Formally The Anderson Shelter...An Around Midnight Publication ©2012-2014.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Uber Drivers, Working Tax Credits And Housing Benefits... By I'm Spartacus

     As the man said 'you could not make it up'

Über a non British, non UK taxpaying company, has a labour force that through the tax credit and housing benefit system, make any meaningful comparison with our price and cost model meaningless.

Just you try and pop down the DSS or whatever it's called today, probably  Übercash and say 'I am a London taxi driver struggling to make ends meet can you help?', expect to be slung out immediately.

So before we all join in the well known motto of the cab trade 'well what can you do', maybe there is something.

We start a campaign to have the HMRC and benefit rules adjusted so that if you're a PH driver you cannot access working tax credit or housing benefit.

Why should we (the British Taxpayer) living in a country where old people are dying for want of social care, along with recent proposal to tax the disabled, stand for it any longer?

Why should we subsidise a foreign registered sweatshop?

Why should we standby and watch these pirates raid the public purse?

This is a campaign that all of us and the public will get behind.

I'm Spartacus.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Letter To The Editor. New Home For LTPH + Why Would Geely Invest In Dying Trade.

Morning Jim.

I have been an avid reader of your columns for a number of years now. I am a knowledge student and I am nearing my journey as a student and looking forward to becoming one of London’s finest. 

Im confused with what I am reading, firstly if the taxi trade is under so much pressure from outside companies (I.e, UBER, ect) and most of all TFL why are they designating a new refurbished office at 280 Blackfriars Road specifically for the trade/knowledge students?

If the time left for the trade was getting short and they had no interest in us, why would they invest all this money on a new building for it to fail (if that’s TFLs plan). And secondly why is there a brand new taxi building company about to open creating thousands of jobs and a whole fleet of new taxis, surely no manufacturer would go near the Licensed taxi trade – they must of done there research to invest all that money into building new taxis and the millions in a new factory. 

As from the start I did say I was confused and taking into account I’m not yet on the front line and get all my taxi information from you guys and LTDA magazine and the snippets I hear on the road.

Anyway if you could answer my question I would really appreciate that and look forward to your continued articles.


Ross Thomson. 

Editorial Comment:

The answer to your first question is simple.
Firstly, let me point out the new building is not at 280 but 230 and is not just for the Taxi trade and Knowledge appointments. It will house the whole of the TPH directorate, plus there will finally be a return to counter services , last seen at Penton Street, before the move to Palestra. 

Although TfL are in the process of overseeing the demise of the World's Best Taxi service, they have also expanded the PH fleet to a point whereby the end of 2015 could well see them in the 100,000s. Palestra was no longer viable and another building was deemed necessary. 

Your second question is however a paradox. 
It's also not a pretty picture with the long term future of our trade, looking extremely bleak.

With the demise of the trade as a viable occupation for full time Taxi owner drivers, Taxi Leaks is of the opinion that the end game of the Mayor/TfL is to whittle 25,000 Taxi drivers down to just a few thousand journey men, all working for garages, hiring out Geelys new TX6 vehicles on half flat at extortionate rates. We will just be there to please the tourists. Account work will go to PH operators and the right to ply for hire will disappear under new measures from the Law Commission. 

The remaining Licensed Taxis will only be able to work from designated rank spaces which will be maintained by commercial third parties selling permits. 

Taxi driving will no longer be a trade for life and will become more like New York, where drivers come and go, many not bothering to renew licenses once expired. It will become an intransigent job, drivers depending on SatNav, with the knowledge reduced from years to weeks.

Too many drivers get their trade info from a sterilised Trade media source. Too many drivers do not have the apatite for confrontation, for fear of upsetting the public who have shown their loyalty towards our massive investment in purpose built wheelchair accessable vehicles, by deserting us in huge numbers. These same drivers are now on a path of self denial and self blame, stating cut rate cheaper fares, Credit Cards, all black cabs and a dress code is the answer.

The public have been allowed by TfL to desert us and use an illegall instant hail service, who's modus operandi depends heavily on drivers claiming working tax credits and other financial benifits. 

Who can possibly make a substanable living charging £33 from Hoop Lane Golders Green to Gatwich?

As for Geely, they are investing in Coventry as a European base, to produce vehicles designed with the whole European market in mind. They will hold London up as the Jewel in the Crown, a model of how the Licensed Taxi market can be manipulated for the greatest profit. Further age limits will be introduced to generate demand for new vehicles with older vehicles sold on to third world markets who also have  massive pollution problems.

Don't forget this factory has an output of 34,000 vehicles a year. Geelys priority will be building its Eco-Van, with Taxis as a side line.

This has never been about a solution to pollution. As the Yeo scandal illustrated, its profit generated, for the benifit of certain individuals with financial interests.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

David Cameron: Visiting the London Taxi Company with Boris Johnson

A question I would like to ask both David Cameron and Boris Johnson:

You've both bent over backwards to facilitate a foreign company that disregards all forms of regulation world wide and in the words of your own London Assembly members should never have been licensed in the first place.

One who pays its Tax in Holland and has driven down the earnings of the London taxi trade to a level far below he seasonal norm.

Who the hell do you think is going to be able to afford these new greener, cleaner Taxis?

More Smoke And Mirrors From TfL, As Val Shawcross Calls For Action On Minicab Touting.

Assembly member Valerie Shawcross, has called for more to be done to stop illegal touting by unlicensed cab drivers.

