Last week, I met with Taxi Minister Nusrat Ghani MP to urge her to implement the recommendations set out in the working group’s report on taxi and PHV licensing.
It was clear that the minister understood the importance of the report – which
was good to see. She recognised that the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis,
of which the LTDA is a sponsor, had been active on these issues, and reassured me that the Government’s response to the report’s recommendations would be published “shortly.” Following our chat, I feel confident that the Government is taking steps towards making change on a national scale, but I will not stop chasing the Government’s tail until I see words turned into action.
As you know, I am also working with the All-Party Group to gather momentum on the report’s recommendations in Parliament. We are in the process of arranging a meeting with working group Chair Mohammad Abdel-Haq to brief MPs on his recommendations, and I know the MPs are working hard to try and get a debate in Parliament on the report. As soon as we have a date in the diary, I will make sure to let you know so you can tune in. I believe that the work of the all-party group is really paying off, and I’m keen that we don’t lose traction.
Over at City Hall, I gave evidence to the Transport Committee as part of their investigation into the quality of taxi and private hire services in London. The session kicked off with Addison Lee and the Licensed Private Hire Car Association saying that TfL’s proposals to remove the Congestion Charge exemption from minicab operators would somehow increase congestion and pollution. It’s no surprise that they’re objecting to the proposals, but we know that it is key to clamping down on the rising numbers of PHVs clogging up our roads. A PHV cap is clearly essential to tackling congestion, and I told the committee that Mayor Sadiq Khan should keep pushing the Government on this.
I also made it crystal clear to the committee that PHVs plying for hire is a big problem that undermines our two-tier system in London. Taxis alone retain the right to be hailed on our streets and on our ranks, and I told the committee that app- based private hire drivers – particularly Uber– are notorious for clustering around passenger hotspots. I made sure the committee knew that regulation needs to be updated to enforce our sole right to ply for hire.
Florence Eshalomi AM asked whether the mayor had delivered on his Action Plan 2016. I expressed the trade’s disappointment that the traffic scheme at Bank Junction has been made permanent, but urged all the assembly members present at the session to partake in the City of London Corporation’s All Change at Bank consultation and call for taxis to be re-permitted to Bank Junction.
Keith Prince AM, who is a supporter of the taxi trade, really gets this issue. He told the committee that taxis are the only 100% wheelchair accessible public transport in London, and that it is crucial that they can provide a door-to-door service to passengers with disabilities.
It was interesting to note that the transport committee invited Uber to give evidence at the session, but they declined. I wonder why?