NTA Motoring by Roger Blaxall – Peugeot 508

508gtexteriorRemember when driving a car with lashings of wood, leather and chrome meant only one thing – you’d arrived!

Proudly piloting the flagship of the range, the alluring glitter of chrome, heady aroma of leather and magnificence of real tree wood all conspired to give a real sense of occasion at the wheel.

Is that why people of a certain age still go misty eyed remembering models like the Wolseley 6/110, Ford’s Zodiac or something impossibly exotic like a Lancia 2000? I do as I remember being collected for Cubs in said Wolseley, sliding around on the leather back seat, marveling at the smell, silence and sophistication – very different than our Hillman Minx!

How times have changed – and while wood, leather and chrome still have their place; many luxury -or as many manufacturers call them ‘executive’ – cars today boast a dazzling array of technology, leading neatly to my driving impressions of Peugeot’s 508 GT. At over £30,000 it’s an expensive proposition – but for those with a clientele who want to feel pampered and special, and drivers who want to make a positive first impression, it’s well worth a closer look. 

There was a time when driving a Peugeot made a statement about you. Back in the seventies, its models were something of a rarity in the UK with the 504 in particular one of the first diesel engined cars which made sense for curious UK drivers. Peugeot’s big cars, too, have always been rather special with the 604 and 605 ranges among my personal favourites.

Its rapid growth in the last twenty five years means Peugeot’s much more ‘mainstream’ now, the 205 and 405 expanding its UK offering in the mid eighties and laying the foundations for the successful company we know today.

The 508 is its executive offering and one of the more sophisticated models in the large car market, the model’s distinctive design language identifying it as something out of the ordinary; that ‘Grand Tourer’ moniker’s definitely not out of place.

508gtinteriorAny flagship represents the very best a manufacturer has to offer and in the 508’s case words like ‘bespoke’ and ‘exclusive’ are entirely appropriate. As the pinnacle of its UK range, it boasts a staggering amount of kit with any leather and chrome used discretely and tastefully. And this svelte machine has a few clever twists, too – mind you at £30,150 you were expecting that, weren’t you?

Let’s start on the outside where the 508 impresses with its styling which Peugeot claims raises the bar with a ‘streamlined, prestigious and dynamic’ appearance. The grille treatment in particular gives a clue to the latent elegance of the car – it’s in the ‘floating’ style now adopted by the company for all its latest models with eye-catching LED headlamps giving that extra touch of class. Three ‘claws’ in the rear lamps are another distinctive trademark – and there’s more; open the door, take a seat and prepare to be impressed – the GT has a cabin to savour.

Chrome is reserved for the door pulls, instrument panel dials, gear knob and is tastefully applied to the centre console, while Nappa leather’s used on the electrically adjustable and heated seats. And the luxury I was mentioning? How about keyless entry, quad zone air conditioning and a smart head up instrument display that’s a boon for long distance drivers. And there’s more – the GT also boasts an electric parking brake, remote tyre pressure monitoring, front and rear parking aids, cruise control, and JBL hi fi. The icing on the cake’s a comforting lumbar massage function for the driver on his heated front seat; protecting it all is a state of the art security system.

It’s under the bonnet where the 508GT comes into its own; start up and there’s a muted ‘thrum’ from the 200 bhp 2.1 litre engine that hooks up to a smooth six speed automatic gearbox; no manual’s available. Overall fuel economy is up to an amazing 49mpg with a vast touring range and arduous city driving helped by the auto stop/start that engages automatically at in heavy traffic.  

The overall impression is of refinement, calm efficiency and, correct, luxury – this big Peugeot will be appreciated by those drivers who concentrate on long journeys with one or more passengers; suffice to say I was very impressed by the GT.

The good news is that there’ll be some great deals on the current range soon after a new face lifted version was announced recently.

Any bad news?

Well, make the most of cars like the 508 while they last – our luxury/executive market’s changing fast and while places like China can’t get enough of big European style cars, it looks like the end of the road for some big cars in the UK, those without a fancy German name plate have seen their sales nose-diving in recent years as customers are much more choosy.

