The London Taxi trade is currently engaged in a fight for its life on multiple fronts.
Under attack from a billion dollar multinational company, out to destroy the worlds Taxi trade. A technology company with no respect for Taxi regulations anywhere in the world, who also believes theirselves to be above the law.
Under attack from environmentalists who see our only manufactured, only authorised vehicle as the devils child. With a Mayor about to introduce (in 2018) conditions of fitness that no current produced vehicle can meet.
Worse of all, Under attack from our own licensing authority who have bent over backwards to make legitimacy easy for big money operators, who do not meet required conditions of fitness and operate in a grey area outside the Private Hire Act 1998.
Sir Peter Hendy’s present directorate, refuses to accept responsibility for adequate on street enforcement, which has seen minicab related crimes, including serious sexual assaults, spiral out of control.
To add insult to injury, they have manipulated statistic in an attempt to justify their lame actions. The Met Police have openly admitted that sexual attacks that go unrecorded have gone from 80% in 2010 to 90% at present. This gives a false reduction in recorded statistics.
TfL presently have a team of 68 cab enforcement officers. In a 12 month period last year, they were responsible for a pitiful 34 convictions for illegal touting. Other cities around the country realise this figure over a busy weekend.
We have seen the line between Taxi and Private hire eroded in the media to such an extent that the BBC inside out London documentary, presented by Louise Hulland, found 90% of night revellers don’t know the difference between licensed Taxis on a rank and a line of un-booked minicabs outside a night venue.
(One of the major causes of minicab predator sexual attack).
After a mass of complaints, the GLA held a review of TfL’s handling of the Taxi and Private Hire trades. The transport committee’s report found TfL “Woefully inadequate” and has submitted 19 serious recommendations.
If the situation continues as at present, we could see the complete demise of the worlds best taxi service (a title awarded to London’s taxi trade for the last six years running). The London Taxi service is the gold standard that other Taxi services around the world aspire to.
Since TfL took over the responsibility of administering the Taxi trade from the Met, the trade has more or less suffered in silence. But the worm has finally turned. Their seems to be a new fire in the belly of the rank and file driver and 2015 is about to become the year the trade fought back.
After five years of carrot and stick management where TfL, with the help of an unfair engagement policy, managed to keep the trade representative orgs and unions fragmented, their greatest fear is about to be realised as the Orgs and Unions finally strive to achieve unity. A historic meeting took place at the LTDA’s Taxi House on Monday, where previously excluded groups were invited in for talks.
If TfL fail to respond to the GLA recommendations by March and the Mayor pushes the trade for a 5 year reduction in the present 15 year Taxi age limit, our drivers will have no option other than to use the only weapon left in their arsenal.
We have the ability to bring the working Capital to a complete full stop, on a regular basis. Obviously this is the very last thing we want to do, but we will if we have to. The next few months are critical to our survival. We will not go down without the fight of our lives.
Our trade is self-financing and drivers have gone through the arduous knowledge of London, a process that turns out Taxi drivers of the highest standard. The Knowledge is completed at the drivers own expense and carries no cost to the tax payer. The trade receives no government subsidy, unlike other modes of transport.
We do this to win the sole right to ply for hire and all we ask in return is for our right to ply be protected and policed by our licensing authority.