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21 January 2017

Anyone Can Hold The Helm When The Sea Is Calm........by Semtex.



There was a hell of a lot to learn about the Great London Cab Trade this week, and not just regarding our access to the Bank Junction.


When I stood on the steps of the Royal Exchange on one of our turnouts last week, a chap wearing a suit asked if I knew what it was all about. After explaining to him, his reply was " Well there is work all over London for you guys, why worry about this little bit?"


But the truth is, its not about 'this little bit' is it ? Excluding us from a central hub of the City of London, is merely the thin edge of the wedge. It is also I believe, part of the game plan structure to starve our trade into extinction.


This is not about my personal paranoia or our trade being dramatic, Transport For London without doubt, want shot of us. For good.

Once the Bank Junction is won for them, then it will be Tottenham Court  Road, then Oxford Street, then the whole of the City, then Knightsbridge..................until 25,000 of us are hemmed in around Soho, starving to death.

So the Battle of the Bank Junction this week, was far more than a group of sulking cab drivers, whingeing about petty infringements and the threat of losing 'this little bit.'


For me though, the one major point that came out of all this week was how impotent some of our trade organisations were, in a call of trade emergency.

And for reasons stated above, the Bank Demo's may not have appeared as an emergency, but history will prove that it certainly was.


The thing that I found so poignant and symbolic though, was watching our staunch, passionate Irishman friend, (who's name I have deliberately held back,) go onto the pavement and rally the troops in a display of heart, passion, spunk and commitment. The faces of our colleagues looking up to him, rallying and applauding, choked me up for several reasons.


One of the reasons of course, is that our impromptu understudy 'leader' just jumped in and took up the helm. He wasn't asked to. he hadn't been elected to, but he just did it. He did it because he saw the cavernous gap that has somehow shown its gaping void, in a battered trade who have decided that enough is enough, and in the absence of a General, chose to lead themselves.


In all the time I have had my badge, never have I seen a display of self preservation and fight back from rank and file drivers, as I have seen at the Bank Junction this week.

The officially unrecognised special forces of the Independent Taxi Alliance, Dads Defending Daughters and the great Mayfair Mob, using word of mouth, secret codes and tungsten camaraderie showing the way forward, and displaying that it is themselves who are the Pathfinders and future of our survival.


What interests me so much though, is that our trade is known for having so many 'Leaders', when the waters are calm.  There are miles too many trade representation organisations for a mere 25,000 membership, yet when the call went out for a red alert deployment............the vacancy for a  Brigadier was worryingly apparent! The silence was deafening.  And it took a rank and file colleague and one of our own to stand proud, jump up to the plate and take the helm.



Could you imagine the same sort of thing happening at an RMT rally when the late Bob Crow was alive ? Can you imagine a face coming out of the crowd and upstaging Bob's rallying speech ? Don't spend another second considering it.


But it happened at the Bank junction in our trade this week, simply because there was nobody else willing to do it.


 I don't want to waste time and damage trade morale in slating Trade Orgs and drivers who work when the rest of us are fighting, but to me, these acts speak volumes for us all and our future, if we are to have one.


Whatsmore, looking at the crowd gathered on the pavement as our Irishman mate captivated the crowd, one could have been forgiven for thinking they were viewing footage from a demo long gone. But no, your eyes were not deceiving you, it was indeed the same faces, the same supporters and the same trade loyal fighters, that are there time after time after time.


The trade small fry showed the big boys how it should be done this week, and have nobody to thank for their success, but themselves. They did themselves proud, they did us all proud.


On another good note, it is good to see that our trade ally and RMT's Taxi Branch Secretary, Lewis Norton has secured a meeting with the City of London for some 'dialogue', in the wake of our Demo's.

Regular readers of Taxileaks will know my opinion of dialogue, but I must admit, that it would be foolish to turn down this offer.


However, and Lewis will not need me to advise him I'm sure, that the planned dialogue needs to be constructive with genuine and wilful intent for our trade's benefit when dealing with the hierarchy.

We as a trade know only too well in our history, that 'Dialogue' can very easily be traded for blah, blah, blah, waffle, spiel and empty promise.


The biggest fear for me, and a ruse that has so often been cast upon our trade, is that the offer of dialogue isn't used as an Operation Mincemeat deflection trick.

City Hall and TFL need to be monitored and overseen by the cab trade's covert surveillance teams, to ensure that no activity is deployed from the back door, as we attempt to work out a deal at the front.


So many times in the past have our regulators have chucked out a mackerel for us to concentrate on, and then clobbered us with another pasting, when our eyes were on the dummy ball. TFL and City Hall don't abide by the rules of cricket and are well known for tactical deception strategies and suspicion.


So far so good then, we shall have to see what awaits us. I bid our colleague Lewis Norton well in the meeting and hope our trade gets the access that we trained and qualified for.