Peugeot, like its mid market rivals, will no doubt rise to the challenge; it’s developed a range of thrifty and refined new petrol and diesel engines and is blazing a trail with hybrid power, while an innovative new range of ‘air injection’ engines have just been unveiled, too. Whether they have the luxury of time on their side, though, is another matter…

Teens leave Southend cab without paying

FOUR teenage girls fled a taxi without paying their fare.

Police are appealing for information after the teenagers, who were travelling to Wesley Road on June 21, left without paying their fare of £14 at around 1am.

Officers have released CCTV of four girls they want to talk to in connection with this incident in the hope someone can identify them.

Anyone who recognises the girls in the photo or who has any other information can call PC Gillian Parks at Southend police station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

source: http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/

Taxi fares to rise in Cambridge as cap on hackney carriage numbers debated

David Wratten, Director of Cambridge City Licensed Taxis in his cab

The cost of getting a hackney carriage taxi in Cambridge is to go up for the first time in two years as cabbies battle for business.

The city council’s licensing committee approved the rise of approximately 2 per cent yesterday after drivers complained increasing costs and heightened competition was making it harder for them to earn a living.

Councillors also agreed to look into the feasibility of carrying out a study into hackney carriage demand, which could ultimately see a cap put on the number of licences issued.

The fare rise, which will come in on September 15, is different to the flat rise of 5p or 10p per journey which was initially suggested.

The committee instead backed drivers’ suggestion that the rate at which the bill goes up should be slightly increased, meaning that shorter journeys will be less affected by the change.

Cllr Jeremy Benstead, who chairs the panel, said: “The trade didn’t ask for an increase last year when they could have done and they believe their costs are now going up. This idea will not be as expensive for shorter trips and we are all for keeping costs down for people if we can.”

A study commissioned by the council last year estimated hackney carriage drivers in Cambridge now spent 51 per cent of their working time waiting, rather than on a job.

There are currently 308 hackney carriage drivers vying for trade in the city, up against 180 private hire vehicles, which cannot be regulated by the council, and another 800 registered in south Cambridgeshire.

The difference is that a hackney carriage can be flagged down in the street.

David Wratten, chairman of hackney carriage trade association Cambridge City Licensed Taxis, said increased competition was a factor in the request for a price rise.

He said: “The problem we have is the volume of cabs and the limited amount of rank space in the city.

“Every vehicle now has to be wheelchair accessible and they come on expensive finance so drivers are under a lot of pressure. People are using mobile phones and ringing up companies to get private hires so the whole game has changed.”

The cap will be considered in a bid to tackle congestion, and follows warnings that competition between cabbies could boil over into violence.

A cap was last in force in 1995, when there were 120 hackney carriages, but can only be brought in if a survey finds there is no significant unmet demand for taxis.

Councillors also agreed to start negotiations on a voluntary code to end the sale of high-strength beer and ciders in the city, in a bid to combat anti-social behaviour.

Read more: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/


Cheltenham council on brink of insanity

New York chose yellow and London opted for black, but what about Cheltenham?

All taxis in the town will have to be the same colour in the future as part of a bid to smarten up the fleet and make it easier for people to hail a cab.

But the jury is still out on which colour should be chosen.

Dark green has been floated as the front runner by Cheltenham Borough Council, the authority which licenses all taxis in town.

But that is not set in stone with the taxi trade set to be asked for opinions on which colour drivers would prefer in the coming weeks.

The only colour thought to be off the table is black because of the number of private hire vehicles – cars that have to be booked in advance and which cannot be hailed from the street – already using it.

The adoption of a uniform colour for all hackney carriages in Cheltenham will take place gradually, as and when taxi drivers replace their vehicles so that the change doesn’t leave anybody out of pocket.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay (LD, Up Hatherley), cabinet member for development and safety at the borough council, said: “After lengthy consultation with the taxi trade and others, cabinet has approved plans to introduce a uniform colour for hackney carriages in Cheltenham.

“This will help the public to clearly distinguish hackney carriages from other licensed vehicles and will improve the appearance of the public hire licensed fleet.

