We have called this protest to raise awareness for the recent excellent GLA report “Future Proof” We do not want this report to slowly sink off the radar, so we are raising public awareness for the dangers to public safety as outlined in the recent GLA report.
Also a point of note, we (UCG) chose the venue of Oxford St so as not to cause disruption to the public as only taxis and buses are allowed on Oxford St during daytime hours. So as to cause as little public disruption as possible we chose this route and outside rush hour too.
However we have been told that we are only allowed 15 Minutes to protest by the police because TfL believe we will cause public disruption. We have contacted Liberty the campaign for human rights and they are aware of our plight. They will take this up on our behalf if the Police prevent us from staging an effective protest.
“An Ordinance for the Regulation of Hackney-Coachmen in London and the places adjacent” was approved by Parliament in 1654. The first hackney-carriage licences date from 1662, and applied literally to horse-drawn carriages, later modernised as hansom cabs (1834)
During the 20th century, Motor engined Taxis replaced horse-drawn models, and the last horse-drawn hackney carriage ceased service in London in 1947.
UK regulations define a hackney carriage as a taxicab allowed to ply the streets looking for passengers to pick up, as opposed to private hire vehicles (sometimes called minicabs), which may pick up only passengers who have previously booked or who visit the taxi operator’s office.
The metropolitan police were the guardians and licensing authority of the London Taxi trade until Ken Livingstone as Mayor placed the responsibility for licensing and regulating Londons Taxis under TfL in 2000.
This was the catalyst for the worlds finest Taxi trades’ decline into the dire state the Taxi trade finds itself in today. Over the last 14 years TfL under the responsibility of Mayor Boris Johnson have either introduced policies that have been both detrimental and devastaing to the Licensed London Taxi Trade, or failed miserably to ensure the survival of the gold standard taxi service that is a “London Black Cab”.
For many years Londons Taxi Trade Organisations have written to TfL repeatedly asking for a level playing field and the law to be upheld. TfL ignore all such correspondence or “fob off” the respondee with “policy Statements and denials”
Here we outline the main (But by no means only) issues we have with TfL and their (quote from the GLA report) “Woefully inadequate” performance.
Unlicensed Pedicabs Carrying Passengers, unregulated and uninsured.
These are dangerous and in a recent TV documentary were found to be charging Arabic visitors to London £200 from Marble Arch to Oxford Circus.
These are a public Menace, yet the authorities claim nothing can be done. It is stated that they fall through a loop hole in the law. They do not, in a court case where a rickshaw operator was taken to court as an unlicensed Hackney Carriage (Bugs Bugs V Oddy) the judge decided they were Stage Carriages. However, you require a license to operate a stage carriage. If the authorities were serious about removing this menace they would arrest three rickshaws and charge them accordingly.
1. Charge the first rickshaw as an Unlicensed Hackney carriage
2. Charge the second rickshaw as an Unlicensed Stage Carriage
3. Charge the third rickshaw as an Unlicensed street trader
They must be one of those three things…. But they don’t have the politcal will to do so. SO we have unsafe uninsured and unregulated rickshaws ripping off members of the public and overseas visitors.
Safe for public carriage? Click here to watch a passenger falling out of one onto the pavement, if she had fallen out into the carriageway and a bus was overtaking?
TfL dropped the requirement for planning permission of “Satellite Booking Offices” these are known to be frequented by touts and now there is evidence they are being taken over by organised crime syndicates, Mary Dowde of TfL (Who has since left TfL) removed the requirement for planning permission for these because they (TfL) knew they would be controversial.
Here is the result, TfL licensed an alleyway 200 metres from a police station. They (TfL) are guilty of a dereliction of duty of care to the public safety; this is heavily criticsed in the GLA report.
The result of this policy?…. Sexual Assaults in Minicabs rising at an alarming rate
TfL and the police turn a “blind eye” to illegal touting particularly outside nightclubs, this posses a serious threat to public safety, Chris Huhne’s (ex MP) daughter was first touted and then sexually assaulted in a minicab (PHV) by Such touts that operate outside a well known London Night Club.
Some Minicabs (AKA PHV) have been found to be driving on social domestic and pleasure insurance that specifically excludes hire for reward, this means these passengers are uninsured. TfL have no mechanism to ensure the correct type of insurance is in force without physically stopping the driver and asking to see the document. All taxis are required by law to display the correct insurance on the partition wall.
Some Minicabs are being driven by drivers who have had no back ground checks, TfL insist that a certificate of good conduct is required, but these will not be available for refugees or assylum seekers. We were informed that an undercover journalist managed to purchase one of these from a corrupt official in a foreign country for just £130.
What isn’t clear to us is…. If you are a refugee of a war torn state, will the officials of that country be in a position to provide this information? what records would they need to see to know who you were? if you are a genuine refugee you are probably here with just the shirt on your back, how likely is it you will have your birth certificate? passport? Ultility bill ? And what of an Assylum seeker? we presume you are on the run from the state because that state is posing a serious threat to your safety… and they are going to provide you with a certificate of good conduct? The mind boggles at the sheer naivety of some policy makers.
Try and get a job as a school teacher or nurse on one of these and see how far you get. Yet we are placing vunerable females (perhaps having been drinking alcohol) alone with these people at 3am in the back of a minicab? We have approximately 75,000 minicab drivers in London, many of them are empty most of the night such is the over supply, why then if they aren’t desperately needed would you take the chance? This is a serious risk to public safety and it is TfL policy to continue this practise.
Both the Taxi trade AND the licensed PHV trade are calling for a minimum residency of three years before a PHV driver is allowed to apply for a license. If this is implemented then a three year history of conduct is known and a DBS (was called CRB) certificate can be issued.
Here’s what the recent GLA report had to say about TfL as the regulator of the UK’s largest taxi and private hire fleet…
“You now break the law or breach the regulations, and TfL, if you are big enough, will change the rules.”
“Illegal touting by both licensed and unlicensed private hire operators and drivers is rampant and evident across large parts of London every single evening, and this is allowed to continue unchecked.”
‘Satellite offices’ are an example of how a well-intentioned policy has turned out to cause more problems than it solves”
“were not operators at all and were often the very people who were ‘aiding and abetting’, illegal activity and touting”. The Association, along with the taxi trade, have continued to express their anger at TfL’s continuation of the policy despite repeated warnings from both trades.
“It is very difficult for enforcement officers to then differentiate between the genuine compliant passenger who has booked their fare inside the club…versus the inappropriate behaviour by some operators which TfL, the police and ourselves have witnessed…. I do not think they are helpful in terms of trying to tackle the touting problem.” – Martin Low, Transport Commissioner, Westminster (referring to satellite booking offices)
Touting is viewed by both industries (Taxi and Private Hire) as the single biggest enforcement and passenger safety issue affecting the trades. Enforcement numbers are ‘outstandingly low’, compared with other world cities.