Christmas Greetings PRODUCED BY unite CAB SECTION MEMBERS CHRISTMAS 2009
and good wishes for the New Year to all our readers, advertisers, production team and their families.
STOCK IN TRADE! By PETER J ROSE Secretary UNITE Cab Section, London Branch
After the celebrations following last month’s opening of several new night time ranks for cab drivers to enjoy, Cab Trade News was contacted by a reader, asking if we would revisit the OXO tower restaurant on London’s Southbank. The Oxo tower was and still is one of the Capital’s venues that is on the list of places to target, and ‘take back the work’ by drivers who are fed up with the illegal mini cab ranking, something that this paper highlighted a year ago. Since Cab Trade News ran the Headline, UNITE SAYS STOP MINI-CAB RANKERS! The taxi trade has seen probably the largest demo in its history, drivers forming impromptu ranks at many a nightclub and restaurant where the mini-cab trade had thought that they had it all their own way. Greater co-operation from the authorities, a new head at the Public Carriage Office, the list goes on. Read Frank Braverman’s review of the year on page nine. The OXO Tower is causing particular concern because of an interesting development regarding the touting of potential customers, the touting of customers before they need a cab. The restaurant which is owned by Harvey Nichols Group of Knightsbridge store fame, has seemingly got round the need to tout potential mini-cab customers as they leave the premises by pre-allocating a car to diners tables. Cab Trade News understands that as diners arrive for their meal they are given a ticket and told that ‘a cab has been preallocated to their table’ should they require transport when they leave. When they leave the tower holding the ticket, they are directed to a line of waiting mini-cabs who then of course take them to wherever they need to go. However should they not be holding a ticket when leaving, they are still likely to be touted, as one cab driver diner explained after he and his wife had been for a meal there. As they were leaving, they got out of the lift on the ground floor only to witness the couple in front of them being touted for a mini-cab, something which is illegal under the
‘‘If a line of cars is permissible to sit outside, then why not a rank of taxis?’’ terms of private hire licensing. Of course not every job gets to go in a car. Another taxi driver stated, that when he had been working the venue a man headed towards his taxi who subsequently asked to go to Waterloo Station, no problem for the taxi driver even though the station is only a short distance away. After his passenger had got out at Waterloo he checked the cab to make sure that his passenger had left nothing behind, as all good cab drivers do, he noticed a piece of paper on the back seat, about the same size as a taxi receipt, it turned out to be one of the tickets that the Oxo Tower is issuing to their customers, see inset picture. Perhaps the short journey from the Southbank to Waterloo Station had not been a sufficient fare for the mini-cabs that were ranked up outside and they had passed the job to the waiting taxi?
The question has to be asked of the Carriage Office is why are the mini-cabs allowed to be ranked there? PCO notice 42/08 clearly states that private hire should not draw attention to themselves as being available for hire. Creating a rank of minicabs outside venues is surely drawing attention? As a recognised trade body, the UNITE Cab Section will be seeking clarification on the legalities of pre-allocating vehicles at our next meeting with Safer Transport Command (formally TOCO). We will also be asking that an investigation take place regarding the issue of touting at the venue. UNITE will also be asking the Public Carriage Office for a taxi rank to be situated in a prominent position, although space may be an issue. UNITE will argue the case, that if a line of cars is permissible to sit outside, then why not a rank of taxis?
CHRISTMAS 2009 – CAB TRADE NEWS – Page 2
WHY CAN’T LONDON DRIVERS BUY THEIR METER? By MIKE HEDGES London is the only licensing area in the country that currently does not allow taxi drivers to purchase their own meter. All meters in London are hired on a rental basis from a meter company or manufacturer due to the insistence on BSI standards. Outside of London drivers have the choice whether to buy or rent the meter. UNITE has carried out extensive research across our membership throughout the country and can find no evidence that taximeter standards are less robust in other licensing authorities despite them not having the BSI standards. The average rental cost of a taximeter in London is £134 per annum. The average rental cost for a printer is £70 per annum. This gives a total rental cost of £204 per annum. The London cost index assumes a 12 year vehicle life. This means a rental payment of £2,448 for the taximeter and printer over the 12 years. Our research suggests that the average purchase cost of a meter and printer, outside of London, is around £300 - £400 depending upon make, model and demand. The annual tariff change cost is £15 - £30. Some licensing authorities test the meter on a rolling road, whilst others require a certificate of the taximeter accuracy, which is obtained from the meter company for about £7. The current system in London would make the meter company
responsible for verifying the meter accuracy. This would make the average cost of the taximeter and printer £564 - £844. The minimum saving would be about £1,604, over the 12 year period or £133 per annum. This is a very significant saving and we cannot see a justification for London continuing to insist on the BSI standard, when the methods employed outside of London work very satisfactorily. There is absolutely no evidence that if the BSI standard were to be removed drivers would have inaccurate meters. The annual check of the meter by the licensing authority or the meter manufacturer will ensure meter accuracy and maintain driver and passenger confidence in the system. The Public Carriage Office (PCO) continually talk about reducing the financial and administrative burdens on taxi drivers without really understanding the real issues that are burdensome to taxi drivers. The removal of the BSI standard for meters would greatly benefit drivers and we call upon the PCO to allow us to purchase the meter and printer in a way that is practical. There is no just reason not to do so. The resistance of the PCO to this seems inexplicable given that taxi drivers owning their meter is considered normal everywhere else. Mike Hedges is a member of UNITE’s Cab Trade Committee.
