< Go Back
Brian Rice announces DaC House
value increase of fivefold making each
driver's share worth around £20,000!
Call Sign March 2016
Page 2
From Alan Nash (A95)
This month sees a ‘What’s On’ guide, 100 of them with burst times (where possible). *** If Arsenal go
through to the next round of the FA Cup, the match on 12/3/16 at the Emirates will be cancelled...
For a more comprehensive list of ‘What’s On’ for March, go to www.myfav.co.uk/nnomar16.pdf
Call Sign March 2016
Page 3
from the editor’s desk
Well, whether you like AGMs or find
when he perhaps can see the error of his ways,
his pal in Downing Street together with his pals,
them deadly dull, no one at this year’s
Messrs Hilton and Whetstone, won’t allow it
meeting could possibly attach the
because it would damage Uber, of which, natural-
word ‘dull’ to it! Considering the way
ly, Rachel Whetstone is a prime player.
things are out on the street, it was car-
Sadly after all these years, Boris probably
knows far more about vintage wines than he
ried out in an astonishingly well-
will ever know about taxis. Roll on May! The
behaved manner and believe me, hav-
only shame is that Sir Boris of England can
ing missed just one AGM since 1974,
just leave rather than get the boot! Not in a
million years would I ever have expected
I’ve witnessed some that would make
myself to say out loud that even with the
the Alamo seem like a game of chess!
numerous problems we had with Ken
The most astonishing part to come out of the
Livingstone, he was still by far a better Mayor
meeting was that when you think how bad things
than Boris could ever be!
are in the trade, you suddenly realise that each
Member of Dial-a-Cab is actually sitting on an
And TfL’s good bits!
awful lot of money! The word awful is important
I have to be fair and there are a few nice bits
because should the Society’s membership decide
about TfL that I must write of, because they are
to cash in, there will be much antagonism from
true. I’ve had several occasions of late to phone
don’t like if it turns out that they delay emergency
those taxi drivers outside of DaC telling us how
TfL because of delays in my licence and I have to
vehicles. Personally, I don’t know whether to
awful we are to put money first.
say that those I have spoken to on the other end
laugh or cry that we have politicians prepared to
One previous attempt at demutualisation by
of the phone - with just one exception mainly
spend multi-millions on bike lanes that are and
another radio circuit ended in abject failure for the
because I couldn’t understand what he was talk-
will continue to cause absolute chaos while oth-
drivers, when their nest egg turned out to be
ing about - not only appeared quickly after the
ers say they may dismantle them. It’s enough to
worth no more than the paper it was written on.
usual push button process that big companies
make you just give up...
We, on the other hand, are lucky that the invest-
now all put you through, but were all extremely
ment purchased on our behalf by Brian Rice just
helpful and seemed to have much in the way of
nine years ago that went from being just an office
Taxis and Private Hire:
commonsense that those in positions currently
building to become Dial-a-Cab House, has in that
there, sadly lack.
When will TfL learn the
short time increased in value by over five times to
The thought even occurred to me that perhaps
just under 18 million quid! That means many thou-
one of these kind souls would be better
sands each, if that’s what drivers vote for. But if
Drivers have been saying it for years to such a
employed in a higher position than those above
that is what Members vote for, there will be a
degree that defending our licensing authority, TfL
them who struggle to make any sense of the deci-
and its head honcho, London Mayor Boris
sions they come up with!
tremendous amount of jealousy and name-calling
from non-members. The next few months are
Johnson, has now reached a stage where their
going to be nothing less than fascinating.
incompetence makes that almost impossible. Yep,
I know this column has already had a pop at his
There is a report in this issue on the taxi demon-
In the meantime, those of you that weren’t
Mayorship this month, but when you sit and read
stration that was held on 10th February along
there and those who just like AGMs can read a
some of the stuff TfL - every cock-up matters - get
Whitehall. I lost count at how many I have
very long report on the meeting that took me
up to, then it is so hard not to.
attended, going right back to the LTDA organised
around three days to put together! As it says at the
For years we’ve heard examples of TfL
one where we took over the County Hall car
beginning of the article, it is as close as I can get
spokespersons talking about private hire as
park by getting there at 6.30 am, before all the
but it would have been an impossibility to do a
though there was no difference between them
councillors did, causing them to hunt around
word-for-word report. So if reading long reports
and licensed taxis. Now they have put that incom-
Westminster for a parking space. It was brilliant
on meetings is the type of thing you enjoy, have
petence into print in an important document.
because we hit them personally.
fun reading it and think of my typing finger that
TfL’s Private Hire Vehicle Licensing
This latest one was also excellent because the
ended up feeling numb!
Conditions (Responsibilities of the licensee)
turnout was huge with an estimated one-third of
has a section on changing the VRM or Vehicle
all licensed taxis being there! Others still chose to
Registration Mark. We can understand the
go to work and in my view they should feel
Sheer madness!
Evening Standard getting it wrong - deliber-
ashamed at allowing others to lose money while
Mayor Boris Johnson faced a storm of protest
ately or otherwise - but TfL? Bearing in mind
they coined it thanks to the obvious lack of cabs
from drivers of all types of four-wheel vehicles
that the TfL paper is aimed at minicabs, sure-
on the street. As Terry Buffin (S16) said at the
after revealing plans to shut an eastbound lane of
ly someone at TfL sitting in Blackfriars with
recent AGM, those not wanting to be at Whitehall
the A40 Westway to allow the building of anoth-
their six figure salaries could actually proof
could have quite easily either stayed at home or
er cycle superhighway. This on a road that is usu-
the papers that they put out with so much
taken a lunch break during the time the demo
ally solid anyway during busy periods and just
regularity first, before then allowing the
was on. Not everyone agrees with demonstrations
heavy during quieter times, but is a scheme that
world to see them.
- I’m not always sure they do a lot of good - but
the Mayor’s cycling commissioner Andrew
Under the heading of ‘Change of VRM’ and
to just go to work when others are fighting for
Gilligan - a cyclist like his boss - described as a
giving the phone numbers that private hire dri-
you, really is wrong
perfect solution! Mr Gilligan’s idea of a perfect
vers must contact, it goes on to not only tell them
Has the demo done any good? Well time will tell
solution will result in making the road unusable!
that they must bring with them the declaration on
because it probably won’t be the only one this
The loony duo are also planning to shut the
the reverse of the existing TAXI licence but also
trade has, but it will never beat the County Hall
Outer Circle in Regents Park except for a few
the amended TAXIMETER INSTALLATION certifi-
demo because the councillors were mortified at
hours each day in order to facilitate a super-
cate to show the new number! What do you mean
their parking spaces being taken and were ready to
highway linking Swiss Cottage to the West
that PH can’t have meters? This is TfL, headed by
discuss anything rather than it happening again!
End. That one would also see traffic restric-
a blond bomber who has destroyed London’s traf-
Also read the speech from Mayoral candidate
tions on Avenue Road.
fic flow with roadworks, brought the capital to a
George Galloway at the demo. A real scary
Messrs Johnson and Gilligan are acting as
standstill by cutting the road widths in half while
though they own London and surely that is
at the same time adjusting the traffic lights system
wrong. Of course, if they are actually found to be
so that you now wait much longer and when you
Last word
mad, then they would escape the prison sentence
finally do actually start moving, have to drive
My sincere thanks to all those that came up to me
they both deserve to be sent to along with their
along in a low gear because the speed limits are
at the AGM to say they enjoy the mag. It still
TfL compatriots, because what they are doing is
so low.
means a lot to me and again, I thank you all...
literally murdering London.
Yet he thinks he has saved London and pre-
The man aiming to succeed his fellow
tends to want to help by talking of a cap on pri-
Conservative Mayor in May, Zac Goldsmith, says
Alan Fisher
vate hire numbers when it is his department that
he might consider dismantling these ridiculous
brought the regulations in to start with. Now
cycle superhighway lanes that even many cyclists
Call Sign March 2016
Page 4
Reflections of the Chairman
ownership of a taxi for whatever reason
and then rents another taxi with the Dial-
It was an eventful AGM, which certainly went
a-Cab equipment in it, can he/she remain
very well especially considering the situation
a Member and Shareholder in Dial-a-Cab?
the London Taxi trade currently finds itself in.
As I stated earlier, I will initially be writing
What was particularly interesting was that for
to you all and you can state by return if you
the first time in many years I am faced with
wish to take any or all of the issues forward.
writing to the whole Dial-a-Cab Membership
If you do, then we will have a postal vote and
in the near future regarding three issues that
if the vote is to change a rule, then seventy
Members present at the AGM wanted further
five per cent of the votes returned will be
information - and possibly even a vote - on, or
needed in order for that rule to be changed.
at least some of the proposals at a later date.
It could be that if the majority of Members
So my intention will be to write to all
wished a new rule regarding the retaining of
DaC Members explaining the three issues
membership after ten years’ service to be
within the same correspondence, howev-
inserted into the rule book, then that could
er, one of the issues is delaying me at the
be done with a postal vote as it would obvi-
moment and until that situation is
being elected to that Board.
ously affect some Members immediately.
resolved, it will slightly delay the situa-
However, this time it is different as the
Regarding the change in the size of the
tion and you will understand why a little
majority of the Members present felt that
Board, if most Members were in favour,
later in this report.
that could be held over till the next AGM,
I informed those Members present at the
it was appropriate and wanted to give the
whole Membership an opportunity to
which is an electable one and the pro-
meeting that I had received an offer for your
posed new rule voted on then. A new rule
business - initially the offer seemed reason-
vote on the issue. What I will probably do
is to ask Members initially if they wish to
does not become a rule until it is regis-
able from a company within the taxi trade, a
tered so the BoM could be elected and
company that I believed would be acceptable
reduce the size of the BoM with a simple
after registered, the Board Member’s with
to Members.
Yes or No and if Yes, would they prefer to
the least votes would stand down until
Consequently, we decided to have your
elect a Chairman plus two BMs or a
the new required number is achieved.
building valued in an attempt to see if the
Chairman plus three BMs.
At the moment, the above is hypothetical
offer we received for the Society was
Finally, an issue was raised with which I
and no doubt events will become a lot clearer
acceptable. There is a clause in the ‘Heads
have some sympathy. As many of you know, it
in the future so none of the above, or how we
of Agreement’ that says both parties must
is now becoming increasingly difficult to pur-
go about the issues, are cast in stone. After
agree on a valuation for the Society with-
chase a second hand taxi, due to the fifteen
all, if you decide to demutualise, then the
in thirty days of Dial-a-Cab getting a valu-
year rule and I know some of our Members
changing of our rules will become obsolete
ation for your building, so at the time of
are in a situation where they do not wish to
so before you bombard Call Sign or me with
writing that is the issue that’s holding up
buy a new taxi because they simply can’t
questions, please wait just a little longer to
the process.
afford it, or they don’t consider it a viable
see how the issues develop.
Personally, I believe the price will be too
proposition due to the number of years they
I have merely attempted to relay to all
high for the third party as the valuation we
have left in the trade.
Members what they might expect in the
received for the building was £17.9million.
The second hand market is almost non-
future and also to let the Members who
When you consider you paid £3.7m when we
existent, so the Member whose taxi has
were at the AGM know their requests will
bought the building back in May 2007, I think
reached fifteen years does not have much
be acted upon...
you will agree that we have done rather well.
alternative other than to rent a vehicle.
However, we have to realise that the building
That then begs the question as to whether
Brian Rice
is only worth that figure if someone is pre-
if a Member has been a shareholder for
pared to pay that amount.
ten years or more and has to relinquish
That leads me to the three issues I men-
tioned earlier. The majority of Members
present, when they realised the potential
value of their property, wanted me to
write to all Members to ask them if they
would like their property to be sold, with
any proceeds distributed to Members. But
of course, in order to do that we would
first have to demutualise the Society. So
Unit 10, Ford View Industrial Estate, 83 New Rd Rainham, RM13 8ET
please bear in mind that any correspon-
dence will only be in an attempt to gauge
Tel: 01708 553037
the feelings of Members, to see if they
want to take it to the next stage by having
a vote or making a rule change, depend-
ing on the topic.
TX1 servicing from £48
TX1s, TX2s, TX4s and Vitos
I have been saying for many years that the
TX2 servicing from £70
Rentals from £165 per week
BoM is too large, that we do not need five
TX4 servicing from £90
elected members, a Chairman plus a Finance
Manager, making a seven man Board,
All Work Undertaken
because what that produces is discontent-
Servicing - Running Repairs - Overhauls - Small Fleets Welcome - Discounts Available
ment from some on the Board that are not
All TX1, TX2, TX4
required on a day-to-day basis.
Starters - Batteries - Alternators - All with 2 year Warranty
I always felt that it would be inappropriate
for the BoM to put this rule change forward,
Fax: 01708 551443
Web: www.PaulsTaxiSpecialists.co.uk
as some would accuse the Board of forming a
clique in an attempt to deny other Members
Call Sign March 2016
Page 5
rtemis Mercer, who with other taxi
drivers wives started the #SaveTaxi
Facebook group last year in support
of the taxi trade, has launched a
drive to raise £600,000 to fund the initial
And they need your help NOW!
phase of getting a Judicial Review against
The Crowdfunder campaign will target
TfL. Artemis has established Action for
London’s 25,000 licensed taxi drivers to raise
Cabbies as a private company to spearhead
the required money, with further finances
the campaign. It will use the platform of
expected to be required if Action for Cabbies
Crowdfunder.co.uk to help the new group
is successful in securing the Judicial Review.
secure the Judicial Review. It bases that on
It will also be open to others who wish to
the grounds that TfL was wrong to grant a
contribute, although it will be unlike many
licence to Uber and its drivers in 2012 as the
Crowdfunding efforts in that there is no
licensing authority had failed to follow the
prospect of a direct return on the funds
correct procedures.
“There has always been a two-tier system
Action for Cabbies has warned that
with private hire vehicles on one side and
unless TfL's decision to grant Uber a
black cabs on the other,” Mrs Mercer, whose
licence is revoked, the black taxi industry
husband is a taxi driver, told Sky News. “TfL
will be decimated “...and the iconic black
did not follow those regulations in 2012: it
taxi rendered extinct.”
went from being a law-enforcer to a law-
The first day raised
£31,412 of the
maker and in doing so it compromised public
£600,000 needed, with the latest total reach-
safety and cost black cabbies the opportunity
ing around £200,000. But there are only a
Artemis Mercer and Action for Cabbies
to compete on a level playing field.”
need your help. If you haven't yet
few weeks left and if you can help, go to:
The group will again repeat that Uber
donated, don't wait till it's too late...
drivers use a meter of the kind that
for-Cabbies and click on Pledge to sup-
should only be available to licensed taxis.
port the fund.
Artemis said the Uber app did not imple- standards as rigorously as those imposed
Your livelihoods may depend on it...
ment insurance and public safety on black taxis.
Book Review
Book Review
Book Review
Book Review
Book Review
A taxi history in pictures
Bill Munro is quite probably the taxi trade’s most prolific writer with every book published by him always worth reading;
so the second and enlarged edition of London Taxis in Camera (Earlswood Press, £21.99) is one book that I just had to
look at.
With so many problems besetting this business, it’s important we know where we came from as well as where we
want to go to and this book shows that quite beautifully - after all, who knew there were quite that many taxis to fill
160 pages with photos! Many of them are in colour and have never been seen in print before - in addition to histories
of the cabs and even some of the early garages!
The book begins with a time “before” taxis where it explains the difference between Hansom Cabs and taxis, why
having no meter made a difference and what happened when they were introduced.
The first definitive part of our history that Bill writes of is the Edwardian period, the introduction of the London
Cab Co of Brixton and its 500 Renault taxis. That in itself was somewhat prophetic as around sixty years later, Michael
Gotla introduced the vehicle that became known as the minicab - Welbeck Motors Renault Dauphines. And as you
would expect in such a comprehensive look at the trade, there is an informative piece on Welbeck.
But it’s in the chapter on the 1930s and WW2 that familiar names to current - albeit older - drivers start
to creep in with taxis such as the Beardmore and Austin Low Loader. There are photos of taxis both in ser-
vice as cabs and also as fire engines during the war and as it does throughout the book, full explanations
of who, what and why are alongside.
It is in the Post-war section of London Taxis in Camera that I found my favourite photo in the book. Yes, it’s in
black and white and quality-wise isn’t the best because there was obviously a bit of the old London smog around,
but I found a fascination in seeing a rank of Nuffield Oxford taxis filling up the whole of Westminster Bridge on
20 November 1947 waiting for passengers at the wedding of the-then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip of
Greece and Denmark; of course later to become Queen Elizabeth and The Duke of Edinburgh!
Then there was the story of the 1954 Monte Carlo Rally and how the BBC’s only sports show of the time
Sportsview covered the event with Peter Dimmock and an FX3 apparently pulling up in a Glasgow street to pick up someone
in a bowler hat who “asks” to be taken to Monte Carlo! Hardly earth shattering but an interesting piece of history that most wouldn’t know about in addition to
the historical facts that abound throughout the book.
Moving along to the twentieth century, that section begins with a photo of a demo that I’d forgotten all about, even though after reading it I remembered being there in
my FX4! We were demonstrating against the-then Labour government who had failed to compensate the trade for the raging inflation that was going on. Happy memories?
Probably not, but it nonetheless made fascinating reading.
Also in that section, the beginning of wheelchair access and how the United Nations became involved plus the advent of the Metrocab and Asquith in addition to the
various LTI progressions. Then there is the part that many still curse - the advent of all-over livery advertising. Also included is a piece on our “little green huts” and of course
the latest taxis including the TX4, the Vito and many other strange looking variations - who remembers the Lucas electric taxi - before ending with a history of the PCO,
something many detested, but would love to see back now after watching TfL in action!
I have many taxi books in my library, beginning with a first edition of Anthony Armstrong’s 1930 book, TAXI that told of the daily grind of London taxi
drivers between the two World Wars. Then there are most of the books by Bill Munro and the late Phil Warren in addition to many attempts from other
authors to portray parts of our business. But I have to say that London Taxis in Camera is by far the best one of them all!
Unlike some of the taxi books I’ve seen where the photos and text look as though they were just copied with a cheap copier and stuck into a book format, the photos
here are excellent with clear and precise explanations as to what’s happening. It caters for both those who just like the historical aspect as against those who are more
mechanically minded and like to know how things work! I come in the first group and have to say that it was so informative that I will soon be reading it again!
London Taxis in Camera (Earlswood Press, £21.99) is available on Amazon and various different outlets. Earlswood are doing a postal service where you can order the
book online and get it for £19 including postage, or £22 including postage for anywhere outside the UK for the benefit of Call Sign’s 8000 + internet readers. USA readers
can find it in bookstores and various outlets...
