Oxford street and the surrounding area completely swamped with Taxis
The cabbies’ trade association behind last month’s taxi protest in Oxford Street has vowed to ramp up its blockades of central London unless TfL acts over a damning GLA report.
The report, Future Proof, warns TfL is “woefully inadequate” as a regulator and enforcer and urged it to “get to grips with the basics”.
TfL claims it has already considered the report and is acting on its recommendations.
It comes as the United Cabbies Group announced a second day of action later this month, in which a projected 2,500 taxis will blockade the TfL head office in Victoria for 90 minutes.
The figure is based on the number the UCG claims turned up for last month’s Oxford Street protest – the numbers were disputed by TfL’s scripted front man Garret Emmersom, who tried to infer that only a tenth of that a took part. He was bought to task by the LBC presenter who said the official Police estimate on numbers backed up the Taxi drivers claim.
Len Martin, chairman of the group, told the Evening Standard:
“We’re going to keep on ramping it up. We’ve got a bigger one planned already.
“It’s just going to escalate if they don’t act on this. It’s going to grow. I don’t think they realise each time it will gain momentum.”
TfL hit back, with surface transport chief Garrett Emmerson urging the drivers to reconsider and telling the Standard: “The previous protest, on Oxford Street, achieved nothing.”
Mr Martin said thousands of cabbies will drive slowly between Windsor House – TfL’s HQ – and Victoria Station on May 26 from 2pm, effectively shutting off the area to traffic.
After the recent revelation that Sir Peter Hendy misled the GLA over the claim that TfL took legal advice from an eminent QC before issuing an operators license to controversial app Über, it’s believed that many more drivers are preparing to get involved in this next direct action.
Among the taxi drivers’ gripes are:
– Unlicensed “pedicabs” carrying passengers without insurance or regulation;
– Unregulated minicab booking offices they say are “being taken over by organised crime syndicates”;
– Illegal touting by minicabs, who are only allowed to pick up people by pre-arranged appointment;
– inadequate background checks on some minicab drivers.
“Serious doubts have been expressed about whether TfL has the appetite, and capability, to oversee these industries effectively,” writes transport committee chair Caroline Pidgeon in the report’s foreword.
Last year a mass protest took place in Trafalgar Square as about 5,000 cab drivers ground traffic to a halt on a “go-slow” demo in a dispute with TfL over their regulation of Uber.
“It sounds like I’m being a troublemaker,” said Mr Martin. “I’m really not – I have to protect the 350-year-old taxi trade and I find myself in this position.
“Sir Peter Hendy and more have been hauled over the coals by the GLA for what’s called the ‘woeful performance’ of TfL as a regulator. In terms of everything they do for taxi and private hire trade, they are so inadequate.
“We’re going to highlight this GLA report. The survival of the taxi and legitimate private hire trade depends on these 19 recommendations.”