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Eddie Townson, operator and chairman of the Private Hire Board

TfL’s taxi and private hire (TPH) department‘s Re-let And Marketing (RAM) procurement process was meant to have PHV drivers licensed online faster, cheaper and without the delays we had been experiencing. In fact the opposite has happened. Costs for CRB (now DBS) have risen, it takes longer and there are several stages to complete, with delays at every stage.

Apparently a counter service is also unnecessary as everything will be verified, sent and dealt with quickly online and drivers will not need to see anyone. Queries have to be dropped because the telephone system will not let you to talk to anyone either.

Eddie Townson, Chairman of the Private Hire Board image

The RAM charges more for this service, doesn’t answer the phones but makes a series of excuses as to why it’s never their fault. To all the drivers who were unable to work this Christmas, simply because TPH has got it so wrong, I do hope there will be an opportunity for you to claim compensation, because without doubt, the licensing authority has failed.

Simple, easy licensing processes existed for operators which worked well but were promised a more streamlined service that would work even better. The RAM delivered something far more onerous and difficult and ended up more and more often in the Law Courts with TPH using taxpayer’s money to fight cases that should never have gone to court in the first place.


The RAM projected that we would only need three test sites, which meant that vehicle would have to travel miles every time they needed to visit an NSL site. After much debate and argument, six sites were agreed. This has given us an example of how, by working together, we have achieved better solutions  from pooling our joint knowledge. Appointments are easier to get, waiting times for appointments are shorter and even the badges now don’t fall off.

The Future?
The New Year is now with us and RAM has gone, leaving in its wake, failing systems that are unfit for purpose. It was designed to solve, update and improve but sadly, it has failed. Maybe the time has come for TPH to listen to the trade and actually understand our love and passion for it and maybe then we will get a licensing system that is fit for purpose.



Well, I don’t expect much improvements, but I do wish the following for next year. An introduction for the right of PHVs to use bus lanes would make our life a lot easier, especially during rush hours. And as for personal hopes? To have an easy renewal of both vehicle and driver licences and fewer delays than were experienced by many drivers last year, because of the CRB.



The regulation of pedicabs in London has become an increasingly hot political potato and TfL and it would also appear the mayor’s office, is anticipating that the Law Commission draft Bill will give them an opportunity to ban pedicabs. This is something we did not glean from the original consultation brief.
We submit that the problems, associated with pedicabs in London, have manifested themselves as a direct result of the inertia on behalf of the London authorities, who through intense political pressure from the taxi industry have failed to regulate, after 14 years. This is no difference to the politics surrounding the private hire industry, prior to the licensing of minicabs, where legislation has now resulted in the high quality of the vast majority of PHV services today.
It’s difficult to see how there would be problems with pedicab operators and riders if they are properly regulated. All the objections made by our opponents would be addressed through regulation.
The GMB look forward to a year when the general public treat drivers as professionals. 
A year when the Law Commission takes on board our view on apps and websites and the need for regulation of those offering such facilities. We also aspire to a universal minimumSteve Garelick, president of the GMB Union Professional Drivers Branch image
And it is our hope that the small percentage of unscrupulous operators are forced from our sector so that ethical companies can compete and not have rates forced down by clients and companies alike.
The GMB also hope to foster better education for drivers against physical attack and financial loss.
Our desire to find a licence plate system based on the late Bill Edwards idea, with clear security features is imperative and hopefully we can reach that point this year.
We also hope that imposters and bogus drivers are forced from our streets by strong action from both the police and TfL enforcement.
All in all, the GMB’s main aspiration is a healthy and profitable year for all in our sector and the recognition of those who work unsocial and prohibitive hours in sometimes difficult conditions.
Start the New Year by checking that your employees or colleagues are aware of the law surrounding assistance dogs, and be proud of contributing to our Guide Dogs values.
I’m sure the majority of taxi and private hire vehicle businesses are well aware of their legal obligations when it comes to accepting passengers with guide dogs. But unbelievably there are some who are not.
We still hear stories of our guide dog owners being left at the roadside after a driver spotted the dog and drove straight on by because he or she wasn’t keen on dogs. Some of our clients are just point blank refused a service over the phone because they have a guide dog.
When we approach these companies, it’s mostly an issue of not being educated, and the owner apologising, or not being aware that his or her drivers were doing this. In this day and age, there really is no excuse. It should be part of driver training and made clear to all parts of the business what a guide dog is, how it behaves and where it can be expected to sit in the car.

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