Issuu on Google+

MountviewNews

Celebrating 60 Years of Radio Taxis

Spring 2013

EAR Y Y R A S NIVER N A D N MO OUR DIA


Why not join the Credit Union now! WELL CHRISTMAS IS NOW OUT OF THE WAY, we hope you all had a good one, it’s a little late but from everyone at the Credit Union we wish you and your families a Happy and Prosperous New Year. That time has once again returned when your tax is due, for many causing big headaches trying to find the money to pay your bill. Not for those who belong to the Credit Union as they have saved throughout the year or have taken out a loan to pay this. We have been saying for many years that we really do not understand why many more of you have not joined the Credit Union, the mind boggles, what are you waiting for, or perhaps you like the headache when it comes to pay your tax or whatever else comes along. The peace of mind that those who do belong is great with not having to worry how this is going to be paid, they know full well that all it takes is a phone call to this office to arrange a loan or request a share withdrawal to pay those tax bills. If you join now you will be eligible, if needed, to take a loan to cover this expense for the next demand in July 2013, or just save for a holiday, save as much or as little as you like, remember you have to be a member and save regularly for a minimum of three months before qualifying for a loan, savings can be withdrawn anytime. Once again we cannot emphasise enough how useful being a member is, you may apply for a loan for whatever reason you may have, no questions asked. Apart from the income tax issue you may want to take a holiday or buy items for home, or you can just save for a rainy day, your choice. Ask any of your friends who are members just how easy it was to raise money for whatever reason they may have had. Join now, it is so much easier to have money deducted from your account work than having to come in to pay, alternatively if you wish, you may pay by Standing Order direct from your Bank/Building Society, you decide how much you wish to save each month. A TYPICAL LOAN FROM RADIO TAXICABS (LONDON) CREDIT UNION LTD IS AS FOLLOWS: £1,000 over 12 months will cost you £88.85 a month, total loan repayment is £1,066.20, interest payable is only £66.20, beat that if you can. In addition to this all loans and savings are insured and fully protected in the event of an untimely death, this normally costs a great deal more with other lenders. For an application form or other information, or you just want to discuss anything relating to the Credit Union just give us a call and we would be happy discussing this with you. Call Selam Haile on: 020 7561 5131. Email: credit.union@radiotaxis.co.uk

CreditUnion Radio Taxicabs ( London) Credit Union Ltd No. 90C Mountview House, Lennox Road, London N4 3TX Tel: 020 7561 5148 Fax: 020 7561 5166

2

Authorised and Regulated by the Financial Services Authority FRN. 213232


INSIDE THIS ISSUE: 4 This Month’s ‘Ed Lines’ Roger Sligo – Roving Roger reporting 8 60 Years of Radio Taxis! Geoffrey Riesel trips off down memory lane 10 1953 – A Year to Remember Roger Sligo jumps in his time machine taxi

MountviewN ews

CONTENTS

11 Marsha Miles Her recent appointment as Customer Services Manager 12 The Affects of Taxi Apps on Radio Taxis Alan Franks talks with ‘app’itude 13 What is 4G? Dan Ellis reveals all 14 Twitter Tips Geoffrey Riesel on taxi driver tweeting techniques 15 RTG Driver’s Forum Steve Cooper on taxi drivers getting their say 16 Curiosity Corner Roger Sligo talks Kilns, Mice and Castrations! 18 Easter and all it Entails Robert MacDonald Watson ‘eggs’plains it all 19 The Future of the High Street Gordon Brown talks shop 20 The London Cinema Museum Roger Sligo and The Projectionist’s Dream 23 TMC or not to TMC? Roy Hughes and those travel management companies 24 What is the Farringdon Hub? Peter Gibson explains all 25 Parking Enforcement John Vigus parks up and gives some good advice 26 The Mountview News Caption Competition Come up with a funny line – win £25 of M&S Vouchers 27 The Mountview News Puzzler Page Rack your brains while on the rank

MOUNTVIEW NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM IS: Roger Sligo – Editor & photos / Penny Cuckston – Administration Doug Canning, DC-Graphics – Design, layout, artwork, print & distribution Geoffrey Riesel & Peter Gibson – Board production Design: © 2013 / DC-Graphics / Barnet / Herts / EN5 5TP T: 0208 440 1155 / W: www.dc-graphics.co.uk Content: © 2013 / Radio Taxis Group Ltd / Lennox Road / London / N4 3TX The information and images contained in this Newsletter are subject to copyright. Unauthorised use, disclosure or copying without prior written permission is strictly prohibited.

ose l t ’ n o d w No is h t r e v o d your hea s 20 – 21 See pages

3


E NSL Testing Sites Nd Lines E

Open from the 1st of March ON THURSDAY 31ST JANUARY AT 10am members of London’s taxi trade were invited to a pre-view of the NSL testing station at Heston. Due to a serious road traffic accident during the rush hour near the Jolly Waggoner’s roundabout, the whole area soon became gridlocked and because of the traffic snarl-up only half of the expected trade representatives managed to show up. In attendance were John Mason, Director of Taxis & Private Hire (TPH) and his Deputy Director Helen Chapman. Representing NSL was Dale Wood with some other senior members of staff. The Meeting began on time with Helen Chapman opening the meeting by announcing that it would not be possible to walk through the large inspection area as the newly painted floor was still wet due to the weather. We could however see it through the viewing window where drivers will be able to watch whilst their cabs are inspected. We were informed that all taxi licensing inspections will take place at one of the six inspection sites around London from the first of March 2013 or in the case of Private Hire Vehicles (PHV) the 28th February. Both PHV’s and Taxis will be tested at the same sites. The only difference between the tests for PHV’s and that for taxis, will be the need for taxis to be put on the ramps, purely for checking gearbox seals and retrofit exhaust systems and to make sure they comply. Helen told us how TPH has reformed and modernised since she and John Mason first joined the Directorate back in 2009. The SGS contract had been very successful having been outsourced and that it was due for renewal, so it was decided to look for alternative ways of licensing, with NSL making the most successful bid. Bringing what was once the Public Carriage Office, with its out of date administration into the modern world has been no easy task. Moving into the 21st century with modern IT systems and the new approach to vehicle testing could be what the trade has been crying out for. I spoke to one very large taxi garage owner who was not happy with what he sees as a dropping of standards for cabs having standard MOT tests; unfortunately for garages they may well be losing out financially from the charges they have historically made for overhauls. Drivers should be a lot better off, after all drivers who have regular services will only have to take their cabs to any MOT station as they would take their private cars. If the taxi fails, you will get the faults fixed and the taxi re-

4

WS

presented at no extra charge. The MOT certificate must not be issued more than 14 days before the NSL test. You will need to have the meter changed as normal, making sure to collect the Certificate of Taximeter Installation. When you attend the NSL testing site you must take all the relevant paperwork that you would normally take, such as log books, license plates, insurance certificate, road tax, approval notice and of course your new M.O.T with smoke test less than 14 days old – what could be easier?

NSL New testing site, Heston

THE NSL TEST IS FOR TAXI SPECIFIC ITEMS ONLY NSL will check over your cab whilst it stands on the floor. This is just to check things that are not a requirement for the MOT test such as spare wheels, rear window washers and wipers, body work, interior lights, seats, taxi meter and seals, wheelchair ramps, ash trays etc. After these checks are carried out the taxi will go onto the ramps, as already mentioned, for gearbox seal and retrofit exhausts checks. John Mason was surprised when someone asked about the wheel hub caps, should they be on or off? He had not realised that there was an issue, as SGS had always insisted that they must be removed! The spokesman of NSL assured us all that it wouldn’t matter whether hub caps were on or off. He said plainly that there would be no games played and there are no grey areas, for example, no meter or seal fitted would result in failure. If the bodywork is full of dents and rust and has unauthorised notices fitted then again it will fail. If it does fail at NSL the second test is free, however if it fails after the second test you will then be required to pay £102 again! You will be able to book your NSL inspection either online or by phone, you will also eventually be able to upload your documents online. The NSL test is expected to take 30 minutes, it could be slightly longer at first until the staff gets used to doing the inspections. If your plate runs out early in March make sure you book your taxi in now because you risk missing out


