As yesterday afternoon drew to a close, the trade was shocked to hear the news that the meeting regarding the rank at Winter Wonderland (WW) took place without reps from the UTG, who were excluded by TfL.
As a member of both the RMT and the UCG I know exactly how that feels.
But nothing was said to the waiting trade who were under the impression that the org or union they pay their hard earned money to in the form of subscriptions, were at his meeting fighting for their right to ply for hire at the main exit of WW on South Carriage Drive (SCD) and not nearly a mile away in an almost deserted, badly illuminated part of North Carriage Drive(NCD).
It wasn't until around 5:30pm, that we were informed the trade orgs were not included in the meeting.
Shortly after 6pm this email from TfL was made public on social media:
Email from Tfl re WINTER WONDERLAND.
Unfortunately the Royal Parks Authority would not agree to amending their current taxi rank location, regardless of the various benefits to having the rank at SCD for passengers, mobility impaired passengers and the trade.
I understand that this is not what you and your members wanted to hear, which is why I have instructed Nicole to set up a sight meeting between the Parks Authority and the Cab Ranks Committee at their earliest convenience to look to expedite the current situation. Nicole has just emailed them, so as soon as this is arranged she will be in touch with further details. ENDS.
Around 8pm messages went out on the Flash Demo twitter feed that drivers should attend en masse at the SCD entrance to WW at 9pm.
By 9.15 hundreds of Taxis had answered the call and had formed a massive rolling rank just back from the gates. The Public were coming out and using Taxis.
WW and the Royal Parks had coned off a space by the entrance, obviously for theirpreference of PH cars
But the space remained empty as cars were put off firing an illegal rank by the presence of so many militant Taxis.
By 9.30pm the old bill had arrived and tried to move on the taxis. But after just a few minutes discussion with a few of the drivers their attitude changed.
We were told that they would be making a report, advising the old rank be reinstated as it seemed to be the preferred choice of the public, leaving the event. Around 9:50, the police left the Taxis to it and departed.
To be honest, Taxi drivers should not have to be doing this. This should have been sorted out months ago.
It's a complete disgrace that our so called representatives, the ones who have the ear of TfL, the ones who are party to an engagement policy that excludes others, left this so long.
It's no good saying, "Oh, we didn't know. No one told us". Your members pay you to be in the know.
Funny how you get meetings with London Assembly members at City Hall, attend meetings with the Mayor, splashed all over your publications yet can't attend a ranks meeting with TfL.
TfL normally put out a ranks update leading the run up to Christmas. Did no one in the Joint Ranks Committee think it strange that this year, there was just silence. TfL failed to answer emails on the subject and it seems we will soon have a similar problem at Victoria Park, where no rank facilities are in place for the fourth coming WinterVille event.
At the time of writing this post, we have been informed that a site meeting is to take place between TfL, Ranks Committee and Royal Parks. No date has been given just as soon as possible.
Taxi Leaks will keep you informed of any progress on this issue, meanwhile please follow these twitter feeds for up to date info:
Well done to all drivers who took part in last nights Flash Demo, I was very proud to be there to see this fight back from rank and file drivers, showing the UTG what true Unity looks like. No one was excluded from Flash Demo and no one ever will be.
If we still have no word by 9pm tonight, I believe we could see an even bigger Flash Mob.
Remember what Bob Crow used to say:
If you fight, I can't guarantee you will win.
But if you don't fight, I guarantee you will lose.