UNITE VOTES TO FIGHT DE-LIMITATION By MIKE HEDGES The inaugural UNITE Sector Conference’s have recently taken place in Brighton. After a welcoming speech by Joint General Secretaries, Tony Woodley and Derek Simpson, which outlined the way ahead for the union, each Sector continued with their respective conference. Taxis form part of the Passenger Group within UNITE, and the Passenger Group is part of the larger Transport Sector, which includes our Airport workers, Dockers and Lorry drivers. The Passenger conference took place t in the afternoon and Graham Stevenson, National Passenger Officer, outlined a strategy for the Transport Sector for the coming year. This included a report of the National Taxi Conference, which was featured in the last issue of CTN. The conference endorsed a motion that was discussed at the conference regarding d e-limitation. The motion read as follows and was unanimously supported by all the delegates:
“This conference notes the attacks on our taxi members from the threat of de-limitation, particularly at the moment in Salford. We also note the successful fight backs that have taken place in Harlow and Southend. This conference calls upon the Transport Sector to launch a national campaign against delimitation.” UNITE is totally committed to ending the dangers that de-limitation brings to our taxi members. It is our belief that taxi numbers should be regulated at a level set by an un-met demand survey in parallel with discussions between the local authority, taxi representative groups and local transport groups. In this way UNITE believes that a sensible system of licensing can be achieved that delivers a quality taxi service fit for both passengers and drivers. De-limitation is not fit for either. Mike Hedges is a member of UNITE’s Cab Trade Committee.
By JIM KELLY Secretary London Ranks Committee
City of London
The relationship between the taxi trade and the Corporation of London has been a fraught one in recent years. It took a large and effective demonstration at The Bank some years ago before the City Fathers deemed to meet with us. The role of the City police has also been unproductive in recent years. This situation has meant that taxi drivers and the travelling public have lost out. The recent fiasco of a “marshalled” night rank in Cornhill is a case in point. The Corporation and City Police were told that the rank was in the wrong place, facing the wrong way. It was pointed out that best practise was to site the rank immediately outside the exit from any night club, in this case Abacus. Many thousands of pounds later the Corporation finally accepted they were wrong. It is therefore good to see that the Corporation has now recognised that there is a need for meaningful dialogue with the bona-fide trade committee that deals with ranks, the London Cab Ranks Committee. With the City changing, a good example is the plans for a shopping centre to rival Westfield’s at Cheapside and also the steady increase in nightclubs, the Corporation has sought to send a representative to the committee who will be able to engage positively and action the issues affecting drivers in the Square Mile. It has always been UNITE’s position that police are not the best people to deal with the complex issue that affect the taxi trade.
The scheme to build a new shopping centre at Cheapside, which is meant to rival Westfield, will go ahead in 4 stages. Stage 1 around New Change will be completed by August 2010, New Change to Bread Street will be completed by November 2010, Bread Street to Queen Street June 2011 and Finally Queen Street to Mansion House is scheduled for completion by Spring 2012.
Putney High Street The experimental scheme, to change Putney High Street to a designated Island Rank, is slowly showing signs of success. The rank has been monitored by PCO and the latest observations show both an increase of drivers working the rank and also an increase in the number of jobs from the rank.
Crossrail Work in the west end will soon be impacting on Hanover Square. Work is scheduled to commence in February 2010. Work is also scheduled to begin in January which will impact on Oxford Street eastbound, with the road being closed at Newman Street and traffic diverted north up Newman Street.
Institute of Directors A new rank has been agreed and is waiting appointment.
UNITE MEETS JOHN MASON By JIM KELLY Secretary London Ranks Committee UNITE alongside the LTDA and the LCDC met with the new Head of PCO, John Mason on 26 November. Mr. Mason informed us that he intended to rebrand the PCO, “London Taxi and Private Hire”, in the near future. He also stated that a large number of staff had relocated from Penton Street to Palestra House. His management team is also being changed and their functions are being revised. UNITE was informed that the way PCO deals with complaints is to be looked into. Mr. Mason talked of a change in language and also set down times to deal with complaints commencing in early April. As an example of the inadequacies of the present system, Unite has forwarded a number of complaints against our members which we feel should have been dealt with more efficiently and quickly. Mr. Mason also proposed a license fee freeze for 2010-2011. A contentious proposal which UNITE is opposed to is the introduction of a £50 Re-Test Fee. Considering the amount of
first time failures and in some cases the trivial issues involved, UNITE sees this as a retrograde and unnecessary step, which we would be totally opposed to. The important issues of next year’s fares rise and the Mayors Emission Strategy are being dealt with elsewhere by other committees involving UNITE and the LTDA and LCDC. UNITE also brought up the issue of CRB checks, Ownership of taxi meters and a recent Home Office consultation on Violence against Women that completely confused taxis and Private Hire, as well as the different situations regarding taxis in London and other areas of the UK, leading to an inaccurate overview of violence against vulnerable women travelling on public transport, especially late at night. The meeting was the latest of regular quarterly meetings with Mr. Mason and Jeroen Weimar, the Mayors Transport Representative. Jim Kelly is Chair of UNITE’s Cab Trade Committee.
TfL announce Christmas opening hours and revised 2010 opening hours for counter services at Penton Street.
‘‘The RMT organises over 80,000 members across all sectors of the transport industry.’’
The changes to opening hours in the new year will see counter services operation Tuesday to Thursday from 10am to 3pm, rather than Monday to Friday 8am to 4pm. In announcing the revised opening times, John Mason, TfL’s Director of Taxi and Private Hire, said: “When I was appointed I said I wanted to improve the level of service provided to both drivers and operators. In order to achieve this we need to focus our
staff on areas of the service which need to be improved. By revising the counter opening hours we hope to improve licensing services and enable applications to be dealt with more quickly and to answer more telephone calls during peak periods. “We will monitor the impact of these changes in the early weeks of next year and identify further changes that can be made to improve the service we provide our customers.”
