We have had to put up with some plonkers running London over the years, but Andrew Boff clearly wanted to take the crown.
Barking Mad Boff is a Conservative London Assembly member who put himself forward as a mayoral candidate – and fortunately lost to Shaun Bailey as TAXI went to press.
Boff’s manifesto included a pledge to save the cab trade by scrapping the Knowledge.
His other wheeze was to introduce flexible fares. Basically, he wanted turn the taxi trade into another Uber. By definition it suggests he thinks passengers want to be sexually assaulted by cheapo satnav monkeys who frequently drive the wrong way along one-way streets, or crash into stationary objects, such as a houses, which have only been in situ for, say, 100 years or so.
One of his unrelated policies included legalising pot – and the cannabis he admitted to have smoked in 1979 must have been some seriously brain addling stuff if he thought scrapping the Knowledge would sort London’s streets, rescue the cab trade and get him elected to London’s top job.
Grand Wizard Boff admitted much has changed since the hackney carriage licensing system was introduced London in 1662 – Sherlock Holmes has nothing on him it seems. He went on to say that it remains “largely unchanged” except for the vehicle standards. This is true, I guess, they were draughtier, the driver used to sit up top with a crop and much like our man, they emitted a different kind of crap.
He says the “the Knowledge” asks basically the same three questions: “are you a competent person; is your vehicle suitable, do you know your way around London?”
Maybe, he was thinking of minicabs, but to undermine the Knowledge as “do you know your way around London,” suggests he knows as much about the taxi trade as Donald Trump does about Birmingham. It’s one of the toughest tests around, and involves mentally mapping London over years on a moped, usually while doing another full-time job and supporting a family. He should try even part of it, if his brain isn’t too addled.
Smartphones and apps have not made the Knowledge redundant, as he claims, but made it more important than ever. Every single destination race between a minicab driver using a satnav and a London cabbie has been won by the taxi driver.
The Knowledge is what we are – it is the essential difference between us, a premium service, and the rest. Without it we would be nothing more than a minicab service.
Unfortunately, the publicity given to the poor take up of the Knowledge encourages these people. But far from being doomed, our survey showed overwhelming support for keeping the KOL as it is.
Boff appeared oblivious to the fact that TfL sets our fares and believes driving down our wages to match those of our lesser skilled competitors with flexible fares is the answer. Wrong! For a start, who will be able to afford the shiny new electric taxis at £55k a pop? This is also a man who has also said he opposes Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to make minicab drivers pay the congestion charge.
So, far from trying to save us, he is attempting to kill us off.
And, his idea that we should be regulated by the London Assembly was too far out for words, man!
If he answered his own questions: “are you a competent person; are your ideas sound; and do you know what you are talking about?” The answers would be no, no and thrice no; let’s hope that now he disappears back to obscurity in a puff of smoke.