Alan Fisher, Call Sign Online
Call Sign March 2016
Page 6
Not bad! We’ve been here 3 hours and earned an extra fifteen million quid! We’ve had worse days!!!
If you find updating the DBS every time your
licence expires a hassle, now there is a...
hink back to when your three-yearly taxi drivers licence expired and the hassle you
got trying to update your DBS certificate (formerly known as the CRB check).
Call Sign has received numerous complaints from Dial-a-Cab drivers over how long it is taking to get a completed DBS check.
First there’s the online performance, followed by a visit to the Post Office with not one or two ID documents, but three! According
to LTPH, it is the DBS that holds up the renewing of the licence; so if you didn’t have that, not only could it save a lot of hassle but
also a lot of time... and if you could also save money? Well now you can do all that!
The Disclosure & Barring Service have an update service that means once you have received your DBS certificate and
decided to subscribe to the update service, then you need never apply for a new one. LTPH - or any employer - will just
need the membership number and can check that there have been no changes to your original DBS without any delays.
There is a fee of £13 annually to subscribe to the update service when you apply for your DBS certificate. That compares favourably
to a three-yearly fee of £56.85 but means that you will no longer be required to apply for a new DBS certificate or have the frustrat-
ing wait associated with it. So what do you have to do? Well it has to be done within 19 days of your next renewal. Once you have
completed the DBS form and have your application form reference number, just log onto the DBS website and join. You will need a
credit/debit card. If you prefer to just go through the performance every three years, then that option will still be there...
Go to the DBS website at https://www.gov.uk/dbs-update-service for more details...
Dennis Latchett
Call Sign Online
Page 7
Call Sign March 2016
ondon Mayoral candidate, George
Galloway, has said several times that
should he be elected as Mayor then he
would attempt to kick Uber out of
He claims money will or has changed hands
London. As his son-in-law is on the
Knowledge and as he has also expressed his
between Uber and the decision makers!
admiration for London taxi drivers, that may
abiding citizens in the beginning
not be surprising. But what was something of
and throughout their lives as cab
a shock was listening to an off-the-cuff speech
he made to some cab drivers and representa-
There is no other explanation for
tives of the press at the February
the unleashing of an unregulated,
Whitehall demo, standing just yards away
deregulated, deskilled, unknowl-
from Downing Street. His words were cap-
edged workforce deployed against
tured on film by Dial-a-Cab driver John
the cab trade. There is no other
Davis (V41).
explanation for the bonfire of stan-
Mr Galloway said:
dards and regulations and laws that
“I’ve always spoken directly to cabbies -
you have been forced to face.
7 years on TalkSport - and in the great
My son-in-law goes around
struggle that you have now had to under-
London all day and every day on a
go at the hands of Uber and the corrupt
moped, building up his skills just
relationship with the Government behind
as every one of you has done; he
me. When I saw George Osborne sitting
did so in the hope of a dignified,
free and gratis in the stand at the
skilled trade to keep him and my
Superbowl last weekend, all was clear - if
grandchildren for the rest of his
it hadn’t been clear before.
working life and it’s plain that it is
I’m saying now, in the presence of
being destroyed by these hucksters
microphones and cameras, that money is
behind me who have told us - or at
changing hands now or in the future
least told Boris Johnson: Leave
between Uber and their owners and the
Uber alone!!!
people making the political decisions that
And my goodness, that is an
relate to the taxi industry.
instruction he has certainly
There is no other explanation possible
observed! He hasn’t laid a finger on
for a relentless war that has been
unleashed against skilled workers, small
Judging by the cheers from drivers
businessmen and women with high levels
of skills, who pay taxes as law abiding cit-
George Galloway at the demo shocks with
at his words, the majority seemed to
agree with him...
izens, who have to prove that they are law
corruption comments!
Call Sign March 2016
Page 8
Bob Francis (Y98) has been on
Dial-a-Cab 11 years and a taxi dri-
ver substantially longer. He recent-
TfL and insuring
ly asked himself a question he
hadn’t thought of before. The TfL
consultation on Private Hire sug-
PH vehicles
gested a possibility of making
PHVs pay the congestion charge
can choose to get their own insurance, it
must obviously meet our requirements.
and to also compulsorily carry or
Almost all of our drivers choose ours as it is
display a copy of their insurance
very competitive.
details at all times...
“We regard the current situation with TfL
“So I thought Call Sign readers might
as appalling in relation to PH insurance. We
find this interesting,” Bob told us. “A num-
have been told openly at TfL meetings that
ber of years ago I wrote a letter to Mayor
with 17,000 - or whatever the number is
Boris Johnson headed How not to pay the
that Uber operate - that it is no surprise
Congestion Charge by registering as a
that a few will have no insurance!
Private Hire Vehicle. The answer I got back
“I said this to TfL officers directly: I never
(admittedly not from Boris himself) was a
thought the day would dawn when Hire &
load of gobbledegook, basically saying that
Reward insurance was an optional extra in
TfL had checks in place to stop that from
the PH industry. This goes against primary
legislation and is not, in my view, for TfL to
“Well, on a recent weekend I saw a 15 reg-
decide. We are champions of operator insur-
istration plate Aston Martin Vantage
ance, ie operators do as we do and that is to
(priced from £87,500 to £149,000) with
ensure that every single PH driver has Hire &
Private Hire roundels on it. At that moment
Reward insurance. Nothing less is good
I thought: Stuff the taxi, I want to know
what minicab firm he works for because I
TfL’s Board will be discussing the con-
Bob Francis was shocked by what TfL
can do that!
sultation proposals on March 17 and
told him about PH insurance
“Of course I didn’t, but when I came back
they include both the insurance ques-
from dreaming, I did some checking on
tion as well as whether PHV should pay
travel in yet do not check that they have the
what PHVs could and couldn’t do while get-
the congestion charge. However, if they
necessary correct insurance in place!
ting licensed and this is what I found in the
insist on PHVs only needing third party
Naturally, London Licenced Taxis can
Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Licensing
insurance to get a licence, then it would
only be plated if they have Hire &
Inspection Manual V6 (01/10/2014).
seem to confirm the view that many in
Reward in place at the time of the
PHV insurance complies with 7 (2) (b) of
the trade already have - both taxis and
the Private Hire Vehicles Act
the respectable side of private hire - that
(London) 7 (2) (b): That there is in force
Call Sign then spoke to Mike Galvin,
TfL are just not fit for purpose.
in relation to the use of the vehicle a policy
former MD of ComCab but who for many
Bob Francis came back with the last word:
of insurance or such security as complies
years has been with Addison Lee, cur-
“I still feel very strongly that vehicles should
with the requirements of Part V1 of the
rently as Head of Regulatory Affairs at
have H&R insurance in place at time of
Road Traffic Act 1988; and (c) that any fur-
the PH Company. We asked him about
inspection. Even so, the fact we are actually
ther requirements that may be prescribed
the many PHVs that apparently go to be
talking about it and that it actually needed a
are met.
licensed but are allowed to use just third
consultation to decide the answer, shows
The Road Traffic Act 1988 section V1
party insurance with TfL’s blessing. We
that TfL don't actually think things through.
covers third party liabilities and you can
asked if Addison Lee use Hire & Reward.
The acronym, KISS
((Keep It Simple,
find that at:
He told us:
Stupid) is a phrase TFL would do well to
“In short yes, all our vehicles are insured all
the time. We provide the insurance centrally
In two weeks’ time, we will know the
(it’s our own company) and although drivers
“To save Call Sign readers checking out
all the above, what it appears to mean is
that the only requirement I needed had I
been a PH driver was Third Party insurance
to register a vehicle for Private Hire use.
Naturally I didn’t believe that and so I tele-
phoned the TfL booking line and asked
what insurance I needed for PHV licencing.
The answer - and I quote - was quite aston-
“Any insurance will do for inspection.
It’s up to you to sort out Hire & Reward
I think that quote is worth repeating
because it comes from our licensing author-
ity, the organisation placed on this Earth to
make sure that passengers are safe! They
“Any insurance will do for inspection.
It’s up to you to sort out Hire & Reward
“So there you have it, you can currently
register your car to get out of paying the
congestion charge - albeit you do need two
MoTs. But what’s far more worrying is that
TfL actually licence vehicles for the public to
Call Sign March 2016
Page 9
Do you ever find
Another true story from Geoff Levene…
other cab drivers
to be embarrass-
ing? Sometimes it
Wasn’t that embarrassing!
might just be a
joke. You’ll be
when you hit another cab. One lunchtime I
my early days of cabbing, I was going down
stuck in traffic
decided to park on the rank in Carey Street
Green Street in Mayfair when a large truck
with a job in the
while I picked up a sandwich in Chancery
came towards me. I pulled over and touched
back; a mate
Lane. There was one cab right at the front
- and I do mean touched - the bumper of a
pulls up along-
and another at the back. So I parked behind
parked cab. Out came the driver - an old boy.
side, his window
the front cab. There seemed to be a gap
The first thing I noticed was that the top but-
rolls down and
behind me and that was when I discovered
ton of his trousers was undone. He bent
he yells out: “Are you still having those fits!”
that it was a four cab rank, albeit a bit of a
down to examine the non-existent damage
You and the passenger have a good, if uncom-
squeeze. I got my grub and was halfway
and told me to be more careful. I was full of
fortable, laugh.
through my crayfish and rocket sandwich
contrition. Just imagine the scene; he was
But sometimes things make you feel really
when a cab pulled up alongside and asked if
leaning back against my double-parked cab,
uncomfortable... like the two drivers who
I could move forward a bit so he could get in.
which was making a narrow road even nar-
were standing on the pavement by the only
This was going to be interesting. Then he
rower. At that moment, a Bentley came down
two cabs on the Acacia Road rank when up
and forwards
the road at speed. I don't know whether the
walks a job. Both drivers get in their cabs
bump! I glanced in my mirror for a
wing mirror touched his trousers or it was
with neither thinking it might be a good idea
wave of apology, but nothing. Backwards and
the draught that the car caused, but suddenly
to open the door for the passenger. It's only
forwards and
bump. But again zilch! Then a
all the buttons of his old-fashioned flies
a little thing, but people do appreciate it.
third time... nada. This time I got out just as
popped open and his ‘kecks’ fell down
Have you noticed when a passenger
he squeezed in. He got out of his cab carrying
revealing a pair of long johns. He looked up
comes out in the early hours, they close
a sheaf of papers. There was no damage but a
to the heavens and wailed: “They’re pulling
the front door as carefully as they can and
‘sorry’ would have been nice.
my trousers down!”
tip-toe down the front path before whis-
“Are you going to be long,” I asked?
I couldn't do anything but drive away.
pering their destination? It makes you
“About twenty minutes,” he replied non-
Embarrassing or what...?
feel that you shouldn't actually start up
“If you need to go you can
the engine but push the cab away instead!
bump me. I hit you five times.” And I had
Geoff Levene (W32)
I suppose we've all had to call the AA in the
only counted three!
early morning at some time or other. When
Call Sign Online
But I must confess to a bit of ‘previous’. In
those guys are working, they clunk and clank
with their tools without any thought for those
asleep in their beds. And why shouldn’t they?
It's their job and after all, it’s not easy to
change a tyre quietly!
Stone Setting for
But it was while doing a two cab job the
other day that I wanted the earth to open up!
The other driver was a bit ‘mutton’ - well
Ray Sorene
more than a bit, with the result that he was
shouting at the top of his voice. At six-thirty in
the morning, it was still dark for Heaven's
sake! What could one say?
It was at a similar time on a beautiful
still summer's morning that I was picking
up in Hampstead. The customer had spec-
ified the driver not to ring the bell or
phone, obviously not wanting to wake up
anybody. After a few minutes, the front
door opened and he approached the cab.
My finger hovered over POB. This was the
old terminal and sometimes odd things
happened when you used its functions.
For instance, if you were on the Sloane
Square rank and did a ‘Queue Position’
the automatic doors at old Royal Court
Hotel on the other side of the square
would open! If you did it often enough,
the staff would come out scratching their
heads as they tried to work out what the
problem was.
But back to Hampstead on that lovely quiet
The stone setting for the late Ray Sorene (A53) will be held at the Western
morning; the man got in - the same man who
Cemetery, Bulls Cross Ride, Cheshunt EN7 5HT on Sunday March 13th at 14.00.
didn't want to wake up his family or the
Ray joined what was then ODRTS in 1969 just as Jack Taylor was handing
neighbours... and then I pressed POB. But
over the ODRTS Chairmanship to Jack Russell. When he left Dial-a-Cab
there was a sports car parked in front and my
POB caused the alarm to let out the most ear
because his cab had reached its 15 year limit in 2014, he had become the sec-
splitting screaming that I'd ever heard. Babies
ond-longest serving driver behind Alan Lewis (A44).
started crying, dogs began barking and cur-
On a personal note, there were a number of occasions when with very lit-
tains twitched! He asked what happened and
tle notice, Ray would act as a Call Sign photographer if Alan Green (E52) was
I just said that perhaps a cat had set the alarm
suddenly called away.
off - even though I knew exactly what had
Above all that, Ray Sorene was also such a lovely man.
really set it off. But at least we didn't ring or
Alan Fisher
One thing that is highly embarrassing is
Call Sign March 2016
Page 10
n estimated one third of
London’s licensed taxi
fleet all assembled in
Whitehall on February
10 to demonstrate against several
things. If you asked five drivers,
you would have got five different
reasons why they were there, but
the important part was that all the
trade organisations supported the
demo and if nothing else, that
would have put the wind up Her
Majesty’s Government. Until
recently, we had all assumed that
TfL were to blame for our ills but
recent events have confirmed that
they are just the whipping boys -
At least
albeit well paid ones - of David
Cameron and George Osborne.
According to Len Martin, UCG Chairman:
“The choice is simple, if London wants its
highly regulated, safe and on demand gold
standard taxis, there needs to be a clear
understanding that we aren’t supported by
the taxpayer or charities. Government must
not allow private hire operators to ignore the
legislation. The taxi trade cannot survive with
unfair competition.”
Mick Bailey, the RMT Chairman added:
“Plying for hire is the thing that’s got to be
dealt with. We’ve got to get it in the House of
Commons and we’ve got to prevent this gov-
John Davis
ernment from dismantling the Licensed Taxi
Trade in London.”
DaC Chairman Brian Rice said: I have never
his cab
been militant and always looked on myself as
specially in
someone who prefers to talk, but I have my
case the
doubts that anyone in the Government cares
PM came
enough about our trade to lower themselves
by talking to us. Certainly TfL are no better.
That’s why I supported this demo.”
Uber’s Jo Bertram picked demo day to offer
black cabs free commission on fares for a year,
but Call Sign could find no one that was
Unfortunately, something of a damper was
put onto the day when news filtered through
that the LTDA’s High Court challenge, which
asked a judge to declare that the construction
DaC's little
of the segregated cycling route from the Tower
drummer boy,
to Westbourne Grove without planning per-
Marc Turner
mission was illegal, had failed. LTDA QC Mark
(R97) telling
Lowe said the association had consistently
the world
opposed the cycle superhighway on behalf of
we're there!
its members but that the project had gone
ahead without planning permission or an envi-
ronmental impact assessment as required by
the EU EIA directive. TfL described the super-
highway as “works of improvement” not
requiring permission or an EIA.
Some even suggested that the timing was
deliberately set for the day of the demo. As if...!
Alan Fisher
Call Sign Online
Call Sign March 2016
Page 12
Sunday 7 February 2016 saw the
Jimmy came back and said that some of the
something, the Chairman added, that does
younger drivers with mortgages and cabs to
happen in business!
2015 Dial-a-Cab AGM held again
pay for could “go to the wall” this year. He
Kevin then spoke about ComCab and JPM.
at the HAC Barracks on City
suggested we stripped the company down
He said that our rolling rank had worked
Road. What follows are not the
and formed our own app. He agreed with
really well but that CC just give a passenger
official minutes, but an unoffi-
Brian’s old Call Sign articles about run-ins
name and some passengers were now wait-
and gratuities etc and that you should never
ing in excess of 15 minutes. His question to
cial record of the meeting as
cut wages, but added that we were “knack-
Brian was whether we were in touch with
captured by Call Sign Editor
ered” and going nowhere. He wondered if we
JPM. Brian explained that the account was
Alan Fisher. It is not a full record
would even be here in 18 months’ time.
now operated from New York and while he
and neither should it be taken
Brian said that while we would never
constantly emailed them, they rarely
return to the halcyon days of 2006, there was
responded. He added that Keith Cain also
as including every word said or
no question that we would still be here. He
emails them but with little response. Brian
indeed the exact wording spo-
reminded Jimmy of his last sentence of a
said that he’d keep trying because DaC gave
ken. Some paragraph grammar
2007 Chairman’s report in Call Sign where
JPM an excellent service for many years and
has been sacrificed in order to
he said: “This is as good as it gets!” He said he
should know that we are ready whenever
could see the writing on the wall. Not that
they wanted to return.
make the report as compact as
long afterwards, the country went into reces-
Kevin then asked about the loss of JPM and
possible. Approximate atten-
sion and after coming out of it, 2012 saw
the Citigroup so close together and whether
dance was 96, not including
Uber licensed and we started all over again.
we offered no run-ins etc. Brian repeated the
the BoM…
He said that all customers really wanted was
set of circumstances that ended with us losing
“cheap” and that Board Members would con-
JPM, confirming that we offered no run-ins etc
The meeting opened at 11.00 with Chairman
firm that when you go to visit customers, they
to Citi and yet still couldn’t compete with the
Brian Rice asking for the traditional one-
bang you over the head with Uber compar-
prices offered by Brunel cars.
minute silence to remember those that had
isons. Jim confirmed his view that the Society
Kevin ended by asking if the BoM could set
passed away during the previous 12 months.
should rebrand itself as an app and put much
an example by cutting back and Brian
Approval was then requested and given for
of the blame to the trade’s current position
explained why Board costs had increased
the presence of accountant Mike Tovey, two
down to the 2012 London Olympics. Brian
slightly. Among the reasons was Joe Brazil
DaC ladies Jacqui Chart and Shelagh Adkins
reiterated the points he made in his Financial
coming in to learn the ropes and DaC build-
and two sound engineers. The Chairman
Report earlier that an app isn’t a guarantee of
ing a new website and its associated costs.
pointed out that those who had already voted
success because otherwise why would
Brian also told the drivers present that Mike
by post should not vote again...
