It’s Life Jim, but not as we know it

larson_med1Good morning everyone, today we are going to talk about . . . mini cabs, please! Do wake up at the back this IS important.

There have been 104 sexual assaults last year according to Transport for London’s figures for September 2008 down 44 per cent since 2002, mostly by unlicensed mini cab drivers.

The 80,000 private hire operators as we are supposed to call them now, are vetted but there are a growing number of bogus drivers.

They buy second hand cars at auction, complete with Public Carriage Office certification affixed to the cars’ windscreens, these vehicles usually fetch a higher price at these auctions and because the PCO certificate has a theft proof device it’s easier just to buy the whole car.

[B]y hanging around in the West End, apparently with immunity from prosecution for touting or parking violations, this low life inveigle young people into their cars, they often charge exorbitant rates, and some even carry weapons to enforce their high charges. While even legal mini cabs park for long periods on double yellow lines outside their offices, apparently with complete immunity from prosecution.

And did you know anyone can register their vehicle as a ‘private hire vehicle’? There is even a new Rolls Royce with the appropriate documentation on its windows possibly registered just to avoid the congestion charge.

The criteria to become a mini cab driver is very flexible they only need a medical form signed by their doctor, a criminal record bureau disclosure check, photocopies of their DVLA/EU driving licence and documentation to show a right to work and live here while some documents can be provided as photostats, easily forged and they do not even have to show a command of Queen’s English.

And have you noticed the speed of the people carriers used as private hire? They are usually working for a large transport company, their pay is very low, and they have to work very long hours and every job counts.

The solution is very simple: enforcement, enforcement, enforcement.

More officers, at present there are plans to double the number of Enforcement Officers which at present amount to only 34 to cover the whole of London 24 hours a day.

Arresting touts and illegal ‘cabs’, there have been only 4,000 arrests since 2003.

If they are convicted, jail them. If they are illegal immigrants deport them (I really sound like your average cabbie now).

White Bikes

They are becoming a familiar sight alongside many British roads. More than 100 old bicycles painted white and chained to lamp posts and railings have sprung up at ‘danger-spots’ over the past year.

Dubbed ‘ghost-bikes’, they have been put there to warn motorists approaching dangerous bends to look out for cyclists and, in many cases, have been left at locations where riders were killed.

[T]he UK campaign was started by road safety campaigner Steve Allen after his friend James Foster was struck by a drunk driver doing 55mph on a 30mph road as he cycled in north London. Angry at what he believed to be a lenient sentence, Steve set off on a quest to highlight the dangers for cyclists on Britain’s roads.

Mr Allen established a United Kingdom branch of Ghost Bikes a group that operates in 43 countries. Picking up the bikes for a pittance from landfill dumps and scrap metal merchants he painted them white in his back garden. Now more than 100 of them are to be found in London, Oxfordshire, Manchester and Brighton, although local councils have removed many of them.

One of the white bikes is on a junction in Hackney, North London. It was erected in April after the death of cyclist Anthony Smith, 37, who was crushed by a lorry.

CabbieBlog for once does not have much to say, just it’s a pity these selfish drivers that I see every day on London’s roads didn’t for one moment think what these bikes mean. Keep up the good work Steve.

Potpourri of Whinges

Easy Riders

It’s about time other road users where allowed into bus lanes. They should also have the same restrictions on their use; while at present different vehicles are permitted into them. All bus lanes should be open for licensed black cabs (well, I would say that), also why are motorcycles not allowed to use them? But please, just keep out the mini cabs.

Young Blades

The further Americanisation of London is continuing along with the graffiti, crap mini cabs and a falling currency against the Euro. We now have the roller skaters ‘reclaiming the streets’. Every last Friday of the month an army of skaters converge on London’s night scene, carrying loud music players with marshals illegally directing traffic at road junctions and even sometimes a police escort, I have even seen The Boys In Blue skating alongside these twits. What’s the next move towards America; do I start speaking Spanish, not know my way to any major hotel and eat bagels for breakfast?

Road to Riches

Does anyone think that road space should be allocated according to your financial standing; it’s what you expect from a military junta in Africa, where the cost of disruption is measured only by the amount of bribes that have to be paid to corrupt local officials.

I guess our attitude is that we don’t like being pushed around just because someone has more money and thus more political clout than everyone else.

So what is happening at the Scotch House in Knightsbridge? The road has been reduced in width for over a year, traffic has been re-routed around a succession of cranes, lorries and skips and the traffic queues back for miles for most of the day and night. Why? Are we getting a new hospital, police or fire station?

