PHC TAKES A LOOK AT THE STORIES THAT HAVE MADE THE HEADLINES OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES. THIS MONTH IN 2010.
TOUTS TARGETED – Over 80 vehicles were stopped and inspected as the authorities cracked down on cab drivers and touts operating illegally in South London.
Security checkpoints were set up on Kingston Bridge and Cromwell Road and manned by officials from Revenue & Customs, VOSA, TfL and TOCU units from the Met Police.
Six vehicles were found to be unroadworthy and one was seized for having no insurance.
A Met Police spokesman said: “People are still taking risks by using unbooked minicabs, which are illegal and pose a serious risk of sexual assault, particularly to women.”
‘TIS THE SEASON TO EB CAREFUL’ – Mabsy Latif of Alphabet Cars in Barking, East London, warned cab drivers to watch out for robbers during the festive ‘mugging season’.
“This is very much part of an ongoing problem that happens at the same time every year and gets worse in the run-up to Christmas. Especially at the moment because of the recession.
“Everyone is skint and thinking; ‘How am I going to get presents for my family?’ and private hire drivers are such an easy target. And after they have robbed a driver for the first time and found it easy, they are more likely to do it again and again.
“Any job after midnight can be a problem, especially after three o’clock which is a bit of a witching-hour and that’s why I tell my drivers not to pick up a customer from a residential address unless they know them.”
Alphabet office manager Lucy Browne added: “I tell our drivers that they have to be on their guard and to drive away if they feel that something isn’t right. All they’re going to lose is a fare. Much better that than having their head kicked in or being stabbed to death.”
TAXI DRIVERS’ PROTEST FAILS TO RISE TO THE OCCASION – The United Cabbies Group (UCG) organised a demonstration at Oxford Circus and caused much hilarity as they struggled to put up their protest banners.
UCG members pushed and pulled for quite some time, but try as they might, their collection of poles and banners did not take shape. And to cap it all, no one appeared to have anything to tie them to a set of black railings. A ball of green string was finally found but the boy-scout knot-tying skills of the UCG still left a lot to be desired.
WESTMINSTER COUNCIL ACCUSED – The Central London local authority came under fire after it caved in to pressure from the black cab trade (after councillors threw out a private hire waiting-area experiment in Whitcomb Street in partnership with a licensed PHV booking office in the Leicester Square TKTS ticket office) and brought in the Golden Fares ‘bribe’ to get more taxis working late at night.
Without a hint of irony, Richard Massett, chairman of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “The idea of the scheme is to provide a licensed taxi service in the heart of the West End, where it can be difficult getting a taxi during the busiest times.”
NO WOMEN OR KIDS ON TAXI ‘DEATH BIKES’ – The Nigerian government voted to ban motorcycle taxis in Lagos from taking pregnant women and children on board their machines.
A spokesman said: “There are up to one million two-wheeled cabs in the capital and they are to blame for many of the city’s traffic accidents.”
The cabbies said the authorities were over-reacting and that the new rules went, “too far”.
Taxi bike rider Linus Achagwu (31) said: “The new regulations could force many cabbies out of businesses.”
NEW LOGISTICS CHAIRMAN – Neil Michaeloudis, of Greater London Hire, was appointed the new chairman of the Despatch Association after Ian Draude of the London Clockwork Des-patch courier firm stepped down from the position.
Speaking to Minicab & Courier magazine, Neil said: “I am delighted to accept the role. When Ian indicated that he would like to step down, my name was proposed to take over and I was duly elected to the position.
“I shall share my responsibilities with Debbie Stowe, who takes on the position of secretary. She will cover a lot of the administration of the group, which the late Philip Stone used to work on, whilst I will concentrate on the technical advice and support that Ian provided.”
The Despatch Association was formed in 1985 after it successfully lobbied the Radio Communications Division of the Department for Trade & Industry to carry on issuing frequencies to British courier and logistic companies.
LIGHTING UP THE EMBASSY CLUB – Chequers Transport boss Phil Alexander organised an evening of fine dining and cabaret at the Embassy Club in Mayfair to raise money for the Licensed Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA). A spokesman said: “Suffice to say that everyone in attendance had a thoroughly good evening and much needed funds were raised to the benefit of not only LPHCA members but also the London private hire industry at large.”
WORBOYS ALLEGATION – A spokesman for Scotland Yard claimed that black cab rapist John Worboys (51) might have sexually assaulted up to 100 female passengers in his five year reign of terror. The taxi driver was found guilty of attacking 12 women by a jury at Croydon Crown Court in April 2009.