because there have not been the expected bookings and there might be a backlog, so book now! Dale Wood, sales director of NSL, began his speech by informing us of the company background. Their Head Office is in Hanger Lane and they are government outsourcing agents who include in their portfolio, street enforcement, delivering hospital patients from home to hospital and then home again; they also run buses from Gatwick and Heathrow Airports and assist TfL with the Congestion Charge. Dale said how pleased he was to be dealing with the world’s renowned taxi service and he appreciates how important it is to get things running right. Helen Chapman then said they would be taking questions and answers; the first was involving leaks after just passing the MOT. We were told that if there was visually a substantial leak which could be either water or oil it was not for their inspectors to decide what the substance is and they would therefore not pass their inspection. John Mason made it clear by giving his absolute assurance that they; “would not be prodding about to try and find things wrong. The tests that NSL conducts are per our instructions. I give my absolute assurance” said Mr Mason, “we are not trying to create a third MOT, we are doing Taxi Specific checks and we are not intentionally looking for things that are wrong, if there are things which are obviously wrong then it will of course fail.” When their IT system is up and running you will eventually be able to upload all documentation to their computer which will make it easier for driver owners and garages alike. It is likely over the next few years that drivers applying for a licence online will see a reduction in the cost of renewing, simply because TPH are not allowed to make a profit and can only charge what it costs for processing, with online bookings being cheaper in administration costs, the savings will be passed on. For the second MOT which is due six months after the first, a reminder will be sent and after the MOT test, VOSA will notify TPH that it has passed or failed. If the taxi owner ignores the reminder a second one will be sent and if that’s not adhered to, steps will be taken to revoke the licence! If you get a stop notice with the on street compliance officers, if it’s a mechanical defect you will need to have a new MOT before it can be used again, which means paying again for the test. If however it is a bodywork stop notice then NSL will have to pass it again and this test will be free of charge. Having taken a look and spoken in depth with senior members of TPH and NSL, I honestly believe the new system will save taxi owners a decent bit of money. You do not need in future to pay large sums of money to have your taxi taken for passing. A normal MOT can cost as little as £25 up to £50 depending on where you go. Add the £102 fee for the NSL test and for less than £200 including the 6 months tests you could save something like £1,000 on a garage doing the job for you. After all you wouldn’t pay a garage to take your car for the MOT so why would you want to for your taxi?

THE 6 SITES AT NSL ARE: ● North Site – Watermill Business Park, Enfield ● South Site – Redlands Industrial Estate, Coulsdon, Surrey ● East Site – Acorn Industrial Park, Crayford, Dartford ● West Site – Air Links Industrial Estate, Hounslow ● Central East – 1 North Crescent, Canning Town ● Central West – Aquarius Business Park, Staples Corner NSL – TESTING THE WATERS Friday 1st of March was the opening day for taxis at all the six new TPH/NSL testing sites around London. To see how things were going after my briefing at Heston the month before, I decided to go along to Canning Town and get some reaction first hand from drivers. A little disappointed to find only four taxis in the parking area surrounded by PH NSL at Canning Town cars, although there again this is something we will have to get used to for being out numbered, sharing the same test sites, performed by the same examiners, to the same requirements and standards, which will forever end the years of complaining about the treatment between us and them! Although this was the first day for taxis, Private Hire testing had begun the day before, although no one really knew apparently on both days, just what to expect. The NSL inspectors in their new smart navy blue jumpers, with the small royal blue logo badge on the left hand side, made them appear a little like Metropolitain Police Officers, but I had to keep reminding myself those days were long gone and these were staff of a new company which had won the franchise to inspect our cabs, this time more for the comfort and cleanliness of the driver area and passenger compartments than the mechanical safety aspects. I got chatting to one taxi driver from Essex, James Stark, who had obtained his MOT from “Just Taxis” of Benfleet, a few days earlier. “It passed the MOT first James Stark and his Cab time and as I’m a customer of theirs anyway, they did the MOT test for free without charging me” he said. “Last year they did the overhaul and took it to SGS for me and it cost over a grand, so I should be quids in this year!” His appointment was at 1:30pm and before 2pm he had his new plates on the back of his cab as he drove off to work. He was over the moon even though he had to pay £159.00 instead of the £102 which is the charge as from the 2nd April 2013 onwards, he still agreed he has had a right result.

5


Whilst I was still waiting outside NSL I saw a brand new Vito being driven by an examiner on its way to receive its first plate. The rear wheel steering was being put through its paces as the tester checked for the 25ft turning circle. I noticed there was an MOT station next door advertising a “free MOT if it fails,” so I went inside to speak to the owner Mr David Murr who spoke with a friendly northern accent. He told me how pleased he was that this new NSL testing station had been sited bang next door to his own garage. “I can’t believe my luck” he told me. I asked about the no win no fee deal and he said that’s exactly what it is. “Book your cab or car in and if it fails you owe me nothing. You are free to take it away and even if you don’t come back, that’s fine. Obviously I hope it passes, but if it fails then of course I hope you get the work done and bring it back to me for passing but that’s up to you.” David assured me that there is no catch and he is not looking to stripe you up, in fact he has got the taxi parts in stock to make any on the spot repairs. I am a fairly good judge of character and David convinced me he wants to be a good friend of the taxi trade and he hopes to see us sometime in the future. I tried to make a deal for discounts on behalf of Radio Taxis and Xeta drivers, but on his £45 MOT, charged only if the cab passes, this was not an option. Where I did strike up a good deal though was after explaining stop notices – that if your cab gets an on-street mechanical stop notice from a compliance officer (you will need another new MOT to get it removed) he has offered an exclusive RTG half price MOT (£22.50) deal to get you back on the road. So what do I think of the new NSL with two MOT tests a year? I think at last we are free to go where we please and be tested by whom we like – it will save us all plenty of money that’s for sure! The only ones who will not be too happy with the new set up are the garages who will lose the blank cheques we have all had to write to keep our cabs on the road. I think TPH has given us all the chance to save money. Credit where credit is due; they have stuck their necks out and released us from some of the bureaucracy of the past. Remember to get your own MOT and take it up to NSL yourself – you will save ££££’s. NEW DESIGN LICENCES AND AREA IDENTIFIERS In March 2013, TfL will commence issuing replacement licences and area identifiers to all licensed London taxi drivers. The new licences and area identifiers will be of a similar design to existing ones but will contain a number of new security features. In addition, following feedback from the trade, the new suburban area identifiers will have a larger space to show the areas for which a driver is licensed to ply for hire. One of the key reasons for replacing all taxi driver licences and area identifiers is to combat fraudulent licences. The introduction of the area identifiers has highlighted issues that have existed within the trade for a number of

6

years. Between March and December 2012, some 27 arrests have been made by the police for the use of fraudulent documentation. Of these, a number were completely unlicensed drivers, that had not received any character and medical checks nor had they undertaken the Knowledge of London. These drivers are putting the public at risk and also damaging the earnings and reputation of legitimate taxi drivers. Accompanying the new documents will be instructions advising how to return existing documents to TfL. Any driver who has not received his or her replacement licence and area identifiers by 31 March 2013 should contact us via support@tph.tfl.gov.uk or call: 0845 602 7000. In order to facilitate this change a number of drivers were recently asked to submit passport size photographs which will allow a digital version to be reproduced on their licence. Any driver who has not yet responded to this request is urged to do so without further delay. Until a new photograph is provided we will be unable to issue the replacement licence and identifiers. Photographs can be emailed to TPHphotos@tfl.gov.uk or posted to: Taxi Driver Photographs TPH, 4th Floor, Green Zone, Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8NJ. After 31 March 2013 any driver not displaying new style identifiers will be liable to a compliance action therefore it is imperative that drivers provide a photograph as requested. THE FX3 REVISITED

An old FX3 Cab

On a rainy Saturday in November, with four vintage taxis making up the quartet of Radio Taxis, taking part in the 2012 Lord Mayor’s Show, I noticed one elderly gentleman taking more than a keen interest in Stephen Dimmock’s vintage Austin FX3 taxi. Stephen is the membership secretary of the Vintage Taxi Association, which has provided us with vintage taxis for the Lord Mayor’s Show over the last few years, including his own FX3. The bystander checking over the FX3 taxi, I later


discovered was Mr Ron Pummell. When I asked why the big interest in that particular model with three other classic cabs present, such as a 1966 Beardmore, an Austin Low Loader and a Morris ‘Nuffield’ – his answer was legendary and led to him obtaining an Ron Pummell immediate spot in the show! Ron Pummell explained that he saw the taxi on TV in the previous year’s show while eating his bowl of corn flakes. As the taxi appeared on the screen he said to himself; ‘bloody hell SGO 196 – that’s my old cab.’ He vowed then and there to visit the next Lord Mayor’s Show, so as to take a closer look over his old workhorse. He told me that he didn’t actually own the cab himself but rented it for £12 a week from North Eastern Motors of Three Colts Lane. Coincidentally, when he rented it, the taxi just happened to be fitted for Radio Taxis (known as the Mountview circuit because of the phone number prefix), he explained; “So I began working on ‘Mountview’ in the days of Monty Gold who was one of the despatchers at the time” he continued. “Here is a name for you from the past – Mr Hunter – I wonder how many of your old drivers on Mountview will recall Mr Hunter?” He recalled that “Mr Hunter used to be a passenger living at the Europa House Hotel in Swiss Cottage. He would rent a cab and driver by the hour; and when calling this job on the radio the despatcher would just call it as “Mr Hunter” – no address or anything – Mr Hunter would pay £1 per hour.” Ron explained, “if you did 5 or 6 hours with him and wanted to get off home you would call for another driver to relieve you, he would pay you the £5 or £6 owing and take over the job. Mr Hunter would often call the office at 2am for a driver to pick up his sausage chips and peas from Nick’s Cafe on Fleet Street, which stood on the site of the present day McDonalds.” Another revelation of Ron’s regarding this FX3 was during January of 1963, when he was stopped at Hanover Gate, Regents Park and asked if he would go to the Zoological Society, at which place he got to pick up all four of the Beatles, John, George, Paul and Ringo; and their manager Brian Epstein too. Ron took them all to the Playhouse Theatre in Northumberland Avenue, where they were recording the BBC radio show ‘Easy Beat’ along with Freddie and the Dreamers on the same bill. On arrival Epstein handed Ron a fiver for the 6/– (six shillings or 30p) fare and finding no smaller change Ron had to settle for 5 bob – a shilling less than the fare (25p). Sometime afterwards, Ron recalled, whilst stopping at traffic lights in Regent Street, he noticed Brian Epstein sitting next to him in his limo. Tapping on the car window Ron shouted out; “hey, you still owe me a shilling” Epstein closed his window and took no notice. Brian Epstein tragically died a week later, although Ron stresses that there was no connection with Brian Epstein’s shilling debt. After such riveting tales from the past, the least we could do was to offer Ron to join the parade in style... As a passenger in the back of his old cab – something I’m sure he will always remember!