“It’s important to mention that we don’t want this to be a costly exercise for taxi owners.

“The policy will be gradually implemented as and when licensed cars are replaced. The chosen colour will be one that drivers can easily buy, so there will be no need to re-spray.

“Dark green has been suggested as a potential colour, however we will be consulting with the taxi trade once again to take their views on which colour they think is most suitable.”

The council looked at the same issue last November and at that time it thought black would be the best colour to adopt. Jonny Rocks drove a private hire vehicle for almost seven years but currently works under a hackney licence.

He believes choosing dark green would be a bad move.

He said: “Anything dark is awful to keep clean – that was always the argument against black.

“The council will need to speak to the motoring industry because I don’t think there is a dark green that is a standard colour.

“I think it’s a horrible colour. Silver or grey are the best colours. They always look smart.”

While the choice of colour may be up for discussion, Mr Rocks likes the principle of uniformity.

“I think it could help,” he said. “I am not against the idea as long as it is the right colour. It could look really smart.”

All new applicants seeking a hackney carriage licence must have a vehicle less than five years old.

Meanwhile, drivers seeking to renew their licence must make sure their vehicles meets certain age criteria.

For example a car built in 2000 will be acceptable for a licence until 2014, 2001 until 2015, 2002 until 2016 and so on.

The yellow colour of New York’s taxis dates back to the New York Taxicab Company of 1907. Its cabs were originally painted red and green, but the owner repainted them to be visible from a distance.

source: http://www.southwestbusiness.co.uk/


Taxi driver has car windows smashed in racist attack in Hitchin Road, Luton, while family were sat in the back

A TAXI driver had three of his car windows smashed by a man with a hammer in a racially motivated attack in Hitchin Road, Luton.

The incident happened at around 5pm yesterday (Sunday) when the driver was sat in his car at a red light by the Inspire swimming pool.

A man driving a white van left his vehicle and approached the taxi, making racially abusive comments towards the driver and two of his family members who were sitting in the back of the car.

He then smashed the rear and two passenger windows with a hammer before getting back in his van and driving off towards Cannon Lane.

Nobody was seriously hurt in the incident, but all three victims have been left extremely upset.

The offender was a white man, in his mid 20s, between 5ft 8ins and 5ft 10ins tall, of athletic build, with light brown hair which was short on the sides and spikey on top, and was wearing a black crew neck t-shirt.

PC Rutt said: “This was a seemingly unprovoked attack which has left the victim and his family extremely upset. Thankfully no one suffered any serious injuries but this offender is obviously a violent individual who was not afraid to use a weapon in a public place to cause a great amount of damage and fear.

“Hitchin Road was busy at the time of this attack and I would encourage anyone who saw this incident taking place or may know who the offender is, to please get in touch. Even the smallest piece of information could help us find this individual.”

If you have information relating to this incident, contact PC Rutt, in confidence, on the non-emergency 101 number.

source: http://www.luton-dunstable.co.uk/

Mar 01

Pair assaulted minicab driver with a concrete block

A pair of violent robbers who assaulted a mini-cab driver with a concrete block have been sentenced to more than three years in jail.

Aaron Mizen, 32, and Natalie Bivand, 31, of no fixed address were given three and a half years in prison.

On October 5 2012 at about 4.45pm, the duo took a mini-cab from Maple Road, Penge to Landsdowne Road in Croydon.

They requested the 56-year-old driver to pull over in Bridge Place, Croydon so they could drop something.

When the driver pulled over, Mizen grabbed him and held an object to his neck, which the driver believed to be a knife.

Mizen then pulled the man out of the cab and started hitting him in jaw with a piece of concrete.

The 32-year-old then stole the driver’s wallet, containing £130. Bivand continued to assault the victim then stole money from inside the cab.

The driver was taken to hospital where he was found to have a broken ankle. He was also treated for injuries to his jaw.

Mizen and Bivand both pleaded not guilty to robbery but following a trial at Croydon Crown Court, they were found guilty and both were sentenced on February 8 to three years and six months in prison.