Cab:app try to raise £500,000? He also said
Son came in just one day a week while Garry
that last year Hailo spent £3 for every £1 they
White only came in for Board meetings. Kevin
2014 Minutes
earned. They have huge amounts of money
asked why Garry didn’t have a job and Brian
Minutes of the 2014 meeting were passed.
behind them yet they lost £22million. He said
said that getting on the BoM was no guarantee
There were no matters arising…
that whatever we did, we just don’t have
that they would get a job and that in reality
those resources and cannot compete with
there just weren’t enough jobs to go round.
Annual Report including the
that. Brian also said that perhaps an amalga-
The Chairman said to Kevin that if he felt that
Chairman’s Report on the
mation of all three radio circuits might be
strongly then he should propose a rule
another way forward. Jim wasn’t happy about
change cutting the number of BMs and then
Financial Statement
joining with ComCab and complained about
they would all get a job.
Brian Rice gave a lengthy synopsis of the report.
the terrible service they give to passengers
Next up was Patsy
You can read that on page 18 of this issue...
using Taxicard. He said we had given that an
McCarthy (C01) who said
excellent service for many years but ComCab
there was no way we could
Questions on the
give most of the work away to minicabs, with
compete with Uber and said
Financial Report
some people having to wait for in excess of
that we had a major asset
First up was Jimmy
two hours. Brian didn’t disagree but said that
that we should sell and split
Edwards (E76). He asked
sometimes you had to bite the bullet for the
the proceeds of between
Brian Rice if we had a game
greater good. As Jimmy stepped down, Brian
DaC shareholders while it was worth a lot. He
plan, pointing out that TfL
mysteriously added that we could actually
said that he joined ODRTS 48 years ago when
staff were on six figure
have a plan...
we were based in Afleck Street off
salaries and that the only
Kevin O’Connor (T75)
Pentonville Road and suggested that we
people that weren’t earning
was next up and started by
knock Dial-a-Cab House down and build a
were the drivers.
saying that he agreed with
block of flats or an hotel! Although we’d need
Brian agreed and said that going forward
Brian’s views on TfL. He
to use the services of a company that knew
was going to be difficult if TfL refused to help
then spoke about ComCab
what to do, we would still make a fortune with
the trade. The Chairman confirmed that at least
and about the way they take
apartments in the area going for £1million
we had an asset behind us (Dial-a-Cab House)
accounts and whether we
each! The Chairman asked Patsy to take a
and that we could carry on. But as for a game
had tendered for Freshfields. Brian explained
guess at the valuation of DaC House, bearing
plan, he said that had to be an amalgamation
how CC had taken Freshfields and that it was
in mind that Brian on behalf of the Society
with one or the other or even an outright sale.
nothing to do with any tenders because they
had bought it for £3.7million back in July
But then again, would you buy a company that
hadn’t sent any out. It was purely to do with
2007? Patsy said around £9million, but Brian
was losing money? If two circuits were to amal-
who knew who and a former member of
then shocked everyone by saying that he had
gamate and operate from a single premises
Radio Taxis staff who was the Account
just had the building valued following an
with economies to scale and cutting down that
Manager for Freshfields. He moved to
organisation (unnamed, but neither of the
company’s overheads, then he said that really
ComCab and took the account with him,
other two radio circuits) showing an interest
was the only way to proceed.
Call Sign March 2016
Page 13
All you need to know about the 2015 AGM (continued from page 12)
in buying the business. It came back with a
he seems to appear on every Call Sign report
Board for. He then repeated that we should
valuation of £17.9million if it could go up to
on the meeting! This year he spoke on credit
have had an app and that it was now too late.
ten floors and substantially more if it went
cards and the Mayor’s decision to make cred-
Brian came back to Tony and said that we’d
higher as next door was already doing. An
it/debit card acceptance compulsory in all
had an app for years and that we do a substan-
audible gasp was heard from the floor as the
taxis. He queried how DaC would cope losing
tial amount of our bookings via our app and
Chairman continued saying that however bad
all the 10% charges, as this had now become
that current account and credit card cus-
things were, they had put an extra £14 -
our largest earner. Brian said that all the credit
tomers could use it at any time, but that when
15million assets onto the Society giving us a
card machine suppliers would make a rental
drivers accepted the trip they wouldn’t know
total asset value of around £25million! He
charge with drivers paying the 3% in return
whether it was via an app, phone call or
spelled out alternatives that would give us and
for the meter starting at £2.60 instead of the
online booking. It was just an account ride to
reiterated that he completely understood the
current £2.40. All the companies - including
drivers. Tony felt that all our work should
building didn’t put work into the back of our
DaC - had argued against that but as usual TfL
come via an app and that it would mean direct
cabs, but that it wasn’t all doom and gloom as
took no notice. He thought it would add up to
contact between drivers and customers, mak-
some made out. He compared it to another
more refusals but if it went ahead as seems
ing contact easier and cutting out problems
radio circuit that had to sell their asset in
likely, DaC would have to increase subscrip-
involving incorrect pick-ups etc. Brian came
order to pay their growing debt and now with
tions, but added the BoM had plans on the
back and said that they try to push every cus-
no assets, had to pay £300,000 a year in rent.
subject that they didn’t want to reveal yet.
tomer to book via our app, but that not all
Patsy thanked Brian and said that in that case
Brian also told the drivers present about
account customers wanted an app and many
we should do something with the building
being approached by a company connected
preferred the way they currently ordered cabs.
that could earn the drivers money, rather than
with rebuilding of next door and how they
He agreed with Tony that we were seeing
keep struggling to pay bills and end up leav-
wanted to build a mezzanine floor above our
more and more people using apps even
ing with our £50 share. Brian estimated that if
car park for a period of three years. We would
though there were lots of empty taxis avail-
we got the full market value, each member
keep our car park but they would build porta-
able. He read an email which he felt would
could be on close to £20,000! Patsy ended by
cabins on the mezzanine floor. They offered
explain why that might be. It referred to
praising the Chairman but saying that the time
£45,000 for the three years, which DaC turned
Addison Lee and a pricing ad that went to
had come to cash in our assets or invest it by
down. Then someone else contacted us and
their customers: W1 to Heathrow £39, W1 to
building an hotel or apartment block. Brian
following negotiations, raised the three year
the City £16 and Clapham to Islington £20.
said that if we were to go down that road, we
total from 45k to £ £510,000 into the DaC cof-
That’s why they many look at their phones - it
would probably be better off selling the build-
fers. The Chairman went on to explain why
was often down to price. Tony came straight
ing to a developer as our knowledge of build-
that deal would not affect any sale.
back and asked what was the purpose of a
ing apartment blocks probably wasn’t that
Next to the lectern was
Board if we couldn’t compete? Patsy
good! He added that since the valuation, the
John Rubini (F55) who
McCarthy interrupted and said we couldn’t
interested company had pulled out as they
spoke of the possibility of
compete against those prices. With that, Tony
couldn’t raise that much capital but if that was
reducing the Board to fewer
stepped aside, looking rather disconsolate.
the route members wanted, then we would
than its current number. He
It was then the turn of
have to demutualise and rent smaller premis-
said this was just an observa-
Shawinder Singh (H66).
es elsewhere, adding that there was no longer
tion but asked if it was such
He thought we took our
a need for that much space. Even the Control
a good idea to reduce Board numbers, why
eyes off the ball when talks
Centre was taking just 47% of trips via the
the BoM didn’t just bring it in as it needed 25
of a merger first appeared
phone with the other 53% coming via online
members to put it forward otherwise. Brian
and that because drivers
or DaC’s app. Harking back to last year and
said that he felt it could make it seem that they
smelled money, we stopped
the problems we had with Cab:app when they
were protecting their own positions if they
looking at our real problems. He said he felt
were threatening legal action and sending
brought it in, but added that if members
we could become leaders once again and that
solicitors letters because they wanted to buy
approached them about the rule change then
he would vote against any merger anyway. He
DaC yet were showing very little in the way of
they would support it. John spoke of the sav-
added that
£15k or even £20,000
funds, now they were trying to raise half a mil-
ings we could make and again asked what the
wouldn’t change anyone’s life and he would
lion, which Brian said proved he had been
Board were waiting for? Brian said that he did-
rather the Society remained intact. With tech-
right to refuse to discuss it with them. As for
n’t want anyone to think the BoM were trying
nology always moving forward, DaC as a cir-
Radio Taxis, he hadn’t discounted them, but
to make themselves into a closed shop. John
cuit could continue giving us work as a whole
we were the ones with the money and yet they
disagreed and said they accepted there was a
rather than a one-off payment. He said if we
wanted to come in and take control! It wasn’t
need to save money and the BoM should put
discarded our platform and eventually the
going to happen that way, the Chairman
it forward. Brian said fewer BMs would mean
Society itself, we would be worse off. He felt
repeated. He apologised in that although
less chance of drivers getting on.
we should get the BoM to offer cheap fares
things were going on, it wasn’t always possi-
Tony Sam-Yorke (W95) was next and
with no run-ins etc and that we would eventu-
ble to put it all into Call Sign due to Non-
spoke on finance. He began by referring to
ally reclaim our place as number one.
Disclosure Agreements.
DaC as an exceptional circuit and said most of
Shawinder made the point that he would
Paul Willett (V12) was
the drivers in the hall had been there through-
rather work for less individual fares if it meant
next and wondered if we
out the good times as well as bad. He contin-
that we got more work and that his hourly rate
could develop another way
ued by saying that we had missed the app rev-
actually went up.
forward in case selling
olution and that people were hailing cabs dif-
Following Shawinder was
didn’t happen and Brian
ferently now because they wanted a cab to
James Powell (G23) who
said he would write to mem-
come to their front door. He said the Board
said that non-radio drivers
bers asking whether they
were paid to get us work but that as years
were also not making any
would be interested in selling the building
went by, there had been a slow decline that
money, that our chances of
and sharing the dividends. Paul said he
left drivers suffering. He asked why Keith
recovering were less than
assumed it wouldn’t be in Board Members
Cain hadn’t got us work even though that was
very slim and that the best
interest to demutualise and compared it to
what he was paid to do. He quoted a Call
and only real option was for us to sell the
turkeys voting for Christmas.
Sign article written by Keith that said if any-
building and we could then take our money
Terry Buffin (S16) is in his twenty seventh
one knew of possible accounts that might be
and go our own way. He said he had been on
year with DaC, still looks as he did 27 years
interested in DaC, then they should let him
other circuits besides DaC and that AGMs
ago and obviously loves speaking at AGMs as
know. But, Tony said, that’s what we paid the
were always the same - how much we spent
Call Sign March 2016
Page 14
All you need to know about the 2015 AGM (continued from page 13)
on stamps etc. But he felt the trade as a
on? Brian couldn’t give a definitive answer but
was wrong to grant a licence to Uber and its
whole had been going downhill for the past 8
said that some were in a worse position than
drivers in 2012 as the licensing authority had
years. Jim was also uncomplimentary about
us. He cited ComCab who had shut down
failed to follow the correct procedures. Adam
drivers that worked at Heathrow describing
their offices in Edinburgh as well as Liverpool
said only 2000 out of 25,000 drivers had con-
them as dirty and rude. He asked why anyone
and Birmingham because they were losing so
tributed and asked if DaC would consider
would want to use them when they could get
much money. That was with no run-ins etc
making a donation. Brian said that he felt it
a Mercedes limo for less with a smartly
and in many cases actually only charging just
would be wrong for the Society to donate but
dressed driver. He felt we’d been screwed
80 percent of the fare. Whilst Brian added that
that as an individual he had made a donation.
into the ground with no way back. After Jim’s
cut price was the only way to go, their sway
He agreed that drivers should donate and
depressing picture, Brian joked that we were
wasn’t the best way to go. Jon left the lectern
had met one of the ladies behind it - Artemis
only on the first floor, so jumping out would
with a sad look, but hopefully his sense of
Mercer - recently. He told her we were a
be of no use!
humour still intact!
mutual trading organisation and couldn’t
Next up was Jon
Javid Raja (N72) then
make donations of that kind but showed
Robinson (E88). He said he
spoke about how we could
Artemis a copy of Call Sign where we publi-
had just one question,
defeat Uber and said that
cised the collection and are doing so again
which knowing Jon meant a
would be through the
this issue. Brian reiterated that drivers should
long time at the lectern! His
European Commissioner
donate on their own behalves but explained
one question was how long
for Competition. Javid
that the money would not automatically get a
we could carry on as we
explained his reasoning. He
Judicial Review. It would then be up to a
were. The Chairman replied that we currently
said that the Commissioner had been on
Judge who would say yes or no. If he said no,
had around £5million in the bank and work-
Radio 4 and when asked why she hadn’t
then that was it! But if it went forward, it
ing out the loss figures after depreciation, said
done anything about Uber or Google’s “cosy
would then be a case of whether the proce-
that would last around five or six years. Jon
tax deal given by the Conservatives,” she said
dure was carried out correctly and not if it
came back (with question two) and asked if
no one had complained to her! Javid said that
was right or wrong! A Judicial Review is not
that meant that drivers wanting their money
the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell,
automatic just because you have the money.
had to wait up to six years? Brian said that was
had since complained to her. To calls from the
But Brian wished them luck. Adam said they
only if nothing happened in the intervening
floor of agreement, Javid said that what Uber
had collected £100,000 out of the £600,000
period but that if it didn’t, then yes, it could
were getting from the Government was tanta-
needed and was really there to inform those
be five years. For question three, Jon suggest-
mount to state aid and then called for the
that didn’t know about it.
ed that we would then need to diversify? Brian
DaC Chairman to take the lead on behalf of
replied that if we sold the building and
the trade in defeating the menace we faced.
Auditor’s Report
divvied up the money, drivers could still go to
He had some rather disparaging words for
work but that DaC would be different to what
leaders of other trade organisations. He criti-
it is now. Jon came back with question four
cised some of the trade speakers representing
Stephens, Mike Tovey gave
and asked whether selling the building would
us on television and said that on behalf of the
a brief report adding that
accelerate our demise? Brian said that if we
whole trade he wanted Brian Rice to repre-
the Chairman had covered
sold now and added our cash to it, drivers
sent us with the European Commissioner.
most of it already. But he
could get maybe £19,000 or so but if they
Brian said that he had never been a quitter
said the Society was at a
wanted DaC to continue then they would
and would always stand up for the trade
turning point where it could make decisions
have to leave some of that in the pot in order
whenever possible, but thought that Uber was
that would influence the future, but it would
to operate the business... but drivers would
a ‘done deal’ and spoke of the “friends” of
be awful if we ended up in a situation where
still get a substantial amount each. The busi-
Prime Minister, David Cameron, who were
the future was in someone else’s hands
ness left would be exactly that - a business
also God-parents to son Ivan, who sadly died
because we ran out of resources. He said that
and no longer a mutual trading society. Jon
some years ago. One of those “friends” was
although we have a nice amount behind us, it
then said we were at the crossroads and either
formerly a big cheese at Google and was now
wouldn’t last forever.
worked cheaply with no run-ins, gratuities or
the same position at Uber. It was the PM who
Tony Sam-Yorke (W95)
waiting time etc or got out of the market
helped Uber get where it was. Brian also
asked Mike whether he felt
place. Brian said he tended to agree with the
shockingly added that TfL meetings with the
that DaC should sell the
last speaker that he was reluctant to see our
trade also had a member of HMG present to
building, take our money
wares go at a ridiculously cheap price. People
make sure TfL didn’t step out of line! He said
and run. Mike said we had
wanted a top-class service but didn’t want to
that throughout the years, any group of work-
to decide whether the busi-
pay for it. The DaC Chairman then spoke
ing class workers seen to be earning a good
ness could be competitive
about the cost of a new cab and wondered
living were beaten down. It was, he said, sad
but added that it was showing signs that it
how much an electric one might cost and
but true whilst also explaining that many
can’t. If we sold the building today, it would
aligned that to ultra-cheap fares, suggesting
Uber drivers were subsidising their ultra-
put a lot of money into the bank but wouldn’t
the two were incompatible. He felt that TfL
cheap fares with tax credits paid for by people
affect the underlying performance of the busi-
should help reduce our overheads while
like us. He got around to answering Javid’s
ness - in fact it could make it worse as you
increasing those of the minicab fraternity. He
request by saying that it should be a taxi trade
would still have to find the rent from some-
said that even if we had no run-ins, no gratu-
organisation and not the Chairman of a mutu-
where and if that came to £300,000 per year
ities, no waiting time costs and then slashed
al trading organisation.
then it would exacerbate the performance and
admin charges and even the actual fare, we
Last on financial ques-
make it even worse that it was. He said in his
would still be unable to compete on price! He
tions was Adam Harrison
view we couldn’t afford to sit on an asset such
compared the meter rate of £3.89 per mile on
(A19). He spoke about the
as the one we had just to save DaC having to
tariff three with Uber’s £1.25 per mile and
attempt to collect money
pay the rent. The area around Shoreditch is
said it was difficult! He also spoke about
a Crowdfunding
currently white hot, but we don’t know what
Addison Lee who for years had been buying
scheme in an attempt to get
it would be like in two years. The bubble
up the competition. In the end there would
a Judicial Review. He said
could burst and we could now be in a posi-
be them and Uber. The corporates would
his wife was with #SaveTaxi and the group
tion where the timing was as good as it got.
choose AL while the public will stay with
had established Action for Cabbies as a pri-
But even selling wouldn’t improve the busi-
Uber... unless we got some help. Jon repeated
vate company to spearhead the campaign. It
ness. The only way that could be achieved
his first question: How long could we carry
based the possibility on the grounds that TfL
would be to consolidate it with other busi-
Call Sign March 2016
Page 15
All you need to know about the 2015 AGM (continued from page 14)
nesses in the same trade and even that might
could understand the views being expressed
Members what they had
not fix the problem. He said that making the
but felt that there were alternatives to at least
done. Joe Brazil replied
business bigger while reducing overheads
look at. Many drivers, he said, were keen to
first saying that so far he had
could be the only way to go back to profit and
get some money out of the Society by selling
been involved in updating
added that all three London circuits together
the building, but by doing that it didn’t mean
the complaints meeting pro-
as one could be profitable. Tony came back
that the business would have to close. You
cedure and a rationalisation
and said that after listening to Mike and the
could have your money and DaC could then
analysis programme for
meeting, he thought we should sell.
still carry on. There was no reason why there
looking at excessive run-ins. There was the
After saying that he didn’t disagree with
couldn’t be a much smaller fleet providing a
interview he was involved in with Brian for a
Tony, Brian Rice then explained some figures
service to those that wanted a proper service.
new Sales executive, he’d also been involved
in more detail saying we had dropped
That’s why people stay at the Savoy and eat at
in the new website with a design for the
£620,000 income in administration charges
Le Gavroche, he said. The Chairman reiterat-
encompass launch, photography for the web-
from customers, but also dropped £446,000
ed his view that drivers could still take the
site, the software testing and the recce
in subscriptions. We had no alternative in
money but that he would hate to see DaC
involved before all that, a collation of fixed
order to maintain coverage and members to
close. The applause from drivers seemed to
fares for use on Tenders, he was part of the
lower the subs, which we did to £10 a week.
indicate that they agreed with him.
logo design team and looking at the staffing
The two figures combined came to
Pat Keefe (G01) spoke
levels throughout the company and where
£1,046,000 but had we been even where we
next and asked Brian if he
savings could be made. He ended by saying
were at this stage last year with the same
wanted to be remembered
that there had been substantially more but
amount of admin and subs, we would have
as the Chairman who saw us
“that should keep Laurence going!”
shown a profit this year. It really is a finely bal-
go skint or the Chairman
Laurence then asked the
anced situation. He went on to talk about the
who saw his drivers leave
same question to Garry
benefits of consolidating two into one and the
with a golden handshake of
White and it became appar-
fact that you’d only need one set of Board
£20,000 each - one possible figure mentioned
ent that Garry was quite
members, one call centre and one building
earlier in the meeting. Brian replied that he
upset. He started by saying
etc and that once the initial costings were
wanted to be remembered as the Chairman
that Joe had been involved
taken out of the way, he estimated roughly
that left DaC with £5million in cash, who
in much more than him so
that in around two years you could be looking
bought our building for £3.7million that is
obviously had done more. He said he original-
at around £2million in profit. Mike came back
now worth £18.9million and the Chairman
ly suggested someone going into Sales but
and said that would still depend on how
who walked out leaving £20million of assets.
that Brian had said no because the CV had
things were out there and nothing could be
Colin Jenkins (Y22) said
contained a typo and we did nothing after
guaranteed, while Tony ended by saying that
that he would be very sad to
that. He said that we now had one but it
he felt we should sell while we could and sug-
see DaC go but that it was
would have been better three years ago. He
gested a vote.
inevitable. He felt it
said he once suggested that we should be
Laurence Kelvin (W88)
wouldn’t be necessary to
leading the app market and gone in when
was next and said that if
change a mutual status in
Hailo entered the minicab market and that
Brian’s suggestion regarding
order to share any money,
would have helped subsidise our accounts.
