PHC TAKES A LOOK AT THE STORIES THAT HAVE MADE THE HEADLINES OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS.
THIS MONTH IN – AUGUST 1996
LABOUR LICENCE SUPPORT – Labour transport spokeswoman Glenda Jackson offered the party’s support at a meeting of the London Private Hire Car Association in the Strand.
Speaking at the trade conference, Ms Jackson said: “The private hire industry has a fundamental role to play in any integrated transport policy.
“A lone mother with children and shopping is dependent on minicabs. Old people and many others rely on them too. They have an important role to play, which we recognise.”
The Labour transport spokeswoman added that it was no longer acceptable that hackney carriage drivers were licensed but not their minicab colleagues.
“There seems to be a growing realisation by the taxi trade that some form of minicab licensing is inevitable, so we are only talking about the details.
“But how we achieve the licensing of the London minicab trade will be the subject of a continuing debate. We, in the Labour Party, believe that training, including NVQ training, with some sort of local knowledge element to be an important part of our proposals for the minicab industry.”
CASE OF A CON – ‘Jimmy’ explained to M&C how he had been taken in by a smooth talking cab operator who wanted experienced drivers with top-of-the-range motors. But, the man was in fact a back-street minicab scam artist with a dodgy circuit full of gullible idiots.
“Through the fug of cigarette smoke he asked me for two weeks rental in advance and I was just about to explode when I noticed he had a couple of big mates.
“I was out of the door as quick as you like and my old firm was happy to have me back. There is a lot to be said for, ‘Better the devil you know!”
DESPATCH RIDERS LIVES – Minicab & Courier caught up with two London despatch riders who explained the best and worst parts of working as a courier.
Delta courier Michael Reading (24) rode a Honda RS 250 hired from Mikes’ Bikes and said that working as a courier was: “A great way of earning some decent money”. He wasn’t too keen on the sunburn though!
Thirty one year old despatch rider Ray Schofield rode a Honda CD200 for Swiftcall and with three kids in Somerset to support was glad of the earning potential of the London courier trade.
His worst experience as a despatch rider? “Crashing on Percy Street, but no lasting damage!”
TOUT TROUBLE – Touts were highlighted as a major problem outside the Ministry of Sound (MOS) nightclub in the Elephant & Castle, just the other side of the Thames.
The Pegasus minicab firm – the official cab supplier to the MOS – did its best to take as many of the clubbers home as possible but a non-existent taxi presence meant there was still plenty of work left over for the touts of South London.
Pegasus job booker Neil Perkins explained how the touts operated: “Blaggers will physically try and pull passengers into their cars.
“They will quote cheaper fares and basically try anything, including threatening behaviour. And often they succeed. I recently saw one pair of girls being led away to a beat-up Volvo with only one side light working!”
MOS manager ‘Nod’ added that there was very little they could do to stop the touts. “We have tried many times to get something done about them, but they don’t trespass onto club property and there is nothing at all that we can do to touch them.”
LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAVE – Ian Brewer of the Cycle Touring Club explained why he thought that motorists should attend ‘cycle awareness’ training after London courier cyclist Peter McMenamin was knocked down and killed by a car driver opening their door.
“Cyclists are vulnerable and motorists are not educated in thinking about bicycle riders as road users. It’s time that drivers acknowledge we have a right to be here.”
LONG LOST DAUGHTER – Minicab driver John Smythe was reunited with his daughter – who he hadn’t seen in 21 years – after he saw an advert in Minicab & Courier.
I simply can’t describe how wonderful it was to see her again. And I’ve got four new granddaughters I didn’t even know I had!
COMPUTER CAB DRIVERS THREATEN STRIKE ACTION – Computer Cab, the biggest of the London taxi radio circuits was facing a day of industrial action after hackney carriage drivers revolted over the high fees charged to members to install its new hi-tech booking system.
Development costs of the system – which allocated jobs to the nearest taxi – soared and the final straw came when drivers were told to pay for installation of tracking equipment in their cabs.
GUIDE DOG GRUMBLE – Minicab & Courier spoke to assistance dog owners about the age-old problem of minicab drivers refusing to take them once they realise they have an assistance animal.
Registered blind person Angus McKenzie said he had seen the best and the worst that the minicab trade had to offer sight impaired customers.
I’ve had drivers arrive to pick me up, see that I have a guide dog and pull away, saying they don’t want dogs in their cars.
“I’ve also had drivers who will only take me after a lot of pleading and give the impression they are taking me as a special favour.
“On the other hand I’ve also had minicab drivers who have gone out of their way to help me.”