DC Kris Blamires, from Croydon CID who investigated the case said: “This was a nasty robbery where both the suspects assaulted the victim and left him with some long-lasting injuries to his jaw and foot, which is still having a negative impact on his personal and professional life.

“Both Mizen and Bivand repeatedly denied carrying out the robbery throughout the investigation and trial.

“But with the strong evidence from witnesses and the victim, they were convicted and will be spending a considerable time behind bars.”

source: http://www.croydonguardian.co.uk

Mar 01

Cab drivers left fearing for their lives after another brutal attack in Watford

Azmat Shah was so badly beaten after dropping customers off in East Drive last Thursday his family don’t want him to go back to work as a taxi driver.

A brutal attack on a taxi driver in Garston has provoked new calls from the Watford’s Hackney carriage drivers for CCTV to be installed in their cabs.

Azmat Shah was so badly beaten after dropping customers off in East Drive last Thursday his family don’t want him to go back to work as a taxi driver.

The 59-year-old Hackney carriage driver from Chester Road needed glue stitches above and below his eye following the attack. Speaking to the Watford Observer, he said: “I feel scared at the moment. I don’t want to go back but I have not got any other choice.”

Mr Shah’s son, Mohammed, 26, added: “We are not happy with him going back out. If he is trying to help the public get around and he is going to get attacked there is no point in him going out.”

The Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association has called for CCTV to be installed in the town’s taxis before. But the move has been rejected by Watford Borough Council, which regulates and licences taxis.

This week Shafiq Ahmed, the chairman of the Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association renewed calls for a borough council-backed scheme for CCTV to be installed in taxis.

He argued the equipment was too expensive for drivers to fund on their own and the move would save taxpayers money by sparing police time and resources investigating attacks.

Mr Ahmed said: “Taxi drivers are being frequently attacked. This is the only way forward as we are all fearing for our lives. The time to do it is right now before someone gets killed.

“We have been calling for safety measures for three or four years and it has fallen on deaf ears. We feel let down.”

Mr Ahmed added that taxi drivers were willing to contribute to a CCTV initiative but he felt it would only be workable if the council set it up and regulated it.

However, Watford mayor Dorothy Thornhill flatly rebuffed the calls, saying taxi drivers were private businessmen and taxpayers would not want their money spent furnishing their vehicles with cameras.

Mayor Thornhill said: “They are individual businessmen who run their own businesses. In these difficult times, if I went out and asked people if they wanted their taxpayers’ money to be spent putting cameras in taxis I don’t think many would say yes.

“If we really, really thought things were so bad in taxis that they needed camera for safety that would be a different issue of crime on the town. I don’t believe we are at that stage.”

This week Hertfordshire Constabulary said a man and woman have been arrested in connection with Mr Shah’s attack.

Anouska Hardwick and Scott Crawford, both 33 and both of Cezanne Road, Garston, were charged with robbery on Tuesday.

source: http://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/

Feb 28

NTA consider sending food parcels to the South coast as the Rising cost of diesel forces drivers to quit

VERY HARD’: Taxi driver Azzedine Lemhazem at Bournemouth train station

THE rising cost of diesel is hitting Dorset’s motorists hard, with the average cost of petrol now 138.32p a litre.

And those whose livelihoods depend on the price at the pumps say they are being forced out of the market as a result of the spiralling costs.

Taxi driver Azzedine Lemhazem, who rents a space at Bournemouth railway station, said some journeys are not worth the expense of petrol.

“Everyone is struggling,” he said.

“At the moment, it is quiet already, and when we have to pay rent and for diesel, what’s left for you? Last week, I had £165 for myself. I’m living day-to-day.”

Mr Lemhazem, who drives to Bournemouth from his home in Salisbury each day, said he starts the day with no money at all.

“Just to get here is expensive,” he said.

“I start the day at minus £20 and I have to work back up. I have never been on the dole, and I must work, but it is very hard.”

Driver Azmeer Toms said: “It is over £100 a week to buy diesel.

“Your living standards are affected. It used to be that if a customer paid £5, you would get £4 towards your wages, but now it’s more like £3. Ten years ago, diesel was 85p a litre, but it has doubled and my wages haven’t really changed.”