CHRISTMAS 2009 – CAB TRADE NEWS – Page 3
ANOTHER CAMPAIGNING YEAR FOR THE
UNITE CAB SECTION!
Want to join the fight? Then fill out the form on page 11.
CHRISTMAS 2009 – CAB TRADE NEWS – Page 4
CTN Comment UNITE AT XMAS By FRANK HULL As we busy ourselves with Xmas decorations we should perhaps allow ourselves a few minutes to reflect on the source of our livelihoods, the taxi trade. Once again it has been a mixed bag of non-goodies that has confronted this trade throughout the year. At the beginning of the year we advised the trade to become involved in the consultation that would consider the proposal that the private-hire trade could legally provide local bus services. We can’t tell how many taxi drivers got involved in the consultation process. However, as the year comes to an end the law that allows private-hire trade to legally provide local bus services is now a reality. Thus the PH trade moves a step closer to us. We have had some successes throughout the year. In February there was the mass protest of the London trade in Trafalgar Square. In May the PCO revoked the licences of several PH operating centres. This was the direct result of that united action by the trade. July brought us another great victory at Heathrow where a united taxi trade confronted BAA over its proposal to allow two private-hire companies to operate booking kiosks. The united Heathrow trade threatened industrial action. This caused BAA to rethink and eventually not allow the PH kiosks to operate. Another victory brought about by the united actions of the taxi trade. In September we witnessed yet another victory by a united taxi trade, in Southend-on-Sea, when some two hundred drivers persuaded the Council there to issue no more plates and to scrap its managed growth policy which would have allowed the issue of sixteen more plates next year. If we look at these victories you will see that they were all achieved with trade unity. It is a fact long appreciated by the workforce in this country that unity brings added strength to any trade’s argument. We only hope the whole of this trade will one day appreciate this fact too. To this end we cordially invite you to unite with us this Xmas by filling in the form on Page 11. In the meantime in that great auld Scottish fashion, we wish you all and your families lots of the three Hs. That is: Health, Happiness and Hwisky! Seasonal Greetings, from us all at CTN. Frank Hull is a member of UNITE’s Cab Trade Committee.
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CHRISTMAS 2009 – CAB TRADE NEWS – Page 5
Mark’s Mélange 70 MARK EDWARD TAYLOR
T H E A T R E By Tony Benson
IT’S THAT “LOOK BEHIND YOU” TIME AGAIN BRISTOL HIPPODROME The festive season gives CTN writers, and those from other taxi trade papers, the opportunity to pen something seasonal. There’s the option to write something with a Christmas message, review the past year or, as many columnists across the cab press seem to do, rant . . . i.e. whinge & wine about TfL, private hire, cab ranks, bloody Livingstone, Mayor Boris, RMT, toilets, tickets and the PCO! The Melange column always likes to take a left field view of life on the streets trying to find something that could be of interest to taxi drivers. The one story over the last month that has caught the Melange eye has been the change in leadership of the UK Independence party (UKIP). It is an absolute gift. So, with a ding dong merrily on high, let’s have some fun at UKIP’s expense. . . . The UK Independence party have been on the British political scene for a while. They have won support on the back of being anti European Union. Listen to them long enough and, they appear to be against almost everything. Look at them, and they are a party of middle aged white men who rant on about everything being rubbish in the modern world and wish life could be like something from a rose-tinted yesteryear when men were men, women were women and Britain had an empire. It has the image of a bunch of grumpy old men huddled around a log fire in a country pub. Next year sees a general election and Ukip may do well. Or not? They have probably lost some support to the BNP where some of their racist element has drifted off to. David Cameron’s Tory party are very euro sceptic aligning themselves with far right euro nutter groupings in the European parliament who are homophobic, anti-Semitic and deeply fearful of anybody whose skin colour is not white. This may also cost UKIP votes. Ukip having gained seats in the European Parliament have now perversely benefited from the financial rewards the EU pays. These allowances have also given more financial firepower to the BNP. Although there is power in having members in the European Parliament, all political parties want a presence at national level in the House of Commons. At present neither Ukip or the BNP have this. . . . Nigel Farage MEP was the former leader of Ukip. He was everywhere, with a knack of gaining publicity. Obviously very hard working and constantly all over the media. He seemed to be on BBC’s Question Time programme every couple of months. Mr Farage doesn’t like Europe even-though he is married to a French woman. He can get into a little bit of Europe but, is not too keen on other people having much to do with mainland Europe. He even has a name that is of French/Huguenot origin. It is pronounced in a Gallic way; FARAGE rather than FARRIDGE. Mr Farage is standing down as Ukip leader to concentrate on gaining a seat at Westminster in next years election. The party have replaced him with Lord Pearson of Rannoch . . . ooh! What joy. . . political suicide . . . ?
WILL HAVING A LORD, LEADING A POLITICAL PARTY, GOING INTO A GENERAL ELECTION WASH WITH THE VOTERS?
Lord Pearson, aka Baron Rannoch, was given a peerage by Margaret Thatcher in 1990. Unsurprisingly, he was a staunch Thatcherite. Educated at Eton, like David Cameron. He made his own money in the insurance industry. He is a member of the ultimate toffs’ club White’s in St. James. As all London cabbies will know, Boodles and White’s are on the right. All the rest are on the left. A mantra for learning the location of the St. James’ Street gentlemen’s clubs while studying the Knowledge of London. Hopefully London’s finest, the London taxi drivers, will think twice before giving an old Etonian their vote. Furthermore, a company Lord Malcolm Pearson founded, PWS, has a subsidiary being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over allegations of bribery in the Central American country of Costa Rica.
