November 2016
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Call Sign November 2016
Page 2
From Alan Nash (A95)
Your ‘What’s On’ guide (excluding theatres) for November; all the burst times I could find are there. Others have start or
finish times excluding a few major events. There are 108 below but the on-line version has well over twice as many...
What’s On: November 2016
The on-line version is at: It has larger print, separated by days of week and over 230 events
Call Sign November 2016
Page 3
from the editor’s desk
Well, following the meeting on
had to leave after drivers voted they only want-
ed three rather than five. So after a vote, Mike
October 9 and the fact that
Son and Garry White had to leave following
nothing at Dial-a-Cab will ever
completion of the second meeting and our
change of status.
be the same again, it does
Mike has been on the Board for many years in
appear that I’m still here - albeit
addition to his time on the London
as just an Editor and not a
Taxidrivers’ Fund for Underprivileged
Children committee and served in many differ-
Director! So on with the show...
ent positions. Although Garry has done far
fewer years, no one could doubt his self-belief
New system
when he stood against Brian Rice for the
There is a piece on the new Volante
Automated Dispatch launch inside this issue,
ing from the status of Addison Lee and Uber to
Both always gave of their best and deserve
but on a personal level I have to say that I really
bus lanes and emissions, the main topic and
the thanks of the membership as we move
am impressed with it and have had more trip
the one we really invited Ms Chapman to dis-
into this new phase.
offers than I was getting under the old system
cuss, was the TfL decision to place credit card
when, like many others, I probably tended to
readers into the rear compartment.
Taxi Globe
book into the nearest zone to where I actually
It was a tough meeting because Helen made
Just over a year since the demise of Taxicab News,
was - but one that I thought might provide me
it quite clear that the TfL Board had made their
another trade paper has bitten the dust. Taxi
with an account ride.
decision and it was unlikely that they would
Globe’s editor, Sandie Goodwin, has retired and
You can no longer do that and doing a soon
change it. I passed over a file of emails I’d
the paper has closed alongside her. There was a
to clear into an unspecified zone also took
received from drivers, all saying they did not
time when the taxi business was awash with trade
some getting used to, but the first trip I got on
want to take a chance on being called into the
papers but their numbers are diminishing.
day one came at around 8.15 on a quiet evening
passenger compartment if the passenger said it
Anyone remember London Taxi Times,
whilst dwelling on the Kings Cross rank closer
either wasn’t working or that they just didn’t
London Cabbie News, National Cab, Taxi
to Goods Way than to the point. Suddenly the
know how to use it.
Trade Times, Taxi Times, Taxi Trader, Cabbie
sound of a trip offer woke me from the bland
I acknowledged that in 9 cases out of 10,
and even Cab Trade News as a monthly mag
sound of a football commentary on 5 Live that
it would be genuine; but asked several times
rather than the occasional one every three
didn’t involve Tottenham - a pre-booked job
what about if it was a deliberate ploy to get
months. Now we have Taxi, The Cab Driver
from St Pancras Station to Fulham! But per-
the driver to leave the relative safety of the
and The Badge (and of course, Call Sign). It
haps even better than that, albeit not in finan-
front? The answer was that if something like
is all a rather sad state of the trade...
cial terms, was a trip just before 10pm. I had set
that happened, TfL might look at it again!
down in Parliament Hill and was making my
I later followed up on our meeting with a sug-
Sadiq Khan
way back towards Haverstock Hill. In Pond
gestion via email that most drivers would be
Sadiq Khan is the third Mayor of London fol-
Street, the terminal bleeped, offering me an
happy with a reverse system to the current one ie
lowing Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson.
account trip from the Royal Free that I had just
on a similar cable to how it currently is, but
The first two did little for this trade but Sadiq,
passed. It was only going a few miles to St
which would enable the passenger to pass the
whilst putting forward many more words than
John’s Wood Road but under the old system I
PED through the opening in the partition to us
actual actions, does seem to care about the taxi
probably wouldn’t have been offered the job
just as we can to them. We await developments...
trade and I find it disturbing that on a recent
until I was a few miles away whilst it went
demonstration outside TfL’s Blackfriars Road
through all the individual drivers booked into
Meeting 2
headquarters, some of the placards were down-
NW3 and its back-up zones. I would then have
That meeting on 9 October to ratify Dial-a-Cab
right rude towards the Mayor. Will that force
probably been well-beyond Camden Town and
going from a mutual trading society to a limited
him into supporting us more or push him
rejected it.
Company as recognised under the Companies
towards the private hire section? I think you can
But when you are passing the door, that job
Act 2006 was rather strange.
work out my view from the above.
that you probably wouldn’t have looked twice
For a start, DaC meetings have always fol-
He has been in power for just a short time
at becomes a good job because as we used to
lowed an agenda that included previous min-
and while legalities may have temporarily
say, it keeps the wheels turning and the clock
utes, often elections and usually a section
watered down some of the regulations he has
moving. A few drivers have said they find the
devoted to any other business. But this meeting
attempted to push towards the PH business, I’d
text rather small, but that will be improved in
was different in that there was just one item on
rather have him than either of the first two...
the next update - but it’s certainly much easier
the agenda and that was a vote to decide the
to read than on a phone app!
result and with most people having already
Thanks for the
Also, I know that a small number aren’t
voted, the meeting was over almost before it
happy with VAD because it doesn’t allow
even started with the result that we all knew was
My “thanks” to Chairman Brian Rice who at the
them to book into EC5 from Woodford... but
a certainty... it was carried.