He said he was working longer hours to try and make up the short-fall.

“You have the right to pray and hope for better, but it’s not happening,” he said.

Driving instructor Sally Durnan, who runs her own business, said the rising cost of fuel was making life tough.

“It’s putting a strain on everybody’s pockets,” she said.

“It’s eating into the profits you make at the moment. Diesel is up to £1.47 per litre in some places, and it’s having a real impact.”

The AA revealed the cost of diesel has risen 4.78p from its mid-January price to an average of 145.10p.

The cost of petrol too has risen 6.24p a litre since early January – 1p of that in the past five days – adding £3.12 to the cost of refilling a typical 50-litre tank.

Filling up the 70-litre tank of a Ford Mondeo now costs £4.37 more than six weeks ago, while a two-car family’s monthly petrol cost has risen £13.25 with the current price surge.

The AA said this was due to the effect of the pound sliding against other big currencies, adding that market speculation could push prices to record levels by Easter.

147.9p a litre

The cost for petrol in the Bournemouth and Poole ranged from 137.9p a litre to 147.9 a litre on Tuesday.

ASDA in Canford Heath featured the lowest price of the eight visited by the Daily Echo, while BP in Castle Lane, Bournemouth had the highest.

Most of the other stations were selling petrol for between 138.9p per litre.

From lowest to highest cost per litre of petrol: ASDA in Canford Heath – 137.7p
Esso in Barrack Road, Christchurch – 137.9p
Sainsbury’s in Alder Hills, Poole – 138.9p
Tesco Extra in Tower Park, Poole – 138.9p
Esso in Charminster Road – 138.9p
Murco in Southbourne Grove – 138.9p
Shell in Bournemouth Road, Parkstone – 139.9p
BP in Castle Lane – 147.9p

source: http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/

Feb 28

Ipswich: Minicab driver fined by court for refusing to transport blind couple and their guide dogs

Minicab driver Metin Akin. He refused to take a blind couple because of their guide dogs and was taken to court by Ipswich Borough Council.

A minicab driver has been fined after pleading guilty to refusing to transport a blind couple and their two guide dogs – in one of the first prosecutions of its kind in the UK.

Metin Akin, of Coopers Close in Witnesham, was forced to pay £1,413 in fines and court fees at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Christopher Bing, representing Ipswich Borough Council, told the court on July 8 last year Martin Roberts had called to book a minicab with Ipswich Cabs 289 Ltd.

He and his partner Clare Burman, and their two guide dogs Vikki and Malone, requested to be taken from a relative’s address in Felixstowe Road, to their home in Bridgewater Road, Chantry.

The booking was accepted by the controller and given to Akin as the closest driver in the area.

After initially accepting the fare, the 32-year-old driver, refused after learning it would involve transporting the couple’s dogs.

Akin told the controller he didn’t want to carry the guide dogs because his new Volkswagen Passat saloon had leather seats. He suggested the journey required an estate car.

The operator told Akin he could not refuse the journey because of the guide dogs but he refused to change his mind.

The controller was concerned at delaying Mr Roberts’s journey and gave the job to another driver who accepted the fare in his saloon car.

The court heard, the Equality Act 2010, states licensed drivers have a statutory duty to transport guide dogs.

They can only refuse if they hold an exemption certificate on medical grounds.

Akin did not hold such a certificate. In August 2012 he applied for the documentation on the basis he was allergic to dogs but an allergy skin prick test showed he was not allergic to dogs and his application was refused.

The court fined Akin £165 and ordered him to pay IBC’s costs of £1,233.50 as well as a £15 victim surcharge.

Feb 27

Kent taxi robber jailed for four years

A thug who helped rob taxi drivers in Gravesend and Swanscombe has been jailed for four years.

Caine Borrow and others first targeted Shubhra Nandi after he went to collect a fare at Rayners Court, Northfleet, on August 25 last year.

Maidstone Crown Court heard two men asked to go to Gunn Road, Swanscombe. They then asked Mr Nandi to return to Rayners Court, but told him to stop at a Shell garage in Stonebridge Road so they could get cigarettes.

