The “Uber revelations” that were brought to the nations attention on BBC Panorama Monday night, will not be any crumb of comfort for the London cab trade who have witnessed the whole taxi trade over past years vilified, insulted, and thrown to the free market wolves. When I met Boris Johnson the then Mayor of London at city hall and he informed me that David ( Cameron ) had told him to “leave Uber alone” I knew the trade was in a fight to the finish, like the miners. We attended meetings with our regulator, TFL who with the spine of a jellyfish proclaimed month after month that Uber was complying with “their” regulations. Booking offices, where was the bookings taken, greyball, sexual assaults, the list went on and on and every taxi driver watched in disbelief as the taxi regulations where being ripped up on an industrial scale. We see that several top ranking MP,s met with Uber lobbyists at unlisted meetings where the virtues of this Global Tech giant were exalted from the rooftops…and slowly but surely , everything the 365 year trade stood for was dismantled.
I remember when Sajid Javid went on the record in a broadsheet and said that he was ready to “look down” the london cab trade, I managed to arrange a meeting with him at the House of Commons and took along both Hailo and LEVC to show him rather than being luddites, we were leading the way and I said to him that every taxi driver had “brought” into the Tory ethos of hard work and trying to better our families lives….. but as we know, MP,s like Mr Javid were already convinced by the Uber allure.
One has to ask why our MP`s were so happy to jump onboard?
Another low point for taxi drivers was when our then Prime Minister, Theresa May spoke at Davos and said that after hundreds of sexual attacks not being reported to the police by Uber drivers, they should not be shut down, unbelievable.
Let us revisit the failings of our Regulator, Transport for London, who in my opinion had done absolutely nothing in standing up to the tsunami of Uber on the streets of London and the lack of regulations. The LCDC truly believes that after these revelations, there must be an open and transparent investigation into the behaviour of Senior TFL Managers. I remember sitting in the audience at City Hall when the then TFL Managing Director of Transport, Leon Daniels sat giving evidence to the London Assembly over the Uber situation where he said that Uber had a landline ( as per the PH Act) but to his horror as he read out the number ( of the uber landline ) I was punching it into my mobile in the gallery. As the phone rang I was taken aback when a lady answered..”hello, Jo Bertram “. she said, ” I want to book an uber” i replied, ” who gave you my number” she retorted, ” Leon Daniels has just read this number out as the official uber landline?” I said… not surprisingly the phone went dead.
But one has to ask why no further enquiry was undertaken into the claim made by Leon Daniels which many in the industry took issue with at the time. Also, the Tfl Uber model investigation that started around December 2013 and was due to conclude in July 2014 but in January 2014, just weeks from the start, Garrett Emmerson the then TFL Chief Operating Officer emailled Isabel Dedring ( Deputy Mayor for transport ) saying that their ( Uber ) license was not in question….outrageous.
Also on the first Uber license refusal, TFL looked into Ubers terms and conditions and “were minded to conclude that they ( Uber) were non compliant ” as they never accepted the bookings, but as we have seen in the High Court recently in the Part 8 hearing, the Courts have stated that Uber would have to enter a contract with the passengers as the principal and not the driver, ask yourselves how many years of lost VAT payments should have been made to HMRC?
At the moment, it is said that Uber has an outstanding VAT liability to HMRC for somewhere in the region of £2.5 billion , one has to ask what lobbying is going on now with Government officials to stop this ever happening?
Sitting on a rank thinking about our past, I have to ask myself what was it all for, the decimation of the Worlds finest taxi service, the destruction of a two tier system in London, for what, please dont tell me London is a better place, the congestion is less, the safety of Londoners has improved? In the end I have concluded that the sorry state of affairs we have had to endure was simply …… Disruption for Disruptions sake and those in power should bow their heads in shame.