That will be a no then, because all of this chaos confusion and serious disruption to millions of Londoners and visitors; is to facilitate some super rich property company to build some seriously expensive apartments, (rumours of £100 million for the penthouses abound), to sell for enormous profits to rich Arabs.

Maybe it’s not like America we are becoming, but Zimbabwe, now there’s a thought for you as you eat your cornflakes at breakfast.

It’s the Economy Stupid

Mornin’ Gov’nor, had The Monochrome Man in the cab recently, you know The Chancellor of the Exchequer. Picked him up outside Downing Street and by the time we arrived at his destination I had offered my opinion on how his department had let me down with my pension (more about that probably on a future blog). He had left my cab before I could advise him on his failure at running the economy. So just in case he reads this blog here goes:

[C]redit Crunch is the buzz word at the moment, but the availability of cheap credit is the least of our problems at the moment, unless you are a builder or an estate agent.

Energy prices are rising faster than at any time in living memory, and if that’s not enough we are dependent on our supply from some very unstable countries, and do you know this Government have made no effort to build storage facilities so we can buy cheap gas in summer and store it for winter consumption, talk about irresponsible.

This Government has borrowed more money (£43 billion and rising) than any country in the top 50 economies except Egypt, Pakistan and Hungary.

Official inflation is now at 5 per cent, but anyone on the street is likely to tell you they believe it is more likely to be 8 per cent.

Unemployment is now starting to rise and Google are saying one of the fastest growing searches is employers finding out about their responsibilities when they make their staff redundant.

This Government has allowed building societies to loan up to 7 times a persons’ salary with no checks upon their ability to repay the loan, now with interest rates rising only slightly, we are seeing repossessions in spades . Houses in the South-East are inflated by 30 per cent, with first-time buyers looking at starter homes dearer than their annual salary by a multiple of six and not four as it has always been in the past.

But the real elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about, is the unsecured borrowing, such as through credit cards, overdrafts and loans, which has soared to £22 billion during the first three months of this year, that this Government has actively encouraged people to take on, and hopefully making them feel good and take their eyes off what a load of incompetent twats this Administration really are.

And do you know the real tragedy of all this is? Those very men and women who could run this country spend all their time driving taxis in London. What a waste!

But do you know that you only have to ask your driver for advice on economics and they are more than likely to give it gratis.

Stop Press (stop blog hasn’t the same impact)

The Government in an effort to save their jobs recently announced: It is suspending stamp duty for properties worth up to £175,000 – £50,000 more than the current threshold. Also included is a shared equity scheme, and “free” five-year loans of up to 30 per cent for some first-time buyers.

Chariots of Fire?

pink-content1Just thought might like to look at this crappy logo again, it really sums up the London Games.

In case you haven’t noticed there is a little bit of building work going on in East London, apparently it’s the biggest project in Europe.

The London Olympics are going to cost £9.3 billion, that’s £9,300,000,000 to you and me, and we are going to pay for it, God knows how with Government borrowing nudging up to nearly 50 per cent of GDP.

[I]t now seems that almost 2,000 chauffeured cars will be available for the 450 people in the top tiers of the ‘Olympic Family’ none of them athletes. These people are staying in top hotels in the West End (all 5-star hotels are now fully booked for the Games). They are staying at these hotels apparently because their spouses like to shop while their husbands are pouncing around in East London, and they don’t want to travel far to get to Harrods.

So while wifee shops her husband is chauffeured across the whole of London holding us up as we try to work.

On busy stretches of the ‘Olympic Route Network’ special traffic lanes will be reserved for their cars, while everybody will be jammed in what’s left of the carriageway.

But wait, those political geniuses who are planning this event have forecast traffic volumes will be substantially down as people will all take their annual holidays at this time.

They don’t live in the real world do they? Are they really saying all business will close in London for three weeks? Everybody will go on holiday or watch the games at home. Can you imagine telling owners of companies that they must close up shop for 3 weeks?

As for these 4 yearly demonstrations of jingoistic vanity, cannot we always hold them in Greece where they were born?

Each competing country could contribute a small sum so the venues were kept world class. Greece could certainly benefit from the income. And maybe, just maybe the 9.3bn could actually be spent on improving areas of severe deprivation, such as East London or the North West of England and not spent on massaging the egos of these vain men and women.

If these mendacious politicians really want to advertise London, they could start by keeping it as the tourists expect; Routemasters, black taxis without adverts, lack of skyscrapers ruining London’s skyline, curbing the illegal vendors on Westminster Bridge.

God I could go on and on . . . .

Did I get Gold for my rant?

Taxi talk without tipping

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