If not, I'm certain that our 'special forces' will have no problem deploying again, and again, and again, should be feel that we are being abused and bullied further.


Well done to our ITA, DDD, Mayfair Mob and the battalions of leaderless colleagues this week. It shows what can be done when we try.



To all of our 'Leaders' out there the message is simple...........Anyone Can Hold The Helm When The Sea Is Calm !


Be lucky all.


8829 Semtex.




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BANK JUNCTION UPDATE : City of London Announces Peace Talks

For five days, the passionate driver led coalition of the Independent Taxi Alliance (ITA), with little or no support from the leadership of our largest org, led the police around the City on a cat and mouse game. 

They said the drivers couldn't win anything, but  they were wrong. 


You'll never win they said!
What's the point in fighting ?
What's the point in demos, they never win anything?

We all remember what the late great Bob crow used to say:
"If you fight, I can't promise you will win, but if you don't fight, I promise you this, you will always lose". 

Yesterday afternoon, at the completion of the first weeks demonstrations, Bob Crow's Union, the RMT, put out this statement:

 BANK JUNCTION UPDATE

RMT have pursued dialogue with City of London regarding the ongoing dispute over Bank Junction.

The branch has successfully managed to secure a meeting with the corporation.
Details to follow.

In solidarity
Lewis Norton

Branch Secretary. 

This is not the ultimate victory. It's not a definite win... NOT YET. 
 
Without the fight, the standing shoulder to shoulder, the turning up day after day.... we had no chance. 
But now we have that chance, and it's all thanks to you who cared, you who believed, you who attended. 

Just remember this, its never be about just wining a race, it's about competing in and finishing the race.
If your not on the starting blocks, if you don't compete, it's impossible to win.  

It's not what's in your pocket today that matters, but what's in your heart for the future.
 
Its not all about me, it's not all about you,  it's about us and our future, a future together. 

That's what it's all been about. 
And now, we're in the race, we have a chance. 


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20 January 2017

London Taxi Protests : End The Traffic Khanage With A Public Inquiry Into TFL... By Dave Davies

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Another Day, Another Demo


Again, yesterday afternoon, rank and file drivers answered the call and assembled at the Bank Junction, despite another section 14 being slapped on the peaceful protest, limiting a static demonstration to just 30 minutes. But at 3:30, organisers put plan B into action. 

The police tried to preempt the protesters and observers reported that groups of motorcycle traffic cops, with flashing blue lights, had been dispatched to both Tenison Way and The Old Street roundabouts....but again, they were out manoeuvred by the protest organisers. 


Apparently, plan B had been kept off social media. Drivers were instructed by word of mouth, to leave the junction and slowly make their way over to London Bridge

Southbound lanes soon ground to a halt and using the station forecourt, drivers doubled back around, causing the northbound lanes to become gridlocked. 
Drivers who chose to ignore their colleagues and look for work from the station, were caught up as the through road seized up, trapping Taxis on the rank. 

TfL's centre coms managers, frantically tried to re-phase the lights to empty traffic from the bridge, but in true TfL fashion, they just added to the chaos. Funny that, we've had months of congestion on this bridge, yet they just left commuters sitting there, as the bus lane was moving well.

They said it couldn't be done! 
But trade orgs who refused to support this week's demos have shot themselves in the foot as drivers are now looking at private legal cover (£8 a month) which could see their membership fall. It was their drivers who turned out every day, lanyards of all colours and even diaries on dashboards. 

Well done to those who turned out on these highly successful demos. On day 3, the trade out manoeuvred the Met, managing to get the Bank Junction closed, even though they never turned up and held their demo elsewhere. 

A spokesman for the ITA said:
"Tomorrow will be the last demo in this series for a couple of weeks, to enable our drivers who have taken a huge dip in takings this week, in order to fight for their trade. 

"But in the words of that great leader of men, General Douglas MacArthur, WE SHALL RETURN."



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Another day, another demo

Again, yesterday afternoon, rank and file drivers answered the call and assembled at the Bank Junction, despite another section 14 being slapped on the peaceful protest, limiting a static demonstration to just 30 minutes. But at 3:30, organisers put plan B into action. 

The police tried to preempt the protesters and observers reported that groups of motorcycle traffic cops, with flashing blue lights, had been dispatched to both Tenison Way and The Old Street roundabouts....but again, they were out manoeuvred by the protest organisers. 

Apparently, plan B had been kept off social media. Drivers were instructed by word of mouth, to leave the junction and slowly make their way over to London Bridge

Southbound lanes soon ground to a halt and using the station forecourt, drivers doubled back around, causing the northbound lanes to become gridlocked. 
Drivers who chose to ignore their colleagues and look for work from the station, were caught up as the through road seized up, trapping Taxis on the rank. 

