THE LPHCA IS ASKING MEMBERS IS MEMBERS AND NON-MEMBERS ALIKE TO DIG DEEP TO FUND A £200,000 JUDICIAL REVIEW AGAINST TFL’S OPERATOR FEE HIKE
JUDICIAL REVIEW FUND APPEAL – Speaking at the headquarters of the Royal Over-Seas League in St James’s, Mr Wright (above), chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA), outlined how serious a threat the rise in licence fees was to operators and to the capital’s PHV trade as a whole.
Mr Wright said:
This is without doubt the most important meeting we have ever done, as TfL would appear to have a mandate to smash the London private hire trade and to finish it off.
That is why the LPHCA has formally served a judicial review notification on TfL. The licensing authority will of course challenge it and expect us to fold and that is why we need to raise £200,000.
Now, £200,000 is an eye-wateringly large amount of money, but the cost to the industry, in operator licence fees over the next five years is £40 million.
“So, we have to have this judicial review and we have to fund it. There is absolutely no question at all about that. We have to stand up and fight now or the new private hire operator fees will be there forever.
“We also need to ask suppliers who provide support services to the London private hire trade to help. If 75 per cent of private hire operators go out of business, they too will be hit. The trade will be a very gloomy place indeed if we do not fight this and there is no escape except for a legal challenge through the courts. We are in fact in the middle of a war and this really is now or never.”
Carlton Cars / Eddie Townson – “We have been in business for 51 years and we have never faced a challenge like this. We have a mayor and a licensing authority that is clear that they want to destroy us.
“That is why we are fighting. You may not think these things are going to happen or come through, but they will and they are really, really, pushing hard to destroy our business.
“TfL don’t want you there. They want Uber and Addison Lee and a few odd small ones around. Gareth Bacon (Conservative London Assembly member) has made it very clear that we will be left with an hour glass business. Some at the top and some at the bottom, but nothing in between.
“This is what is coming and that is why we must challenge TfL. We need to come together and let the authorities know that we will not put up with this and that we will fight for the future of our trade.
“Let us put our hands in our pockets and get this battle done and show them that we are not going to walk away from this fight without a struggle.”
Plan Insurance / Grant Georgiades – “We understand and support this initiative because if the market shrinks, that will kick on and affect us. Many will suffer greatly and that is why we will put our hand in our pockets and support this fund.
“We have already sat down with TfL and offered a number of technological solutions to cut the cost of compliance issues. And the answer we proposed would have cost just a fraction of the cost of a year’s salary of one compliance officer.
“Now, TfL nodded their heads and said it was good idea and then went ahead and employed another 250 enforcement officers anyway. I really think that TfL needs to be held accountable for its financing and budgeting.”
FIGHT FOR OUR FUTURE – Mr Wright said the trade must take its collective head out of the sand and fight a licensing authority hellbent on trying to destroy it.
The LPHCA chairman also highlighted the short-sighted nature of some operators who did not want to contribute to the judicial appeal.
“When we were ringing around, we got an interesting observation from the, ‘I’m all right Jack’ guys who had just received their five year operator’s licence and thought they were safe.
“But, if the rest of the industry falls over, TfL will still need to pay its compliance officers and will probably make those who do have a licence pay for those who are no longer in business.”
Mr Wright added:
There is no escape from this except for a legal challenge through the courts. And we simply have to raise £200,000. The LPHCA is therefore calling on the London PHV industry to unite against these measures that could wipe out many operators and leave the futures of many drivers, suppliers and others connected to the industry in jeopardy too.
Donations to the LPHCA judicial review fund can be made at: www.lphca.co.uk/fighting-fund.html. At the time of going to press, PHC understands that £100,000 has so far been received.