I sat in the Kings Cross Taxi Centre last night chatting to my normal crowd. Most in their mid 60’s to early 70s. Drivers I’ve respected and looked up to throughout my 41 years service in this trade.
Drivers who willingly fought tooth and nail, with no questions asked, to kept this trade going strong for many years. I’m proud to call this drivers my friends.
I remember standing shoulder to shoulder with them when we
- Banged up the car park at the GLC City hall (an operation the military would have been proud of)
- Converged on Marylebone Council House to protest against Westminster Council’s proposed licensing of minicab offices in the West End (a protest boycotted by the LTDA)
- Stood firm outside Stringfellows and the Hippodrome when they installed the first minicab booking desks
- Blocked in Mr Ali’s touts at Cranbourne Street
- Stood together against the touts outside the Sports Cafe
- Formed the first ever impromptu flashmob at Hanover Square
- And protested many times at Nobu, Tiger Tiger, Abacus, On Anon plus much, much more.
We stuck together, had respect for each other and were part of the reason this trade was recognised everywhere as the premier taxi service, the iconic jewel in the crown, voted world’s best Taxi service six years running.
But as they say, time waits for no man or indeed this veteran band of brothers who have become a dying breed. Many already gone, their true grit and courage lost to the trade for good. Sad thing is, there’s no new blood, no young, strong, capable leaders stepping up to replace the old brigade.
As our leading characters disappear at a rate of knots, look what’s happened to our trade, our radio circuits, our ranks, our livelihood?
Who’s gonna take their place.
The driver who nips passed you on the inside and nicks a job ?
The driver who take a job beside you, as you sit patiently queuing on a rank ?
The driver who’s only worry is about the next pound note ?
The drivers who don’t want to talk about the mess we’re in ?
What’s left has the appearance of a trade with no heart, no appetite to fight back, no time to demonstrate, no etiquette towards their fellow drivers.
Half the trade, are happy to follow Orgs that have distinct conflicts of interest, who indulge in excluding more militant groups and members, but worst of all, have no idea how to fix the situation we find ourself in.
Definitely not the trade it once was, now broken and demoralised.
In a recent interview on London Taxi Radio, John Mason admitted he put together the engagement policy, because it was his job to get the Mayor’s clean air strategy past. An agenda which included the Taxi age limit. His policy split the trade and has enabled TfL to walk all over us.
After Mason outlived his usefulness, TfL made it clear he would be sidestepped, which left him no option other than resigning. The engagement policy is now dead in the water, but in its wake, has left the UTG locked in a power struggle and constanly at each other’s throats.
Exclusion is still the order of the day with the United Trade Group. Seriously, what benefits can possibly be achieved by keeping the trade divided.
Only Oddy, McNamara, Kelly, Davis and Cox know the answer.
With a truly united trade, we could of had TfL quaking in their boots.
Instead, we got them pissing their pants laughing at us.
Our friend Semtex said, when the final battle comes, there will be no one left to lead.
Best Taxi Service In The World ? … Not Any More.