agreed and add a caveat that if the KPIs are not being met we ballot our members to return to the streets.

 The question to our members is:

 DO YOU want this? or do you want to continue with demos 5 and 6?

 The Police are asking for our response. They need to plan if these are going ahead.


 We had assurances that Parliament would intervene, they are still working on this, but our clocks run at different speeds.

The authorities know we will return to action if this problem isn't dealt with because we did just that recently.

Our demos cost more to police than putting warranted enforcement officers on the streets to tackle touting.

 Currently the police are on our side.

TfL bosses have egos bigger than buses, but we are out maneuvering them, going around and above them.


TfL bosses are still in denial and that isn't going to change anytime soon.


Public opinion at some point will tip against us (although everyone I spoke to currently supports us)

One final thought:- In military tactics there is a tactic called "leaving the gate open" 

 If your enemy is in retreat, leave them somewhere to retreat into. If you don't they will fight to the death and leave scorched earth.

 I have tried to make this a balanced discussion for you to consider carefully.

But it's our members who have the vote.... We are here to guide, advise and serve.

Len Martin, Chairman United Cabbies Group.

Misinformation, PH Consultation and the Seven Samurais Deregulation of the Cab Trade

An Open Letter To Mayor Boris Johnson, From Taxi Driver, Paul Salmon:

Dear Boris Johnson

I am writing regarding the immense pressure that you must be under regarding the Public and Private hire taxi trades and the other new kid on the block.

There appears to be much misinformation going around...

I saw some interviews of late between Steve McNamara of the LTDA and various oppositions. One point in particular came across quite ignorant from an interviewer strongly addressing the point on the 5 minute wait rule; she said it absolute bonkers to suggest that it is in the consumer’s interest to wait on the side of the road in the rain late at night as a vulnerable lady while her driver can’t pick her up because he has to kill five minutes to adhere to the proposed rule!!!!!

She is absolutely right why would anyone who wants a cab immediately want to wait for a “pre-booked minicab” when a taxi can be obtained in exactly the same way and can pick up immediately? At least the trades can agree on that one.

The Public Taxi industry and the Private Hire Minicab industry are 2 different services that are choice for the consumer. 

The former provides a public service for Londoners, Tourists and Disabled People and is fully regulated with a professional driver that has undergone an additional driving test, disabled requirement test and extensive knowledge testing. The driver must use a purpose built vehicle and is compelled to accept pick-ups, display a valid insurance certificate and use a meter that is set by its regulator. 

This service is for those who want an immediate ride without booking or notifying a separate operator and those confined to a wheelchair.

The latter is a private pre booked service that offers a partially regulated service that does not need to display insurance nor be a purpose built vehicle and is not compelled to take passengers including disabled and are also given the choice of what they can drive and charge and can vary the amount by personal choice throughout the day. 

This service is intended as a pre-book service and the driver will arrive at your location at your request via an operator. This service is usually cheaper on longer journeys.

Consumers have a choice and the Private Hire Consultation proposals are there to help improve the services. Technology is embraced by the consumer as we move into the digital age and the consultation is set up to improve safety and make the industries more viable and help give clarity to the laws.

If the five minute rule is not in the consumer’s interest it is no cause for tech firms to demonise the consultation entirely.

The consultation gives TFL the regulator the chance for public feedback. There is much animosity in the trade at the moment that needs addressing.

In order for the Public Taxi service and Private Hire Operators to continue to exist such clarity as defining a pre-booked service to an immediate pick up service need to be defined. A five minute stipulation is a very relaxed proposal to a pre- booked service. If consideration such as waiting for the car to arrive is off set against the 5 minutes then one can hardly refer to it as a pre-booked service in comparison to an immediate hiring.

Picking up off the street without the need for an app for private hire vehicles is also a subject that crops up from time to time. What is seen as a pathetic attempt for the Public Taxi industry to halt competition or as inequality needs to be addressed. As there is no issue with Private Hire drivers to apply to become Public Taxi drivers this makes a level playing field and leaves nothing in the way of equality.

Competition is not an excuse for a Private Hire driver to use his services the same way as a Public Taxi driver does or a Public Taxi driver to take advantage of the same lesser requirements of a Private Hire driver. Drivers can compete within their own industry for competition, such as Addison Lee competes with Carrot Cars. Taxi drivers and Private Hire drivers should not be seen as competitors as Bus Drivers are not seen as competitors to Taxi Drivers.

The Public Taxi industry would collapse if no clarity between the Public and Private industries was in place.

The measure of deregulating the Public Taxi industry would make both Private and Public Taxi industries and the Consumer suffer; the disabled requirement and the regulated meter would cease to exist.

 Foreign tech apps (that bear no responsibility as can be found in one particular app’s terms and conditions) will takeover and corner the market; congestion will grow and extortionate fares that can be fixed at the operators/work allocators leisure would be the norm as they become the glorified regulatory body and London would suffer as a whole.

The consultation is there as a way of communication it is not intended to stifle tech apps, suck up to cabbies or operators nor is there is rewind the clock on technology. It is about fairness in the industry and improving consumerism. The consumer must not be snared from corporate giant industries into thinking that traditional taxi drivers are a bunch of luddites. 

