On Friday 15th October 2010 John Mason Director of Taxis & Private Hire (TPH) visited the Heathrow Airport canteen to address driver’s concerns and answer their questions.
Approximately 200 drivers were in attendance and a multitude of questions were asked covering all aspects of the Taxi and Private Hire trades.
The answers Mr Mason gave were the usual rhetoric that he has been telling us since he started the job, the same old excuses that we’ve been hearing for the past year.
‘Private Hire are doing nothing wrong, and the only people breaking the law are illegal touts.’
‘We won’t prosecute anyone in case we are defeated in court’
‘Badge & Bill checks every week on Taxis are visible, but operations against Private Hire are done covertly, and that’s why we never see them.’
All the usual cop-out answers!
One answer Mr Mason gave that raised concern was when he was asked why TPH and TfL blatantly disregarded the law when it comes to Private Hire lining up outside venues waiting to be hired in full view of the public?
The answer he gave was “It depends on how you interpret the law”
Well Mr Mason, the law is the law and you and your colleagues are not above it!
Alan Fleming, the finest legal mind in the Taxi trade states,
‘The correct way for private hire to operate is as follows…
The law states that Private Hire are required to wait in a privately enclosed yard until they are dispatched to an address, and not wait in view on the street.
In the case of Gilbert v Mckay 1946; Lord Chief Justice Goddard stated that even if the vehicles were in a privately enclosed yard and were not on view there could still be plying for hire if the vehicles were available for immediate hire.’
We fail to see how Mr Mason can interpret this in any other way?
Mr Mason was also asked whether in his opinion the recent explosion of satellite offices has contributed to the 54% rise in sexual assaults including rape over the past year.
He claimed that statistics supplied to him by the Metropolitan Police show that the vast majority of sexual assaults were carried out by illegal mini cab drivers, when asked if a copy of these statistics are available to the trade he said “Yes they are”
As we understand it, Peter Rose of Unite the Union recently requested a copy of these stats from the Metropolitan Police and was denied them. We have today emailed Mr Mason requesting a copy of the statistics.
The UCG are concerned that these sexual assault statistics are being used by some media outlets to unfairly tarnish the Licensed London Taxi trade’s reputation as beacons of safety.
We demand that in future any statistics relating to sexual assaults are broken down so Taxis are seperated from PH.
The overall view of the UCG members who attended was that this was a pretty disappointing and fruitless meeting and Mr Mason didn’t really offer any hope for the future of the London Taxi trade.