In this month’s popular Q&A session Grant Davis, Chairman of London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC), joins us in the TaxiPoint hotseat to discuss the challenges of 2020 and his predictions for the year ahead.
2020 was a memorable year for all the wrong reasons. In your position as LCDC Chairman what was your biggest challenge?
“It goes without saying that COVID-19 has presented our industry with the biggest challenge it has ever had to face, possibly in our history. As we lurched from total lockdown to “help-out to eat-out” then tier 2,3,4 and now another lockdown, Londoners are in a permanent state of uncertainty as to what will happen next.
“Perhaps even more worrying in the long run is how the green lobby aided and abetted by Mayor Khan and Transport Minister Grant Shapps has used the pandemic to implement their plans to turn London into Amsterdam.
“The fact that London has TEN times the population of Amsterdam does not seem to enter into their calculations as to how the capital will continue to operate as a world class city.
“Unless there is a complete rethink on these crazy schemes it is very difficult to see how London survives.”
In a tough year what was your biggest achievement in 2020?
“The biggest achievement for the LCDC during 2020 was that throughout these uncertain times the LCDC was able to provide our members the full range of services which they would expect from us under normal circumstances and with the introduction of Zoom, Microsoft teams and meeting platforms, we were able to liaise between our members and Transport for London (TfL) on all major licensing issues such as NSL, driver medicals and thus keep our members up to date almost on a daily basis.
“Quite frankly I cannot express my gratitude enough to our loyal members who have stayed with us and it is very humbling.”
Has the support provided to the taxi industry from the Government been adequate? What support would you like to see in 2021?
“Drivers who had filed their annual tax returns were reasonably helped by the Government with the self-employment grant, would we have liked more? Certainly. But when you take in the effects of COVID- 19 on other service industries as a whole, I think it was the best we could have hoped for.
“A bigger problem for most drivers is the repayment of their mortgages and their taxis, initially there was a payment holiday which helped alleviate the problem, but since these were stopped many drivers are experiencing extremely worrying times and if the payment holidays or restructuring the finance could somehow be reintroduced for a short period of time, this could be a major boost for drivers as we start 2021.”
Do you see a slow or sharp recovery for the taxi industry once leisure and travel restrictions are lifted?
“It would be a brave man who would predict what the future holds for not just the taxi industry but the economy as a whole in 2021. It will only be when this virus has been brought under control, we will be able to see just how much damage it has caused to the economic fabric of London.”