VAT being dropped on cabs
comparing the situation to that of several
But he said the Chairman told him it would
was taken up, would that
years ago and the Christmas bonuses we gave
involve a rule change and that it wasn’t feasi-
not mean that all taxi values
out. He suggested selling up, sharing the
ble. Then he was put on Compliance but after
would drop by 20 percent?
money after buying a smaller building but not
the last AGM he was taken off when Brian said
Brian’s answer was yes, but that all new taxis
demutualising and instead have a type of
he received complaints about his compliance
would be 20 percent cheaper and that would
incentive scheme in order to facilitate the
and that he wasn’t good enough. He then said
come to much more than the money dropped
share-out. To laughs, Brian said that if he did
if we were doing so well on Compliance now,
on second hand cabs. Laurence then asked
that, would Colin visit him in Wormwood
how come we had some 500 drivers on Gett.
what type of responsibility “companies” had
Scrubs because it was illegal as HMRC would-
He said he now just attended Board meetings
towards their shareholders. Mike said that it
n’t like a £25million share-out without getting
and listened more than talked so that he
was really a legal point rather than an account-
a piece of the action!
could hear what had happened during the
ing one but in his view any BoM would have a
Next came voting to accept the Auditor’s
previous month. He said he probably sound-
responsibility to do what they could to rea-
Report, approve the Annual Report and to
ed a bit bitter but hadn’t put his name forward
sonably and diligently protect their sharehold-
reappoint Moore Stephens as auditors...
just to attend Board meetings. Garry sounded
ers. However, the Board of a Mutual such as
upset as he inferred that the Chairman had “a
DaC are more like custodians than risk-taking
Any Other Business
Board in his image and that they were ageing
entrepreneurs, existing in a mutual way but in
First under AOB was
guys who weren’t looking to take the Society
a business sense. That does mean that a mutu-
Russell Poluck MBE (T55).
forward.” He said he felt the Society did have
al could never be as fleet-footed as a commer-
He pointed out that most of
a future in the cab trade, albeit a slightly differ-
cial interest. Laurence then asked if Mike had
the members present were
ent one. He spoke of a plan to make DaC the
seen a business in deep decline come out of it
in their later years and that
leaders in accepting credit cards involving the
and become profitable again. Mike said he
in his view, younger mem-
whole trade and that we could become credit
had seen examples of businesses in decline
bers couldn’t care less about
card takers. We could then use the money we
recognising the symptoms, acting on them
the business. He thought the postal ballot rule
made out of that to promote the cab trade, ie
and recovering. But it couldn’t be left too late
should be looked at so once again it became
what taxi drivers did - and that was picking
otherwise it becomes too late and exponen-
compulsory to attend AGMs. He called it dis-
people up.
tial. Laurence came back and said he had been
graceful that so few members could be both-
As he finished, Brian said that Garry sound-
on DaC for over 40 years and felt that it could
ered to give up one day a year to attend and
ed bitter but went on to explain that he’d had
be time to admit defeat and that while we
to help run their own business. Brian replied
complaints about the way Garry was dealing
have substantial equity, we should sell up and
that the only ones that would vote to keep it
with the complaints procedures and that he
share it out.
would be those that turned up anyway and
wasn’t carrying them out correctly. He went
Brian responded and said that he had been
that it would be a wasted vote.
on to say that he was in a difficult position
on DaC even longer than Laurence and that
Laurence Kelvin (W88) returned to the
because had he removed Garry from compli-
he would be really sad to see it go. He said he
lectern and asked DaC’s two newest Board
ance before last year’s AGM, some would have
Call Sign March 2016
Page 16
All you need to know about the 2015 AGM (continued from page 15)
said he had done it because of Garry’s inten-
were to happen and the cab owner at a later
that had been just a few days earlier Joe hadn’t
tion of standing against Brian for the position
date rented the cab out to another driver, that
had time to bring it up but would do so at the
of Chairman. Once the election was over,
person would then be entitled to anything a
next Board meeting to DaC’s Sales team and
there was a Board meeting where the Board
shareholder got. But he also added that
the new Sales executive.
as a whole - not him - decided that Garry was-
Martyn or anyone else could put in a rule
Terry Buffin (S16) asked
n’t up to doing that job. Brian added that the
change that stated any member forced to sell
whether Brian and the
job was now taken up by Allan Evans who did
his taxi and who had been on DaC for more
Board should think about
it in addition to his own job of Operations and
than a certain number of years and had to rent
the possibility of selling the
Control Centre Manager, adding that it wasn’t
a cab, would remain a member and be enti-
building and asked for a
a particularly huge task. He went on to say
tled to anything an owner-member was. A
show of hands as to how
that he was surprised to hear Garry talk as he
brief discussion with Martyn followed about
many were interested. Quite
did because as of late, he thought his attitude
how that could be achieved and a show of
a large number of hands shot up. He said that
had changed. Garry disputed that, but before
hands was called just to get a snapshot dri-
waiting for another AGM would mean another
it went any further, Laurence came back with
ver’s view. That put the figure of how long a
year going by and that we could end up losing
another question regarding DaC having a
driver would have to have been on DaC in
money if property prices suddenly fell. Brian
smaller Board. He called for a show of hands
order to rent while continuing to retain mem-
answered by saying that perhaps the best way
and most went up in support of the idea.
bership at 20 years.
forward would be to let the valuers know we
Laurence said he felt it could go ahead with-
Martyn then moved onto the proposed GPS
would look at any potential offers and see
out waiting for another AGM and a rule
system and asked Brian if what he had read in
where that gets us. If there was an offer that
change. Brian said he would look at writing to
Call Sign that it was ready to go and that 100
looked interesting Brian, as Chairman, would
the members regarding a possible postal bal-
drivers at a time would be going over to it was
write to subscribers to tell them the situation
lot and Laurence agreed that the new BoM
true. When the Chairman confirmed it, to
and see whether they wanted to take it fur-
could consist of a Chairman and two BMs.
laughs Y97 asked if just for once we could
ther. But then if other offers came in, it could
Brian said that some would think he was start-
start from Zulu and work backwards as he
keep going there and back and end up taking
ing a clique but that if members were in
was fed up with Apple cabs going first on
till the next AGM anyway! He said that if most
favour then he would put the postal ballot
everything and Yankees always having to wait
were thinking of selling, then he would go to
into operation. He reminded Laurence that a
until almost the end! The Chairman asked
the valuers and see what the best firm offer
PB would require a 75% majority. He added
Shelagh Adkins, who is overseeing the book-
was and just put that one forward to the mem-
that once the rule - if passed - was registered
ings for the new system’s fitting, to put Martyn
bers to vote on. However, if we said yes, then
then if three BMs did not voluntarily stand
at the head of the queue while jokingly asking
we would have to demutualise the Society
down, there would have to be an election via
Martyn if he had ever heard of the maxim...
a postal ballot or even an EGM - but that judg-
never volunteer!
Terry continued by talking about fixed price
ing by the AGM attendance, most members
Next were raffle results organised by
trips below the meter but on which the driver
would vote by post anyway. Brian also
Russell Poluck MBE (T55) on behalf of the
then had to pay 7.5 percent + VAT. He asked
dropped a hint that he might not stand again
TDoY committee.
whether it was fair to charge that 9 percent
as Chairman.
Javid Raja (N72) then addressed the dri-
after the driver was already losing out on the
Martyn Madden (Y97)
vers and asked Brian whether DaC was going
meter anyway. Brian understood but came
spoke next. The 30+ year
to make a contribution to the SaveTaxi
back by saying the Society had to earn money
veteran at DaC asked that
Crowdfunder appeal towards the cost of try-
from somewhere and reiterated how much we
bearing in mind the current
ing to get a Judicial Review. Brian said we
had dropped in subscriptions. He spoke of
situation and also the price
wouldn’t and explained the reasons saying
the fact that DaC were only charging £10 per
of new taxis and with elec-
that the Society would like to, but felt that it
week which covered the mapping, satnav and
tric ones being on the way,
wasn’t our place to do so and instead it was
credit card PED, but that if we still charged the
was it necessary for Dial-a-Cab to remain as an
up to every driver to support it individually.
£30 a week then there would be
owner drivers’ organisation? He said he’d read
Brian didn’t disagree with Javid saying that TfL
money to play with and Terry’s suggestion
pieces from drivers in Call Sign regarding the
were our biggest threat and that this could be
might have been looked at. He added that in
difficulties in buying a second hand taxi with
our only chance to defeat them and said that
most fixed price trip jobs, destination and
so many being close to the 15 year rule, that
he had already personally contributed, but
price was shown and in most occasions the
allowing current drivers to remain on the cir-
reiterated that drivers should do so individu-
drivers take them. He admitted the few com-
cuit but with a rented cab could be an answer
ally. Brian pointed out that info about the
plaints came from those who worked very late
to a big problem. Brian replied that he agreed
now-named Action for Cabbies had gone
and compared the f/p to the final meter read-
with Martyn and that there were good drivers
into Call Sign and Javid then asked the Editor
ing on Rate 3. He added that DaC had to earn
out there who could be forced to leave
if he could put it onto the front cover for the
some money and that if they didn’t subtract
because of the Mayor’s rules and that would
next issue. Alan said it would go in but putting
the 7.5 percent then they would have to
be a shame. He said if the owner agreed to
just text onto the front cover wasn’t practical
increase the £10 per week subscriptions. Terry
become a bond holder, to allow his cab to
in a glossy mag but that he would make sure
ended by saying that he would be going on
sport the DaC logos and not have a livery, then
it was prominently shown.
the Whitehall drive-in the following
DaC would allow the driver to remain on the
Javid then went on to ask Brian if DaC
Wednesday and gave a heartfelt plea for those
circuit with a rented taxi. Martyn asked
House could have some charging points for
drivers that had no intention of going, to at
whether it would need a rule change. The
electric cabs. Brian said that it wouldn’t be fea-
least not go out to work until it had ended or
Chairman said that this was something that
sible as they couldn’t have many because
to perhaps have a long lunch.
had happened in our past and under a form of
there just wasn’t enough room and currently
Jason Hunter (A90)
grandfather rights it could easily be reinstated.
there was no way of knowing what type of
referred back to Martyn
A rule change, he said, would only be needed
charger would be needed as the cabs weren’t
Madden’s query about dri-
if the bond holder element was to be done
yet built. Javid then asked Joe Brazil about
vers renting cabs and con-
away with.
something he had mentioned to him in a pri-
tinuing as members. He
Martyn then asked whether such a driver
vate capacity regarding a company that were
pointed out a resolution
could retain his share together with his vote
looking for a taxi supplier, but where no one
passed at an AGM that said
and any share of profits made should DaC
had yet gone in (Call Sign isn’t mentioning
drivers had to be on DaC for two years before
ever sell the building. Brian said he had sym-
the name for obvious reasons - our 10,000
being able to vote etc and asked what the dif-
pathy with Martyn’s point but that drivers
online readers in addition to our competitors
ference was between someone that had been
should take into account the fact that if that
who read it from cover to cover)! However, as
on DaC for 3 or 4 years and someone who
Call Sign March 2016
Page 17
All you need to know about the 2015 AGM (continued from page 16)
had been here 20 years? Brian said that he
good and spoke of one in particular that he
Adam said that if we had our phones used it
didn’t disagree with Jason but that the 20
said was really bad. Control Centre Manager,
would save money by getting rid of the fitting
year suggestion had come from the floor and
Allan Evans, told Jack that
bay. Brian said he believed drivers like the
that drivers would have to decide what the
trip was no longer on a fixed
functionality of the terminal in addition to its
final figure to be voted on should be. He
price. Sam then went on to
large lettering. He also said that looking at a
added that the rule Jason was talking about
say that drivers needed a
phone could constitute a danger. Adam then
was different to the one Martyn had pro-
loving arm around their
asked about having an iPad. Brian replied that
posed and it’d have to be a new rule regard-
shoulders and that he had
drivers would leave them in the cab and con-
ing renting. He did say that the time period
phoned Allan several days
stantly be broken into. He added that we also
could be any figure drivers wanted, but it had
earlier and that it still hadn’t been done. Allan
needed a sim, which in the terminal’s case was
to be just one figure. He called for a show of
told Rupert that it definitely had been done
a data one. Otherwise some would try to rip
hands whether drivers present wanted 20
and Pete thanked him and said he hadn’t
the terminal out.
years or 2 years and 20 won.
noticed. Allan said that many long trips now
Joe Connor (N64) said
Mike McGlynn (F60) was
had fixed prices but shorter ones with f/p’s
that re the years’ drivers had
the driver that had originally
were put into the system several years ago and
been on DaC before being
proposed the rule Jason was
were just updated when fares went up. But
eligible for retaining mem-
talking about. He said it
the one that Tom had mentioned no longer
bership, all the drivers that
applied to drivers that had
had the price that Malcolm had spoken of.
had stayed since 2008 when
joined before May 2004 and
Bert then asked whether we still had any input
things started to get bad
that after two years you had
into Euston Station following a shout from
were the true members and they should be
surely proved that you wanted to be a driver
there last year. Brian Rice
eligible for renting without losing member-
on the circuit and that the circuit by then
said no, explained who was
ship. There was applause and Brian said it was
would know what you were like. He originally
now doing it and said that
a fair point and asked drivers if their previous
thought - this at a time when an offer had
one driver who took a trip
20 years vote should be reduced to 10 years?
been made for the Society - that those on 30
to Gatwick on that occasion
Drivers seemed to agree.
years’ service would get more than those with
had gone via the Westway
Rob Roney (C14) was
2 years should there be money coming. But
and M25, even though it was
last and started by saying
he was told that you were either a subscriber
around 5 in the morning and going through
that he thought many
or you weren’t and that any dividend would
town was a doddle. As a result, it added about
wouldn’t like what he was
have to be shared equally between Members.
£80 to the expected fare and the account
going to say - Robert Lyle
Mike also spoke of a time several years ago
rarely returned after seeing that. Brian said we
immediately showed con-
when he earned £1500 prior to Christmas
even offered £2.80 a mile, but they hardly ever
cern about his carrot cake!
when the Society paid £5 per job over a cer-
come back. Allan Evans said they even offered
Rob said he thought reducing the Board at the
tain number in order to assist coverage. He
to go down to £2.50 a mile for some trips,
moment wasn’t the right thing to do and sug-
said we didn’t have to demutualise then, so
lower than they had ever gone, but the trips
gested that if other companies saw us reduce
why was that different to sharing funds if we
went to Addison Lee who offered £2 a mile!
the size, they could assume we were in trou-
sold the building? Brian said that when they
Brian said that we had taken a job to Wales
ble and offer much less that the building was
gave away a total of £521,000 as an incentive
the previous week at £3 a mile and the driver
really worth. He also spoke about the previ-
it was vastly different to dividing up £20mil-
got back from the 200+ miles round trip in
ous year when he only just managed to find a
lion + for selling the building!
around 4 hours! Lance then asked whether
second hand cab and might have been in a
Accountant Mike Tovey came in and said
we could subsidise some trips via the £5mil-
position where after 30 years, he could have
there was a tax question attached to the sub-
lion we had in the bank. Brian said that it
lost his membership and everything associat-
ject. He said if the Society were to distribute
wouldn’t be practical and that as drivers were
ed with it. Rob went on to say that he had a lot
£15 or £20million to drivers then HMRC
given the pick-up, destination and the price,
of respect for Mike Tovey and considered that
would go after individual drivers for income
they had the choice of whether they wanted it
he always gave us the truth. He wasn’t too
tax. If you demutualise and had shares in the
or not.
keen on some of the current BoM and also
company and then sold, you would pay capi-
Joe also asked whether DaC had taken on
some past members, whereas others he
tal gains tax which would be 18% for some
someone to do marketing as they had previ-
thought had done a good job. But fortunately
and 28% for others and a lot lower in addition
ously said and the answer was yes. She was
for Call Sign he didn’t name anyone!
to you being allowed £11,000 as a capital gain
currently in our employ and had worked on
Nevertheless, his point was that you needed a
every year, so there was a significant advan-
our new website in addition to being very
full BoM rather than a small few. He then
tage in doing things that way. Brian came back
good on tenders. With that, Bob continued his
spoke of the time it takes to get planning per-
adding to what Mike had said re the £11,000
search for a piece of his carrot cake!
mission and of how developers of the build-
in that with member’s agreement, the divi-
Marc Turner (R97) was
ing next door had overpaid because they had
dend could be paid beyond the first 12
next. He spoke of trade orgs
the time to sit on it for however long it took.
months with a big saving on tax. He added if
fighting back and men-
He thought we had a good chance of earning
you wanted the whole amount up front then
tioned the Mayfair Mob and
a really good deal on the building because of
you would have to be prepared to pay a large
UCG as being heavily
the fact that it had planning permission to go
amount in tax. Brian explained the procedure
involved in the battle. He
up 10 floors and possibly even more, was in
that would have to be put into place for
was critical that all some
the City, Crossrail would be coming soon and
demutualisation to occur.
could think about was selling the building and
we are close to the tube, but that we needed
Robert Lyle (W39) was
getting money. He called it disgraceful and
to be seen as being strong whereas the trade
introduced as someone who
said if drivers were dying, would all they
at present was very weak. He thought it might
gave the wrong call sign last
thought about be how much money they
be the right time to sell up lock, stock and bar-
year but who this year gave
could get. He said drivers sounded too
rel. Brian said anything they did was down to
his correct one. But to try
the drivers.
and confuse Call Sign, this
Adam Harrison (A19) was next onto the
All the votes were carried and the meeting
year he introduced himself
lectern. He asked if we had ever considered
ended at 3.10pm.
as Jeremy Ford in an apparent ruse to get
using mobile phones for receiving trips like
Alan Fisher
some of his own carrot cake back! Charles
the apps did. Brian said we already had an app
then said some of the fixed prices weren’t very
in the cab and that it was called a terminal!
