Saturday, 22 May 2010

It is not unusual to come across a newspaper head-line that declares something like "Taxi Wars" or "Taxis In Turf War" or something similar, but it would seem as though the real Taxi War in London is being fought on two fronts!!!

The first is a constant and ongoing battle in which Licensed London Taxi Drivers are being forced to contend with the increasing menace of illegal mini-cab touts, and the plethora of so called satellite offices that are opening in almost every second doorway in many parts of London.

The second front is a more sinister and difficult war that is only now being seen as the major battle that faces the Taxi Trade. This assault on the trade is not coming from our competitors, but rather from the very authorities that license us! This is the battle that must be won if the licensed taxi trade in London is to maintain the high standards that the residents and vistors to London have come to expect from the legendary and knowledgable "London Cabby".

Ever since the licensing of taxis in London was passed from the Metropolitan Police to the newly formed Transport for London, under the authority of the Mayor of London, there has been an unprecedented undermining of the regulations that govern the Hackney Carriage Laws that control the way taxis can legally ply for hire on the streets of London.

There has been a problem with illegal touting from mini-cabs for decades, but the situation has become far worse since the Mayor of London has become the ultimate authority for licensing in London. Not only is there a lack of enforcement of regulations that apply to touting, but this situation actually seems to be encouraged by the Public Carriage Office ever since it took on the additional task of licensing private hire in London.

Paranoia? I don't think it is! From what I can see there is a real threat to the taxi trade from what I can only describe as the covert policy of the deregulation, or at the very least, the undermining of the Taxi Industry in London.

The word "Taxi" is enshrined in Hackney Carriage law as a protected description that is very specific in its interpretation. Only a "Taxi" may ply for hire on the streets of the metropolis, but the laws that apply to this description are being flouted by the establishment itself, and government agencies are helping to undermine the importance of this legislation by ignoring the principles that apply to it.

Below is a government intranet communication that is just one example of the type of subversion of the primary legislation that governs the taxi industry. I can only conclude that this is an intentional policy that seeks to change the perception of what defines a "taxi".

"Headline News: Contract for cabs Page 1 of 1
Headline News
Contract for cabs
From 4 May 2010, there will be a new contract for all taxi bookings within London. To support this, the Business Travel team has launched a brand new policy providing clear guidance on the use of Government Car and Despatch Agency (GC'DA) cars, as well as a clarified taxi policy for all staff.

The clarified taxi policy reiterates the circumstances in which taxis can be used and how they should be paid for.
The new policy restricts the use of GCDA vehicles to ministers and the Permanent Secretary only. Anyone else who has previously utilised this service should now use taxis instead, following the clarified policy.
The new contract must be used by all staff booking a taxi for business use in London. Our contractor, Addison Lee, covers all locations within the M25 as well as local airports. Addison Lee is well-known for the quality of their vehicles and service and already provides taxi services to other Government Departments.
The key advantages for staff in using this contract are: .
• Reduced response times - the maximum response time in central London is only 15 minutes
• 24-hour service
• Reduced costs and carbon footprint - the fleet consists of over 2,500 people carriers, meaninglarger groups of staff can be transported in fewer vehicles
• Fully licensed - all drivers and vehicles are licensed by the Public Carriage Office; the regulatorybody for taxis and private hire in London
• No need for cash - invoices are paid on a monthly basis by DWP
• Free waiting tune - up to 15 minutes' free waiting time (30 minutes for international flights)
• High-quality vehicles - regular checks are carried out to ensure vehicles are clean and wellpresented at all times.
For more information, visit the Clarified TaxLPolicy, Booking .Guidance, and GCDA Policy intranet
Date published: 28 April 2010"

Please support the Drive-In/Demo that is taking place on Wednesday 26th May 2010. This will be the first of many, and we will let the authorities know that we are not going to accept any undermining of our proud industry.


  1. If it's okay for Addison Lee to provide a "Taxi" service using vehicles that are not wheelchair accessible that cost two-thirds of a purpose built London Taxi with no turning circle then the PCO should allow the same stadard of vehicle to be used by Licensed Taxi Drivers. The hollow statement that Taxi Drivers have the advantage of being able to ply for hire on the street is being eroded by the lack of enforcement stopping Private Hire drivers doing the same illegally. Even Addison Lee turn a blind eye to this because they do not have enough work to satisfy the hungry hordes they employ. John Griffin may get his wish to Britain's biggest Taxi boss by default but he will lose control of his drivers doing it!!!!

    The Taxi and Private Hire Directorate should accept that Addison Lee's use of people carriers with distinctive branding is an attempt to subvert the iconic image of the purpose built London Taxi without the cost.

  2. Let London's Taxi Drivers compete on the same level polaying field......wheelchair accessible Taxis are a 'restraint of trade' imposed on one supplier in the same Market-place!!!!

  3. Addison Lee do have wheelchair accessable cars, 24 in all, with rear door ramps.

  4. 20,000 Taxi’s in London are forced to be Wheelchair Accessible. Addison Lee have 24, and that is of their own tactical/business choice... London Taxi’s do not get a choice. London Taxi-Drivers are dictated too what they have to have. Addison Lee gets “Choice” Maybe London Taxi’s need the right to have free choice?