WHAT IS THE EU FOR? British voters have a great problem with understanding the European Union. Prime Minister Edward Heath took us into the common market in the early seventies. At the back end of the seventies the Labour government gave the country a referendum whether we remained or quit the European project. The British electorate backed the project. The problem we have here on these islands, stuck out on the far west of Europe, is understanding how after world war two our fellow European neighbours got together and decided they must never go to war again. Europe had been devastated. Many millions of people had been killed. To build an alliance they founded a European union which has kept peace on a continent that tore itself apart for hundreds of years. The EU has been a force for good. Many Tories realise this position from Heath to Heseltine, Major to Ken Clarke. The mainstream political parties are broadly behind the European project. The Liberals love it and Labour has very few dissenters. The nations of Europe prior to the formation of the common market behaved like a bunch of quarrelsome neighbours who occasionally got violent. Does Britain want to be the awkward git in the street? Ukip says yes, although Ukip being just a band of disgruntled Tories would, by its own admission, disband should a future Conservative government withdraw from the EU. That’s unlikely to happen. But, Ukip being a spent force and disappearing over the coming years will be a great Christmas present for us all . . . Feliz Navidad, Frohlicher Weinachten, Joyeux Noel…Arrivederci. firstname.lastname@example.org
The current production at Bristol’s Hippodrome Theatre is “Snow White”. The only other theatre in the UK performing this panto is The Grand Opera House, York; perhaps there’s a shortage of Dwarfs (Dwarves?) As I was starting to write I had the feeling that the history of the Bristol Hippodrome itself would be as interesting as the panto. So here’s the story. The Bristol Hippodrome was built in 1912 for Oswald Stoll (co-founder of the Stoll Moss Theatre Group) in the town centre on the site of a former furniture store. It began as a variety theatre with a bill headed by Eugene Stratton. In its first year Stoll managed something of a coup by employing Sarah Bernhardt and her company to perform part of “La Dame aux Camellias”. Shortly after the First World War ended, a young Cary Grant, then known under his real name of Archie Leach, worked at the Hippodrome as a callboy (not the masculine equivalent of a call girl). Later he performed there with an acrobatic troupe which eventually toured the USA. The troupe came back to England but Archie stayed to become one of Hollywood’s greatest stars. After a period as a cinema the theatre had a facelift and reopened with “Sandy Powell’s 1939 Roadshow”. Though much of Bristol was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War, the Hippodrome remained largely intact, but in 1948 a major fire engulfed much of its rear. Miraculously, the Hippodrome reopened that Christmas Eve with “Cinderella”. At one performance the curtain failed to rise for the second act and Ted Ray, who was playing Buttons, ad libbed for nearly
an hour while the stage crew, assisted by a few volunteers from the audience, did the repairs. All the great post-war American musicals played there. “Guys and Dolls” actually had its European premiere at the Hippodrome while its longest run remains “My Fair Lady” in 1964. In the 1980s one of its greatest successes was Dick Vosburgh and Tony Macaulay’s “Windy City”, a musical version of the Hecht/MacArthur play “The Front Page”. Although the theatre has changed hands several times it’s still going strong.
OTHER PANTOMIMES “Sleeping Beauty” can be seen at Birmingham’s Hippodrome and at the Palace, Kilmarnock. “Cinderella” plays at the Empire, Liverpool; the Palace, Torquay, The Leas Cliff Hall, Folkestone, and King George’s Hall, Blackburn. “Aladdin” is at the White Rock, Hastings; the Opera House, Manchester; The Tyne, Newcastle and at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London, where the Genie of the Lamp is played by four different guest stars – Ruby Wax (4th-12th December), Baywatch star Pamela Anderson (13th-27th December), Anita Dobson (28th December-3rd January) and Paul O’Grady (5th-10th January). “Jack and the Beanstalk” is at the Auditorium, Grimsby; the Playhouse, Whitley Bay and the Lyric, Hammersmith, which has Jack with a job in Hammersmith Market while the Giant runs a sweet factory with slave labour – a real class twist. A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY THEATREGOING TO YOU ALL
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CHRISTMAS 2009 – CAB TRADE NEWS – Page 6
PCO Notice 31/09 Transport for London TAXI PRIVATE HIRE
Public Carriage Office
By DANNY FREEMAN Secretary UNITE Cab Section, Heathrow Branch
Taxi and Private Hire Christmas and New Year Opening Arrangements 2009-2010 Revised Taxi and Private Hire Counter Service Arrangements from 4th January 2010 at Penton Street
M4 Bus Lane – UNITE’s Three Musketeers!