TfL's centre coms managers, frantically tried to re-phase the lights to empty traffic from the bridge, but in true TfL fashion, they just added to the chaos. Funny that, we've had months of congestion on this bridge, yet they just left commuters sitting there, as the bus lane was moving well.

They said it couldn't be done! 
But trade orgs who refused to support this week's demos have shot themselves in the foot as drivers are now looking at private legal cover (£8 a month) which could see their membership fall. It was their drivers who turned out every day, lanyards of all colours and even diaries on dashboards. 

Well done to those who turned out on these highly successful demos. On day 3, the trade out manoeuvred the Met, managing to get the Bank Junction closed, even though they never turned up and held their demo elsewhere. 

A spokesman for the ITA said:
"Tomorrow will be the last demo in this series for a couple of weeks, to enable our drivers who have taken a huge dip in takings this week, in order to fight for their trade. 

"But in the words of that great leader of men, General Douglas MacArthur, WE SHALL RETURN."



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LBC 120117

Again, yesterday afternoon, rank and file drivers answered the call and assembled at the Bank Junction, despite another section 14 being slapped on the peaceful protest, limiting a static demonstration to just 30 minutes. But at 3:30, organisers put plan B into action. 

The police tried to preempt the protesters and observers reported that groups of motorcycle traffic cops, with flashing blue lights, had been dispatched to both Tenison Way and The Old Street roundabouts....but again, they were out manoeuvred by the protest organisers. 

Apparently, plan B had been kept off social media. Drivers were instructed by word of mouth, to leave the junction and slowly make their way over to London Bridge

Southbound lanes soon ground to a halt and using the station forecourt, drivers doubled back around, causing the northbound lanes to become gridlocked. 
Drivers who chose to ignore their colleagues and look for work from the station, were caught up as the through road seized up, trapping Taxis on the rank. 

TfL's centre coms managers, frantically tried to re-phase the lights to empty traffic from the bridge, but in true TfL fashion, they just added to the chaos. Funny that, we've had months of congestion on this bridge, yet they just left commuters sitting there, as the bus lane was moving well.

They said it couldn't be done! 
But trade orgs who refused to support this week's demos have shot themselves in the foot as drivers are now looking at private legal cover (£8 a month) which could see their membership fall. It was their drivers who turned out every day, lanyards of all colours and even diaries on dashboards. 

Well done to those who turned out on these highly successful demos. On day 3, the trade out manoeuvred the Met, managing to get the Bank Junction closed, even though they never turned up and held their demo elsewhere. 

A spokesman for the ITA said:
"Tomorrow will be the last demo in this series for a couple of weeks, to enable our drivers who have taken a huge dip in takings this week, in order to fight for their trade. 

"But in the words of that great leader of men, General Douglas MacArthur, WE SHALL RETURN."



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19 January 2017

HOLDING THE MAYOR TO ACCOUNT AND INVESTIGATING ISSUES THAT MATTER TO LONDONERS


Over a decade ago, London led the world by introducing a Congestion Charge in the centre of the city. The scheme has proven successful, keeping a lid on private motor traffic and creating new space for buses, cyclists and pedestrians on the busiest part of our road network. Congested cities around the globe looked to London as they considered how to tackle the gridlock on their own streets.

However, congestion has begun to increase sharply again, and not just in central London but across the capital. Traffic has slowed down and road users are spending longer stuck in delays. Buses have become so unreliable that usage has begun to fall, after many years of growth. The causes of this change are complex and multiple, as our investigation has identified.

What is clear is that the current Congestion Charge is no longer fit for purpose – it is a blunt instrument using old technology that covers a tiny part of London. Fundamentally, vehicles should be charged according to their impact on congestion. Charging a daily flat rate to enter a zone may discourage some people from using part of the road network, but

this approach is failing to target vehicles spending longer on the roads, at the most congested times, and travelling in other areas where congestion is high.

We recommend in this report that the Mayor should make plans now to introduce road pricing in London. This idea has long been discussed, but until now the political will to make it happen has been lacking. Delaying further is not an option. There are a number of options for how this happens, which TfL will need to work out, including the geographical scope, monitoring technology and integration with Vehicle Excise Duty and the Mayor’s emissions charges. In the interim, immediate reform of the existing Congestion Charge to target it at journeys causing congestion would be worthwhile.

There is a range of other measures that could also help to tackle congestion. The Mayor could do more to reduce the impact of roadworks, strengthen the on-street response to major traffic incidents, and encourage Londoners to receive personal deliveries in more sustainable ways. However these measures alone will not be enough to tackle London’s congestion problem


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So what drives me? .... By Lee Ward.


I am sure that the regular readers of Taxi Leaks have noticed that I have supplied posts to this platform, but I have never explained why.


Let me give you a little background to myself first.