NO SMOKE WITHOUT FIRE London Mayor, Boris Johnson wants to make central London an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (zero) by 2020, raising the possibility that taxis (and any other vehicle which are not zero/low-emission) could be banned from the city during the day. Johnson thinks establishing an ULEZ in the area covered by the central London Congestion Zone would help slash the city’s air pollution levels, which currently exceeds EU norms (inviting large fines) and it is said to be the cause of 4,000 deaths a year. He said: “My vision is a central zone where almost all the vehicles running during working hours are either zero or low emission. This would deliver incredible benefits in air quality and stimulate the delivery and mass use of low-emission technology.” Of course, as Johnson won’t even be around in 2020 (his term ends in 2016) this could well be nothing more than a PR stunt to show that the government is thinking about the problem, or a challenge for his successor. This will do wonders I should think for the producers of London Taxis, as I can see hundreds of us (I don’t think) rushing out to buy new cabs that have just 7 years of life in them. HAT TRICK On a windy day at the end of January, I was driving with my passenger along Rochester Row, when suddenly a woman started running after my cab and shouting for me to stop. Thinking she was looking for an empty taxi and that she just hadn’t realised I was already hired, I carried on driving. As I came to a stop in the traffic just before the traffic lights, she finally caught up with me. I locked the doors just in case she tried to board the cab. She was still shouting excitedly about something so I opened the window to hear what she wanted. “My husband’s hat has blown onto your roof” she shrieked! Just then I heard a knocking noise coming from above my head. Then as I looked around I found her husband had hooked his trilby hat back with the aid of his walking stick. The trilby hat must have been caught on my aerial which kept it travelling along with us. Looking in my mirror I could see that my passenger was laughing and so was the driver in the cab behind. Roger Sligo.

Roger Sligo

7


60 Years of Radio Taxis By RTG Chairman & CEO Geoffrey Riesel.

TIME FLIES WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN, DOESN’T IT? I can only go back about 40 years, so maybe that makes me a new boy? Before my time, back in 1952 taxi owner/drivers were becoming concerned that the fleet owners were starting up their own radio circuits, wholly for the journeymen of their fleets. I think it was Levy’s in York Way who provided one of the first radio circuits for their drivers at that time. So, in true cab trade mode, not wanting to miss out, half a dozen mushes decided to start their own radio circuit. RODA This was called RODA, Radio Owners Drivers Association. And after a year of constant bickering RODA split in two, each group followed their own protagonist. One faction followed a man called Bonny Martin and this became Owner Drivers Radio Taxi Services, (ODRTS Ltd) now known as Dial a Cab and the other side followed Joe Stern, with this becoming Radio Taxicabs (Southern) Ltd which was us. After further spats about who owned the equipment Joe Stern went and bought an old radio transmitter from a sailor, which he recounted to me, he collected personally from Liverpool Street station and in his cab brought it to the “office.” Then someone got hold of an aluminium ladder which was to be used as the The late Joe Stern radio antenna. Having purchased Murphy valve radios (which lived in the boot of the cab) and the PCO insisted on fixed “swan necked mikes” (even then it was so that the driver didn’t get distracted holding a microphone while driving) they were in business. The first premises, was a lock up garage at Martin Motors, Townsend Yard, Highgate Hill: Joe said that he climbed up onto the roof to “lash” the ladder securely. According to Joe he also did the first job in his cab which was from the BBC, Broadcasting House in Portland Place. HIGHPOINT Before too long Radio Taxicabs (Southern) Ltd, which was our original name, moved into the basement service flats of the famous art deco block in North Hill Highgate, Highpoint. The local copper would come in at night for a cup of tea and give the voice despatcher a break off the box. If you were despatching on voice you were “on the box.” The company secretary sat in the loo (seat down of course) with piles of cash and an adding machine slip, paying out drivers for their account work. My late father in law Freddie Franks (G98) told me that sometimes on Sundays in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s he would

8

offer customers 30 minutes and “run” back from Victoria or Waterloo to pick up again in Highgate and then go back to a London Station. He explained that when he finished his shift he had to go and “knock up” his other driver, Percy Jasper so that the circuit still had a working taxi out in London and covering the work. It is a far cry from the thousands of drivers and taxis on Radio Taxis now. MOUntview 3232 As an outcome from those days when phone numbers had a name or prefix and we were based in Highgate; our number was MOUntview 3232. Our erstwhile sister circuit, Dial a Cab was based in Maida Vale and their number was LORds 4848. So when anyone asked which circuit you were on, our drivers would respond “I’m on the MOUntview circuit!” And the nickname stuck. Over the years it is also amazing how the technology of delivering a taxi to the door has changed, rather than the passenger going out into the street to find one, often in rain or inclement weather. From voice radio back in those days and paper job dockets, the company moved from Highgate to 157 Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park and steadily grew in numbers throughout the years. From the 1970’s to the 1980’s the era of the yuppie materialised, the three hour lunch, the Filofax and the Big Bang in the City. Radio Taxis account work exploded, particularly in the City where no-one could rival the coverage provided by the fleet growth of the circuit; among some of the most seminal clients of that era were the late Yehudi Menuhin, Bill Wyman and The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, John Cleese, Jack Warner and the BBC. Also experiencing phenomenal growth at the time was one customer of ours, advertising agency CDP (Collett, Dickenson & Pearce.) That name might not spring to mind, but they were responsible for so many of the memorable TV commercials of the era and that was the “wallpaper of our lives.” They produced the TV ads for Harvey’s Bristol Cream, Bird’s Eye, Parker Pens, Fiat, Ford, Pretty Polly, and Ronson. They came up with campaign slogans which entered the national consciousness include “Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet” and “Land Rover – the best 4 x 4 x far.” And of course who could forget “Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach” (1974), Cinzano with Leonard Rossiter and Joan Collins and the Benson & Hedges advert. Even more surprising is the list of people who worked for CDP and went on to greater Townsend Yard fame and fortune. Names like, Frank Lowe


(now Sir Frank Lowe); David Puttnam (now Lord Puttnam); Alan Parker (now Sir Alan Parker); John Hegarty and Charles Saatchi as well as Ridley Scott, who went on to become the director of Blade Runner, Alien and Gladiator. Also Chariots of Fire director Hugh Hudson. At any one given time in the 1980’s Radio Taxis had a convoy of cabs waiting outside their door in Chalton Street off Euston Road and another “shoal” of cabs waiting outside smart restaurants for lunch to finish. SOME OF THE CHARACTERS Ask any driver from that era and they will remember some of the characters who were either staff or voice despatchers or Board members, people like: Derek Diamond, Gerry Chess, Morry Joel, Freddie Johnson, Sid Reagan, Harvey Student, Rodney Hussar, Rex Harris, Paul Orgle, Jack Moss, Ivan Singer, Bob Thompson, Charlie Coburn, Len Collins, Geoff Rich, Lou Angel, Gerry Richmond, Dick O’Brien, Gerry Harris, Gerry Graham, Ray Waxman, Henry Feldman, Bobby Petch, Freddie Franks, Jack Silver, Larry Burns, Sylvie Darling, Penny Cuckston, Rose Morris, Carole Harpin, Harry Cohen, Stanley Cohen, Alan Fields, J.J. Franks and Martin Rosenberg. “THE CHEF” Throughout the late 1980’s at about 9pm or whenever there was a short lull in the work, evening despatcher Gerry “the Chef” Graham used to reel off a list off the menu he had “cooked” for the staff that evening for dinner. Everyone was really envious of the staff on the evening shift for the way they “ate” on that shift. Passengers in the back of our cabs would ask how could they “hire” Gerry for their dinner parties. Of course Gerry was really more of a Bon Viveur than a Chef; his menu was probably one that he had enjoyed at the weekend in London at a restaurant with friends. The whole thing was really just a yarn, but one which both drivers and clients would really enjoy. DATA DESPATCH & DEMUTUALISATION In 1990, Radio Taxicabs (London) Ltd as the company then became known moved to their current premises, Mountview House (formerly Fonthill Mews). At the same time high speed computerised Zonal data despatch was implemented and the ability to cover large volumes of trips and in an exceptionally timely fashion, took a huge step-change forwards. Next in 1998 the company implemented an even better new system, a high speed auto despatch closest cab GPS system, Pathfinder. This was put into service probably ten years before GPS was in popular use. The new system made a further step change improving response times and reducing carbon output by cutting down on drivers dead mileage. In 2004, recognising that it was time to change, that the company should not continue as a Mutual Society, the business took on investment, diversified and demutualised into a company with an exclusive online share trading system. Our friend and major investor, Brian McBride of the Yellow Cab Company in Cleveland USA, became part of our “Mountview” family. The most important change was the diversification. Radio Taxis