This notice details the availability of taxi and private hire licensing counter and vehicle inspection services for customers over the Christmas and New Year period and also the revised counter service arrangements at Penton Street from 4 January 2010. Taxi and Private Hire Counter Services – Penton Street 21 December – 23 December Normal Opening Hours (8.00am to 4.00pm) 24 December – 1 January CLOSED SGS Inspection Sites (Taxi) 21 December – 23 December
24 December 25 December and 28 December 29 December – 31 December
1 January SGS Inspection Sites (Private Hire) 21 December – 23 December 24 December 25 December and 28 December 29 December – 31 December
Normal Opening Hours Hanworth 7.30am to 3.00pm Deptford 7.00am to 3.00pm Tottenham 7.00am to 4.00pm 7.30am to 12 noon CLOSED Normal Opening Hours Hanworth 7.30am to 3.00pm Tottenham 7.00am to 4.00pm Deptford CLOSED CLOSED Normal Opening Hours All Sites 8.00am to 4.30pm 8.00am to 12 noon CLOSED Normal Opening Hours Hanworth 8.00am to 4.30pm Enfield 8.00am to 4.30pm Croydon and Woolwich CLOSED CLOSED
SGS Call Centre The SGS Call Centre in Dublin will be CLOSED from 24 December through to 1 January. Vehicle owners wishing to contact SGS by telephone during the above period should contact the SGS Hanworth inspection site on 020 8755 2368. Revised Taxi and Private Hire Counter Service Arrangements from 4 January 2010 at Penton Street In order to make the best use of available resources and deliver best value to licence payers with effect from 4 January 2010 TfL will be implementing revised opening hours for the counter services available to customers at Penton Street. These are: Tuesday-Thursday
10:00am to 3:00pm
From the 4 January counter services will no longer be available on Monday or Friday. Telephone services on 0845 602 7000 will be available during normal office hours (8:00am to 5:00pm) Monday to Friday. These planned changes do not affect the current arrangements in place for Knowledge of London students undergoing personal appearances. These new arrangements are being introduced to improve licensing services and enable applications and related services to be dealt with more quickly and effectively by telephone, email and post. Due to the high demand for telephone services these changes will result in increased staff availability for handling telephone calls, especially during peak periods. TfL will undertake close monitoring of the counter services in the early weeks of the New Year to gauge the success of these new arrangements and are working on identifying and implementing changes to the licensing application process and the availability, clarity and ease of access to information that will seek to reduce the need for customers to use counter services completely in due course. A further notice will be issued following the evaluation. John Mason, Director, Taxi and Private Hire, 1 December 2009 For previous PCO Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/pco
PCO Notice 32/09 Transport for London
Public Carriage Office
TAXI PRIVATE HIRE
Shoreditch Marshalled Taxi Rank A new marshalled taxi rank has been launched in Shoreditch. Between 22:00 and 03:00 on Friday and Saturday evenings the new taxi rank on Old Street, (near the 333 nightclub, opposite the town hall), EC1V will be marshalled. This scheme is a partnership between Transport for London, Hackney Council and the police. Licensed taxi drivers are encouraged to support this scheme, use the taxi rank and help get people home safely. The new taxi rank is in operation seven days a week between 22:00 and 04:00. For further information or to comment on this scheme email PCOresearch@tfl.gov.uk John Mason, Director, Taxi and Private Hire, 1 December 2009 For previous PCO Notices visit tfl.gov.uk/pco
As you are aware UNITE the Union together with our trade partners at Heathrow are working tirelessly with authorities to sort the blatant law breaking by private hire drivers using the M4 bus and taxi lane. However as we all know, the authorities are apt at dragging their feet and of course everything has a cost. With the bankers, bankrupting the country, everything comes down to budget and installing cameras will have to come from someone’s depleted budget and our taxes! Three of our members, Charlie Johnson, Micky Samroo (Shop Steward) and Vince McGonigle, decided they could wait no longer and wanted to highlight the problem by doing something positive. They rang the BBC and arranged for a TV crew to film the dangerous situation which is occurring on the M4 Bus lane. The film later went out on BBC London news bulletins throughout the day. They have also written to the Secretary of State for Transport. This exactly what UNITE the Union is about. It is led by its members and will always offer support to campaigns that members wish to take up. Well done to the UNITE Musketeers!
The Not So Short Arm of the Law! In the last edition of Cab Trade News, UNITE member Mark Shulton wrote a letter entitled ‘The Short arm of the Law!’ explaining how as a Taxi Marshal he was surrounded by touts and attacked by one of them. The Police could not identify the culprit on CCTV, however Mark could. Last week he saw the same tout who could no longer keep away from the lure of easy prey. Mark rang the Police who promptly arrested the tout who is now awaiting a court appearance. Well done Mark and the not so short arm of the law!
The UNITE Heathrow Family – Unity is Strength! As you are no doubt aware the Cab Section belongs to part of the wider UNITE Heathrow family, over 44,000 members working at the airport. As workers we need to unite and organise ourselves in the strongest possible way. By joining
UNITE the Union you will be part of the biggest and strongest union at the airport and just as importantly in the country with over 2 million members. As a member we have knowledge and power to affect issues, at the airport, in the local community and throughout the country. I recently received a phone call by a Senior Shop Steward in another branch on the airport at 9.00pm who explained that a certain coach company that was running into financial trouble was about to rip out two seats and become a private hire company overnight. I was able to speak to BAA who immediately rang the company who, not surprisingly, denied any intention of this happening. This was about to happen but the union with its wide range of contacts was able to quietly and professionally ensure that this was nipped in the bud, before it had a chance to escalate. A real example of why it is so important to belong to the UNITE Heathrow Family - Unity is strength!
Kingston Hospital – Health B4 Profit UNITE the Union is launching a campaign to stop Kingston Hospital from outsourcing some of its essential services such as health visitors, district nursing and speech and language therapists to a social enterprise company Privatisation by the back door. The first thing that Kingston Hospital should do is to call a ballot of its staff. This it is refusing to do. I recently attended a board meeting at Kingston Hospital, not only did the Chief Executive refuse to answer questions from myself and other residents, but the NHS was discussed as a “business” and patients as “users”. It was truly one of the saddest days of my life. What are we doing to our society? The union has launched an on-line petition which takes only a couple of minutes to complete. This can be found at, action.unitetheunion.com/ ballotinkingston Together we will stop the NHS from being dismantled. This again is another example of the power of the UNION and how collectively we are a force for good.