As they arrived back at Rayners Court, the Phoenix Taxis cabbie was threatened and forced to hand over about £200 before the men fled.

Mr Nandi claimed a knife with a 6in blade was brandished, but 22-year-old Borrow’s guilty plea was accepted on the basis he did not have the weapon.

CCTV footage was taken from the cab and Mr Nandi was able to identify him.

The second raid was three days later on Gurpal Mahil, who worked for Riverview Taxis.

He picked up two men in Bodle Avenue, Swanscombe, who again asked to be taken to Rayners Court. As the taxi turned into Manor Road, one of the passengers claimed of feeling sick and asked to stop.

But as soon as the victim did so, he was grabbed around the neck. He was ordered to hand over cash “or I’ll break your neck”.

Borrow and the other man fled with just under £200. There was no CCTV camera in the taxi.

The third raid was on Phoenix Taxis driver Jawad Azad, who collected Borrow and another man from Wardona Court, Swanscombe, shortly after midnight on September 16.Maidstone Crown Court

They asked to be taken to Harmer Street, Gravesend, and as they passed Angels Lounge, the second man said he lived there and asked Mr Azad to go into a side alley.

He refused because it was too narrow and was then directed into Bentley Street, where one of the men tried to strangle him with a seatbelt.

Mr Azad sounded his horn and managed to break free and run. The robber who tried to strangle him ran after and both of them ended up on the ground struggling.

Borrow, of Lewis Road, Swanscombe, ended up with head injuries and had to be treated at Darent Valley Hospital.

He at first denied any involvement, but eventually admitted two robberies and one attempted robbery. The other robber has not yet been arrested.

source: http://www.kentonline.co.uk/

Feb 26

CRONY CAPITALISM: London’s taxi shame?

The following article is courtesy of: http://hat4uk.wordpress.com/

Conflicts of interest, ignored evidence, and utterly pointless London taxi regulations

Eco City Vehicles supply new taxis to cab drivers in London. The Chairman of ECV is Jolly Green Giant Tim Yeo (right).

In 2010, consultations took place about a maximum age limit for London taxis. The main supposed motivation for having a maximum age involved the question of pollutants being emitted by older taxis. In fact, scientific testing showed conclusively that the new generation of London taxis were no better than the old ones: for that reason, the Department of Transport actually advised Local Authorities not to implement an Age Limit on Taxis on the basis of emissions. All evidence and objections on this basis were ignored by Mayor Boris Johnson, and the coming Age Limit for taxis was formally announced.

During 2011, further scientifically valid arguments were raised with the Mayor. There were protests by owners of older taxis, but these too were ignored. In January 2012, the Age Limit for taxis was introduced, forcing hundreds of drivers out of work….but doing nothing to reduce pollution.

By the passage of this rule, Tim Yeo’s company stands to benefit massively in terms of sales. Tim Yeo is a member of the Conservative Party. Boris Johnson (left) the London Mayor is also a member of the Conservative Party. When at Oxford, Johnson was a member of the infamous Bullingdon Club. Nick Hurd, Tim Yeo’s Chief of Staff while Shadow Minister, also went to Oxford. Nick Hurd was also a member of the Bullingdon Club. In 2005, Boris Johnson and Nick Hurd were founder members of the Conservative Green Chip Club.

Tim Yeo was Minister for (nota bene) the Environment from 1992 to 1993 in the government of Prime Minister John Major, and then Shadow Minister in that role while in Opposition. Before the last election, Tim Yeo initiated a debate about lowering London taxi emissions, the positive outcome of which he knew would benefit his company ECV. When the improper involvement of his company in the Mayoral Age Limit consultation was exposed, Tim Yeo and the CEO of Eco City Vehicles Peter Da Costa resigned from the process. No action was taken against them.

Asked whether there had been any involvement of ECV and Yeo in the decision making process for London, Boris Johnson wrote to Labour MP Andy Slaughter stating categorically that he had never discussed any of the proposals with Yeo, and that Eco City Vehicles ‘had absolutely no involvement in any way in the consultation process’. The Transport for London minutes appear to suggest that this was simply untrue: Peter Da Costa attended consultation meetings, and is quoted in the TFL minutes several times.