Call Sign Online
Call Sign March 2016
Page 18
At the recent AGM, Brian Rice gave a lengthy report that we have taken out of the actual AGM report
for space reasons and placed within its own page. He did not use any notes, but neither should it be
taken as being word for word...
The DaC AGM Financial Report
don’t think
- for instance I believe you should be zero rated
the dice to do something to protect our trade.
you need me
for VAT because the cab has to have a wheelchair
But as I said earlier, fortunately Dial-a-Cab at least
to tell you
access and as for those vehicles carrying medical
is in a good financial position.
equipment, that should be enough. I believe that
I feel very strongly about what I’ve said and
happened to our
our only way forward is to reduce overheads
feel very sorry for the younger members of the
trade. It seems
while placing more on the heads of private hire.
trade that have large commitments and they must
that everyone has
But there has to be an appetite to do that and I’m
feel they are in a very frightening position. It
taken us on at
not convinced that all the new candidates stand-
reminds me of the time back in the 1990s when
every opportuni-
ing for Mayor are going to do it. I remember
we had a similar downturn - although probably
ty. I saw the fig-
Boris Johnson when he first came to us in 2008
not as bad as this. But there were financial rea-
ures last week
promising us the world. He even got the LCDC
sons for that and of course the Iraq war was
and there were
on his side and we were giving out receipts pro-
going on. But what we have here is unfair com-
just over 97,000
claiming ‘Vote for Boris’. But of course, they get
petition and to an extent that makes it too diffi-
minicab licences
in and then the attitude changes.
cult to compete against and things are not getting
out there with
What exacerbates the situation even more -
better. We are again running with a deficit, just as
TfL licensing new ones at a rate of over 600
and you know about this far more than I do - is
we did last year, and that can’t carry on forever.
each week.
the traffic congestion in London. They are dig-
But I think things will change and they will
There seems to be no curtailing Uber and
ging up half of London to put in cycle superhigh-
change in the next year because London can-
unfortunately it has left our trade in dire straits -
ways, leaving traffic in an absolutely abominable
not sustain three radio circuits and all the
that’s not just Dial-a-Cab, but the whole industry.
state. It is making taxi fares hugely expensive,
As you probably know, one of our competitors
journeys are taking a long time and causing us to
We have held talks with Radio Taxis but they
had a large debt and they had to sell their premis-
lose customers because of it. Those passengers
cancelled the last two meetings. They had previ-
es in order to service the debt with the bank, so
are now going for an alternative where they get a
ously put some propositions to us that were
they have no assets left. I would be the first to
fixed price from A to B and they know what that
totally unacceptable, wanting an amalgamation
admit that our figures are not very good, but at
price will be regardless of whether it takes 15
on their terms. But of course, they’ve got nothing
least we do have a little bit in reserve as well as a
minutes or an hour! But we can’t work on that
to put in, so nothing came to fruition.
substantial asset. When you lose money as we did
basis, it is unfair; we don’t expect you to do fixed
As you are probably aware, Cab:app are
this year - that’s £970,000 - it’s not all cash; that
prices that involve you getting stuck in horren-
appealing to raise £500,000 and looking to sell
would be around £300,000 or £350,000 with
dous traffic conditions. It just isn’t fair.
7.5% equity in the company. They wouldn’t want
depreciation. But we are still burning cash at half
So, I’d like to sit here and tell you that things
to do that if they were doing well. Hailo said they
a million pounds a year so things can’t continue
will get rosier in the future, but I believe that we
had enough cash to continue for three months
as they are. I’d like to sit here and tell you that
have a problem on our hands. I don’t want to be
unless they could raise some more venture capi-
things are going to be fantastic, but I can’t. The
a doom and gloom merchant or one of the ‘old
talist money, which they probably will do. Radio
only way I can see it getting better is if TfL or the
boys’ who go around telling everyone that the
Taxis had to sell their building to pay off their
Government intervenes and does something to
game is finished because I don’t think it is. But
debts while ComCab had to shut down their
protect our trade. They keep telling us that we
we definitely need some help from the powers-
offices in Edinburgh, Liverpool and
are the Gold Standard but then do nothing to
that-be. I have never been one for demos and
Birmingham. If it was just us doing badly while
look after us and I have learned over the years
things like that because I think it just antagonises
everyone else was doing fantastically well, then
that you can’t negotiate with TfL - they just dic-
the public. But I’m not so sure now. We need
we would have a big problem, but it’s not. It’s
tate and tell you what the score is.
people to wake up; we’ve got the last throw of
everyone across the trade that is struggling.
We had a meeting with them at Palestra
recently. All those that supply credit card
chip and pin machines were there... Cab:app,
CabVision, Verifone, the radio circuits etc and
Dial-a-Cab Credit Union
every one of us to a man asked them not to
impose the charge on the driver but to
Ever needed money quickly but were anxious about
impose it on the customer. So what did they
variable bank interest rates?
do? They imposed it on the driver!
Well wonder no more! If you are a subscriber, journeyman or
So as far as I am concerned - and I have always
member of staff at Dial-a-Cab, then you qualify to join the
considered myself to be moderate - I feel that
everything coming out from TfL such as consulta-
Dial-a-Cab Credit Union. Any member of your family residing
tions etc, well they have made their minds up
at your address also qualifies for membership!
even before the consultation comes out and they
Then if you are over 18, have been a member of the Credit Union for
just want to be seen as paying lip service and tell
over 3 months and have established regular savings, you can borrow
everyone that they did consult with the licensed
up to 3 times your total savings…
taxi trade. It’s a problem and I really can’t see
things getting better until we are relieved of TfL,
The cost?
because it is they that are the problem. They are
Just 1% per month on the outstanding balance (or APR of 12.7%).
reducing our street work; if you come out at
Loans can be paid back early AND there can be an annual dividend on your shares.
around 10.30pm then you are surrounded by
The question is: Can you afford NOT to be in it…?
what looks like a million yellow lights with pas-
sengers standing on corners looking at their
Call us on 020 7729 8171 or 020 7749 0585
phones and waiting for their cars.
The problem is that they all want something
Members of the Financial Ombudsman Service
Member’s funds protected up to limit set by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme
cheap and unfortunately with the overheads the
DaC Credit Union Ltd, Peterley Business Centre, 472 Hackney Rd E2 9EQ
trade and drivers have, you just can’t work or
Authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority
even afford to work cheap. I feel that what they
Registration number 213263
need to do is to somehow reduce your overheads
Call Sign March 2016
Page 19
Simon Scott is one of the new generation of taxi drivers whose life is captured as a blog! His story of
his early days as a taxi driver is captured here as…
A Blogger’s Tale
mumble about it being hot in the back! I pre-
tend not to hear in the hope I can get some-
The first few days and weeks behind the
where near their destination before they bail
wheel went by quickly - in a whirl of diesel
out. This rarely worked and I usually ended
fumes, waving hands and my desire to make
up blaming the previous passenger for fid-
my cab payments on time. I felt at home
dling around with the buttons. The heating
behind that grubby plastic steering wheel
would go off and the cab would boil over
with my right elbow nonchalantly poking out
again. I knew I had to go back to the garage
of the window and I felt like I fitted nicely
to complain of course, but I put it off time
into a small inner London clique as I guided
and time again due to my interest in self-
that battered old girl around the streets of the
City. My only concern was that my right arm
One morning I was sitting in the Strand
extinguisher and if I see you again with-
had a better sun tan than the rest of me!
happily watching the general public wander-
out one, I’ll give you a stop note.”
It was a very hot summer and although air
ing around and willing one of them to step
I didn’t yet know what a stop note was, but
conditioning had been invented, no one in the
too close to my web, when I was rudely inter-
I didn’t like the sound of it at all. Mr PCO
cab trade had heard of it let alone thought about
rupted by a sharp tap on the window. A very
hadn’t finished: “And you can take that
fitting it to black cab. Needless to say my cab
official looking man was fixing me with his
unauthorised transistor radio off the vent
boiled over numerous times; this got very bor-
nasty, weasly looking eyes and was holding
ing as it took time to cool it down and get going
up a card that, as I peered closer, read Public
I didn’t bother trying to argue; he gave me
again, I would quietly curse Michael. I had how-
Carriage Officer. I froze! The taxi police! I
a little note to give Michael and off he went. I
ever discovered a little trick to prolong the time
had heard about these people and although
stood there watching him and the cabs quick-
between boil-overs, I would turn the heating up
the cab wasn’t mine, I knew this meant trou-
ly pulling away from the rank as he made his
full blast in the back and open both the win-
ble. I decided to face him head on, got out
way towards them! It looked like a black
dows, this kept the engine slightly cooler.
and walked around to join him on the pave-
Mexican Wave as they all pulled off in a
Sorted, or so I thought. There was of
ment. He called me Sir - a bad start... and I
cloud of diesel fumes and roaring engines. I
course the little matter of passenger comfort
felt one nil down already.
had no choice; I did a U turn and headed off
and the fact that they tended to notice the
“Where is the fire extinguisher,” he asked?
towards Bethnal Green...
ferocious heat as soon as they got in the back.
“I don’t have one,” I mumbled. This was
To be continued…
A pattern began to emerge, passenger hails
going badly. He looked me straight in the eye
my cab, I pull over and we discuss the desti-
as he said:
Simon Scott (O40)
nation, I set the meter, mirror signal and
“Take this excuse for a taxi back to
manoeuvre... and then passenger begins to Michael and tell him to fit a suitable fire
Call Sign Online
An occasional review from a struggling 14 handicapper at some of the marque golf courses
I've had the privilege to play in my golf days away from the taxi…
The Berkshires - Red Course
Last month’s Call Sign article dealt with The Berkshires Blue
course, so this month sees us look at The Red course at the
same golf club.
This one is unusual in that it’s made up of six of each - that’s
six par threes, six par fours and six par fives! At over 6000 yards,
the best way of scoring well is on the par fives, which are short-
ish by today’s standards, because most of the par threes are a
real challenge.
The easiest par 3 is the second hole; I only mention that
hole as it’s where I scored my sole hole in one; it was with
a 7 iron, shooting into a stiff breeze at 140 yards and actu-
ally hitting it well for once!
In my opinion, a par 4 doesn’t have to be of ridiculous length
The Red course 7th hole 180 yard par 3
and one of the best holes here is the short 360 yards par 4 sixth.
Precision from the tee to the corner of the dog-leg right or big
hitters can risk taking on the trees, leaves a well-struck short iron to a rising green guarded by bunkers.
Heather, birch, sandy soil and fast greens all make for a great day’s golf. I recommend it highly - albeit not cheap, even if it’s just the
Top tip: Go in mid-May when the rhododendrons are in bloom. Just magnificent...!
Happy golfing...
Simon Wallis (M11)
Call Sign Online
Call Sign March 2016
Page 20
Last month’s Call Sign ran an article that we
If you thought last month’s Call Sign article on DaC driver Debbie
thought sounded shocking, when Dial-a-Cab
Hope (W18) being nicked for going through a red light courtesy of
driver Debbie Hope (W18) received a
a cyclist’s helmet cam wasn’t true, be prepared for a shock...
Metropolitan Police letter enclosing three
stills taken from a video camera appearing to
show Debbie’s taxi had been driven through
lights whilst they were on red.
Debbie held her hands up, although she
couldn’t remember the incident. However the
stills showed the lights had gone from red to
amber and then straight back to red! Even so,
Debbie admitted that it was her cab and the
incorrect light change must have temporarily
confused her.
Later, her husband Duncan (R52), while
Officers tell a
checking the stills, said they looked like they
cyclist to post
had come from a cyclist’s helmet cam because
footage to the
there is no official camera in place at Margaret
/ Parliament Square, where the
offence took place. When Debbie phoned the
The two police-
Met, they eventually confirmed Duncan’s theo-
men between them
ry and said that the offence was still not going
then tell the cyclist
to be dropped.
how to upload the
The article went round the internet like
footage onto their
crazy, with Call Sign receiving driver’s views
explain that the
instructions are
clear and “tell you
where to go.” They
then tell the cyclist
Bob Coy
by the score ranging from name calling of the
of one person
Met, to calls of it being illegal as all cameras
caught cutting up a cyclist at the Oval
operated by the force “have to be regularly cal-
thanks to uploaded footage. It went to
- something we at this mag also
court and the driver - described as a cab
believed. Some even thought it was a scam pre-
but not specified as to which variety - was
tending to come from the Met!
fined £800. The footage ends with the
However, following publication, we were
police having a friendly chat with the
sent a disturbing YouTube clip showing a
cyclist about the possibilities.
Met officer actually telling a cyclist that
Unfortunately, Call Sign sees nothing
they would be happy to accept helmet cam
“friendly” in this incident and would recom-
mend any driver caught by footage of this
The footage opens with a cyclist turning left
nature to contact their trade organisation
from Southampton Row into the Vernon
because this isn’t just unfair, it is an absolute
Place / Bloomsbury Way bus lane and being
disgrace! Unfortunately Debbie doesn’t
pulled over by waiting police for being in a bus
belong to one, so we await to see whether the
lane that doesn’t allow cyclists in it. The officer
police take it further..
politely castigates the cyclist, explains about
I regret to inform the society of
the ‘no cyclist’ signs and then tells him that he
the death of Bob Coy (ex-D77)
will be given a smaller fixed penalty notice
who passed away on Monday 1st
(£15) than it could have been because it incor-
February 2016. He was a circuit
porates an online 10 minute learning pack-
member for 40 years, also serving
age. The officer says he would go on the
cyclist’s integrity and trust him to do the
as a Board member for part of that
course, even though he had absolutely no ID
time, as well as being a Society
on him! Officer TD 431 then charged him.
Then the shocking part! The officer, along
Bob was a big man; he liked a
with TD 413, informs the cyclist that they are
good laugh, a good pint and a
not at the bus lane every day “by the way” and
good game of golf. Two of these
the cyclist replies in a joking voice that it will be
he excelled at - sorry about the
ok to do it then! But the joking stops there so
golf, Bob! He was great company,
far as Call Sign is concerned. The police know
a true friend and possessed the
they are being filmed and ask the cyclist what
best London Knowledge of any-
he does with his film clips and smile when he
body I ever knew!
says they go out on YouTube.
He will be sadly missed by all of
TD413 then says to the cyclist that if he gets
any examples of bad driving, he should send it
his family and friends including
to the Met Police to deal with! The policeman
many on Dial-a-Cab. But he will
adds that they first send out a letter (as Debbie
not be forgotten. RIP...
Hope got) and then investigate it (as when
David Hughes (A73)
Debbie phoned the Met and they told her they
DaC was represented at the funer-
had no intention of dropping it, regardless of
al on February 12th by Brian Rice,
the film originating from an unofficial and
Allan Evans and Joe Brazil...
uncollaborated source and regardless of it then
showing an incorrect traffic lights sequence).
Call Sign March 2016
Page 21
The thoughts of Joe Brazil
Remaining idle is
So what are they enforcing and what are the regulations? A quick look on
the interweb found this:
not an option
Idling vehicle engines
Well there you are, it’s 3am,
Why are idling vehicle engines a problem in the City? Leaving an
it’s cold, it’s a Tuesday and
engine running causes unnecessary air pollution. The whole of the
it hasn’t been a good one!
City is an Air Quality Management Area as air quality objectives for
You’ve been on EC5 for
Nitrogen Dioxide and fine particles (PM10) are not being met.
longer than you wanted or expected and getting close to the point of
Any driver of a motor vehicle who unnecessarily keeps their engine
McLiver - for what that’s worth - when out comes what you hope will be a
running while the vehicle is parked on a road, can be issued with a
rescue job on the terminal.
Fixed Penalty Notice. When an officer discovers a vehicle with its
The screen, after its initial burst of urgency, informs you that you are
engine running, the driver will be advised that it is an offence to
to pick up at Travers Smith in Smithfield. Now as everyone knows,
leave an engine running in a stationary vehicle and that such an
when you pick up at that account there are many instructions and
offence carries a Fixed Penalty of £20. The officer will then ask the
restrictions guiding you to the conclusion that you are probably not
driver to turn the engine off. A Fixed Penalty Notice will be issued if
really wanted in the area at all, but an account client needs you!
the driver refuses to turn off the engine. The fine must be paid within
Engine starts, lights on and off you trot - dodging meat lorries and fork lift
28 days, after which it increases to £40.
trucks as you go. £3 something on the meter, this could go either way you
think and as you get around there, observing the “do not pick up or drop off
So there it is; I have no problem with the regulations, clean air is a benefit
in a loading bay, must park on a yellow line to avoid a ticket” instructions,
to all of us... a cold cab not so much! The meat lorries with their engines run-
there’s a gap on the left, that’ll do. So you decide to reverse into Hosier Lane
ning are probably the real reason for enforcement officers to be deployed in
and send a message informing the client and advise arrival. So far, so good -
the area, but of course cabs are a much easier target. I wonder how many £20
I haven’t incurred a penalty, I’ve been observant of all rules and regulations
fines have been collected from Dutch and Irish lorries loading in the area, the
and I just sit and wait.
former no doubt would have a language barrier making conversation difficult
This now is the perfect time to reach for the name board and make sure
and, I think the second would also have a language problem, but maybe for
the heater is on in the back; after all it’s the middle of the winter and all you
different reasons. For us, it’s always worth avoiding a fine.
can see out the windscreen are market porters loading meat and three brass
As the great Brendan Behan once said: “I have a total irreverence for any-
monkeys looking for something.
thing connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, beer
Then a bit like a Derek and Clive skit I seem to remember, (one for the
stronger, food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the win-
kids there!), you get a tap tap tap on the window. You think blimey he’s out
ter and happier in the summer.”
quick, before you then notice a rather cold looking chap with a lanyard
I couldn’t have put it better myself! Now handbrake off and heave...maybe
around his neck poking an ID with a City of London decal in your direction.
next time.