Merry Christmas and a Peaceful and Healthy New Year! I would just like to take this opportunity on behalf of UNITE the Union's Heathrow Cab Section to wish you and your families a very happy Christmas and a Peaceful and Healthy New Year! Dan Freeman is Chair Heathrow Union Learning Forum Chair West London Area Activist Committee
UNITE URGE BASILDON COUNCIL TO RE-LIMIT On the 17th November the representatives of the Basildon taxi trade, including UNITE cab section, met with Basildon District Council at the regular taxi forum meetings. One of the items on the agenda was to discuss the possibility of a survey in Basildon district. This followed a request at a previous meeting for the possibility of re-limiting to be looked at. The council had produced a series of questions that they believed needed answering before they could consider introducing quantity controls. Unite produced an extensive response to this document arguing why quantity controls would enhance the taxi service for passengers and be beneficial for drivers. In attendance, on behalf of UNITE were Mike Hedges and Ben Fuente from the Cab Trade Committee (CTC). In 2005 the council held a meeting to decide on delimitation. it was obviously well attended by the proprietors of the trade in the district. During the course of the meeting there were obviously a lot of objections against delimiting; some people had invested their pensions, redundancies and savings into their taxi business. We did have representation from the union and Ben did put up a good case for the trade, but I felt that the chairman at the time was put under pressure from the local leisure park (which incorporated night clubs, pubs, restaurants etc) to de-limit as they felt that was
the way forward to clear the park in the early hours (even after we told them it was our opinion the de-limitation would lead to less cabs at night). We felt at the time that they came to their decision because of this issue. At a previous forum meeting Ben Fuente had asked the council if in their opinion after four years of delimitation had they made the correct decision. Ben explained that there was no evidence either way to say what the effects of de-limitation had been. Had it actually improved the service to passengers? The council said that at a future meeting they would allow the trade to put their case and at the meeting of the 17 November that is what happened. The chairman put forward a motion where the licensing officers and councillors would undertake an internal review over the next few weeks and submit a report of their findings to the sublicensing committee in January 2010 I would like to thank Mike Hedges and Ben Fuente for their input from the union. When Mike was talking he certainly spoke with a lot of knowledge and commitment and I believe his input convinced the Chairman that it was the correct path to recommend that the council carry out a survey. It seemed to me that only UNITE had a clear understanding on how we can convince the council to re-limit. – Ralph Morgan, Basildon.
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2OO9 – THE YEAR OF UNITY AND THE WRECKERS FRANK BRAVERMAN LOOKS BACK AT 2009 AND HOW THE UNITY OF UNITE, THE LTDA AND THE LCDC STANDS OUT IN CONTRAST WITH A MOB OF WRECKERS WHO HAVE TRIED TO DESTROY IT ALMOST FROM THE START Several significant happenings in 2009 showed that disgruntled London cab drivers were, in ever increasing numbers, becoming more militant and were no longer prepared to suffer the indignities being foisted upon them by such bodies as Transport for London (TFL), the Public Carriage Office (PCO), Westminster City Council, British Airports, or the private hire rabble with friends in high places. Right from the beginning of 2009, cab drivers were looking with a jaundiced eyes at Penton Street and Westminster City Hall, because they felt the authorities were showing more than a little impartiality towards the private hire trade by allowing a tour bus parking bay at Whitcomb Street to be used at night, ostensibly for minicabs waiting for fares and what was nothing, more or less, than a glorified minicab rank. Drivers were also furious because Westminster and the PCO were also turning a blind eye to the Clipboard Johnnies who were roaming at will, away from their Leicester Square and other booking offices and were accosting people in the streets and touting for custom – contrary to cab and PH acts and orders. Drivers also felt that the Metropolitan Police – its Transport Operational Command Unit (TOCU), in particular, was showing a negative attitude at that time to these, and other PH goings-on at numerous nightspots and other venues all over London. Other grievances against the PCO with regard to PH vehicles and drivers were, exterior advertising, tinted rear and side windows, or the need to do any form of the knowledge of London or undertake a driving test.
cycles. This receives short shrift from UNITE and CTN (June/July) points out the fact that in October 2004, Leeds County Court turned down an application from Chauffeur Bikes for licensing and that the Queens Bench Division in the High Court later upheld that decision.
Brave Natalie Heathrow Victory A successful protest at Heathrow Airport stops the British Airports Authority (BAA) sneaky plan in its tracks, to allow PH booking desks into Terminals 3 and 5 for the Radio Taxi Group and Addison Lee’s private hire operations. Once again it was the unity of the united trade group that won the day. In July, UNITE, the LTDA, LCDC, HALT, HADU met BAA representatives at Heathrow and threatened joint industrial action if the desks went ahead. Peter Kavanagh, UNITE’s Senior Cab Officer told BAA that they had until 4 o’clock of that day to respond. Totally taken aback at the depth of this unity, BAA adjourned the meeting and asked for time to consider. They came back later that day to announce that the PH desk scheme had been dropped.
Fare Rise Cab fares rose by 3.4 per cent in April. This increase followed the tried and tested custom of many years of the Cost Index – the brainchild of the late Peter Hagger and Gerry Allen of the TGWU (Now UNITE) and are now set in stone.
