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Vaughan Williams: To display or not to display

The producer of the new hit west-end play "The Knowledge" runs his eagle eye through the confusing case of the LTDA Magazine. To display or not to display? That is the question.

Many taxi drivers have been stopped by Transport for London Compliance Officers for having the union's publication on view. Vaughan Williams takes a look at the legal aspects and asks whether drivers are right to question the decision.

What to do if approached by a Compliance Officer

Vaughan's first response would be to question why the "advert" breaches any Advertising Guidelines as there is no advanced approval needed. 

He goes on to say "If Compliance Officers choose to use the unauthorised signage argument, I think they are getting it from TfL Notice 06/14. "This Notice was issued after cabbies started driving around with "Totally Failing London" roundels on their rear windows. "The Notice states that : " anyone wanting to display or provide any printed or written material on the inside or outside of their vehicle or to passengers , which does not meet the advertising guidelines, is required to seek prior approval from TfL before doing so" This is a great point made by Vaughan. As the definition of compliance is "TfL's reasonable opinion". It is not clear how people are supposed to know what the "reasonable opinion" is without further guidance. The only guideline that would appear to have relevance to the TAXI case is a prohibition where: "the advertisement contains negative references to TfL's services" Whilst that might be true for a sticker displaying "Totally failing London", the same can't be said about the TAXI publication. A newspaper headline stating that an Uber driver has got 12 years for rape is not an opinion, it's a fact.

So if faced by a TfL Compliance Officer who runs the unauthorised signage argument, your answer might be: "Oh, could you tell me in what way the written material clearly breaches the Advertising Guidelines please, Sir?  I don't believe that it does, so no advance approval is required. Isn't that a detailed policy interpretation within the powers only of the relevant person within TfL? "If there is doubt, then as per the guidelines TfL can of course request that I submit a copy of the alleged advertisement for its consideration, and subsequently give me its written decision as to whether or not I have to remove said material. Would you like my address so that TfL can consider such action?"

Vaughan also adds "I have read from 2015 posts that there was also a strong Human Rights Act case regarding the right to protest. Not sure TfL would want to get on the wrong side of that, especially where the safety of women is concerned."

TaxiPoint have approached Transport for London to clarify the case, but have so far ignored the request.

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