Group was the first UK Company to create an online transport management platform providing a One-Stop-Shop of personal transport, through the subsidiary One Transport. The Group was the first to provide both taxis and private hire from the same source: This was also a step change, but one which was not necessarily popular with all of the drivers, but in time, many have begun to recognise that it was the only way to go if taxis were to retain some of the work, albeit as an important part of a mix of services. Most especially drivers have recognised that it is what our clients were asking for and thus essential for our very existence. These days Radio Taxis subsidiary is responsible for managing and providing all of the personal transport and courier requirements for the BBC throughout the country, especially in Salford, Manchester. Radio Taxis and Xeta takes London Underground both to work and home in the early hours of every single day of the year. One Transport managed very successfully, to direct and provide all of the shuttle transport (for fewer than 20 seat vehicles) for LOCOG primarily in taxis but as part of a spectrum of services for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. Most of our clients use all forms of the transport modes that the Group provides and there is no conflict of interest as the client receives whichever service they request. Radio Taxis Network team, delivers transport locally and internationally as well as UK wide: This means, that when calling for a cab to the airport, Radio Taxis, also will provide transport at the destination, wherever that is, in the UK or almost anywhere throughout the world: I wonder what the late Joe Stern and the late Len Pomerance, the first Chairman and the first Company Secretary, would have thought of that? Geoffrey Riesel. Key to the photos above: 1: Drivers Learning MDI 2: Control Room at ‘157’ 3: Derek Diamond 4: Highpoint, North Hill

5: Henry, Ray & Phil 6: The late former RT Chairman Morry Joel 7: 157 Stroud Green Road 8: Brian McBride

9


1953 A Year To Remember DURING 2013, RADIO TAXIS GROUP LTD WILL BE CELEBRATING ITS DIAMOND JUBILEE YEAR. In each of our issues this year, Mountview News will be looking back throughout the past sixty years. In this technological age that we now live in with mobile phones, iPads and Taxi-Apps, communication in cabs has never been easier and yet before 1953 it was almost impossible to phone for a taxi in London! In 1953 London taxi drivers were worried about escalating cost of running a cab, so much so that the then chancellor of the exchequer Mr Butler, made important concessions to the taxi industry in his 1953 budget, abolishing purchased tax (forerunner of VAT) on all new taxis bringing the price of a new cab from £1,319 down to £847, whilst at the same time abolishing hire purchase restrictions.

The higher fares brought in two years earlier of 1 shilling and 3d (pence) per mile, had not helped and Lord Runciman, chairman of the committee came to the conclusion that anymore increases would deter more customers from using cabs. In 1953, London had 5,500 taxis, with more than 850 drivers aged over 65, of these 300 were over seventy. The Times newspaper during this period commented on how taxi-drivers would do much better if they were; “more polite and less reluctant to surrender change.” Early taximeters were totally mechanical in operation and the clock that recorded waiting time had to be wound by hand.

January 1st January 25th January 31st February 1st February 14th March 5th March 26th April 15th April 24th May 4th May 18th June 2nd June 21st July 15th July 26th August 13th August 14th September 7th September 22nd October 16th November 9th November 23rd December 3rd December 10th December 14th

Country star Hank Williams dies aged 30. 130 people die as the Princess Victoria sinks off the coast of Ireland. Canvey Island flooded, with 58 people losing their lives and the Island was evacuated. 20th Century Fox introduced Cinemascope. Chinese New Year the year of the Snake begins. Russian composer Prokofiev dies aged 61. Polio vaccine tests prove successful. Charlie Chaplin is refused entry into the USA. Winston Churchill is knighted. Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” wins Pulitzer Prize. Jacqueline Cochran is the first woman to break the sound barrier. Queen Elizabeth II was crowned. John F Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier become engaged. “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” starring Marilyn Monroe opens. Fidel Castro led guerrillas fail in attack on Cuban army bases. France is paralysed by a nationwide general strike. Soviets announce they have developed H-bomb. British Hawker Hunter fighter plane breaks the speed record at 727.6 mph. US troops begin returning from Korea. 40 are killed as US aircraft carrier explodes. Welsh poet Dylan Thomas dies aged 39. North Korea signs a 10 year aid pact with China. US scientists announce first successful human pregnancies using frozen sperm. Winston Churchill wins Nobel Prize for literature. Radio Taxis (London) Ltd is formed.

• The price of a gallon of petrol in 1953 would set you back just over 4/– (20p). • A cab may be any colour, but when the Oxford and the FX3 were introduced, their makers supplied them in a standard colour of black. Few buyers were prepared to pay the extra money for a special colour and so for three decades, black became the norm.

10

© Pictures copyright London Vintage Taxi Association.

TIME LINE – 1953


Marsha Miles –

Customer Services Manager I HAVE WORKED for Radio Taxis for 6 years as an Account Manager looking after a portfolio of key account clients. I was recently appointed in December as Customer Services Manager. I manage a team of 5 Customer Services Executives and we have recently streamlined our processes in respect of any complaint or any query that a customer might have. We handle the considerable amount of small accounts that RTG has. I personally report to Fiona Gavin (Operations Manager) and together we provide a one-stop shop for all our clients. We are a commercial team and our role includes managing accounts and ensuring that our valued clients benefit from our services, which includes, the Network (booking taxis at destinations both in the UK

and internationally) as well as helping clients to use our “On-Line Booking tools”. Communication in general with our clients, on a regular basis is very important to our role, as we build a rapport with them and they can keep us informed of any changes surrounding their own businesses, so that we can adapt when required. We also maintain all of the administrative activities connected with all of these clients, we physically open new accounts for Radio Taxis Group, both for business clients and for personal customers. In addition, we deal with the day to day telephone queries, assisting the various departments in the company with any issues that they might have. My main focus is to ensure that the team are multi skilled in all aspects of the customer service department. My objective is that we should deliver a high level of customer care to each and every one of our customers. We work very closely with key staff in the Operations department and this ensures that they are kept absolutely up to date with clients’ issues.

ONE OF OUR DRIVERS – Paul Stone, has set up a new website, which encourages drivers to rent out their cabs (especially radio cabs) when they aren’t working. It is also a great place to find a cab for rent, whether it be for a single shift, half flat or whatever is needed. Just go onto the website and register or scan the QR Code above on your mobile. Good luck to you Paul!

11


Alan Franks, Group Operations Director talks about…

The Affects of Taxi Apps on Radio Taxis HOW ARE THE NEW TAXI APPS affecting Radio Taxis? Well firstly we don’t see them as a direct competitor for our business although some have tried to be. And secondly anyone who spends millions of pounds on marketing for the Licensed Taxi Trade in London is potentially doing us all a service. What about the technology? Well most are using standard Smartphone technology utilising GPS to locate the passenger’s address and then finding the closest cab again employing GPS. The passenger is then given an approximate time of arrival based on these coordinates. Both the taxis and the passengers are at that point displayed on a map so that the passenger can follow the progress of the cab.

12

Unlike the major circuits, very little infrastructure is needed for this to work as the target audience is the cash and credit card market. So in many cases no call centre is needed and the driver speaks directly to the customer. For this type of consumer business the model fits quite well. What is interesting is actually the business model itself, which includes no run-ins and five minutes free waiting (it’s the driver that contributes the run-in and the free waiting) on arrival and then he/she pays a percentage of the fare to the APP company. In other words the driver absorbs both the waiting time and the current fees of around 10% to the APP Company. This of course contradicts the long established Taxi circuit’s model of seeking to pay drivers more than the meter, so as to provide clients with a premium service. Although in the present depressed corporate market this is proving harder to do than in the past. Is the new taxi APPS model the future? Do we need to be looking at different ways to charge drivers for radio/APP type services? I’m sure that will make an interesting debate. Radio Taxis welcomes everyone into our industry as long as it benefits Licensed Taxi Drivers. Radio Taxis Group has currently completed the development of our own APP so that our clients will have the same opportunities to use the latest technology to book cabs, just as they might do using one of the new entrants to the market. This should be fully operational within weeks. There will of course be those that think that the APP will be the end of the Radio Circuits but in my view this could not be further from the truth. Radio circuits provide clients and drivers with a range of services which have been refined over many years. Not all of the APP companies will survive, but the best of them will play their part in the future of our industry. As we have entered Radio Taxis 60th year we continue to innovate and as always we have been at the cutting edge of new technology, so the use of APPs will actually only strengthen our position in the marketplace. We look forward with great anticipation to the next 60 years. Be Lucky!