Motorbike Minicabs The PCO produces a consultation document in the Spring on the proposed licensing of motor
Another joint demonstration outside the PCO against giving a cab licence to a wife killer and schizophrenic which came in the wake of the conviction of London cab driver John Warboys for rape. The PCO drops the idea of licensing pedicabs. UNITE and the LTDA press the authorities for them to be brought within the meaning of the Road Traffic Acts. This means they could then be prosecuted for the many offences under the Highway Code they are now committing.
Joe Royle at Transport House On June 2, Chief Superintendent Joe Royle, head of the Metropolitan Police’s TOCU, addressed a UNITE branch meeting at Transport House and also answered questions by members on future police operations regarding the cab and PH trades. Supt Royle was honest to admit that it was going to be a long hard slog to curtail these PH illegal activities. In time, this meeting was to prove a useful exercise in good relations between the trade, Joe Royle and TOCU. Peter Bond, of the UNITE Cab Trade Committee declared later: “Relations between us and TOCU have improved 200 per cent. There is now almost immediate contact to any requests by phone or email. Joe Royle now understands the issues facing London cabbies much better than before we built up this relationship.” Peter also paid tribute to Martin Low, Westminster City Council’s Traffic Commissioner for his cooperation on several issues with regard to PH.
Delimitation UNITE calls for a review an OFT report on delimitation of cab numbers and demands that the government honours the pledge that it made in a letter of June 16, 2004 to review the situation regarding quantity controls of cab
Salford Fights Delimitation In September, Salford cab drivers demonstrate against its licensing authorities decision to delimit the number of cab licences in the city. Cabs from all over the Manchester area join in the demonstration in support. On the other side of the coin is the decision by Southend-on-Sea to return to controlled growth of cab numbers – thanks to the efforts of UNITE. There is to be a judicial hearing on the Salford matter on December 15.
Mercedes Reveals All On October 21 CTN was invited to visit the PENSO factory at Coventry for the first time to see the Mercedes Vito being converted to become PCO-approved London taxi. It was claimed by the Taxi Group that it now has over 30 per cent of the London market. It was the bravery of radio cab driver Natalia Shalom and her boyfriend, who ran a gauntlet of abuse from PH drivers, by standing waiting for fares outside the Nobu restaurant that triggered a chain of events which began when many other night drivers started to assert themselves alongside them and led to the establishment of new cab ranks outside this and other nightspots in November.
The Enemies Without . . .
As a result, February saw a splendid drive-in organised by UNITE the Union, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), and the London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC), and 10,000 plus cabbies descended on Trafalgar Square from all directions. Many of the drivers were waving copies of Ed Thompson’s infamous “one strike and you are out,” letter. Imagine the even greater impact if ALL London’s 24,000 plus drivers had taken part. Thompson later apologised to the cab trade, saying that his letter was intended for the PH trade. The only sour note of the demonstration was the first appearance of a tiny group of dissident cabbies who, in the face of this splendid unity, had decided to create a mischievous split by joining the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) and demonstrating under its banner. Why had these disruptive elements – well known by the three main trade drivers’ organisations decided to form a splinter group? Was it an attempt to disrupt this unity, or was there an hidden agenda? We had to wait for several months to find out.
licence numbers. Mike Hedges of UNITE declares (CTN August): “There is absolutely no evidence to support the notion that delimitation provides a better service for passengers. In fact the opposite is often true.”
One PH fat cat, John Griffin of Addison Lee, who seems to think he is basking in the benevolence of the PCO and also thinks he can walk on water, advised – nay told - his drivers to use the M4 Motorway bus lane. Protests from the cab trade led to a three way passing of the buck between the Highways Agency, the PCO and the Metropolitan Police as to who was responsible for law and order. UNITE Cab Section members then took a BBC television crew out to the M4. UNITE has since written to the PCO demanding the revocation of Addison Lee’s PH Operators licence. PH also has the brass neck to demand that they use all bus and taxi lanes elsewhere in London!
. . . and the Enemies Within The enemies within are our own radio circuits who are increasing their activities on the PH front and are selling their cab members, subscribers, and journey drivers down the river. We had the sickening spectacle of London Taxi Group’s, Geoffrey Reisel of the London Taxi Board claiming he wanted to put his PH cars into Heathrow because Addison Lee was about to “Hoover up” there.
LTI goes solo LTI makes a shock announcement in the summer that it is to terminate its contracts with all its independent dealers to sell new TX4’s – such as KPM, Patons, Taxifix, Taxi World and Smith & Humphrey – from mid 2010 and go it alone with its own existing, and new, future outlets. Peter da Costa of KPM declares himself to be “saddened” by this decision. All these independent dealers then announce that they are to become part of the Taxi Group that will sell, manufacture and distribute the new MercedesBenz Vito PCO-Approved taxi. LTI also announces that all remedial works following the spate of TX4 engine fires had been completed.
Goodbye Taxi Board UNITE responded to Radio Taxi Group hypocrisy at Heathrow by calling upon LTI Limited to disassociate itself from the London Taxi Board (LTB) on the grounds that it did not fully represent all this trade – which after all is LTI’s bread and butter. LTI then resigned from the LTB, closely followed by the Licensed Motor Cab Proprietors Association (LMCPA).
A new PCO Director TfL appoints John Mason as its new Director of Taxi and Private Hire who took over from Ed Thompson in September at Penton Street. He says he is “looking forward to working with the trade to provide an even better service for Londoners.”