“Hello, how can I help you,” I ask - it costs nothing to be polite, I
Joe Brazil, DaC Board Member
“Could you switch off your engine,” comes the reply.
I, being slightly bewildered at this request, ask who he is.
“Emissions,” he states without any hint of a smile.
Doesn’t really answer the question, but I comply anyway:
“What’s the regulation you’re enforcing,” I ask? “Is it a bye law?”
This left him looking like a fox in the headlights.
“Err, excuse me a second,” he says, as he walks around the back of the
vehicle and reaches for his mobile. I hadn’t come across enforcement officers
requesting this before. Notices have appeared in the City asking you to turn
your engine off after 60 seconds, but I hadn’t actually been approached
Exclusive Taxi Insurance Scheme
regarding any enforcement. But before he returned to the vehicle, the pas-
senger had arrived, jumped in and I had no further conversation with Mr
dedicated to DAC members only
Emissions. I did wonder if this left me in the position where I had to push
the cab to Bethnal Green or chance starting it. Well, okay, I didn’t, but it was
the question I wanted to ask him. Of course, being polite, off I drove and no
more words were exchanged.
5% Discount for members
Additional discount for existing protected Bonus policies
MAM Auto Electricians on the move
Public Liability
One of the London taxi trade’s longest standing and favourite
electricians, Michael, at MAM Auto Electricians has moved from
Breakdown Cover
Blundell Street, Kings Cross to a new and brighter property that is
Much more available
accessed directly from Scrubs Lane W10. MAM is a family run
business that has been sorting out London taxis electrical problems
for over thirty years.
Call below for quotations
MAM’s new address is:
Unit 9, Mitre Bridge Industrial Park
Hillier Buchan Ltd, 18, Bourne Road, Bexley, Kent. DA5 1LU
Mitre Way, London W10 6AU
Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority - Firms Ref No: 304318
Company Registration No: 4319231
The phone number is the still the same:
020 7607 3915 or 07831 222046
Tel: 01322 553313
You can go to Michael for any taxi electrical work on
Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm
01322 523315
He is also open on Saturday between 8.30am till 1pm...
Call Sign March 2016
Page 22
I have been
waiting for 11
Brian Marcantonio (R73) is a DaC driver and former
years to write
Taxi Driver of the Year winner
When I first
The do’s and do nots
licensed taxi
driver in 1975,
of a taxi driver’s
I was just
years old. Later
that year, I got
health insurance
married and
one year after
or to my 65th birthday, whichever was
put away the £40 a month until now (I am 65
that I applied
in March). Ten years and two months makes
for and got a
I claimed in mid-October, received some
£4880 extra I now have instead of giving it to
money in early December with a larger cheque
an insurance company salesman. So I would
Within another
on Christmas Eve. By the time that cheque had
like to thank Emrose (Insurance Brokers) Ltd
12 months I purchased £4,400’s worth of new
cleared, it was the New Year.
and the caring, sharing Cabsurance Direct for
cab (RUV 324R). So what with the mortgage
I went to see the consultant early in January
telling me to s*d off in 2005!
and loan repayments for the cab and although
2005 and told him that this time off work was
What I’m saying is if you put the premiums
I knew I could afford the repayments while
breaking me (luckily my wife was working).
for this type of insurance away, after a couple
working, I wondered how I would cope if I
He said I was OK to return to work; I
of years you can insure yourself and if you are
became sick or had a bad accident...
explained what I did for a living and it being
fortunate enough not to be ill or have an acci-
My answer was to join a sickness / income
a somewhat stressful job, but he said it was OK
dent, you will then have a nice lump of
replacement scheme in around 1978 and duly
providing I kept taking the medication I had
money like I have.
pay the monthly instalments. I changed insur-
been prescribed. I also confirmed with the
Of course, it is wise to take out Permanent
ers in the early 1990s because the original
consultant - who had around 12 letters after
Health Insurance; this covers you if you have
company wanted more money for less cover.
his name - that the drugs prescribed would
been off for two years and pays you up to
So I continued paying the monthly instalments
not impair my driving. He said they would not.
OAP age whatever that’s going to be for you,
to the new insurance company.
So I put my cab into overhaul and noti-
because if you have been off for two years,
Then in January 2002 and at a time when I
fied the insurance company that I was
then the chances are that you won't be
was now over 50, the policy allegedly needed
returning to work on 10th January 2005. A
returning to work.
renewing. I had never had to renew it prior to
letter quickly arrived from the insurance
But just make sure anyway that the word-
becoming 50 and had to make a declaration
company with a cheque for the outstand-
ing of the policy states that “returning to
that I was fit and well, something I then did
ing amount, together with a letter telling
work” means also in your original occupation
every subsequent January.
me they were no longer prepared to insure
ie as a licensed taxi driver.
However, in October 2004 I went into
me - or in other words that I should go
hospital with Atrial Fibrillation. I had a
forth and multiply because we don't want
Brian Marcantonio
resting pulse of 162 despite training 3 days
Call Sign Online
a week and never having smoked. So I was
Charming, I thought! I had been paying
then off work and had to claim on my sick-
£40 a month for all that time and it was only
Brian’s article is a personal point of view
ness policy. There was a 7 day excess and
when I had to claim that they suddenly no
and does not necessarily represent the
was supposed to cover me up to two years
longer wanted to know! So I continued to
view of Call Sign...
Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over!
very centre of London’s admin-
istration - the core structure
you see today was the work of
master mason John Croxton
between 1411 and 1429.
So it appeared that the
old Roman Amphitheatre
Bob Woodford looks at London’s long lost
was to be lost forever, until
that archaeological discov-
sporting venues
ery almost 30 years ago -
London’s sporting heritage does of course, go back
and if you stand today in
to time immemorial, but I wonder how many readers
Guildhall Yard, a quick
are aware of an ancient sports stadium underneath
glance down at the paving
your working area in the City’s square mile? If you
stones reveals an 80cm wide
Part of the Roman amphitheatre
have ever seen the film Gladiator then you might
curved of dark stone, which
at Guildhall
have some idea where this is leading.
marks the edge of the sport-
London’s Roman Amphitheatre, where vast
ing arena. But even better than that, this hidden gem is actually available
crowds would have witnessed gladiatorial com-
for all to visit and view for free by entering the Guildhall Art Gallery -
bats as well as blood sports and even public
where its actual remains are located some 8 meters below the surface,
executions, had been lost for nearly 2,000 years until archaeologists dis-
buried between centuries of old rubble and rubbish.
covered the ruins of the original circular walls after searching for 100
Once inside, you will be up close and personal with the remains of the original
walls of the stadium, its drainage system and even the sand that was once laid
The Museum of London’s archaeology team had been given the chance to
down to soak up blood from the wounded Gladiators - yep, it wasn’t much fun
inspect the site before work was due to start on the new Guildhall Art Gallery
winning the silver medal in those days!
building back in 1988. What perhaps was surprising was that this stadium was
There is also an impressive digital projection that fills in those gaps within the
found to have been built within the old Roman Wall - because most amphithe-
ruins to fire your imagination and well worth you taking time out to visit the next
atres in other cities of the Roman Empire were located on the outside.
time you stop for a cuppa at the Piccolo or even to show off to punters if you can
It was initially built as a wooden structure in AD70, just a few short years after
squeeze on the two cab rank in Aldermanbury.
invasion and conquest. But those skilful Roman architects gave it a substantial
Ok, so it’s not the massive Coliseum as in Rome, but it’s ours and should be
makeover nearly 50 years later, while at the same time increasing its capacity to
celebrated... and it should be visited! Russell Crowe, eat your heart out!
over 6,000 - all, of course, baying for blood!
Next month we’re off to the horse races in London! You didn’t have to go as
The Romans abandoned Britain in the 4th century and over time the
far as Kempton Park or Sandown Park to enjoy the sport of kings!
Amphitheatre was left to decay and even periodically dismantled and recycled for
Bob Woodford
building materials until it began to get covered over by other settlements. But in
the 11th century, the first ever (timber) Guildhall was built, which became the
Call Sign Online
Call Sign March 2016
Page 23
Steve Shaller has driven on DaC for many years as well as writing
Hola to my friends at
for Call Sign both with a motoring column and a general gossip
one! He moved from Gants Hill to Spain many years ago to become
It's been a while since I have written to Call
Sign. I am still here in Spain living in my
a long distance commuter and part-time taxi driver, but now...
hacienda and growing old disgracefully. So
you may wonder what inspired me to put
pen to paper (or should that be keyboard to
Steve says adios to taxis!
screen) after such a long absence?
Recently I have been faced with the dilem-
ger on the pulse of the taxi trade. I read vari-
ma of whether or not to renew my taxicab
ous cab journals as well as Call Sign maga-
driving licence. Despite it being 45 years
zine. I speak to taxi drivers and what I read
since acquiring the licence, I can still remem-
and what I hear is not the positive feedback
ber how difficult it was to achieve. There are
that I would wish to receive.
not many cabbies who voluntary give up
I read Alan’s January Call Sign Online
their licence, unless of course bad health pre-
and in that issue saw a letter from my old
vails. I am grateful to say that at time of writ-
Finsbury Square comrade Bernie Silver
ing I am in good health but still cannot see
(G08) who, like myself, is having second
the practicality or financial advantage of
thoughts about renewing his Bill. For
keeping my licence any more.
basically the same reasons as Bernie, I
I have not worked for several years and
too feel that I would be unable to endure
cannot see myself working in the foresee-
the ridiculous traffic conditions, speed
able future. What I have always seen as an
limits, camera cash cows and cycle lanes.
assurance measure, I now see as an
I therefore will not be renewing my licence
unnecessary expense.
in May and if you, Bernie, intend to follow
Since retiring, I have tried to keep my fin-
suite, I can assure you that there is life after
cabbing. There is no longer room in our
trade for part-timers and we oldies since the
Gary Cox thinks back to a chance meeting with Amy Whitehouse and
new 15 year age limit on licensing taxis was
her legacy...
introduced. I now consider it a job with very
little return for the amount of hours put in,
coupled with the stress and expense of keep-
ing a very expensive vehicle on the road.
my Winehouse first came to Joe
Still proud to have been one of the best in
public’s attention via the great edu-
the world...
cator Robert Elms on Radio
London 94.5. Everyone thinks they
Steve Shaller (ex F34J)
know her and some would say, her sad
pathetic story as well. But in the cab trade
she's just known as one of ours. The type of
girl you could imagine working in her
dad's east end garage and who even as a
London Taxidrivers’ Fund for
kid with that cheeky smile would give as
Underprivileged Children
good as she got.
I met her just once and very briefly. It was
on a cold bright lunchtime; I was getting out of my cab in
Broadwick Street and there was waif thin Amy and dad Mitch strolling straight
down the middle of the cobbled Soho street.
As she walked towards me, I called out: “Amy, you're looking good kid!” As the old
cockney saying goes... out of the mouths of babes, her reply will always stay with me;
albeit just a simple “...thanks, I’m feeling really good!” Then she and Mitch passed me,
both with smiles on their faces.
Sadly, in what seemed just a relatively short time later came her tragic death
on 23rd July 2011 due to alcohol poisoning.
Drivers, we welcome you to come and join us
So Amy, if you're sitting upstairs feeling bored, being a cab driver’s daughter you’ll
on our outings that give many special needs
look down and flick through Call Sign so I’d just like you to read the following words
and disadvantaged children some wonderful
kid. Along with the rest of the world, I know your 2006 album Back to Black gave
fun-packed days out. As well as giving a great
you five Grammy awards and that over the course of time you got to work with the
deal of pleasure to so many children, we
master himself, Tony Bennett. But I just wish I could walk into a taxi garage and see
promise you will have a brilliant and fun-
packed day out yourself.
you there today. Unless the wind blows fair in my direction, I will probably never meet
Mitch again because with production of director Asif Kapadia’s film called Amy now
TUESDAY 17th MAY 2016 TO
released on DVD, I’d like to shake Mitch’s hand for his horse trading to get a percent-
age of the profits from the film for the Amy Winehouse Foundation Resilience
Programme - the ground breaking drug and alcohol awareness programme.
If you've got a teenager in your world, consider buying that special person a copy -
bear in mind that it’s a 15 classification with references to drugs and swearing. You
Without you there are no outings, so please
could say it’s a mirror image of the worst excesses of the world that we taxi drivers
contact our drivers’ liaison:
mop up on a Saturday night.
Steve Bell on 07811 508772
I can't recommend this DVD highly enough - maybe because under the stewardship
Or enter your details on the volunteer page
of the Winehouse family, something good did come out of this mess in the end - as
of our website: www.ltfuc.org.uk - a
well as some wonderful music.
Sponsor Page can also be found there...
And Back to Black? Perhaps Amy was even singing about us...!
The Hon President, Hon Chairman and
Gary Cox (O46), Call Sign Online
Committee look forward to seeing you
Call Sign March 2016
Page 24
DaC driver Sean Farrell (B39) looks at trade history from a different angle
Brethren of the Whip
died the next day and was buried by the
was fortunate not to be jailed after
Poor Law Union in a pauper’s grave. Her
sending out a horse in a cab that was
only known relatives were two brothers;
unfit to work. He was fined £5 and the
William, a decorator in Battersea and
5s for
“torturing a horse by
John, a cabman of Lambeth.
allowing it to be worked.” He died in
Dial-a-Cab dri-
John was the oldest child of Uriah and
1885 and his widow, Mary Ann (whose
ver Steve Thomas
Sarah. In 1853 he had been summoned to
sister was married to John Eatwell),
(N10) has been
court for driving too slow. No details were
took over the business. It was managed
doing his family
given by the report other than the plate
by two of her sons. The widow’s right to
tree and it was
number of the cab (1281). Cabmen at the
take over the proprietor’s licence dated
whilst research-
time could be hired by time or distance. If
back to 1654 with The Fellowship of
ing his wife
hired by time, they did not have to travel
Hackney Carriage Drivers. Even if a
Maria’s ancestors, that he found her
faster than 4 mph, if by distance the maxi-
widow remarried, proprietorship
family had once been quite prominent
mum was six miles an hour, though of
would not become her husband’s - as
in the cab trade of Victorian London.
course this was often exceeded. This had
all her other property would - without
Via the editor, Steve asked me if I had
been a short journey, so perhaps John may
her consent.
any information in my files regarding
have resented being taken off a stand after
Following an appearance at the Old
the Eatwell family. I knew the name
doing a long time waiting - a common
Bailey in 1888 where the compensation
well. What follows is a combination of
enough occurrence. All that is known is
they paid following an accident caused by
Steve’s genealogical work and my files
that he lost the case.
one of their drivers was fraudulently
from that period...
stolen, there does not appear to be any
Maria’s great-great-great-great-grandfa-
more information on the Eatwells. By the
ther, Uriah Eatwell (born 1797), moved to
turn of the twentieth century, Eatwell’s
London from his native Gloucestershire.
Yard was on the corner of South Island
When he was 27, he married Sarah
Place and Hackford Street, between the
Oldham at St Pancras [old] Church in
Brixton and Clapham Roads.
1824. This was before births deaths and
In the 1911 census, Charles Eatwell
marriages were registered so there is no
(56 and son of John) is a cab proprietor
record of his occupation and it is only with
in South Island Place and his cab driver
the census of 1841, when he is living in
nephew Martin (37) appear to be the
Roberts Mews off Hampstead Road that
only remaining family members con-
we get official confirmation that he is a
nected with the trade. Both are single
(licensed) cabman.
and the Eatwell dynasty could have
Uriah and Sarah had at least five children,
ended there... except that Steve has
four boys and a girl. The youngest child,
found that there was a cab proprietor
Charles was charged with manslaughter
living in South Island Place in 1919 by
after running over a pedestrian with his
the name Edward Eatwell. Which begs
Hansom cab in November 1855. Several wit-
the question: Are there any Eatwells
Steve Thomas asked Sean for help in
nesses expressed their belief that Charles
driving a cab today?
tracing his wife’s cab driving ancestry
could have pulled up in time as he shouted
Sean Farrell
the warning “Hoy!” Charles was found guilty
at the Old Bailey and sentenced to one
In 1876 John was in trouble again, this
Call Sign Online
time for refusing to give a ticket - a kind of
If there are any other drivers who
Uriah’s only daughter was Mary. She
receipt that allowed for the driver to be
would like Sean to try and trace the
became a cook at Chiswick where in the
traced. They were supposed to be given at
cab driving side of their family, then
space of ten years she had saved “about
the commencement of every fare, but were
please email callsignmag@aol.com
£50.” In 1886 at the age of 44, she married
seldom asked for and rarely given. The pas-
and we’ll put you in touch with Sean..
a “foreman at the docks” and her husband
senger had tendered 1s 6d for the journey
appears just as thrifty as her, for he had
which he believed to be under two miles,
somehow managed to save £200. They pur-
but John demanded 2s. Throughout the
Call Sign
chased several properties between them,
nineteenth century cabmen were notori-
March 2016
but apparently lost money by them and
ous for adding on an extra 6d. Most people
Editor: Alan Fisher
were forced to sell.
paid it to save them the tirade of abuse that
Address: 39 - 47 East Rd, London N1 6AH
After her husband’s death in 1884,
would follow payment of the legal
Tel: 0207 251 0581 Fax: 0207 553 7293
Mary’s health and mental state seemed
amount. John’s passenger was of stronger
Email: callsignmag@aol.com
to deteriorate and within two years she
stuff and demanded a ticket. In court, the
Website: www.22-callsign.co.uk
was applying to the Poor Law Union for
passenger told the magistrate that he
Printers: Premier Print Group
relief. In 1889 her landlady reported to
thought at one time the cabman was about
E6 6 LP
the relief office that Mary was in a bad
to strike him with his whip. John was fined
Design: Aldan Publications
state. “She thought her out of her mind;
20s (£1) which he paid straight away.