What is 4G? By Dan Ellis. THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF HYPE OVER 4G, but what actually is it? First things first; the “G” stands for the generation of mobile technology installed in phones and on cellular networks. Each “G” or generation of technology, generally requires you to get a new phone and for the networks to make expensive upgrades. The first two generations were analogue cell phones (1G) and digital phones (2G). The introduction of 3G signalled a significant technology upgrade. The difference between 2G and that of 3 and 4G is that the mobile operators can now offer mobile broadband. 2G was like your dial up internet at home, a bit on the slow side and 3G is a bit like getting broadband for the first time. With 4G and 3G people can now watch YouTube, can download movies and are able to “stream” music to their phones, as well as being able to upload pictures, documents and to make calls. 4G is the next step for mobile data, allowing superfast downloads. So when you want to watch a video clip there is no more waiting for it to load. SO WHY THE SWITCH FROM 3G TO 4G? With the demand for mobile data and in particular, video constantly increasing, 3G is beginning to show its age. With the increasing availability of Smartphones and with Mobile operators offering flat-rate bundles, with large usage allowances, it increases people’s use of devices indoors, as well as outdoors, creating vast amounts of traffic on the network. We’re already seeing, in some built up areas, problems with network capacity, meaning some people can struggle to connect. Canary Wharf is one such area where this has become a problem especially at peak times, such as lunch time and in the evening when people finish work and start “playing” on their phones and thus creating capacity issues. With 4G this problem should be eliminated as new generations, usually bring new base technologies, with more network capacity for more data per user as well as the potential for better voice quality. In side-by-side tests with 3G, the 4G network is, on average, more than three times faster for download and over ten times faster in upload speeds.

WHEN IS THIS HAPPENING? It has already started, with EE (Orange and T-Mobile) being the first mobile operator to provide 4G, they started to provide this technology to their customers from the 30th of October 2012. EE launched in 16 cities throughout the UK including London, Manchester and Liverpool. By the end of 2013 they hope to be available to 70% of the UK population. Whilst EE are the first they certainly won’t be the last to use this technology with O2, Vodafone and Three expected to launch sometime this year. SHOULD I UPGRADE? So, as usual, the answer is “it depends”. If you download a lot of video for your phone, or tether to your laptop, it’s definitely something you’ll want to consider. But, if you’re just using your Smartphone for everyday things, I wouldn’t rush to upgrade. Even streaming music or downloading an eBook is fast enough on 3G that you wouldn’t notice a difference on 4G. If you get a phone that has it, that’s great – you can use it when you want and turn it off when battery’s at a premium. Unless you’re constantly thinking “my current phone’s internet is so slow”, don’t be tempted by the marketing hype – you’ll probably notice the battery life more than you do the speeds as there is a significant trade-off in using a power-guzzling 4G device.

13


Twitter Tips by @radiotaxis_boss

How Twitter can make life easier for a taxi driver…

TWITTER IS AN INVALUABLE way of keeping up to date with what is happening in London and issues that affect the working day of London Taxi drivers including news about traffic conditions, major events and other incidents. Since I joined Twitter I have found it not only helps me stay in touch with life in London, but it can also be entertaining and informative at spare moments during the day when it isn’t possible to reach more formal communication channels. I know from feedback from

drivers and clients that it has now become an established part of many people’s day. If you haven’t yet signed up to Twitter then I recommend you give it a go. Just log-on at www.twitter.com and set up an account. You don’t have to tweet if you don’t want to; many people use their account just to follow others. You can follow me: @radiotaxis_boss and I look forward to seeing Tweets from a few more of you and hope you find the following tips helpful to get you started. Geoffrey Riesel.

Twitter Name

Twitter Account

Description

@TfLTPH

Transport for London Taxi and Private Hire Division

Official news feed for the London Taxi and Private Hire trades from Transport for London.

@TfLOfficial

Transport for London

Official Transport for London feed for news and information about London’s transport network.

@metpoliceuk

Metropolitan Police

London’s Metropolitan Police Service. Don’t report crime on Twitter. In emergencies always call 999.

@nationalrailenq

National Rail

Up to the minute information from National Rail Enquiries about disruption on the GB railway.

@BBCTravelAlert

BBC London Travel

The BBC’s award-winning travel Tweeting service for London.

@BBCLondonNews

BBC London Newsroom

One of 11 BBC London accounts managed by BBC editorial team.

@TfLTrafficNews

TfL Traffic News

Official realtime road traffic updates by Transport for London. Operated from 06:30 – 21:00.

@lbc973

LBC 97.3

London’s Biggest Conversation. Call now on 0845 60 60 973

@LDN

Everything London

Your guide to everything London http://likely.co

14


RTG Driver’s Forum By Steve Cooper, Driver Services ON WEDNESDAY 6th February at 2pm our Station Road facility was the venue for a Radio Taxis Group, driver’s forum. Fleet messages were sent in the weeks leading up to the day to inform all drivers. It’s not easy to arrange a time and day that suits the commitments and shift patterns that some drivers work but from past experience the most popular time is in the afternoon, mid week. On hand from the board of directors were Chairman Geoffrey Riesel, Alan Franks and Peter Gibson. Of the 25 drivers that attended most had the same concerns and questions around the commercial side of our activities, the impact of PH in the market place and the adoption of mobile booking devices or apps, by the public. One of the main points that arose from the ensuing debate was an unequivocal acknowledgement that RTG are capitalising on the unique position of all Licensed Taxis Drivers by providing a customer friendly and compliant card payment facility for street hail passengers and that this is a service which taxi user’s embrace.

This lead us on to a discussion around fixed prices and discounted rates and most importantly, where the commercial tipping point lies between service versus price; the type of work that can only be won, secured and retained by providing the client with rates that are within their budget. In the current economy these budgets are shrinking. The consensus was that we are and that we have to be, aware of both sides of the equation, if we are to strike a sustainable balance. Also discussed during the meeting were suggestions around the possibilities of joint ventures with other circuits, despatching to ranks and stands, network signals and drivers bonds. Geoffrey Riesel thanked everyone for attending what was a good humoured and lively meeting, which actually finished on schedule at 16:00. If you would like to join in next time, you will be very welcome. Best wishes to you and yours, Steve Cooper and all at Station Road. driverservices@radiotaxis.co.uk

A CHARITY BIKE RIDE IN MEMORY OF PAMELA ROBINSON & MELVIN CARLTON ROBERTS

Six ‘Unlikely lads’ will be cycling over 1000 miles in April 2013 Hoping to raise £10,000 for 3 fantastic charities – and you can be part of it! Please make a donation to help these boys pedal a little faster! The brave cyclists are: Kien Selina, Theo Caudell, Sean Hutchinson, Ricky Reemer, Ruairidh Ainger & Matt North

To donate simply search “Kien” on

or to find out more: ‘BLACKFRIARS TO BARCELONA’ on 15


Curiosity Corner Roger Sligo on the mysteries of hidden London

The North Kensington Tile Kiln

NORTH KENSINGTON CAN BOAST THE ONLY remaining 19th century tile kiln in London. Originally known as the Piggeries and Potteries where high-quality clay was dug from about 1818 and then fired in this very kiln that still stands on Walmer Road.

Once known as Cut-throat Lane, Pottery Lane nowadays has properties selling for anything upwards of £500,000. When Samuel Lake, whose rough trade of scavenging and chimney-sweeping, compelled him in the early years of the nineteenth century to remove himself from the premises in Tottenham Court Road, and set up a business in a more solitary spot here at Nottingdale, where gravel and sand was discovered under the grass; and soon his brick works were making bricks for the wealthy houses being built in North Kensington. The pig-keepers of Tyburnia, present-day Marble Arch and Bayswater Road, soon made use of this district. Meanwhile, some sixteen acres of adjoining land to the west were being dug for brick earth by Stephen Bird, one of the principal brick makers in London, who was also a builder active in Kensington; and with the arrival of the potters, several of the principal ingredients were soon put together. Many of the work-force employed were Irish labourers who could also turn their hands to bricklaying and building work and so from this little acorn North Kensington arose.

employed e c r fo k r o w e “Many of th uld also turn o c o h w s r e r u o were Irish lab klaying.” ic r b to s d n a h ir the

16


Mice and Cheese ON THE CORNER OF EASTCHEAP and Philpot Lane, is a rather unusual looking Italianate building with rounded alcoves and windows which are set back. With its twisting support columns, and even some weird faces of pigs and dogs peering down at you. So even with all this unusual building decoration going on, nothing quite prepares you for the surprise of two mice fighting over a bit of cheese. There are plenty of theories as to why these mice are here. One explanation is that a couple of workmen had their sandwiches eaten by some of the rodents roaming

the building site. Others will tell of the merchant living close by who took Richard Whittington’s cat to Asia where a King paid a fortune, after the cat chased away all the mice. I think the most likely story is of a young labourer, who was sacked without any pay. Returning after dark with a few blobs of cement and recasting the greedy rats which had sacked him. The building had been sold for many years before anyone ever noticed this hidden sculpture. Even people knowing of its existence still have difficulty actually locating it. Next time you’re close by, have a look out for it! Re-printed from E-View Magazine September 2009.

