Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends, Colleagues and Allies of the great London Taxi Trade.
I fully realise that our wonderful profession represents a vast mixture of people. Religions, colour, race, interests, hobbies, characters, principles, loves, hates and many other differences.
It is these differences that make our trade such a facinating, interesting and respected subject to the people of almost every country on our planet.
Show a photograph of a London Taxi to any foreign national, in any place in the world, and he or she will instinctively recognise that to be a photo of reputation, efficiency, pride and icon.
For over 300 years, indeed since the days of Oliver Cromwell our London Taxis have delivered people to their destinations in professionalism, skill and safety. Whether via horse and carriage, old style or new style cabs, the quality of our services to the public are respected in stone from every corner of our globe.
With the passing of time however, governments, councils and our Civil Service change with it.
Historically, whoever was steering at the helm by and large left our trade in peace. All governments of all parties, and all councils, realised that our service was of a platinum standard, and indeed an asset to both London and it’s travelling public.
Sadly, and with the disregard and disrespect akin to treason, the current hirearchy seem to have dismissed our proud and committed service with arrogant disdain.
Although you wont get them to admit it, I honestly believe that their agenda is to kill our mighty trade off and dispel us to history along with the loyal Routemaster bus, and the Trafalgar Square pigeons.
Somewhere amongst the murky waters of Transport For London and the current hirearchy who control us is a vicious and almost criminal attitude which has turned on our 300 year long loyalty with ferocious tenacity.
Sadly, our many years of loyalty, service, pride and professionalism seem to count for nothing within the accountant led stuctures of today’s modern profit chasers. We are not alone either. The Beefeaters, the Guards regiments,our wonderful armed forces, the police and our emergency services too, have all felt the wrath of a system both unimpressed and ungrateful for solid, loyal, professional committment.
What is incredibly alarming though is that this lack of loyalty and gratitude does not just stop at job loss. It is directly affecting the protection and safety of life itself now, and the uncaring, finance led operations have no bounds of responsibility. Sexual attacks, originating from the crazy Satellite minicab ports are on an alarming increase. Tfl are responsible for these ports, and John Mason, along with the Safer Transport Command Unit are the commanders.
May I make it clear at this stage that I have never had anything personal against John Mason. By virtue of his appointment, his remit is vast and massive.The responsibility of control and command on a brief as large as John’s is a hell of an operation, and can only be effectively deployed with 100% committment and experience.
It is because of this inherent lack of committment and experience that Mr Mason’s office, along with the ludicrously undermanned and under-punching team of The Safer Transport Command Unit, have failed London at such an enormous level.
The gripe that I have personally, however, is that there appears to be no remorse. In my own military background, I too have been ambitious, optimistic and keen. I too have been offered operational briefs of huge remit. However, I was always man enough to step back when I thought that a brief was either too much or too dangerous for my relevant experience and command.
Transport for London have made a severely poor error of judgement when they condoned the set up and licensing of Satellite minicab ports.
We have already proved that the escalation of serious minicab sexual assaults have originated from the victim starting off in a Satellite office or port.
Surely, in the interest of the murder that is inevitably just around the corner now, TFL should ban these sex traps immediately ?
Satellite minicab ports cannot be contolled, policed, enforced or monitored. They are dangerous and with Christmas looming, the danger will spiral out of control.
The problem that we face as a trade is that these appalling statistics and police records are logged as offences committed by mini cabs and the licensed trade combined!
The authorities are not itemising these logs as to the culprits of the offence, but merely recording them as an offence by Taxis and minicabs.
I dont have to spell it out what this appalling lack of concern will do to our world respected service, do I ?
Remember going out on your little moped in every kind of weather ? Cold, hot, freezing, fog, soaked, sweating, anxious, worried, desperate ?
Remember when your brain just stopped working half way between calling the runs over, and you just froze, eyes shut, head pointing towards the ceiling ?
Remember attending the once shrine like and respect demanding Public Carriage Office, wondering if a pack of lions would kill you before you got out of there ?
Remember being asked a point by the examiners and you forgot it, only to remember it on the way out ?
Remember getting to the final stages and walking out of the carriage office to book your drive ?
Remember going up on your suburbs and thinking ‘please God, dont let me mess this up, I have come so far now !’ ?
Remember passing your drive and making an appointment to go up to the carriage office for hopefully, one last time ?
Remember the cloud your bullet shocked brain was in as you came down from the second floor of Penton Street clutching that shiny badge and immaculately clean bill ?
Remember your wife, kids and parents with tears in their eyes, cuddling you and congratulating you, as if you had just won a Victoria Cross ?
Remember thinking that at last you could fill the fridge up after eating cheap food and getting by for almost four years ?
Remember the fear of putting your ply light on for the first time, and being terrified of not knowing enough, and not knowing the route ?
Rememember the feeling of pride when you came home with your first little wedge of earnings ?
Remember the smugness you had when a knowledgeboy pulled up on their moped and asked your advice, looking at you as though you were the Almighty ?
Remember the pride you have each day of knowing that you have worked hard to become one of London’s finest ?
Remember what they did to the Trafalgar Square Pigeons and The Routemaster buses ?
So do I.
I remember every little bit of all that, as though it were yesterday…….. and we are not going with them !
Folks, never mind what union, association, club or circuit you are on. Please, please show your support, and attend the demonstration at Oxford Circus on Wednesday 17th November.
This isnt about what team you support. This is about the saving and preservation of the most famous, respected, loved and professional Taxi Service in the World !
We have worked so hard to belong to it, and we must sadly fight so hard to keep it.
Without your help, the mighty agenda of the TFL wheels of destruction will run us into the ground, and whatever happens, we must not let them.
Make no mistake of the lack of care or loyalty that TFL regard us in. Without resistence, they will grind us into the realms of the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden.
Remember the hard times of the knowledge my friends. Remember the pride of the badge, and the pride that you made it.
Remember also, that without unity, we will perish. The thought of that brings me to tears.
On that note, God willing we will all meet at the demo. See you there.
Good luck, God bless and be lucky.