Campaigners like ecologist Dave Davies have pressed for the Age Limit to be declared improper and unlawful given the flagrant ignoring of vital evidence. Davies appears to be on sound legal ground here: in a High Court Judicial Review brought by Newport Taxi Drivers, the Judge ruled that the consultation process had been improper there too, and thus the Age Limit that was being introduced was unlawful.

Let’s not beat about the Shepherd’s Bush here: Tim Yeo had a massive conflict of interest while Shadow Environment Secretary, and a massive conflict of interest regarding the decision to introduce a London Taxi Age Limit rule. Boris Johnson rode roughshod over entirely reasonable, evidential objections to the taxi cab Age Limit (for which there is no scientific basis whatsoever) and those involved in it all bring with them the unpleasant whiff of crony capitalism. (See the Deliverance inbreeding traced above)

In need of more evidence about double-dealing Timmy? Read on. Yeo sits as Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, while at the same time being Chairman of ECV, a company proclaiming emission advantages that are illusory. He is also pro-fracking. Obviously a man of firm principles.

Yeo’s time as Environmental Champion in the Major years was shortlived, as he was forced to resign after siring a love child with Conservative councillor, Julia Stent. Earlier, Yeo had said in a speech to Relate in his constituency, “It is in everyone’s interests to reduce broken families and the number of single parents.” Obviously a case of droit de seigneur, then: or crime passionelle. Or double standards. Or all of them. Well why not eh? We’re the élite, we’re worth it!

Want more evidence about political cronyism? In a dramatic U-turn in August 2012, Mr Yeo switched sides on the UK airport debate, saying a decision on expanding airport capacity in the South East was needed urgently to maintain Britain’s competitiveness. This of course put him entirely on message with….London Mayor Boris Johnson, who’d just helped him drive a taxi through the City’s emission laws.

But now let us turn to the aforementioned Dave Davies, a man batting for the right to breathe clean air. As he rightly points out, 4267 people a year are dying in London from pollution (the Mayors own statistic from his 2008 campaign). In the 4 ½ years that he has been in office, however, Mayor Johnson has, claims Davies, “implemented improper and failed emissions strategies which have seen no reduction in pollution.” Live, die, sword etc.

However, here’s a few more problems Dave is having…with the media. He can’t seem to get the Mail (where Boris’s sister writes) or the Telegraph (where Boris writes) to pay any attention to his concerns. Just fancy that.

More details of Mayoral jiggery-pokery as the day proceeds. Stay tuned.

Footnote: Guido has covered bits of this in the past, and was instrumental in getting Yeo’s interest outed.


Feb 26

Rail passenger told ‘get a taxi’

Passengers travelling to London need to use the stairs and underpass to access the platform at Herne Bay station

A pensioner was told to “get a taxi” as part of her railway journey when she asked about disabled access at Herne Bay station in Kent, her son claims.

Ann Nicholson, 74, was buying a return ticket from London Victoria to Herne Bay on Sunday.

She was advised to get a taxi to Whitstable, about five miles away, for the return journey as the platform at Herne Bay did not have disabled access.

Ms Nicholson suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and is registered disabled.

Her son, John Nicholson, said disabled access at Herne Bay was requested two years ago.

Passengers using the London-bound trains need to use steps and an underpass to get to the platform.

A spokeswoman for the rail company said: “Southeastern will be putting Herne Bay station forward for consideration for funding.

“Major works – providing lifts etc – rests with Network Rail who own the stations.

“Some of our stations are over 150 years old and are inaccessible to those in a wheelchair.

“We will provide a taxi to those who cannot use the station.”

Mr Nicholson, the co-founder of Kent Commuter’s Alliance, said: “Normally the station staff are very helpful, but the advice [was] to ‘get a cab’ – there was no advice about Southeastern picking up the tab.

“Herne Bay has a lot of people with mobility problems, plus people with prams, and those wanting London-bound trains always need assistance.