Zimbabwe House Castrations IN 1908 CHARLES HOLDEN DESIGNED a new building in the Strand for the British Medical Association. All around the side and front of the building in the alcoves of the window ledges were added sculptures by Jacob Epstein. These statues were to cause the Edwardians a fair bit of embarrassment as they were fully naked with everything on display. The British Medical Association however stood by Epstein, with his works being allowed to flourish. It was not until the Rhodesian High Commission bought the building some 30 years later the castration began. Said to have been done purely for health and safety reasons because the dangly bits were in danger of falling off in bad winds, they were said to be decaying somewhat. Hardly anyone looks up to notice the vandalised works of art these days; they are left to survive in their present castrated form. Re-printed from E-View Magazine October 2010.

17


Easter and all it Entails

By Robert MacDonald Watson, Group Company Secretary

IF WE ARE BETWEEN 22 MARCH AND 25 APRIL IN ANY YEAR in the United Kingdom, then Easter Sunday will appear. If you are confused, this is not really surprising. The reason is that Easter Sunday, the day Christians in this country celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is a “Moveable Feast”, meaning that it does not fall on the same day each year.

LIKE A NUMBER OF KEY ISSUES, the date was originally set by the Council of Nicea in 325AD (modern day Iznik in Turkey). This was a gathering of Bishops summoned by the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great to resolve a number of disputes. The date was fixed as the Sunday following the Pascal full moon. That is the full moon that falls on or after the vernal or spring equinox. Still confused, well the Pascal full moon was the date of Passover in the Jewish calendar and the last Supper occurred on the Passover. Therefore, Easter is the Sunday after Passover. In order to deal with different time zones, the Church approximates dates to allow it to set a universal date. However, Western and Easter orthodox Christians use different calendars so end up with different dates. The name Easter emanates from the old English word Eostre. This is now a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion. It is preceded by that long 40 day period of Lent, meant for fasting, prayer and penance. The last week of Lent is known as Holy week and contains the day of the Last Supper (Maundy or Holy Thursday in the UK) and Good Friday, the day of the Crucifixion, culminating in Easter Sunday itself. There was a time when very little moved on Good Friday and most shops were shut. Today’s more secular society has changed all that and one suspects that as much dieting is done immediately after Christmas as fasting in Lent. Easter Sunday has given rise to a number of customs, sunrise services, decorating Easter Eggs, egg hunts, Easter parades and Easter bunnies. You more rarely see the exchange of Easter greetings “Christ is Risen” with a reply “Truly he has risen”, though triple kisses on alternating cheeks in Russia (and Serbia) give a photo opportunity for President Putin. Easter Eggs seem to have originated from early Christians in Mesopotamia, painted red in memory of Jesus Christ’s blood shed at the Crucifixion. It was adopted by the Christian Church in 1610. The egg shell represents the tomb and the egg new life within. Originally, chicken eggs

18

were dyed or painted. These days they are more often substituted by chocolate eggs filled with sweets. Smaller versions are hidden for children to find on Easter Morning, possibly left by the Easter Bunny…? Eggs were originally forbidden during Lent, the last ones beforehand being used up on Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) also known as Mardi Gras. The best known Easter Eggs, and certainly the most valuable, are those which were made by the Russian Jeweller Carl Fabergé. There were fifty or so Imperial Fabergé eggs. These were made for the Czars between 1885 and 1917 and they presented them as gifts at Easter. Today 42 survive, three of which are in The Royal Collection, Edward VII and Queen Alexandra both being keen collectors. The Easter Bunny is more likely based on an Easter Hare, apparently first mentioned in the C.17th century as a tradition in Alsace, of an Easter Hare bringing Easter Eggs. The poor old Hare seems to have been usurped, wasn’t pretty enough probably. Another custom is the Easter Parade, more an American cultural event and most associated with huge processions in Fifth Avenue, New York. People put on their best clothes, especially ladies hats or Easter Bonnets. This particular parade seems to have declined in numbers in recent years though the idea has spread as far as Battersea Park in London. This year, Easter Sunday falls on 31 March, whilst it will be on 20 April in 2014. Some years it is very cold and snows and other years it is hot enough to get sunburnt whilst watching point-to-point racing. In London there will be real eggs and fluffy ducks at the WWT (World Wildlife Trust) London Wetland centre near Barnes. There will be family activities at the Historic Royal Palaces, Easter egg hunts all over people’s gardens and at the Cutty Sark; also at places such as the V & A Museum of Childhood and Kew Gardens. For chocoholics, there is Kew Gardens which also has the “History of Chocolate” on 29 March. This year will also coincide with the Oxford and Cambridge Boat race, which is rowed from Putney to Mortlake. Let’s hope that this year they won’t be colliding with any ducks!


The Future of the High Street By Gordon Brown,Chief Operating Officer and Finance Director. WE’VE RECENTLY SEEN THE demise of HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops – with people asking what does this mean for the High Street? Well personally with the exception of Blockbuster, it has had no real effect on my High Street. I live in Barnet and over the years the High Street has become a walk comprising mainly of opticians, estate agents, coffee shops, charity shops, phone shops and vacant units. I do not see this changing regardless of what else happens in the economy. We have become a nation that sees shopping as a half day or day ‘trip’ whether in a

thriving – is is w e L n h Jo “ brings it s a e n li n o d n both in store a best of both worlds!” together the purpose built shopping centre (in or out of town) or even sometimes a visit to the local supermarket where you can have a ‘one stop shop’ experience and include a cup of coffee or lunch as well. Because of this the local small high street is never going to be the place you go and shop for all your wants especially with the rise of the internet. There are some great places that serve the local community really well, mainly by offering superior service and competitive (but not necessarily cheap….unless it’s the pound shop) pricing and if the local boroughs can resist continually increasing parking fees there can be some great shopping areas, however overall it is not enough to sustain all the high street units we have. My solution: convert some of these into houses and flats. It will make high streets feel more attractive with no

boarded up and derelict properties. It will also help to reduce the chronic shortage of houses, bringing more affordable housing to local communities which would in turn help the coffee shops, the restaurants and the opticians! Nevertheless the Government appears not to be keen on the idea, it is apparently difficult to get ‘change of use’ from retail to housing and the Government does not want to simplify this process– which is a great pity. Back to HMV, Blockbuster and Jessops – why did they fail? Certainly the internet (Amazon, NETFLIX etc) was a factor as were the supermarkets but I can’t help feeling that there was more to it than that. These were long term brands where management was slow to react to the internet and changing technology generally and certainly from my experiences service was poor. One of our leading long established retailers – John Lewis is thriving – both in store and online as it brings together the best of both worlds; browse in store, buy at competitive ‘ish’ prices online, pick up at your local Waitrose the next day. Like most things simple ideas work. This is something that is exercising our collective minds as we work out the best way to bring a “Cash App” to you; one that increases the amount of work for you; and which gives the customer better service being simple and inexpensive to use… watch this space!

19


In today’s World of Multiplex Cinema, Sky Movies+ and DVD’s, the younger generations of film fanatics could be missing out on something really very special.

The London Cinema Museum –

20

With the bygone days of those wonderful Art Deco buildings affectionately known as “Picture Palaces” which are indeed what they were! From the moment you arrived at the Picture Palace there was always the unmistakable aroma of a fragrance only ever smelt in the cinema. It was sprayed to eradicate the smell of stale smoke. The majestic uniforms, worn by the doorman and usherettes, resembled costumes worn by the military. After entering the dimly lit auditorium where half your ticket would be torn by the usherette, she would then proceed, with the aid of a torch, to escort you all the way to your seat. As you sat watching the big screen with images many times larger than real life and sounds coming at you from every direction, you sat back knowing you were in for a special treat. If you happened to look up at the wonderfully designed ceilings from which chandeliers were suspended, you would catch the shaft of light from the projector coming from the rear of the balcony. Behind the dark pane of glass where the light was being emitted, you could sometimes make out the shape of the projectionist whilst he moved around for the changeover of reels. If you were in a Picture Palace in Aberdeen in 1953, you might have spotted a young apprentice projectionist at work by the name of Ronald Grant. This 15 year old lad so loved his job, that years later, as the cinemas went into decline and were being turned into Bingo Halls or even worse being demolished, Ronald came to the rescue and salvaged as much as he could Ronald Grant afford for prosperity. Later he became Cofounder, with Martin Humphries, of the Cinema Museum in London. The London Cinema Museum is housed within the historic site which was once the Lambeth Workhouse associated with the silent movie legend Charlie Chaplin. I visited the museum in early January by previous arrangement and chatted over a coffee with both the founders Ronald Grant and Martin Humphries. Martin explained “I first met Ronald in 1979 when I was working at the Martin Humphries Oval House Theatre and Community