              Assembly Member Val Shawcross celebrating St George's day

The Labour assembly member said touts are "getting away with it all the time", adding: "There are two cab-related sexual assaults a week and touting is all part and parcel of that risk." 

This number as this blog has pointed out many times befor, is just the reported cases. Met police estimate that up to 90% of attacks go unreported, which could equate to as many as 20 minicab related sexual assaults weekly.

She also complained the problem is "massively under-enforced, with only 14 TfL compliance officers on duty at night".

Worst still were the reports from the Chairman of the LCDC Grant Davis, that one particular Saturday night when he was working, there were only 2 cab enforcement officers available on duty.

Speaking at the a mayors Question Time at City Hall yesterday, Mr Johnson said she had made "a valid and powerful point" and insisted efforts would not just be redoubled but "multiplied many times" to improve matters. Unfortunately a broken promise heard many times before from Boris.

"I'm going to put my hands up here and say we need to be doing more," he added. (Didn't he say that last month/last year/the year before?)

Helen Chapman, general manager of taxi and private hire, said the English language test was being examined as a possible way of improving minicab services for Londoners. How on earth can TfL justify licensing a person to deal with the general public who doesn't speak the countries language, it's unacceptable and scandalous. 

                        Helen Chapman, former Deputy Director LTPH

She said: “There is currently no statutory requirement for private hire drivers to speak a specified level of English, although all drivers must undertake a map reading test conducted in English. This statement doesn't hold water as TfL can evoke their powers to reject any applicant under the fit and proper person requirement.

"We are always looking at ways to improve the service we offer to our customers and we are putting forward a proposal to introduce a new English language requirement that all drivers must meet before becoming licensed.  

It's amazing how quickly amendments were made to the London cab act to put IDs on the statute, yet this argument has been dragging on for years. Presently, there seems no political apatite to solve this issue.

"This is one element of a wide-ranging consultation on Private Hire Regulations that we expect to launch in the near future. And that's the key words "In the near future", a term that neatly always's been shelved. More proof that the present directorate at TfL have been and still are woefully inadequate. 

There are rumours that a knowledge examiner has been suspending for refusing to see knowledge students using interpreters. 

Letter To The Editor : Towards Trade Peace.... By I'm Spartacus

There have been encouraging signs of late that the trade organisations and unions whilst they might not all be singing the same tune, at least have gathered around the same piano.

Trade politics will always attract a heady mixture of the sincere, pompous, deranged or down right shifty, no matter the more we meet together the less those with self interest can prosper.

The next steps must be as follows:

1. An agreed trade wide 'manifesto' is published.

2. The Joint Ranks Committee is reconstituted to include those currently excluded, even the existing members would admit it needs new blood and more people.

3. Any and all talks with TfL, The Mayor, BAA , London Councils etc. must have representation across the trade and those who currently attend this or that should agree not to unless the others are included.

4. Government, Mayor, GLA and TfL etc. informed that this new trade body (London Taxi Congress?) is the 'voice of the trade'.

5. It won't mean that everyone goes to every meeting except those that do carry a mandate from us all and report back to us all.

Of course some will have to surrender some perceived status and others not.  Some will have to 'sell' their organisation or union on its benefits, democratic structure etc. etc. It should of course always have been so and some need to set aside personal ambition, old hatreds or just plain obstinacy.

There can be no more pathetic 'we're in your out' nonsense that only serves those who wish to see us divided and in fact, diminishes us all.

So trade leaders, can you now walk the walk?

To paraphrase:
"Think not what the cab trade can do for you, but what you can do for the cab trade"

Here's hoping.

I'm Spartacus

The most honest cabbie in the world? Taxi driver hands in forgotten bag - containing £10k cash

We've all left things in Taxis - mobile phones, spare change, the odd shopping bag.

But one Taxi driver in Walsall ended up with a rather more valuable forgotten item - a bag containing £10,000 cash.

Mohammed Nisar picked up one of his regular customers from Hereford at Walsall train station and drove him to his normal destination of British Car Auctions in Green Lane, thinking no more about it. However, soon afterwards, a call came in from the council saying that something important had been left behind.

Thinking nothing of it and without looking inside, father-of-three Mohammed simply reached for the innocuous looking shoulder bag and placed it on the front passenger seat.

It was only when the flustered passenger returned to the rank in another taxi less than half an hour later that he realised something was out of the ordinary.

"He nearly had a heart attack, he was really worried," said Mr Nisar, aged 55 from Hatherton. "He came up to me and said 'do you realise what is in that bag?'.

"He was very, very thankful. He had just bought a car but forgot the money."

It is not the first time Mr Nisar, who has been a cabbie for 15 years and works for himself, has found things in the back of his car.

Mobile phones regularly slip out of pockets, while purses are also frequently left behind. Only two years ago one passenger left a wallet containing £150 in, but Mr Nasir drove straight back to the man's home in Darlaston and returned it.

Now, following his latest find, he is urging fellow taxi drivers to do the same if they find themselves in the same situation.

Mr Nisar said: "At the end of the day honesty is the best policy. There are some drivers who don't return things but what is the point.

"If the council had not have called me and no-one had have claimed it after 12 or 24 hours I would have taken that bag straight to the police station. It is better me going to them rather than them coming to visit you.

"Mobile phones are the most common thing left behind but most of them now can be traced anyway.

"My message is to encourage all my taxi driving brothers that if they find something valuable just give it back."