PHC TAKES A LOOK AT THE STORIES THAT HAVE MADE THE HEADLINES OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES. THIS MONTH – 2003
VETERAN DESPATCH RIDER SAYS WORK IS IN FREEFALL – Ted Soames, a London courier with 15 years experience, said: “After time away, I decided to come back to the London despatch scene but was shocked at what was on offer.
“The worst case was a company that offered £4 jobs – my first week’s pay was only £200!
“Courier revenues have fallen year on year for over a decade and if despatch companies have managed to keep their heads above water, they have only managed to do so by standing on the shoulders of their riders.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! – Victoria-based Location Cars celebrated 40 years in the minicab trade and David Hornick (below), son of Ivan the owner, said he had seen many changes since he started in 1969.
“I learnt my trade as a driver and back then that meant five shillings (25p) for a gallon of petrol and £300 for a Morris Oxford.
“Forty years ago, £100 a week was double the average wage but I don’t think that would be the same for drivers today.
“And that doesn’t bode well for driver recruitment. There weren’t any restrictions then and people weren’t queueing up around the block to join.”
POLICE CHIEF CRITICISES LTDA POSTER – Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir John Stevens made a complaint to the Advertising Standards Association after ‘minicab rape’ posters, paid for by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA), were put up across London.
The posters falsely accused private hire drivers of 233 sexual assaults and 54 rapes, which were in fact carried out by touts.
A spokesman for Sir John said the commissioner had complained in the; “strongest terms” about the posters, which implied that he was turning a blind eye to the attacks carried out by illegal drivers.
The spokesman added: “The message suggests that the Metropolitan Police and the commissioner do not take the offences of rape and sexual assault seriously and that is simply untrue.”
LTDA general secretary Bob Oddy was summoned to Sir John’s office and told to take down the posters.
Mr Oddy said:
We are just highlighting the fact that Sir John has 28,000 officers yet has only 11 to tackle problem of illegal minicab touts.
TICKET TROUBLE IN CROYDON – Kendall Cars boss Diana Kendall said she was frustrated that Croydon Council was helping touts to flourish by rigidly enforcing parking restriction rules, “right through the night”.
She said: “Tiger Tiger is a popular nightclub in the centre of Croydon but woe betide any private hire driver who tries to stop to pick up a fare, even at 3 o’clock in the morning.
“Police officers are even threatening to arrest drivers who park to collect passengers, leading them to arrange to meet them away from the club.
“But, this could have terrible consequences. It can’t be safe that girls are forced to walk on their own in the dead of the night, away from a well-lit area. I’ve had more than one irate mum on the phone having a right go at me, asking me why their daughter was made to walk away from the club to meet her cab.
“And sometimes a passenger uses a tout because they can’t find their car, so my driver loses his fare and a lone woman runs the risk of being attacked. So why not let bona fide private hire drivers pick up their fares and clear the area?”
LONDON’S NUMBER 1 CABBIE – Fred Leaney, founder of Carlton Cars in South London in 1966, was truly the capital’s number one private hire driver after the Public Carriage Office (PCO) issued him with the capital’s very first PHV driver’s badge – 000001.
Fred said he was proud to hold badge number one and added that he hoped that PCO licensing would help the public to see the PHV trade as safe and legitimate transport and part of London’s transport system.
LEWIS DAY DENY DISCRIMINATION – Lewis Day cab and courier boss Hilton Lewis, “emphatically denied” that his company was recruiting Brazilian and East European despatch riders because English riders were, “too much hassle”.
Mr Lewis said: “I will personally intervene if there has been any discrimination of any kind. If someone feels that they have been discriminated against on any grounds I would really like to know, because it is important that this should not happen. In this country and in this century nobody should ever be discriminated against.”
DESPATCH ASSOCIATION BOSS CALLS FOR ACTION – Despatch Association (DA) chair Kate Lester urged the courier industry to come together under the DA banner to protect the future interests of the logistics trade.
She said: “The DA is the only organisation that is insuring your future. In addition to all the political lobbying and representation there is also a long list of other benefits.
“The list is absolutely endless but you know what, the DA can’t survive without members and without the DA the courier industry itself is at risk. Look at parking restrictions, road tolls, insurance and IR35 – who do you think is doing their utmost to make sure we can still trade?
“I am myself a member purely for selfish reasons as I want to ensure that I am still trading in five years. And supporting the DA is the best way I can make sure that my business isn’t completely legislated out of existence.”
NO DRIVERS! – Q Cars boss Nick Pavlou said new drivers were being put off because the Public Carriage Office was taking too long to process their licence applications. He said: “As soon as they find out what they have to do to join the London private hire industry, we never hear from them again.”