Many drivers love the new technological advances such as taking different payment methods; taking pre- bookings from responsible tech apps and picking up e-hails that are offered through these apps. What Private Hire operators and Taxi Drivers don’t like is how the regulations are being relaxed to make way for corporate oversea giants that just want to label us ancient, anti-tech and jealous out- dated over-priced dinosaurs! When it is they who are trying to stop the private hire consultation from going ahead as they see public consultation as a threat!

Paul Salmon 

Friday, October 09, 2015

Stop The Roundabout ! Semtex.

I note that after the overwhelming success of the UCG's Demonstrations, TFL Senior Compliance Officers and The Police Service have "promised tougher and more effective enforcement measures".

I am not a UCG member, although I am one of their biggest fans. Neither was I present at the meeting held at Scotland Yard either, so have no knowledge of what was said. However, I am positive that the UCG officers in attendance heard enough to satisfy them that postponing the next demo would be appropriate. 
Whatsmore, the UCG take a membership democratic vote on such issues, and I applaud and agree with their strategy.

Had I still been a member though, I would have voted against postponing the demos, and I will tell you why.

TFL and the Police tell lies ! They are not to be trusted in any way whatsoever ! Do you honestly think Senior Compliance Officers at TFL and Met Police Officers will actually initiate any realistic and robust enforcement measures ? Course they bloody wont !
They just don't want us demonstrating, that's all, and will say whatever, to keep us quiet !

Maybe it would have been a better plan to say that we would call the demos off, when you show us at least 12 arrests and convictions this Friday night for illegal touting FIRST ? That's not an unreasonable target is it, for an inflated Enforcement Team ?  I would get that many on my own!
This roundabout structure that we have worries me. We seem to make progress, rally the troops, get dug in and gain the upper hand...............and then stop to listen to the fraudulent deal bargains ! We lose momentum, gain nothing and have to start motivating ourselves all over again ! Round and round and round !

I'm still patiently waiting for Tom Watson to come back from the "Summer Rising" ! He promised to fart wonders and shit miracles! What he promised us in return to stop the demos was mind boggling ! Is he still alive ?  We haven't heard from him since ! 
Course we haven't ! Just another tranquiliser dart fired into our hides as we pick up a cohesive and worrying momentum for TFL.

I'm not against having a deal, don't get me wrong. But have a deal AFTER WE HAVE SEEN EVIDENCE OF INTENT ! NOT BEFORE ITS GIVEN !

I am only assuming here, but I would guess that Len Martin and his team would have assured immediate and heavier demo retaliation if TFL's and The Police promises failed to emerge. But the Met and TFL know that rallying our trade and re-deploying logistics are far more difficult to start from scratch, than when we are on a roll. Attitudes, support, confidence, camaraderie , logistics, etc are all much more potent when launched from an optimistic and rolling tactical position.

Negotiators and Operational Commanders at the Yard will know this only too well.
They attend courses on it !

The UCG bent over backwards to appease the Bronze Control Police Commanders on last week's demo. And look how they repaid us! We gave 100% gentlemanly compliance, acted to every word of the letter and they still reneged on their deal, ruined the demo and shafted us good and proper ! We didn't put a foot out of place and was totally compliant.......and they rumped us !

Its a pity they couldn't have taken a leaf out of the book of The City Of London Police, who treated us professionally, courteously and with respect. In return, their compliments were reciprocated by our trade. This politeness and respect works both ways and when it is practised in good faith, is very effective. I raise my hat to the Bronze Control City of London Chief Inspector, he was a thorough gentleman.

As I said at the beginning, if I had still been a UCG member I would have gone against the vote to stop the demos. I don't trust TFL or The Met one little bit. Why should I ?
That said, I would have respected the membership vote and supported and backed up the UCG to the hilt.
Even though I am not a member, I still do and will continue to support the UCG. 

I am totally confident in Len Martin's leadership and support him vigorously. Obviously, I will go with the flow on this, but believe in my heart that this will prove just another stalling tactic by the shysters out to kill us.
I know I'm a bit of a dinosaur on occasion, but I just don't trust them to do what they have promised, that's all. I may be totally wrong and unfair not to trust them. They may be sitting in an office at the Yard, enthusiastically planning tonight's onslaught of thousands of illegal mini cabs. Westminster Magistrates will be packed out on Monday morning ! 
On the other hand, it may be what it usually is......all Bollox !

We will just have to see, it shouldn't take long to find out.

And as the cat said when it shit behind the door......That remains to be seen !

Be lucky all.

Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock, 

8829 Semtex.

Letter to Editor: Regarding Legal Sean Day.

I have always considered the best approach would be for the Orgs to use a one person, as a catalyst, to file a case against TfL for breaking a trade agreement. It is TfL's responsibility, as regulator and arbiter, to uphold laws that Parliament (for now) deem fit to keep in place. Instead, TfL has overseen, and wilfully facilitated the devastating destabilisation of the licensed taxi industry. 

