It's been announced, in a letter to Transport for London, that the United Cabbies Group (UCG) is withdrawing from TfL's engagement policy.
The announcement, which was made by Trevor Merralls, the General Secretary of the UCG, confirming that a unanimous decision had been taken by the UCG committee to withdraw from the engagement policy, with Mr Merralls saying in a statement to UCG members:
"Your committee has unanimously taken the decision for the UCG to withdraw from the engagement policy with Tfl. This decision was not taken lightly and it will have no impact with the representation individual members receive.
Our organisation will not be complicit in the systematic destruction of our trade."
Mr Merralls then added:
"Our organisation is made up of members who are fighters who are honourable and are not afraid of doing the right thing. Our trade is fighting for its very existence the UCG was formed to fight for our trade to put the interests of the trade first second and always.
The UCG is unique within the trade because we don’t seek popularity we do what is right not what is popular. I hope you agree with your committee and continue to back it."
The UCG have been part of TfL's engagement policy since January 2017, along with a number of other representative organisations from the licensed London taxi industry, with TfL receiving criticism over the lack of minutes taken at meetings, as well as the regularity of those meetings.
The full, unedited letter reads:
Dear Mr Robinson,
The UCG has been part of the so-called ‘Engagement Policy’ and party to Trade / TfL meetings since January 2017; we have attended every meeting since then.
We have now concluded that further engagement with TfL is not only completely pointless but also not in the best interests of our members.
We entered the EP with an open mind and determination to give TfL a fair hearing in the hope that you would listen to our input and act accordingly where appropriate.
Naturally, we could never agree on every subject, but you have made absolutely no attempt to resolve important issues; Illegal PH Plying for Hire via apps, High Court definition of P4H and Uber driving a coach and horses through the regs being just three examples.
TfL has said to the UCG on two occasions ‘We have heard your opinion if you don’t like it take us to court’.
This arrogant attitude is not only unacceptable but is beneath contempt for a Regulator.
At all meetings when awkward but cogent questions are asked, TfL either avoid answering or defer the answer to a later date; that date never appears.
We have asked for Minuted Meetings since Jan 2017, but that request is constantly refused, and we are expected to rely on your selective ‘meeting notes’.
We feel that the outcome of all TfL meetings is a fait accompli with a pre-determined outcome and have no faith in TfL’s lacklustre approach to interacting with the trade organisations/unions.
We note that the Commissioner met once again with Mr Khosrowshahi from UBER this time on Monday 22/10/18 and yet the London Taxi Trade struggle to get a meeting with the commissioner and when we do it feels he is there out of sufferance.
Our history goes back to 1654 and for TfL to treat the trade with such contempt is nothing short of scandalous, TfL inherited the World’s finest Taxi service, you didn’t create it.
The question we are asking ourselves is ‘are we “failing to engage” or “engaging to fail”.
The UGC is no longer prepared to be complicit with TfL in their attempt to destroy our honourable and unique trade.
Therefore, we will not attend any further meetings with TfL, be they TOPS, Senior Reps or Commissioner meetings.
The GLA report found you to be ‘Woefully Inadequate’ and the UCG must concur with their opinion.
UCG General Secretary
There has been no response from Transport for London as yet.