Tel: 07958 300 428
she was covered with vermin and her
But it is John’s younger brother,
Email: debbiefresco@googlemail.com
room was beastly dirty.” It was clear
Martin, who was probably the most suc-
Views and opinion expressed in Call Sign must
not be assumed to represent those of the Editor or
that Mary was suffering from an undiag-
cessful cabman of the Eatwell dynasty
Board.No part of Call Sign may be reproduced
nosed form of dementia. She was too ill
and who expanded into a cab and
either manually or electronically without the express
to be moved to the Poor Law infirmary,
omnibus proprietor. In
1875 Martin
permission of the Editor.
Call Sign March 2016
Page 25
The number of people who don’t know what
Welcome to Dial-a-Cab!
taxi apps are available...
veryone after Founder-Chairman Bonnie Martyn in 1953
has been a new recruit to Dial-a-Cab at some or other time
and of late there have been quite a number of new drivers
joining up. Call Sign was recently on hand to watch several
new subscribers, together with a few returning old hands, sign-
ing up and undergoing training to join the Society. We asked a
few of them to give their reasons for joining the circuit...
Jaye Studman (D35) was eager to join DaC. He told
Call Sign:
“My wife’s uncle and my next door neighbour are both
on Dial-a-Cab so I feel particularly at home here. An
added advantage for me is the credit card facility built
into the data terminal, because the ability to accept
“It’s quite surprising to me that the general public do not seem to
credit cards is a ‘must’ nowadays in order to offer a
know about the numerous taxi apps available, not least of all our
better service to the travelling public and to bring the cab trade into the
very own Dial-a-Cab app, because so many passengers tell me
21st century. We need to make sure we keep up with the opposition.”
they cannot get a taxi to pick them up from their place of work or
other venue,” Steve Burton (N90) told Call Sign, his tone of
Ronnie Blagrove (K88) is another new face to us -
voice displaying a feeling of exasperation.
although with a well-known call sign, it being the one
“The trade needs to reach a wider audience via better publicity
that the now-retired Sid Nathan had. Having spent
in order to inform the public that we really can offer a ‘door to
several years with another radio taxi company and
door’ service around the clock and that with our safety record and
with what Ronnie described as a “radio focussed
fabled Knowledge of London, we can and do supply an unbeat-
brain,” he is effectively an ‘old hand’ at radio work.
able service. I have a friend who works in the City and even he
“But I just didn’t like that circuit’s working practices
does not know about the ‘A to Z’ service we can provide; how
and finally got so fed up that I left. I have spoken to several Dial-a-Cab
ridiculous is that!
drivers who are happy here and from what I understand, I think I will
“It seems to me that the industry has changed considerably and
prefer the DaC class of work. I come in from the SW and am aware there
that we as a trade need to make ourselves more attractive in order
are a number of credit trips in the SW area, so I look forward to covering
to compete and win back confidence and loyalty of the travelling
the work...”
public. Perhaps when credit card acceptance in taxis becomes
Wayne Trevett (B61) also has had previous radio taxi
compulsory, any new way of charging will make the trips look
more attractive in comparison with certain other PH companies.”
“I have several friends who are already on DaC and so
Alan Green (E52)
I have an insight into the ethos of this Society, which I
Call Sign Online
like. For me, it will be a fresh start and I can relax a lit-
tle instead of running around like a headless chicken
because Dial-a-Cab gives me another string, an alter-
native of work options. Also, the mapping and navigation systems are a
massive draw and the ability to accept credit cards is a huge bonus
because in most countries in the world, acceptance of credit cards in
taxis is mandatory and we as a trade must move forward.”
Returning to the fold after a 2 year break is John
Murphy (C11).
“I had 16 years here before I took a ‘break’ and have
now decided to return to cabbing full-time and so it
was natural for me to come back to Dial-a-Cab. I
believe that the credit card facility is a very necessary
tool in our armoury as it’s at least once a day when
someone proffers a card, and it is embarrassing to
have to decline the job on the basis of not being able to process the plas-
tic. As a service industry, we need to be able to offer a full and profes-
sional service to our public. And I’ve got my original callsign back, how
Takes place on Friday March 18 2016
about that!”
Call Sign Magazine MMXV1
09.30 Coffee & bacon roll on arrival***
10.30 Shot gun start***
15.30 Presentation of Professional & Team prizes
Keith Reading
£45 per person in a team of 2 amateurs
Professional Toastmaster
going out with a golf professional
Master of Ceremonies
Maximum full handicap 24 Men, 30 Ladies
Format: Stableford 3/4 handicap. Best two scores count.
Tele: 01279 465 938
Please telephone if you would like an
Mobile: 07774 860 374
entry form or any further information.
Email: kgr.2@virgin.net
Call Elaine Cochrane on 01992 466666 Ext. 249.
The Hertfordshire was designed by Jack Nicklaus II. It is a par 70 spread over 6266
10% discount for DaC drivers and staff
yards of beautiful Hertfordshire countryside, making full use of the natural
surroundings. The lakes and forests in the area, for example, make for wonderfully
Fellow of the Guild of
challenging natural hazards. With full irrigation cover of tees, fairways and greens,
Professional Toastmasters
the course is in fantastic condition all year round. Read more about the course at
Call Sign March 2016
Page 26
From Garry White
acceptance upon us - something which I wel-
are after this market ie DaC, RTG, ComCab
come by the way because the travelling pub-
and now Gett.
lic need to know they can pay with credit and
Where we have an advantage over the oth-
debit cards.
ers is that we don't have to pay sharehold-
In January 2018, all new taxis presented for
ers. However, in my opinion we do need to
passing will have to be zero emissions capa-
diversify into the app market and provide
ble; however at the moment I don't believe
credit card facilities for the trade to supple-
there is a zero emissions taxi in production!
ment the cost of running your Society.
And when it is, at what cost is the vehicle
going to be and will this lead to a short fall of
Volante Automated
available taxis to buy and rent?
Dispatch (VAD)
Hello Ladies & Gents
Yet all the time, TfL are licensing 500+ pri-
With the new GPS dispatch system - which I
vate hire drivers each week, thus ensuring
and nine other drivers have tested in the City
Dial-a-Cab and you...
Uber have a constant supply of drivers, so
zones - almost ready to roll out to the fleet,
The Society is at a crossroads in my opinion;
that they can adopt the model, stack them
it gives us something to look forward to.
at this year’s AGM, we had members wanting
high and sell the service cheap!
DaC’s IT department have done a great job
to build flats on the current DaC house site,
So how do we compete with this as a
with this project, now we need some new
other members wanting to shut up shop and
Society that was started over 60 years ago to
accounts to come on board to kick start 2016...
divide any monies left, with the majority
get work and support its members? There
Be lucky
wanting to know the next plan.
will always be a certain level of corporate
So what's next? We have a regulatory body
Garry White
work for taxis, however, in my opinion not
in TfL imposing compulsory credit cards
enough for the present four companies that
DaC Board Member
Hypocrisy and TfL
Ever since the licensed London taxi service left the PCO and moved to TfL’s big umbrella, things have gone steadily downhill. Call Sign doesn’t
need to tell you about Uber or why PH numbers aren’t capped. By now we all know why - and it isn’t because they love us!
The TfL press office has sent out information about how well buses are doing in terms of safety and how over the last three
months of 2015, only 1,488 passengers were injured, down 3 from 1,491 in the same period last year. Great news, lets tell the
But what about Private Hire? Are there no statistics from the press office about that industry that we keep hearing nasty stories about?
Well there are actually, but TfL don’t want them published as they could apparently alarm the public! So it must be better to leave prospective
passengers in the dark and face a possible attack rather than alarm them!
Call Sign has almost 8,000 online readers in addition to the DaC drivers who get the magazine posted and we feel they should
know what they are getting into when they hire a minicab.
So let’s put our cards on the table. I expect that very few, if any, of the figures below that TfL didn’t want you to see come from reputable
PH companies such as Addison Lee or Brunel. So who could they be? U tell us!
These are the figures they don’t want you to see...
2015 PH sexual offences: Total number of allegations 180, total number of arrests 112.
Of those, 68 were licensed private hire drivers and 44 were unlicensed minicab drivers.
And taxis? Well we’ve heard of none in regard to physical attacks, let alone sexual ones.
Keep them secret to avoid alarming the public? Whoever at TfL made the decision for the taxi press not to publish, should be sacked immediately...
Alan Fisher, Call Sign Online
Uber and “Friends...!”
With many in the taxi trade - and indeed in the respectable sections of private hire - suspecting that the Mayor
can do nothing without Messrs Cameron and Osbourne giving the ok and with that duo firmly in Uber’s corner,
we were sent the following piece by a DaC driver. It comes from The Idler. You can read more about that at
The British news has been full this week of stories which prove just how far up the fundament of Silicon Valley the Tories
have placed their tongues. Google has done a special tax deal with George Osbourne. No such special deals come to the
small business. If we at The Idler are a few seconds late with our VAT return, then enormous penalties are imposed by the
unforgiving Miss Jean Brodies who work for HMRC in Cumbernauld.
Boris says he has never met
Well, the cosy relationship enjoyed by the Tories and the libertarian geeks of Menlo Park will come as no surprise to fans of
anyone from Uber, whose
documentary-maker Adam Curtis, who wrote a fascinating blog on the subject on the BBC’s website.
Head of Communications is
Curtis points to the intriguing and brilliant figure of Rachel Whetstone, former head of Comms for Google in
Rachel Whetstone...!
Europe and who is now playing the same role for Uber. It is Rachel who makes sure that Uber gets good press and
an easy ride from government - and according to some reports she is paid a million quid a year to do so. Notice
how anti-Uber stories have been on the decline lately? That’s probably Rachel’s work. She is well-connected; Rachel’s husband is Tory advisor
Steve Hilton, and Rachel used to work as a spin doctor for the Tory party when Michael Howard was leader. Her mother was a Tory Party
member and fiercely anti-state while her grandfather was Antony Fisher, an ultra right-wing libertarian. He brought chicken factory farming to
the UK and helped set up Radio Caroline, the radio station which paid no royalties to artists. He also created the first think tanks, which were
essentially PR machines for Tory ideas, with bland names which imply a dispassionate stance, like The Institute of Economic Affairs.
By the way, I blame Rachel for coming up with the phrase “hard-working families.” She uses it on a clip from a TV doc made about Michel Howard and the
young Cameron and Osborne, show on Curtis's blog.
So Rachel’s impeccable libertarian pedigree and top connections - she was godmother to David Cameron’s first child, Ivan - have made her
the beneficiary of gigantic salaries from tech giants who want to appear to be nice in the papers. This is how things work.”
Ed’s note: Incidentally, according to the Mayor, he has never met anyone from Uber. The Idler could also have mentioned that Rachel was
caught having an alleged affair with Sam Cam’s stepfather Lord Astor just before the 2005 election!
Call Sign March 2016
Page 27
Every driver has to go
to Dial-a-Cab’s fitting
bay sometimes!
Whether it’s for a new
terminal, a repair or to
strip out and refit into
a new cab, Roman Way
is the place that does
the business. Recently
one of Call Sign’s hacks
was making a pit-stop
at Roman Way and
took a look at what
happens when drivers
Make sure the three plugs
Paul Ranson
go there...
are pushed right in
confusion over warranty periods because batteries don’t last for-
First in was James Heather
(L18). He, good humouredly but with a little frustration, told a
ever. You should always try to keep battery terminals clean and
corrosion free.
technician that his terminal was playing up and giving scrambled
messages and psychedelic patterns across the viewing screen!
Also, check those aforementioned three cables underneath the
MDT for good contact by gently giving them a little push upwards
“The map has gone hay-wire too” James said, “and the terminal
itself takes some time to warm up!”
into the MDT itself. Finally, if the MDT does take a little time to
start up, run the engine for a few minutes before you switch on
The techies did all the usual checks to ensure a steady power
supply to the MDT, carefully inspecting the battery connections
the MDT so that the cab heater generates some warmth inside the
driving compartment to ease boot-up times.
and cables for security before finally diagnosing a fault within the
MDT unit. Inside of fifteen minutes, James was back on the road
It was emphasised that no further ‘D.I.Y.’ effort should be
attempted if the problem is not resolved, but to attend Roman
having had the data unit replaced. He told this mag that he was
delighted to be back at work much quicker than he thought he
Way without delay.
would be.
Jamie Corum
“These units are generally very robust,” Dana Thananjeyan,
Call Sign Online
Roman Way’s depot manager told us.
“Bearing in mind that they are used constantly for hours at a time,
together with often poor road surfaces that give them a pounding,
they stand up well. But problems can often arise from electrical defi-
ciencies or lack of maintenance,” he suggested.
Paul Ranson (L90) came in not long after James pulled out. He
had a different problem; his terminal was running intermittently
and the map had completely disappeared!
He also added that he was unable to process a credit card trip
or even clear an account journey, only being able to so with the
assistance of a helpful contact centre supervisor.
“I’ve had some grief,” Paul announced dryly albeit with a smile.
The technicians got to work checking the battery connections,
fuse holder and all associated wiring right up to the MDT itself.
“Ah ha!” A shriek of obvious success from deep below the data
black box came from the DaC techie.
“Gotcha you little…!” The voice fortunately tailed off before the
sentence was finished!
The source of all Paul’s grief was the USB connection to the
MDT, which had become slightly loose during the course of time
and service. One firm push of the blue cable back into the MDT,
the map was reset, final checks on the PED to ensure credit cards
could be processed with ease and Paul too was on his way back to
It was at this point that Call Sign decided to pick the
brains of the guys who deal with these queries all day long,
and this is their timely advice.
Power supply/loss problems are frequently the basis of MDT’s
not functioning properly so there are some very basic checks you
can carry out yourself before attending Roman Way. It could be a
loose or dirty battery cable, corroded fuse or plastic fuse holder -
usually sited near to the battery. Or it might be something as sim-
ple as a loose connection to the MDT itself by way of any of those
three connections underneath the MDT.
The technicians also advised that the battery be dated by
scratching it carefully with a screwdriver when replaced to avoid
Call Sign March 2016
Page 28
Every issue of Call Sign takes a look back at ODRTS history through the
pages of the magazines of the time with a Flashback…
This month’s Flashback goes back 15 years to June 2001 and involves a group of DaC drivers who
were taking TV companies - and the City - by storm...!
Regular readers will have read about the group of twenty taxi drivers - six of whom are on Dial-a-Cab - who together have formed the
Fiscal Shares Club. The idea of the club is that the members each invest an amount of money into a joint pot, which is then re-invested
into the stocks and shares that members feel can earn them a profit in either the long or short term.
Having already appeared on Carlton, BBC2 and US money channel, Bloomberg, the latter invited them back again to put
their portfolio before the eagle eyes of Share Magazine’s money expert, Nicole Swift. Call Sign was at Finsbury Square on
May 10th 2001 to see Bloomberg presenter Sara Lean film the intro to the programme, which went out one day later to
Europe and the USA.
It took eight ‘takes’ of the usual cabby TV “coincidence” of the interviewer talking to the camera about the subject, turning around,
shouting out Taxi and then amazingly the exact person they were hoping to interview drives up to accept the hiring! Sara climbed into
the cab of John Dixon (B67). More astonishingly was fellow club member Mark Rayner (V57) already sitting in the back!
John - resplendent in his DaC polo shirt together with Mark answered all Sara’s questions on camera. The questions were based on
the Club’s judgement and how successful their hunches had been. Off camera, the Club’s PR man, Martin Hizer (M47), was standing
outside hoping that Sara would invite him to squeeze into the cab, but sadly no invite came!
Sara asked Mark about their biggest disaster: “Easy” said Mark, “that has to be Arena Leisure.” Back in the Bloomberg studio,
Nicole Swift disagreed. It may not have been the greatest buy for what they were looking for, she said, but in the long term it could
build nicely. She added that Arena Leisure had made a 27 percent return over the previous 12 months and that certainly looked good
on paper.
Then she looked at three of their intended buys; Oystertec, Bett Brothers and Henry Boots. All of them, she explained, had strong
possibilities and the Club could do well with them.
When Sara Lean asked John Dixon whether the club based its buying on passenger’s hints and information, he said they used their noses as they drove along to see
what was succeeding by drawing in the punters, and what wasn’t. Nicole agreed that was a good strategy and would get them further than chancing their luck on pas-
senger tips. All in all, it was a Bloomberg thumbs-up for the Fiscal Shares Club, which showed London Taxi drivers in an excellent light.
The six DaC drivers in the Fiscal Club besides Martin, Mark and John are Alan Hall (B48), Andy Morrison (B78) and Mickey Brennan (Y67). We gave club PR man
Martin the last word and he told Call Sign that the club usually traded monthly so that they would have some money to play with.
“We’d look silly going to trade by asking for £5 worth of shares, please…!”
He added that it took three to four years to learn the Knowledge, but only took the club six months to learn how the stock market worked! So driving a cab had to
be more difficult!
With Tom Quigley (Y33)
into Mental Health care on the same day that the
National Wealth Service
BBC launched a two week special on the lack of
When you reach a certain age, you seem to spend
care offered to Mental Care patients...
more time taking and fetching older relatives to
and from hospital, and the fact that taxis are the
ideal vehicle for this journey gives the mistaken
Carrier Bags: It didn’t
impression that we can work when we want,
meaning that we never lose any money or time
take long...
doing it.
I recently wrote in Call Sign about the carri-
Of course, after spending hours in waiting
er bag scam of us all being charged 5p to save
rooms, wards and clinics, the journey to and
the planet while using fewer bags with the prof-
from those, plus the natural anxiety and stress
its going to charities. Have you noticed that
of looking after the relatives takes its toll so
charity shops are now becoming the worst
much so that by the time you do get home, the
offenders in this scam, as they don’t do the 5p
thought of getting into the taxi and going to
bags but only their own branded bags... at 10p!
work has been totally drained from you.
As we are too snobbish to go to jumble
Just recently, Wendy and I had been taking
been under the impression that this relative
sales? We go to boot sales and table top sales
three close relatives on such trips, each of
owned their own property.
or we do our bit by donating our goods to
these have their own lives on their own and all
One day it was set up for a bit of convalescing
charity shops. Whilst in there, we may pick
have a different living accommodation.
in a short term ward with the review of a stay in
up a bargain or two ourselves.
