The Hindley report as far back as 1939 stated:
“An essential feature of a scheme of control for private hire vehicles would be to ensure that the vehicles do not infringe on the cab’s privilege of plying for hire”
We believe our right to “ply for hire” is under threat. The current thinking of the Law Commission is to discard the concept of plying for hire and not to define it but instead use a definition of pre-booking as it applies to Private Hire. They are also proposing to control Taxi numbers but not PHVs.
The RMT London Taxi Branch strongly believe that the “Knowledge of London” and the right to ply for hire are intrinsically linked. Why complete the Knowledge to gain a hard-earned privilege that is not defined or protected in law?
The following issues are examples of major failings in urgent need of reform:
• Plying for hire must be defined both in our favour and in statute
• PHV’s should not be permitted to wait in advance of bookings or from ranks outside venues
• Vehicle distinction is paramount, the ‘’black cab’’ is our unique selling point.
• A managed growth of BOTH taxi and private hire trades is crucial for maintaining standards.
• Robust enforcement of illegally plying for hire. Funding must be set at a level capable of dealing with the size of BOTH taxi and private hire trades.
• Pedicabs and alike must never have the right top ply for hire or operate on the highway.
• Crime statistics and plying for hire offences should be broken down into categories such as Taxi, PHV and unlicensed.
• Taxi ranks overhaul and a fit for purpose strategy developed throughout London.
• Planning restrictions for satellite offices to include No Taxi rank = No Satellite office.
• A PHV should always be a PHV and should only be driven by a PHV driver whether working or not.
Despite meetings between TfL and various trade organisations many of these issues remain unresolved year in year out. This has been further highlighted recently within various articles appearing in the trade press.
TFL completed PHV driver licensing in 2003. When recently asked how many PHV drivers have been convicted of illegally plying for hire in the last ten years they stated that “they do not routinely prosecute or collate information on illegal plying for hire offences.”
Let’s be clear “Touting” is not the same as “Plying”.
The RMT London Taxi Branch firmly believes that the status quo cannot continue if our future and the public’s safety are to be assured. Leaving London alone is not the answer both the Law and TfL’s policy must be reformed. These current proposals could very well put us in a worse position than the status quo!
So, ask yourself this question “is this as good as it gets?”
With this in mind the RMT London taxi branch is in the process of writing letters to the various trade organisations in an attempt to come together in addressing and dealing with these issues.
Plying for hire allows a Taxi to be publicly hired. It is now time for the world class London Taxi to be fully integrated alongside the other publicly hired modes of transport within the capital. To be treated fairly with buses trains and trams and not as a second-class mode of transport. The RMT are adamant that in reforming the law governing taxis and private hire that any loopholes, lacunas or deficiencies are resolved by way of primary legislation. If there is a conflict between statute and common law, it is the act of Parliament which will prevail and must be followed by the courts. Policy and enforcement must reflect this.
Calling ALL London taxi drivers and trade organisations it is time to come together and make a stand. Let’s be proactive in advance rather than reactive at the eleventh hour.