I have been in this industry for over 20 years, I started as a weekend telephonist to supplement my income as a new father, that went on to dispatching by voice (the good old fashioned way) and then by computer. This lead me to be a qualified Taxi/Private Hire driver and have held this badge with the Sheffield City Council ever since.

During this time, I have also been a part of the management team of two of the largest Private Hire companies in this are, Mercury and City (450 and 1000 cars respectively) and between these two posts I owned in partnership a company we called Phoenix (started with 4 cars and built it up to 180)

I am now back as a full time driver.

So why did I start this crusade that I find myself on morning noon and night?

Very simple, I found myself in a dark place, a very dark place....

The industry has been very good to me, it has provided for my family and myself, it has given me friends for life and it taught me a few good lessons in life, but it left me...

It left me when I could not make the living I was making.

It left me when I had to say NO to my wife and kids basic requests for simple things.

It left me when I worked on a day to day basis to pay bills and put food on the table...

It left me and I wanted to leave this world, thats how dark that place was that I was in.

I would have probably gone to that place too, if it was not for the ever present thought that my wife and kids would be distraught and with nothing at all coming in, not even what little I was providing, and the thought that if I went to that dark place and did what those little voices were saying to do.... my mother would have fooking killed me !!!!

So I looked at that dark place and stared at it and searched in that recess what it was that had done me in such a way to make me have these thoughts and feelings, and the more I looked, the deeper I searched, I found it... and it was not me that had brought me to this, or even made this dark place I looked into...no, it was this government, and all the authorities that continually shout out that they are their for public safety...

I understood that, I totally got it, but...but what about my family and myself? what about OUR safety?

What about us having food, having heating, having clothes?

Is that not safety also?

Is that not a part of why I pay my license, so they can police the industry that I am in?

I guess not...

So I decided that my dark place was going to be my driving force, and thats why I do what I do....

I do it because I am proud, I do it because I have responsibilities...

I do it because I love this industry...

And I do it for ME....

I may be a small fish in a big pond, but a lot of small fish together are a dangerous thing....Piranha spring to mind...

And as for the house brick through my family home's window, if you are reading this 'boy' thats not going to stop me moron...it just fuels me.

As Eminem said...

Yeah, it's been a ride
I guess I had to, go to that place, to get to this one
Now some of you, might still be in that place
If you're trying to get out, just follow me
I'll get you there......................

Love

Wardy




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Blockade at the bank Day 4 : New Day, New Plan.... By Jim Thomas


After the police slapped a section 14 on the Demo at the Bank, organisers decided to throw a curve ball in retaliation to the 30 minute restriction and changed the venue for day 3 to Parliament Square. 


The Met Police had already put into operation restriction around the Bank Junction and were left red faced as no one turned up. At first they thought they had beaten the protesters but it soon became clear, the boot was on the other foot. 


Westminster was gridlocked for best part of an hour till the traffic police turned up. They then made a catastrophic mistake in funnelling the Taxis over Westminster Bridge which unbeknown to them added the procession of taxes to their preordained second target... the Waterloo IMAX round about. 


Waterloo bridge soon became gridlocked along with Westminster. York Road was proper engines off and north of the river the Aldwych tailed back into the City's square mile. 


Again traffic cops turned up and tried to disperse the protesters by waving them back across Waterloo bridge. 


The convoy then moved on to the third venue, again hitting the Rotunda at London Wall before the signal was given to disperse for the day. 


Then came the bully boy tactics. As they had been given the run around, some Met officers were telling drivers "you are being filmed, and if you are filmed in multiple locations tomorrow, TfL will prosecute you". 


This is a ridiculous statement as this is exactly what Taxi drivers do....they ply their trade in multiple locations every day... this scaremongering doesn't hold water, and (so I'm told) today, the fight goes on. 


 On the City Police Website last night, they said: 

"Conditions for the Taxi demos are in place to limit the disruption across London and to ensure emergency vehicles can access all routes." 



So far, they haven't issued a new section 14 limiting the time of assembly. 


The ITA Twitter account have broken their silence tonight to confirm Demo will take place at Bank Junction at 3pm on the dot. 


Editorial Comment :

It is now widely believed that the proposed ban traffic at the Bank Junction has a hidden agenda and is not to make the junction safer. 

Safety has nothing to do with the restrictions, if that were the case, then Buses and Cyclist would have been banned. 


It's alleged this experiment is being forced on London to facilitate the movement of construction trucks and heavy plant, while work takes place on the two new skyscrapers are erected. It's also alleged, heavy plant and lorries will be issued permits to use the Junction while all other traffic apart from buses and bikes will be excluded. 


Complete silence again from the two wheelchair users on the board of TfL, have repeatedly refused to support the right of disabled people to have access to the Bank Junction.


So far, the demos have been an overwhelming success. Taxi Leaks has been informed that further action is being planned to continue in to the next couple of weeks.    



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