Cinema Museum’s Pictures and Posters

Centre opposite the Oval Cricket Club. On Sundays we worked a series of workshops with Ronald coming down from Suffolk to do an overnight stint on the Helpline before he returned back to Suffolk the following day.” FULL HOUSE Ronald stored some of his collection at the time in Stockwell and Martin went along one day to see it and was flabbergasted at the depth of the material within the collection. Ronald had decided he couldn’t

had to be t s u j f f u t s “This erwise h t o d e u c s e r ended up e v a h d l u o it w ped!” being dum

make a viable living with a large amount of his collection stored in Cambridge and he wanted to move everything to London. About the same time Pat Foster, who was one of the main organisers in getting the Ritzy Cinema restored and reopened in Brixton, they wanted Ronald to be the projectionist and for him to also train up other people to become projectionists. Pat managed to find Raleigh Hall in Brixton, which is an old building and which was about to become the “Black Cultural Archives.” At the time when Ronald moved his collection there it was a rotting three story building that the council owned with some large vacant space to rent on the first floor. This enabled Ronald to move most of his film collection which included projection equipment, stills, posters,


The Projectionist’s Dream magazine and books into this locality in Brixton. In 1981 Ronald had returned to his native Aberdeen for a holiday and bumped into his old boss, Dick Donald in the street and who asked him what had happened to all the old equipment taken from the ten closed cinemas out of their chain of thirteen. To his surprise Ronald found that most of the equipment, including fixtures and fitting were stored in an old church which had just been sold and Dick had been given two months’ notice to clear out everything before the new owners took over. Ronald told me “as I walked into the church it was like an Aladdin’s cave, with everything you could think of from a cinema including things like the ashtrays on the back of the seats, to complete rolls of carpets that had never even been used. There were uniforms of every type from the doormen’s to the usherette’s and even the cashiers. There were also some cinema ticket machines. I told Dick Donald that I would be interested in buying some of the equipment.” Martin then added “Ronald rang me with his news and I spoke to the bank manager managing to get an extension on the overdraft. I went up to Aberdeen and we bought as much as we could possibly afford, as we realised that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, never An Usherette’s Uniform likely to ever happen again. This stuff just had to be rescued otherwise it would have ended up being dumped! We hired two huge Pantechnicon vans which we filled to the brim and we brought everything back to London. “So this meant the cinema collection they already had changed overnight. Instead of being a rather large wildly eccentric collection, which mainly one person principally had put together, now included all this social history.” Martin explained “we couldn’t lock this away in a series of rooms in a decaying building in Brixton; we had to find some way of making all this material publicly accessible. So how would we do that? We talked to a lot of people who said you should become a non-profit company with a board of trustees, apply for charitable status, which means we would have the ability to apply for grants and at least be able to move forward in a significant way.” So that’s what they did and in 1984 the museum was created and in 1986 they got the charitable status from the charity commission. The next thing was to find a better place to house the collection and this they did by taking over the old Fire Station on Renfrew Road. Although there was much more space

to store the collection there still wasn’t enough space to display the items properly. Knowing that Kennington had a Chaplin connection and thinking they might use this connection to enhance their museum they discovered the old Lambeth Workhouse where Chaplin was sent with his mother and brother to live as a young boy. The property was owned by the NHS and used for storage. After three years of negotiations the property became empty and available to rent. The Cinema Museum finally moved in on February 14th 1998. Ronald is very entrepreneurial and Martin has good administrative skills so together they are the perfect combo. Both men have a passion for the picture industry and when I asked Martin about an obscure film I had seen at the pictures when I was about thirteen “The Boy and the Bridge” and why it had never been shown on TV or put onto DVD he was able to tell me instantly that it was because of copyright issues. THE MUSEUM TOURS All the museum tours are only by guided tour, with Martin being my guide for the day. His knowledge of everything in the collection is remarkable. I have never seen so many exhibits crammed into a museum, there are even Art Deco swing doors taken from two cinemas. There is also a large cinema where they sometimes have Saturday Morning Pictures, a smaller cinema with 100 original seats which cost them £1 each to buy and were taken from the Picture Palace Aberdeen. The Museum now houses more than a million photographic images, including pictures of cinemas and cinema-going; a large

21


Uniforms

collection of posters and original artwork; projectors from every era, both professional and amateur; cinema staff uniforms; fixtures and fittings such as cinema seating and carpets, ashtrays and signage; and more than 17 million feet of film. A fascinating archive of printed publications includes an extensive collection of periodicals, fan magazines and trade magazines, campaign books and cinema sheet music. The majority of the Cinema Museum’s uniforms date from the 1930s to the 1950s, with much of the memorabilia from the James F. Donald (Aberdeen Cinemas) Ltd. Uniformed staff were integral to the experience of going to the cinema in the last century, especially from the 1920s until the decline of cinema-going in the 1960s and 1970s. There would be a commissionaire to greet customers, a hat-check person, attendants and usherettes. The detail and variation in uniforms were part of a cinema’s identity. Historian David Trigg has been painstakingly researching the history of cinema uniforms in the Cinema Museum’s extensive periodicals library, with a view to mounting a uniforms exhibition in collaboration with the Museum. The Museum has a large collection of safety film of all gauges, including adverts, trailers, B-movies, public information films and newsreels. Additionally, nitrate films are in secure storage at the BFI National Archive, with whom the Museum collaborates. Many unique films have been saved, copied and preserved by the

Cinema Museum File Room

Cinema Museum, including around 80 titles from the Blackburnbased Edwardian film pioneers Mitchell & Kenyon, and a collection of silent colour travelogues from early last century. If you have a love of the “Golden Days” of the Cinema or just curious to find out what is was like to visit a Picture Palace up until the 1970’s then book a tour.

Cashier Box

The Museum is available most days for visits by guided tour but it is essential that these are booked in advance by phone or email as volunteer guides need to be arranged. Please contact us (020 7840 2200 info@cinemamuseum.org.uk) in advance to arrange a time to suit you. At the moment it is only possible to view the Museum collection with a guided tour. Whether you are a researcher, a film enthusiast, or simply an interested member of the public, we’d love to see you. GUIDED TOUR PRICE: £10 per adult, £7 for children and concessions: The Cinema Museum, 2 Dugard Way (off Renfrew Road), London SE11 4TH. Roger Sligo. Sign Boards

22


TMC or not to TMC? By Roy Hughes Director of Commercial Development A horse walks into a pub, the barman asks, “Why the long face?” There is an understandable tendency in these triple-dip times to be pessimistic about expectations for business growth; however this runs the risk of missing opportunities and in particular, opportunities that might not be obvious at first glance. One such is that presented by TMC’s. What is a TMC? It’s not a French television channel, nor is it a middle-aged medical condition – it actually stands for ‘Travel Management Company’ and does exactly what it says on the tin, ie; a corporate travel agency where the services offered go beyond booking a return flight or a hotel room. Some familiar names are big players in the world of TMC’s, among them; HRG, American Express, Expedia, Co-Operative Group and Carlson Wagonlit. TMC’s generally offer a wide variety of services, including car rental, organising visas and passports, offering 24-hour help in the case of an emergency, arranging group bookings and chartered jets. These services have even been extended to activities as diverse as parking/valet services and the sourcing of meeting venues and video conferencing facilities. The services missing from this list are taxis and cars. Traditionally this has not been an area within the scope of TMC’s as they haven’t had direct access to fleets or the software available to integrate with willing partners; plus Corporates have tended to see Taxis and Cars as ‘facilities’ rather than part of their overall ‘Travel’ expenditure – this is the opportunity for RTG and in particular, our One Transport consolidation platform. The Travel industry on the whole and TMC’s in particular, are technologically advanced and software driven. The ‘management’ function of a TMC is the help they provide organisations to organise their travel spend, advising on implementing corporate travel policies and furnishing the corporate client with a plethora of management information covering everything from cost savings to carbon emissions. Not only is Radio Taxis Group uniquely placed to provide the necessary service requirement, One Transport has all the functionality of a TMC and the necessary level of technological compatibility; in effect a ‘Transport Management Company’! A unique service benefit of One Transport is the ability to provide the full range of taxis as well as private hire vehicles. The former is particularly important for boutique style TMC’s with specific customer requirements and TMC’s that specialise in the public/government sector. Our ability to provide this transport management function combined with Taxi supply was the key factor in Radio Taxis Group being awarded the LOCOG contract in the summer. We have now taken this to the next level and are currently working with a TMC which has been awarded a large Government contract. Their decision to work with Radio Taxis Group is due in no small part to the fact that a significant requirement within this contract is for taxis in London. And finally… A man walks into a bar with a lump of tarmac under his arm. “What would you like?” asks the barman. The man replies, “A pint of beer and one for the road.”