RMT/GMB sell-out to PH There is surprise and shock in the trade as the new RMT cab branch and the GMB Professional Drivers Branch, which has PH driver members, enter into an alliance and issue a charter. UNITE had already refused to enter into any such alliance with the GMB when it was approached seven years ago and that situation remains unchanged to this day. Writing in the CTN (December), UNITE Cab Trade Committee Chair Jim Kelly says: “Taxi law is arcane and UNITE national policy is for a new National Cab Act to iron out the often confusing and contradictory law which we are forced to work under. “It is therefore vitally important for national taxi organisations, especially national unions representing drivers, to furnish a detailed articulate, robust response in order to better represent their members.” By this token, it is apparent that the RMT has little or no understanding of the issues that face licensed cab drivers in their day to day work, and what UNITE is trying to achieve, and is now becoming clear that any information it does receive is, for a greater part, misleading and has been supplied by these dissident mischief makers who also want to drag the cab trade into the Working Time Directive.
Who Pays At the time of going to press, there had been no news on who pays, and when, any compensation due to proprietors following the spate of TX4 engine fires at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009.
Boris’s Bombshell In October, Mayor of London Boris Johnson informs the cab trade of proposals to set a 15year limit on cabs in 2012, and a 10-year limit from 2015 as part of his clean air strategy for the capital. In his letter, Boris has the temerity to write: “These policies will not affect the vast majority of you who have already upgraded your vehicles. They are aimed at those who have older cabs that tend to be polluting.” Somebody should remind Boris that the older cabs he is aiming at have all been upgraded, having had thousands of pounds
Continued on Page 11
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UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT Continued from Page 9 invested on them to reduce emissions and we were told that this upgrading was the end of the matter. If our worthy Mayor is allowed to get away with this, 1,225 cabs will be forced off the road in 2012 and 6,621 in 2015 – these figures are based on PCO statistics – and represents 35.2 per cent of London’ 22,302 cabs. Flushed with his cheap victory of ending six-monthly cab testing, Boris obviously feels that we are still a cheap and easy touch. UNITE supports’ cleaner air policies, But why unnecessarily remove cabs, many of which are in good order, and meet PCO standards, when the law of diminishing returns will send a number of them to “that great cab rank in the sky,” sooner than later anyway? If we give in to his demands Boris will have done more damage to us than Ken Livingstone ever did. If the Mayor is really concerned about much of London’s pollution, let him tell TfL and the boroughs to speed up the ridiculous traffic light
phasings as he promised to do when elected and use the powers of the Traffic Management Act 2004, Part 4, Street Works, which gives local authorities powers to stop these indiscriminate tearing up of the streets as at present.
Ignore the Splitters and Wreckers As we come up to the New Year, we have seen the trade starting to fight to retain the work and conditions it has been losing – particularly at night – but we must continue to be vigilant and act against everything Boris, TfL/PCO and the boroughs do to move the goal posts. Drivers should not listen to those trying to damage the taxi trades’ unity nor the half-baked ranting of the hard-of-thinking on the internet and some trade journals. Instead of doing one another over for a job, work to do over those who would with sheer malice and stupidity destroy your trade. Join UNITE and help to achieve this. After all a union is only as good as the strength of its membership and the more the merrier.
THE EDITORIAL BOARD
taxi globe dated 13th May 2009. It makes me chuckle and sad at the same time that this has nothing to do with ‘‘winning back our work’’ per se, rather the fact that we’re in the middle of the worst financial crisis in more than a few years and all of a sudden cab drivers, myself included, are struggling to ‘‘earn a few quid’’. It’s typical, and quite sad actually, that cab drivers work so hard to get into this trade, then care so little about it when they finally get their ‘‘green badge’’. . . . Apart from when it suits of course. I think you'll find there was no recession going on circa 2005. . . . How much better our trade would be, if this kind of action went on when ‘‘we’re all nicking a few quid’’ rather than the odd times when it seems like ‘‘kipper season’’ all year round. But alas that’s the nature of the beast I suppose. United we stand, divided we fall and I think these past few months have shown what can be acheived when we as a trade stick together as one! Sadly, I fear the status quo will be resumed as soon as work levels pick up. . . . But then I could be wrong. Some redress of the balance to your front page would be much appreciated. – Name and Address supplied.
J oin the campaigning Union for taxi drivers! As a member of the UNITE Cab Section you will: • Make the policies on all taxi
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issues, including ◆ Annual tariff review based on a cost index ◆ VAT zero rating and no fuel tax ◆ Vehicle protection against assault, noise and accident ◆ Free and Open access to all transport interchanges ◆ Access to bus lanes ◆ Taxis at the centre of all local transport plans
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Dear Peter. As a licensed London taxi cab driver like yourself, I read most trade papers and magazines to keep abreast of what’s going on in the trade and I’ve been a keen reader of your work during the 17 years I’ve been in this fantastic trade. But the inaccuracy of your front page of Cab Trade News dated December 2009 prompted me to write to you and maybe put you straight on a couple of issues. Firstly, I’d like you to look at the date above . . . December 2009. I’d like to bring to your attention (and please excuse the self flattery here) that I believe I was the first licensed taxi cab driver to bring the problem of Nobu Berkeley to the cab trades attention in, get this . . . November 2005!! That’s right, a full four years before the current crusade to ‘‘win back our work’’ (sic). And while some people are, maybe quite rightly, taking the praise for getting a rank outside the above establishment, I’d like to ask where these drivers were in the intervening four years, thus letting the ‘‘mini scabs’’ get a foothold outside these establishments, when I first brought this subject up in the november 2005 edition of dial a cabs fantastic magazine ‘‘callsign’’ and later used in
Peter J Rose
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CHRISTMAS 2009 – CAB TRADE NEWS – Page 12