As Big Ben struck 2pm, Taxis descended on Windsor House. Within minutes, Victoria Street was bought to a complete standstill as an estimated 3-4,000 London Taxis filled the surrounding area.
TfL had taken the precautionary measure of diverting the busses which only added to the problem. Normally a spokesperson makes the scripted statement to the media, that just a few hundred taxis turned up, but without busses breaking up the lines of cabs, the true picture was much clearer. This time it was easy to see that thousands had attended.
Another lie perpetuated by TfL is that the action is being carried out by a small splinter group. We managed to point out to every press officer, reporter or camera man we could find, that the drivers lanyards signified their trade loyalties and it could be seen that every representative group were in attendance. This was a major victory of the rank and file who are fed up with org and Union infighting.
By half past two, traffic was tailing back along the
Victoria embankment to Blackfriars.
Over Westminster bridge to the Elephant
ParkLane was at a standstill
The Mall was solid both ways
West London, Kensington and Bayswater resembled a car park.
Many drivers had come on foot, with one I met making a 300 mile round trip to be here. At one point, a crowd of 70-80 drivers were protesting outside the main doors. The noise in front of Windsor house was deafening, with police unsure what to do next.
Members of the public were given flyers and appeared to be very sympathetic. Some actually joined it, giving cheers and rounds of applause as drivers filed pass.
Traffic cops tried desperately to divert taxis away from the area, but this just added to the mayhem. The officers from traffic division seemed to be under pressure and in a few isolated cases, took their frustrations out on cabbies stuck in traffic. The highly dangerous practise of sitting stationary in traffic without wearing a seat belt was elevated to a major offence.
Drivers were also ordered, -under section 37 of the road traffic act- not to u-turn. One knowledge rider was pulled over the coals for having the wrong tyer pressures. You really couldn’t make it up.
There was also moments of light relief as a group of pedestrians wearing pig marks with pink hair danced in front of the police and then a lone Wizann knowledge boy cycled back and forth on a Boris bike, waving a Totally Failing London pamphlet.
But there’s more to this story.
The knowledge boy’s moped had broken down and still desperate to support the demo, he hired a Boris bike.
Abdinasir you were my hero of the day.
May I wish you, on behalf of all at Taxi Leaks, a speedy progression through the knowledge system.
The demonstration lasted the full duration of the allotted two hours and then around 4:15pm someone made a call to the fire brigade, which resulted in three pumps and a ladder being despatched to Windsor House. In the chaos and confusion, certain employees made a swift exit from the building in the direction of St James Park tube station.
Wonder if there will be an investigation into wasting the fire brigades valuable time.
Some interesting faces turn out on parade, ranging from trade org Chairpersons (UCG, LCDC, LSTC,), Council of Management and committee officers (UCG, LTDA, LCDC, RTDA, ELTDA), plus Union officials (GMB,Unite).
UCG’s Len Martin’s Interview with Rita Chatterjee