Due to editorial deadlines it’s a few days before Christmas.
Some people are predicting the world will end in 2012. I don’t know about you, but impending doom is certainly taking the shine off Christmas for myself, indeed, if things do go t*ts up next year, it kind of makes writing this article a wee bit of a waste of time.
Unfortunately, even if the doom-mongers are wrong about the world ending in 2012, there can be little doubt the year will shape the future of taxis in England and Wales.
I refer of course to the Law Commission (LC). I must say I am totally astonished by the level of ignorance, lack of understanding and general ‘head in the sand’ attitude of the cab trade. I shouldn’t be, but around the country in respect of the LC the cab trade seem generally stupid. It’s almost as if people want t see what they regard as ‘investments’ being flushed down the toilet.
Casey has warned you for over 12 months about impending doom, yet you all appear to have completely ignored his warnings. I find that weird, Casey’s plate is worth £35, yet he’s more concerned about losing his £35 than someone who still owes something in the region of £50K? He must have Scottish roots.
Certainly, this type of sheer stupidity isn’t only within the dominions of the cab trade in respect of the LC.
A fine example appears in Oxford, where a proportion of drivers are objecting to the mandatory fitting of CCTV in vehicles. The council are prepared to pay the first £100 of the £400 system, leaving the cab owner with £300 to find. A lot of money for many of you in derestricted areas (or indeed any area at the moment because the job is sh*te), But when you consider Oxford is a limited area and a place where plates have exchanged hands for somewhere in the region of £80K, it kind of puts their ‘cannot afford it’ stance into a clearer light.
Again, I find it quite amazing that a place like Oxford is worrying about a cost of £300, when they stand to lose £79,700 more if the LC isn’t given a cogent argument in the next month or so as to why nationwide delimitation won’t work.
Unfortunately the stupidity and neglect of the cab trade will go a long way towards shaping the consultation paper due early in the spring.
Current thinking appears to cover nationwide numbers delimitation, tighter emissions controls and operators licenses for hackney radio circuits.
Whilst operators licenses for radio circuits are actually a sensible idea, first mooted 5 or 6 years ago by Casey himself, the other two ideas will see many of you go out of business…..which, as you might agree, would be a shame.
The ongoing saga of cameras in taxis
If there was a bit of kit out there that would more or less, catch every person responsible for misbehaving in a taxi, every puker, every runner, every malicious allegation, every racial slur, every assault and every person generally being an arse, I would be ordinarily certain the cab trade would grab hold of it very quickly indeed.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
For those of you who were media watching late last year, you may be aware that Oxford Councils decision to make cameras in Cabs a mandatory created not only nationwide media frenzy, but a worldwide one. Even the Washington post, which I presume never usually regards news items from a small City in middle England as newsworthy, reported on the saga.
We had big brother watch moaning on about it infringing civil liberties and some Oxford cab owners waffling on about how much it was going to cost them.
The National Taxi Associations excellent website regularly reports instances of drivers being beaten, abused and robbed.
Drivers in Cardiff recently threatened strike action as they believed the local police didnt do enough to protect the cab trade.
I was never a believer in councils making things mandatory, yet something needs to be done about the level of violence and incidents involving both the licensed taxi and private hire industries. It is patently obvious the cab trade are not prepared to install camera systems unless they are actually forced to.
Yes, there are many questions we need to ask. The downloading of images should perhaps only be done by either local authorities (for what reason I fail to understand) and the police. It is surely about time a body such as the NTA organised a camera system at a reasonable price for its members that would effectively cover all of our concerns.
But lets not forget one thing about these camera systems. Each one of you could at some point be at the brunt end of a malicious allegation. The general attitude of local authorities is one of you being guilty till proven innocent. After all, a customer wouldn’t go to the bother of complaining unless something had happened? (sound familiar?)
A camera system could clear your good name within hours, unless of course you’re guilty, in which case, I don’t want people like you ruining the trades reputation anyway.
Till next month