“The station isn’t always staffed.”

Network Rail said about £60m had been spent so far on accessibility improvements on Kent’s routes.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/

Feb 26

London’s black cabs have many miles in them yet, says China’s Henry Ford

Feb 25

Fraudster jailed for running unlicensed taxi firm while claiming benefits

A FRAUDSTER falsely claimed more than £5,000 in benefits while running an unlicensed taxi service using a vehicle given to him for his disability, a court heard.

Witnesses told Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court that they had paid Timothy Ballard for his taxi service, which he ran using a vehicle provided to him by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Lowri Marks, prosecuting for Huntingdonshire District Council, also told magistrates that evidence had been obtained from various sources showing that Ballard had advertised for work and even had magnetic plates made up, which he attached to the car. He also had business cards, witnesses said.

Ballard, of Oaktree Court, Godmanchester, pleaded not guilty to three charges of benefit fraud, involving housing benefit and pension credits, between July 2010 and April 2011 but was found guilty at a trial on January 25.

The 69-year-old claimed a total of £5,085 – which he will have to pay back in full.

Any future benefits he receives will be reduced following the conviction, a Huntingdonshire District Council spokesman said, and he will also have to pay £600 court costs to the council.

He received a 24-month conditional discharge for the offences.

Councillor Barry Chapman, Executive Councillor for Customer Services at HDC, said: “The council takes all fraud very seriously and we are satisfied that the magistrates view the situation as seriously as we do.

“Prosecution is always a last resort, but we will pursue people who falsely claim benefits they are not entitled to.”

The court heard that Ballard had previously received a caution in 2010, when he admitted claiming benefits whilst working for a parcel delivery company. On that occasion, he admitted using another car provided due to his disability.

HDC encouraged anyone aware of someone defrauding the council to contact its confidential fraud hotline on 01480 388188.

“Leave as much information as possible to ensure that the council is aware of the full facts before an investigation starts. All reports received will be dealt with,” a spokesman added.

source: http://www.huntspost.co.uk/

Feb 25

Bexleyheath minicab driver claims traffic warden hit him on head with ticket machine

A minicab driver claims an angry traffic warden thumped him on the head with his ticketing machine in Bexleyheath.

Forty-two-year-old Alieu Bah, a driver for Broadway Express, was collecting an elderly passenger from Albion Surgery, in Pincott Road, when he says the warden attacked him.

According to Mr Bah, the traffic warden was issuing him with the second £110 parking ticket in consecutive days when he was stopped outside the surgery on February 15.

With no sign of his 11am pick-up outside, Mr Bah says he went inside to find her and by the time he came out, a ticket was being issued to his blue Vauxhall minicab.

Mr Bah, who lives in Bramble Mews, Gravesend, told News Shopper: “I said why are you doing this to me? I was pleading to him, saying ‘don’t do that’ but he said I have already issued it.

“I was pleading, saying please, please, please. I was standing in front of him. I was right in front of the car.

“We started to argue and then with the machine he was using to issue the ticket, he just whacked me on my head.

“When he whacked me I fell down.

“It was on the side of my head, above my eye.”

Mr Bah says a passer-by then intervened before police were called.

While en-route to Bexleyheath police station to give a statement, Mr Bah says he started to feel dizzy.

He explained: “They called me an ambulance and I went to Darent Valley Hospital.

“They gave me some tablets and said I don’t need to work at the minute and should stay at home.”

Mr Bah, who serves passengers across north Kent and Bexley, was later signed off work for 10 days by doctors.

He added: “I have to pay rent and I’m self-employed.

“I have a lot of things to pay.

“I can’t understand why this guy can use what he uses to work to hit somebody.

“I don’t know if he doesn’t like the work he is doing but he is too aggressive.

“Something is wrong somewhere.”

A Bexley Police spokesman confirmed officers “are dealing with an allegation of two assaults” and that “it is currently an ongoing investigation.”

A Bexley Council spokeswoman added: “There was an incident which is currently subject to a police investigation, so it is not appropriate to comment further.”

source: http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/

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