23


What is the Farringdon Hub? By Peter Gibson Strategic Director

THE EVENING STANDARD, back in mid January, ran a series of “Vox Pops” asking people what their “big idea” was for London. There were sixteen celebrities/sports personalities/politicians that all put forward their specific vision of what they thought London needed to do to make our capital city even greater. The one idea that caught my attention was put forward by Steve Norris – former London Mayor Candidate, former Conservative Government Minister and someone well known to our own trade. Steve’s big idea is to develop a central London airport “hub” at Farringdon – a hub that would connect to Heathrow and Gatwick and Luton and (eventually) Stansted, so that all of London’s airports would be catered for at a single interchange, as well providing a direct link to St Pancras International for Eurostar services. How would this be possible? Well it appears that Farringdon is where Crossrail will meet Thameslink. A spur would need to be created to connect to Stansted, rather than just linking to Liverpool Street

24

station and Crossrail would need to facilitate this spur. Steve Norris suggests “that the private sector would need to fund a big element of the cost because all of the airport operators would benefit.” Farringdon station is being redeveloped as part of the north-south Thameslink Programme. From 2018 it will be the only station where Thameslink, Crossrail and Underground services meet. Therefore, from the Farringdon Hub, passengers will have the choice to travel north-south, east-west or around London. With up to 160 trains an hour in the peak it would become the capital’s new transport core. The Grade II listed station was built in 1863 as part of the world’s first underground railway. The original layout restricted the number and length of trains it could accommodate, so the current redevelopment is all about finding extra space for longer trains and more passengers. It now has opened a new ticket hall dedicated to Thameslink and future Crossrail passengers; the extended platforms below made it possible for the first 50% longer, 12-carriage trains to enter service. A scheme to provide this would cost around £250 million and would include: ● Developing the Underground entrance which has been restored and widened. ● A new concourse on Turnmill Street linking to a new footbridge and the restored Underground entrance creating extra capacity for passengers. ● An extended train shed roof to encourage people to use the full length of the platforms. ● Five new lifts that will also allow step-free access for the first time. From 2018 Farringdon station will be the only station where Thameslink, Crossrail and Underground services meet. And, as London’s newest transport hub, the theory is that it will help relieve the pressure on the Underground by delivering thousands more seats for commuters every day as well as providing direct links to London’s three major airports, Heathrow, Gatwick, and Luton as well as to St Pancras International for Eurostar services; at the same time drastically reducing journey times. And if the Stansted spur became a reality, then all of London airports will meet at a single central London point. So, that large building site in Farringdon Road has a lot going on in there.


Parking Enforcement By John Vigus, Consultant Specialist to Radio Taxis in PCN’s and General Parking Issues RADIO TAXIS HAS BEEN CHALLENGING parking tickets for just over 2 years now, with a very high success rate at adjudication. Almost all of these PCNs were issued on account bookings, the drivers having been captured on CCTV. A number of these PCNs could not have been challenged, simply because the Local Authorities evidence proved that the contraventions did indeed occur and consequently these fines were paid. Despite repeated declarations by Government to the contrary, it is an urban myth that taxis are public transport (for parking purposes) and therefore not subject to the same parking regulations as private cars. The only difference where taxis (and private hire vehicles) are concerned is that there is a short period of waiting time allowed but only for as long as is reasonably necessary to make contact with the passenger and for the passenger to board the vehicle. So what is a reasonable amount of waiting time? As an example, a licensed Private Hire driver, Mr Makda, went to the high court to judicially review an adjudicator’s decision to refuse two appeals where he had, on two separate occasions, stopped on a yellow line in Dean Street to pick up passengers who had pre-booked with his office in Frith Street. He had been parked for only 90 seconds while trying to make contact with the passengers who, on each occasion, did not appear. The adjudicator refused the appeals quoting from the traffic management order that the vehicle could wait only for the purpose of allowing a passenger to board or alight from the vehicle. Remarkably as the passengers did not show up there was no boarding, so the Adjudicator had ruled that the waiting was not exempted. The high court Judge, however, disagreed with the adjudicator stating that the vehicle had indeed been waiting ‘for the purpose’ of picking up a passenger. He would not have known his passengers and they would not have known him. It was not therefore to be regarded as a pit-stop. There has to be a reasonable period of time in which to make contact with the passengers and if they do not appear then in our case, the taxi will have to be moved or drive round the block. Adjudicators will generally allow two and a half minutes, three minutes is the limit; unless there are difficult circumstances. Passengers should be ready at the

time booked, but we know this does not happen in the real world. Waiting for a passenger for more than three minutes is not a concession afforded to any vehicle, including taxis. So what should you do when a passenger has not arrived after two and a half minutes? You are expected to move, at least to the other side of the road or to drive around the block to start another two and a half minute period waiting for the passenger to arrive, and so on. This, regrettably, is the world we now live in; with CCTV cameras covering vast numbers of London streets. However, CCTV PCNs cannot be issued to vehicles parked in “Pay & Display” or residents permit bays but can for other permit and disabled bays. If you need to wait for a passenger, you should, if possible, find one of these bays to wait in, but the threat is if you leave the vehicle unattended you run the risk of a CEO (Civil Enforcement Officer) issuing a ticket on-street. RED ROUTES: No more than three minutes and then only where taxis are allowed to stop. YELLOW LINES: Maximum time waiting for passengers to arrive is three minutes. BUS STOPS: Avoid bus stops boarding and/or alighting should be immediate. LOADING BAYS: You cannot stop in loading bays to pick up or drop off passengers. FOOTWAY PARKING: NEVER! There is no exemption for stopping on the footway for any reason. DROPPED KERBS: You cannot stop to pick up or drop off passengers at dropped kerbs. DOUBLE PARKING: You cannot double park while waiting to pick up, or dropping off passengers. ZIG ZAGS: NEVER! This is still an endorseable offence. Hope this is all helpful.

25


The Mountview News Amusing Caption Competition COULD this month’s caption of a taxi and passengers made with sand help solve the problem of cabs and passenger shortages? Send us your funny caption for this image – By email to: mvn.editor@radiotaxis.co.uk Or by snail mail to: Mountview News Caption Contest, Mountview House, Lennox Road, London N4 3TX. This is a great chance to win a £25 Marks & Spencer Gift Voucher.

And the winner of the Winter Issue was... Michael Epstein (H054), with: “I see Radio Taxis have been voted the best by WITCH!” Michael now has a £25 M&S Gift Voucher on its way to him!

26


? ? ?

The Mountview Puzzler Page CLUES ACROSS 9. Offensive (13) 10. Mineral spring (3) 11. Arm coverings (7) 12. Festive occasion (4) 13. Payment for travel (4) 15. Vends (5) 17. Grasp clearly (7) 19. Vows (5) 21. Excavate (3) 23. Artist’s support (5) 24. Forsake (7) 25. Duck with soft down (5) 27. Stalk (4) 28. Hire (4) 30. Pertaining to Siam (7) 32. Find the sum of (3) 33. Recreational park (9,4)

Jotting space

CLUES DOWN 1. Labour force (4,5) 2. Expel (5) 3. Performs (4) 4. Ill (8) 5. Whine (6) 6. Recedes (4) 7. Started again (9) 8. Discontinue (5) 14. Religious writings (5) 16. Pertaining to the sun (5) 18. Dutch city (9) 20. Prostration caused by overexposure to the sun (9) 22. Person who gardens (8) 26. Trader (6) 27. Remove hair (5) 29. Having the same value (5) 30. Run-down part of a city (4) 31. Consumes (4)

MOUNTVIEW SUDOKU Give your brains a really good work out! HAVE A GO AT THIS ISSUE’S SUDOKU PUZZLE! The object is to write in the missing numbers in the empty boxes below. But to satisfy only one condition: each row, column and 3 x 3 box must contain the digits 1 through to 9 exactly once. What could be simpler? Hooked? Well you can find many more Sudoko puzzles online FREE by going to: www.sudoku.cc

27


CHIEF RENTALS is proud to announce that they have joined forces with Radio Taxis as their main supplier of replacement licensed Radio Taxis for their drivers who find themselves involved in the unfortunate circumstance of a non-fault accident. This specialist service enables Radio Taxis drivers who are involved in such an incident to get straight back to work and more importantly, back on the Radio Taxis circuit as all replacement vehicles supplied by Chief Rentals are fitted with a Radio Taxis terminal. Other aspects of this exceptional service also include repair management of the driver’s own vehicle as well as the handling of all personal injury claims, either from injured drivers or their injured passengers. Not only are these services available to Radio Taxis drivers, but Chief Rentals has also agreed to expand them to drivers’

families and friends who may also find themselves in a similar predicament following a non-fault accident and requiring a like-for-like replacement vehicle. Chief Rentals look forward to working with both Radio Taxis and their drivers long-term into the future and endeavour to provide them with an outstanding service that will keep everyone ‘on-circuit’ and at work during difficult times. To find out more with no obligation, please call us FREE on the number above.

Mountview News – Graphic design, layout, print and distribution by DC-Graphics, Barnet: 0208 440 1155

|

www.dc-graphics.co.uk


E-View Magazine