PHC TAKES A LOOK AT THE STORIES THAT HAVE MADE THE HEADLINES OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS. THIS MONTH IN SEPTEMBER 2012
OLYMPIC LANE SHAME – A London private hire operator hit out at black cab cabbies who he claimed had intimidated and harassed one of his drivers.
“One of our vehicles was following the Olympic torch relay and escorting a Japanese film crew in a bus lane – with permission – when it was surrounded by four taxi cabs and driven at in a very intimidating fashion.
“Apart from their very aggressive attitude, the eyes of the world were on Britain during the biggest sporting occasion the country has ever staged and this would not have left a good impression.”
PHV DRIVER TURNS LIFE AROUND – A Lewisham father of three managed to get his life back on track after three years living on the streets and drinking heavily.
Fifty six year old Johnstone Babu became homeless after his PHV was written off in an accident and he was unable to pay the rent on his flat. “I couldn’t support myself so I went out on the streets and with the small amount of money I had, I started drinking.
Mr Babu became estranged from his family and friends and fell in with a gang of street people, drinking all day and using night buses to catch up on his sleep.
After three years of sleeping rough, Mr Babu’s life took a turn for the better after he received help from the Erasmus charity in Deptford. He now works as a logistics assistant and has started to see his children again.
He said: “It’s very interesting to look back now. The support I’ve had is very good and when I told them about my drink problem, they helped me to deal with it. Very quickly I was clean from alcohol and it was beautiful.”
CAB CONSULTATION DEADLINE – PHC readers were reminded they had just days to respond to a Law Commission taxi & private hire consultation and make sure their collective voice was heard on issues affecting the British cab trade.
The 18 month long consultation, followed by a four month dialogue with operators and drivers, was coming to a close and at the time, a draft parliamentary Bill was due to be put before the House Of Commons in 2013.
Key consultation proposals included; national minimum safety standards / the ability for private hire companies to operate anywhere in the country / the licensing of pedicabs and rickshaws for the first time – as well as a statutory definition of ‘plying for hire’.
Commenting on the consultation, chairman of the Licensed Private Hire Car Association Steve Wright said: “This is one of the most significant things that will happen to our industry for the next 100 years and will affect every PHV operator, driver and local authority in the country. There is a lot of change here and we need to get it right.”
“DISGUSTINGLY LENIENT” SENTENCE – Kent taxi drivers in Borough Green condemned the “disgustingly lenient” prison sentence given to a Tonbridge ruby player who assaulted a cab colleague over a fare dispute.
Tony Stolton (42) knocked Edward Bingle (65) unconscious after he refused to pay for a journey home in the autumn of 2011 and was sentenced to 60 days in prison, suspended for two years.
Mr Bingle lost his sight in one eye as a consequence of the attack and has since stopped working as a taxi driver.
Cabbie Simon James (65) said: “It’s absolutely disgraceful. Poor old Ted is a harmless guy who wouldn’t hurt a fly. Now he’s had to give up his job and all Stolton gets is a fine.”
TAXI DRIVER IN TOWER BRIDGE PROTEST DIVE – A hackney carriage driver dived off Tower Bridge into the Thames as part of a demonstration by taxi drivers from the United Cabbies Group and the RMT union over exclusion from the Olympic Games road network.
A TfL spokesman claimed that, “Just a handful of disgruntled drivers from a minor union turned up and caused little disruption,” but taxi drivers said that the streets had been gridlocked.
GHOST TOWN – Boss of Alphabet Cars Mabsy Latif in East Ham had been looking forward to the 30th Olympiad but said that instead, his experience had been “absolutely horrendous”.
The London private hire trade were told the 2012 Olympic Games would be a great business opportunity. How wrong there were!
The East London private hire boss was asked by the Olympic Park organisers to supply 100-cars-a-night but red tape and access restrictions killed off the deal.
Mabsy says it was all, “lastminute.com” and had been impossible for his drivers to get permission to drive into the Stratford venue: “I asked them, ‘Where can we pick people up?’ but I simply got no reply. There was lots of work and it was right on our doorstep but we just couldn’t do it.”
Alphabet also lost out because the authorities were warning people not to hang around because of pickpocket gangs from Bermondsey. And the PHV firm actually did 1,000 jobs-a-week less than it normally did at that time of year.
CAB ATTACK POLICE APPEAL – British Transport Police released CCTV pictures of three men in connection with a savage attack on a passenger on a late night train and appealed for help from the Hertfordshire cab community.
The man was assaulted on the 1.33am London St Pancras to Luton train and fled in a taxi from Harpenden train station at around 3:20am. DC Bladen said: “This was a brutal attack and I urge any witnesses to come forward.”
TOUT BANKER FINED – A former banker pleaded guilty to plying for hire illegally after he was caught touting outside the Oceana nightclub in Kingston Upon Thames.
Ifthika Ahamadeen was fined £160 with £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge plus ten points on his driving licence.