More than 30,000 Private Hire licenses issued in 2 years is deterministic of their intent to enable an off-shore corporation, to elbow it's way, en- masse, into a well organised, well established, stingently regulated industry. TFL also granted them concessions that fall outside of TFL's own Private Hire Act 1998 in order to do so (something they still won't admit to). By doing so, TfL permits a rogue operation (if it was Dalston cabs they'd have been shut down in a second) to infract upon the instant hire market. This rapid onslaught is severely effecting the sustainability of the licensed taxi trade

The near destruction 24,000 hard working, individual businesses is nothing short of political and business abuse. As we speak Leon Daniels is still granting legitimacy to the heavily invested corporation, which continues to overwhelm an already saturated market. The ensuing result has detrimentally impacted on the ability to meet the running costs of maintaining a compulsory purpose built vehicle. As it is part of TfL's remit to maintain potential earnings to meet said running costs, and because they have failed to do so, TfL are in breach of their role of regulator. 

A regulators position is not so dissimilar to that of an employer. Effectively, TfL have irreparably fractured a long standing trade agreement. Not once did they enter into negotiations with any relevant trade bodies, not once did they communicate with the workforce, and in an organisation that is drowning under the sheer weight of consultation management b******t, not once did they consult about imminent sweeping changes to prevailing standards. 

Like I say, the trade needs to indemnify a catalyst, just one person is all they need to take out litigation against TFL for reneging on a trade agreement. Whether explicitly or implicitly, written, verbal or non- verbal matters not, as TfL dictate the fare we charge and the vehicle we use. A precedent could be set for the tsunami flood gates to be opened......any takers? 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Update From The LTDA To Its Members.

Members Update

Dear Member

As you will have seen the PH Reg's consultation announcement by Transport for London (TfL) has prompted a massive reaction from Uber and their lobbyists. Some of the media coverage can be seen at

Uber are trying to brand TfL and the Mayor as being anti technology and bowing to pressure from the 'Black Cab Mafia' as they refer to the LTDA. The truth is that these proposals have come about following the recent consultation which you, and many members of the public responded to and are good sensible clear proposals to ensure the publics safety when using minicabs in London.

Uber have already secured over 150,000 signatures on their website after telling their customers that these proposals would mean the end of Uber. The scare tactic email makes no mention of TfL's efforts to ensure the car is insured or that it would be a requirement that Uber give a fixed price to customers and that it would almost certainly mean an end to surge pricing!

It is vital that all of our members, every cabbie and as many friends and family members as possible respond to and support the changes proposed in this consultation and to assist you in doing this I will be sending out a detailed email next week.

On a different note the High Court declaration on the taxi meter case was heard on Monday. TfL and Uber's lawyers argued very strongly that Ubers use of a smartphone to calculate fares does not make it a meter and the LTDA's team along with those from the minicab industry trade group, the LPHCA, argued that it was. We anticipate a judgement shortly, but irrespective of the verdict the case will almost certainly be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Best Regards

Steve McNamara

General Secretary

TfL Twitter Account Caught Lying To The Taxi Trade...Again.

When asked on their Twitter account why there is not a level playing field when it comes the DBS checks across the board with Taxis and Private Hire drivers. 

The @TfLTPH account, assured drivers that "Every single private hire driver in London including Uber drivers has done an enhanced DBS check - It's a requirement of the licence.


Please could they explain how you get an enhanced DBS check on an applicant who has only lived in this country for a few months?

Does he person on this account know the difference between a CRB check and an enhanced DBS check?

One driver decided to check these statements and submitted a FOI request and guess what... The stamens made by TfL's Twitter account was in fact a lie.

He is the FOI request received:

71 ph drivers who couldn't be given an enhanced DBS, mainly because they haven't been in the country long enough, who have submitted PH driver applications, have been allowed to mearly submit a certificate of good conduct. 

At present in India, these certificates of good conduct are available to anyone, regardless of passed conduct, for $300.

So the truth is 71 PH drivers have been licensed by TFL, with no proper background checks in 1 month.

Back in 2012, Taxi Leaks posted a story, of a Mr M Hakizimana, 41, alleged by the UK Border Agency's War Crimes Unit, to have helped Hutu soldiers kill members of the Tutsi ethnic group during a million person genocide in 1994.

The Home office was well aware of this man for a number of years but nothing showed up in his CRB check, as he was an asylum seekers. Asylum seekers are excluded from any type of background check.

And so, under the watch of former TfL commissioner Sir Peter Hend and LTPH Director John Mason, this man wanted in conection with mass murder on another continent, was judged a fit and proper person to hold a Private Hire Licence. 

His case was subsequently uncovered by a national newspaper. He had been working for an operator in East London for some time and as far as we know this man, wanted for international war crimes, is still driving a minicab.

A few months earlier, Taxi leaks posted a story about a Taliban fighter in Dhani-Ghorri in northern Afghanistan who told the Guardian he lived most of the time in east London, but came to Afghanistan for three months of the year for combat.

"I work as a minicab driver, in east London " said the man, who has the rank of a mid-level Taliban commander. "I make good money there in the UK, you know. There are many people like me in London," 

He added. "We collect money for jihad all year and then come and fight if we can."

Makes you wonder, when you summon an Uber Car, just who's driving you ?