As we all know, every visit requires the same
a longer, more suitable home. Literally, the next
So imagine my face after taking some stuff in
questions over and over again - their own status
day all these thoughts had gone out of the win-
carrier bags and bin bags to a leading charity
and our relationship to them, as by and large it
dow to be replaced by telling us they were look-
shop. At the same time, while there, I went to
will be Wendy or I named as the first form of
ing to discharge the relative, even though it was
purchase a bargain or two and was standing
contact to be established before any form of
obvious to all that they were a long way from
there without a bag but looking at the pile of
medical help is administered for any long term
being ready.
bags I had just brought in. Behind the counter
strategy or solution.
It’s not the people we deal with at ward
was the assistant who was serving me and he
The same questions always come up: “Do
level, but the money men and women in the
told me without the faintest hint of a smile that
they live on their own?” To all three it’s a yes.
background. I wonder how many working
the only bags they did were the 10p logoed
Then the key question:” Do they own the prop-
class people who bought their council hous-
erty they are living in?”
es to build a bright new future for their fam-
So I naturally enquired about what hap-
Once it’s established that none of them do, the
ilies and to leave something to their next of
pens to all the bags that I and many others
whole emphasis of what sort of treatment and
kin, now have to use that property to fund
bring in? Still with a serious look he told
care is replaced, so much so that in one case the
their health care.
me: “Oh, we throw those away!!!”
notes taken down by one particular hospital were
Also, the cynic in me saw the headlines in the
completely wrong and the hospital changed treat-
papers on Monday 15th February 2016 - that the
Tom Quigley
ment and strategy mid-way through, as they had
government are going to plough more money
Call Sign Online
Call Sign March 2016
Page 29
“I recently renewed my Bill
where the letter from TfL stated I
should return the completed
The Eyes Have It
medical form within 28 days,” Bill
Cobb (K76) informed Call Sign.
big advantage in this job!”
“However, I was due to have my eyes tested
The TfL documentation that comes with
by way of my regular optometrist check-up in
the medical form advises drivers to keep a
a few weeks, which would have meant I’d be
copy of the form before returning it to TfL.
late returning the completed medical form
Bill makes his own copy of the form and eye
that includes the eye test as part of the med-
test prescription for his records, but also
ical examination. So I called TfL to explain
requests a
‘proof of posting’ at the Post
the situation and they agreed to my delay,
noting the reason on my file,” Bill confided.
“I was also surprised how doctor’s fees for
“If, like me, you are over 60 years old, you
carrying out the medical can vary depending
can get a free eye test that in these economi-
on individual medical practitioners. As an
cally challenging times is a big bonus. So it
example, my current GP was a lot cheaper
makes sense to get the eyes sorted before you
than my previous one - although I suppose
go for the medical. The inclusion of an eye
that could have been because I provided my
test is a requirement of your driving licence
own eye test. Nonetheless, as a certain super-
being granted, so it is logical to arrange that
market chain says... every little helps,” said
first off. It also keeps the doctor happy,
Bill with an impish smile. “I suppose you
because it’s one less item to be checked and
could also say that the eyes have it!”
you can provide proof you’ve been done by
Bill Cobb
including a copy of the eye test prescription
“Anyway,” said Bill in passing, “you need to
Alan Green (E52)
with the doctor’s medical report.
be able to see potential passengers. That is a
Call Sign Online
Knowledge Boy
Taxi insurance
arrested at
for DaC drivers
trade demo
On behalf of Dial-a-Cab, Hillier Buchan Ltd in
Bexley have negotiated exclusive rates for DaC
members. We believe our rates are competitive in
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At Hillier Buchan, we understand every driver’s circumstances
are different; therefore our policies can be tailored for the indi-
vidual driver. We offer a 5% discount for DaC members, with
additional discounts for existing protected Bonus policies.
ne of many Knowledge of London stu-
Hillier Buchan was established in 2002 by David Hillier and
dents demonstrating along with over 8000
myself with in excess of 50 years experience as high level Brokers
taxi drivers at the recent Whitehall demo,
working in the City of London for major broking houses. We
Patric McGuinness, was arrested with
have established a reputation for professionalism and service in
another Knowledge student for obstruction. He sus-
our chosen fields.
tained bruising to his wrist and was released the same
We have extensive London Market contacts; consequently we
day. He was told that the charge would probably be
are able to offer our clients a quality of security from companies
dropped, but later told that may not be the case.
that are all available in the world’s pre-eminent insurance market.
However, Patric’s main concern is that whatever hap-
As a result, our clients achieve quality of security and service
pens, the incident could go on file and impede his
upon which we pride ourselves and a competitiveness of premi-
progress on the KoL. Witnesses were queuing up to tes-
um that our clients find particularly attractive in today's climate.
tify on his behalf and we’ve been told that the LTDA
Our philosophy is to build long-term relationships using bal-
have offered to defend him.
anced service teams providing continuity and expertise. Compare
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that we have never seen such a well behaved demo and
one where the demonstrators and police got on so well
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considering how important the reason for the demo
Hillier Buchan
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Call Sign March 2016
Page 30
Either write to Call Sign at Dial-
a-Cab House or email us at
Assembly but has said she wants to pedes-
trianise Oxford Street. George Galloway
gained votes when he said his son is on the
How to build a cycle
KoL and how much he supports taxi dri-
vers, but he also supports the PHV union.
Sadiq Khan has come out against
Hi Alan
what you are suggesting be achieved? Yes
Goldsmith’s bus lane scenario and is said
I am currently away in Melbourne, Australia,
it can, but would it be beneficial to the
to be the favourite. The Green Party is rep-
but thought you’d be interested in knowing
Society when you consider that one of
resented by Highgate councillor Sian
that the local council here have put in a fully
the taxi Apps spends
£3 of Venture
Berry, while Culture spokesman Peter
segregated cycle lane measuring 3/4 of a
Capital money for every £1 it earns?
Whittle is the UKIP candidate and Sophie
mile. But unlike ours, they did it in just a sin-
Regarding your final suggestion of hav-
Walker is from the Women’s Equality Party.
gle weekend, only working at night and it
ing a 10% discount off their first three
You pays your money, Jim ... Ed
included moving all the car parking with a
journeys, I assume Dial-a-Cab will bear
protection island over the full length of it.
the cost of the discount, because under
Perhaps Mayor Boris should ask the Mayor
Credit card machines
the new regulations we cannot charge a
over here how it’s done, because he obvious-
fee to the customer, so we will never be
ly doesn’t know...
Is there any way DaC can use the new Credit
able to recoup that initial outlay...
Bernie Silver (F13J)
Card regulations to our benefit and fit them
Bernie, if you’re trying to cheer me up,
into cabs not on DaC but needing the new
you have failed miserably! ...Ed
equipment? Or perhaps put these drivers onto
Hello Alan
our app and give them membership where
I'm always dropping Russians off at Novikov,
they pay a bond for the CC machine but can't
Berkeley Street. Food critic Jay Rayner said
Electric cars and bus lanes
do account work unless they pay for a full fit
it was packed but with the worst food and at
Hi Al
out as and when needed by DaC. Run-ins
£150 for two people, then they must have
Am I the only one who listened to the Nick
would need to go though in order to compete
money to burn! It’s funny how our
Ferrari programme on LBC when he inter-
with other apps. The trade needs a driver-
Government say they are cracking down on
viewed Zac Goldsmith because no one is
owned circuit now more than ever, otherwise
tax cheats yet welcome all the foreign ones!
screaming in our trade? He made a major
if DaC goes we could be paying 20% + on
Fortunately, they seem to like the black cab!
statement against our trade which will
account and app jobs in a few years’ time with
David Heath (Ex-W27)
destroy us saying that if he becomes Mayor,
then as an incentive for people to buy elec-
profits leaving the trade.
Portslade, East Sussex
tric cars, he will allow them to use bus lanes.
We could have an advert on our cabs - per-
Novikov is one of Russia’s favourite
upmarket restaurants, so it isn’t surpris-
Why bus lanes? Why not a reduction on VAT
haps the rear doors - and reduce our CC mer-
ing to see it doing so well over here. What
or anything else? This is a scam to get Uber
chant fees or signal fees? DaC in partnership
into bus lanes; there are around fifty thou-
with whomever? Also we are not turning
is even better is the group of taxi drivers
sand electric Prius cars that will go straight
enough of the CC customers we pick up on the
known as the Mayfair Mob who have
into the bus lanes. Addison Lee lost their
secured ranks such as Novikov for the
street into long term customers. If we offered
case to access bus lanes and they don't like it,
licensed taxi industry ...Ed
them an incentive eg 10% off for their first 3
so now they are trying to do it via the back
journeys if they joined the app in the cab, they
door with a bit of help from Zac Goldsmith.
might download our app there and then and
Cameron, Johnson, Osborne and
Hi Al
use us more often. But the run-in would have
Goldsmith all know a lady who just happens
There was a 65 plate taxi alongside me in the
to go to compete.
to work for Uber! What chance do we have
Strand with a Radio Taxis logo on the door
John Thomas (Y58)
when George Osborne tells Boris Johnson to
as well as the inside. However, the front
Brian Rice replies: That’s interesting John,
lay off Uber? Turkeys voting for Christmas
windscreen and partition had Hailo and
what you’ve asked has prompted many
again... I don't think so!
Gett stickers on, with also another Gett stick-
questions in just a few lines. Initially, our
Jim Smith (D09)
er offering £10 off new customer’s first ride.
‘Chip and Pin’ machines are not stand
Jim, you sent your email before reading
There was also a Hailo sticker advertising
alone units, they operate via your terminal,
last month’s editorial otherwise you’d
credit card payments!
so if as you suggest we were in a position to
have seen my comments. Other than
But the Radio Taxis credit card machine on
issue the whole trade with Chip and Pin
that, the reason no one has shouted is
the back partition had a bag over it claiming
then the cost would be huge as the
because he hasn’t yet been elected! Many
that it was out of order! A bit confusing for
machines are quite expensive to pur-
voters say they have learned a lesson
punters! I think I’ll cancel my application for
chase. At the time of writing, I believe
thanks to the current incumbent as
Mountview, I guess there’s not much work
under the new regulations the maximum
Mayor and will cast their vote elsewhere.
figure that can be charged to the driver for
Jon Robinson (E88)
Zacharias Goldsmith has been called the
processing the cards will be 3%, when you
Sorry Jon, but I decided not to publish
wealthiest MP in Parliament and was said
consider that Amex charge 2.85% to the
this letter as it was too controversial; as a
to have been left a £1.2bn bequest by his
supplier of the equipment, then you will
result I arranged to have it put into your
father, Sir James Goldsmith. Although
see there is not a lot of profit in the trans-
copy only! ...Ed
Zac doesn’t talk about it, many claim that
action. My guess is that in the future if the
his income from the trust alone comes to
proposed regulations remain the same,
Family history!
around £5m per month! Even Real
then the supplier of the equipment will
Madrid’s Ronaldo probably sends him
Hi Alan
charge a rental to the driver.
I’m after a little help if possible. I’ve recently
begging letters! He says that if elected he
Incidentally, at the moment our driver
might look at cycle superhighways and
been researching my wife Mia’s family tree
App is your terminal; if we were to have an
and have discovered that her Great, Great,
decide if we should keep them. The real
App as you suggest for drivers that are not
question is whether someone so rich can
Great, Great Grandfather and various other
Members of Dial-a-Cab without run-ins and
ancestors were cab proprietors/cabmen, pre-
understand what working people have to
gratuities, then we would just be compet-
put up with.
dominantly in the 19th Century. They lived
ing against ourselves, which would I
in and around Boar’s Head Yard (now
The LibDem’s Caroline Pidgeon is pop-
believe lead to the whole circuit operat-
ular with taxi drivers thanks to her sup-
Great George Street) and ran various busi-
ing without run-ins and gratuities. Can
nesses from South Island Place, Stockwell.
port for our trade via the London
Call Sign March 2016
Page 31
Having read Sean Farrell’s Brethren of
the Whip article in January’s Call Sign, it
ations) a fixed number of licensed taxis, so an
prompted me to write and ask if you could
increase in work from any angle will automati-
pass on this email to Sean and any other cab
cally make all drivers busier irrespective of
trade historians you may know, or let me have
what circuit or what app they’re on or not.
any contacts you may have in order to find
I do feel at times that some drivers believe
out a little more about this branch of my
they are an island and are not affected by what
wife’s family. I’ve posted the link to a couple
others are doing, which seems to be misguided
of court cases this branch of the family were
See Brian Rice’s Chairman’s Report on
say the least. So what we are looking for is an
page 4 ...Ed
involved in and whilst interesting for Mia and
app-based dispatching system that can be pro-
her family to read, may not be of much inter-
moted as a simple ‘no ifs no buts’ 30% dis-
est to anyone else, but if you feel as though
count to the metered fare that all drivers can
they’d be useful for Call Sign, feel free to use
join. Of course this is already out there, it just
Dear Alan,
them and the above information. Maybe
needs someone to do it properly.
The AGM will certainly be covered by you in
someone reading them could help with my
Coverage is a dead issue as I see it, the fact
a responsible objective manner elsewhere in
that SURGE pricing exists and is accepted ie tol-
Call Sign, but may I make a few personal
Steve Thomas (N10)
erated proves that point. To be clear, none of
observations. Given the financial report,
No sooner said than done! See Sean
us want or would choose to work below the
there was clearly an underlying feeling of
Farrell’s Brethren of the Whip inside this
clock but we have to be pragmatic; this is
dejection in the room. There were the usual
where the market is at. Satnav has commodi-
issue. If any DaC drivers have a cab dri-
complaints about the competition and fail-
tised our business but a lot of people would
ving family that go back many years and
ure to enforce regulations. Also road works
still rather use us at the same price or indeed a
would like some information on their
and cycle lanes were held responsible for
small premium to the competition via an app,
history, Sean may be able to help. Email
our woes. This reminded me of drivers com-
so the answer is obvious... do an hour reading
Call Sign and we’ll put you in touch with
your book at Kings Cross or take a £20 fare for
plaining many years ago about closure of the
Sean. He can’t promise anything but he’ll
£14 and then when the rank is running fast,
north side of Leicester Square to traffic that
have a go! ...Ed
turn the app off.
would “make it impossible for us to earn a
Hoping that TfL are going to somehow put
living.” We have to accept that taxis are only
Holding the ace card
obstacles in the way of the competition is
a small part of the picture as seen by the
futile, and as for Crowdfunding to make
authorities and the public; endless com-
and still losing!
legal challenges, we may as well just take the
plaints about each change does nothing to
Dear Alan
money up Chancery Lane and give it straight
endear us to the wider community.
I have written before regarding our fares and
to the lawyers and tell them to have a good
About the only practical suggestion to help
suggesting we look to undertake the longer
time with it!
our organisation was for a merger with
ones on a more competitive basis (I think
David Fletcher (O15)
another one or even two circuits so that
this has to some extent come to fruition).
Hi David, thanks for a really interesting let-
expenses could be shared and efficiency
The problem with this strategy as I see it is
ter; it will be equally interesting to hear
improved through economies of scale. But
that this approach is somewhat messy from a
what drivers think ...Ed
given that we own our offices, sharing with
marketing perspective. From speaking to
anyone else would not make much differ-
some of my passengers, I get the impression
ence to our overheads, especially as we have
that they are drawn to using what is now (as
Hi Alan
already reduced staff costs as much as possi-
I see it) our main competitor namely Uber,
I attended the AGM on Sunday and the thing
ble. Only the creation of many new substan-
based on price. They, in some cases, have
that struck me most was Mike Tovey saying
tial accounts could help our position, and
been at pains to point out that it’s not just
that things could not go on as they were and
that is not on the horizon. So as far as I can
that we were approaching a crossroads. This
the fact that there is a price difference, but
contrasted with his upbeat assessments in
see, the idea that a merger would improve
that the difference is just too wide. Many
previous years. There did not seem to be a
the basics is no more than wishful thinking.
have indicated that all else being equal (and
clear cut strategy coming from the Board as
Sharing accounts and sharing drivers will
this point is important) a modest premium
to how we go on from here. There was plenty
hardly boost the income of any individual
would be acceptable and indeed paid to use
of blaming eg it was TfL’s fault with their
us rather than them. So the questions that
crazy traffic schemes and their light touch
Most people I spoke to accepted, reluc-
need answering as I see it, is what should
approach to Uber, or it’s the meter and the
tantly, that the time has come to admit that
that discount be and how should this be mar-
expensive vehicle we drive that means we
radio circuits have done well in their day but
keted / promoted to have the desired effect?
can't compete on price.
have now been overtaken by events, newer
Regarding the first question, I noted that
There was vague talk of an amalgamation
technology, arrival of outside companies
on a recent Sunday afternoon a fixed price
between the three major circuits, but mean-
with massive financial and political backing,
job was dispatched and covered without
while the Society is losing money and things
and poor response from TfL. Rather than
prompting by dispatch for NW8
cannot just drift. It was not until the mem-
continuing to prop up a failing loss-making
Heathrow for £51. Given that this would be
bers spoke and pushed for the sale of the
organisation, the interests of members
on Rate 2, I would imagine the meter price
building that some sort of concrete proposal
would best be served by selling our building
to have been at least £65; therefore this was
emerged. But what did not emerge was a
and distributing the total residual assets. The
done either at - or very near - a 30% dis-
clear timescale so could Brian please tell us
longer we wait to do this the more money
count to that clock. So, albeit only one in this
when he believes he has a definite proposal
will vanish from our reserves each
particular example, it does prove that some
to put to the membership. I have always been
week. None of this should be seen as a per-
drivers are prepared to work well under the
a supporter of Brian and have confidence in
sonal criticism of the chairman or any of the
clock. Regarding the marketing, I would
his ability to get the best deal for the mem-
Board members who have worked very hard
imagine that as an industry the licensed trade
bers if we choose to demutualise.
for many years and guided us through sever-
would get a lot of support if it offered a sim-
One of the members said that attending
al years of great success.
ple app-based facility that was promoted as a
the AGM was like being in the movie
Laurence Kelvin (W88)
licensed taxi at a
30% discount to the
Groundhog Day. I hope that things move on
There is a six page report on the AGM
metered fare. As my title suggests, we hold
this year and that we don't wake up on the
inside this issue + the Chairman’s view
the ace card in that when it’s busy on the
morning of the next AGM to the sound of
on the financial report at the meeting, in
street, we can just do that work on the
Sonny and Cher's I got you babe!
addition to his report on page 4 where he
clock. We have (subject to some small fluctu-
Mick Kennedy (M30)
reflects on the meeting...
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