9th October meeting told the 100 or so drivers
hey, nothing is perfect!
There is a report of the meeting inside this
present that it was my birthday, before then call-
So yes, as far as I am concerned, this system
issue, as well as a complete update of this
ing me out to present me with my own ‘birthday
works and if it helps to improve coverage that
Society up until that moment. These are certain-
boy’ badge that had been placed in my jacket
could be an added bonus with the reliability of
ly different times; decisions will soon have to be
pocket by Linda before I left home - no doubt
Dial-a-Cab once again coming to the fore and
made by shareholders - and that’s us! If we sell
as her revenge for my having to sacrifice any
encouraging account clients to use us more.
the building - as we undoubtedly will - should
birthday celebration for the Society!
we do so as soon as we get a good offer or wait
Brian then led the drivers into a rather tune-
Meeting 1
the twelve months that could see the selling
less rendition of Happy Birthday before asking
Call Sign recently had a meeting with London
price leap, as planning permission for Dial-a-
if I would like to make a speech! For those that
Taxis and Private Hire General Manager,
Cab House allows it to grow upwards?
weren’t there, you will never know what my
Helen Chapman. I also asked Brian Rice to
And as we are talking in £millions, we
reply was as this is a family magazine and I will
attend as he knows far more re the financial
need to be careful, so Brian Rice’s summing
not mention any rude words beyond fart!!!
aspect of changing PEDs in addition to the his-
up at the meeting is worth noting. That is
That aside, I thank all the drivers that wished
tory of DaC and credit card acceptance. I also
also inside this issue...
me a happy birthday and said some nice things
used his office, which is better than my down-
about me and the magazine...
stairs one as drivers keep popping in there to
Goodbye Mike and Garry
Alan Fisher
spend a penny!
As a by-product of the first of Dial-a-Cab’s two
Although we touched on several topics, rang-
demutualisation meeting, two Board members
Call Sign November 2016
Page 4
Reflections of the Chairman
when they put a ‘stop’ onto your taxi. So
Demutualisation update
in reality, I do not have any alternative.
The second meeting to demutualise this
Nevertheless, we will be taking this oppor-
Society was held on 9th October and went
tunity in an attempt to accelerate changes
extremely well, although it was a really short
that we want to make to the PED and its func-
meeting. The resolution was passed by 97.2%
tionality. We have contacted both Ingenico
of the Membership, which is something the
and Barclaycard for updates. The name
detractors outside Dial-a-Cab should remem-
given to the project is Snoopy.
ber; they should also remember that I am ful-
The main reason for our attempt to
filling an instruction instigated by the
rapidly move to Snoopy will be the elimi-
Members and should consider keeping their
nation of the button press at the end of
misguided and incorrect opinions to them-
the transaction. This will happen just by
using Snoopy and the existing MDT soft-
Our Shareholders - and indeed myself - are
ware. Snoopy also provides the opportu-
really not interested in these peoples’ views,
nity to introduce Pre-auths, Charge Card
especially as they are not Shareholders in the
a-Cab House). All Shareholders, including
reading and a PED entered gratuity.
new company. I believe the Editor has compiled
Directors and myself, will own equal
However, all three of these functions will
a more comprehensive resume of the meeting
require a new release of the MDT software
elsewhere in this issue (see centre pages...Ed).
You will probably have to read the above
- Volante MDT version 11.
I would also like to take this opportuni-
paragraph again, because on first glance it
We have not yet started work on version
ty to thank both Michael Son BEM
does sound a little complicated, but as I stat-
11, but it would be ideal if we could take the
(mustn’t forget that) and also Garry White
ed earlier I am just splitting Dial-a-Cab in two
opportunity of having the fleet recalled and
for their contribution to Dial-a-Cab whilst
as both portions will have a value, one more
also install version
11 at the same time.
they were Board Members and the way
than the other. I’m not sure if I will be able to
However, I doubt it will be ready for the
they conducted themselves following the
get the paperwork to you before you read
beginning of the bracket fitting project.
first meeting on 18th September when
this, if not then you will at least have a good
We are still busy investigating and resolving
they realised they were not going to be
idea of what to expect.
issues with the VAD system but should be
elected as Directors of the new company.
I would urge you to complete the proxy
able to deliver version 11 at least before the
At the time of writing, I am in the process of
form and return it to Dial-a-Cab because
bracket project is finalised, meaning that
writing to Shareholders advising them of the
even though the meeting should be a for-
some cabs that come in for the bracket may
next steps in the process of realising the assets
mality, it is still needed as the next step to
of Dial-a-Cab; it is proving to be an extremely
also get version 11. The important thing,
realise your ambitions.
however, is that the bracket project (which
complex operation and to be honest, far more
time consuming than I ever imagined.
has a drop-dead date) need not be held up by
Upgrade to your PED
version 11 as it will work quite happily with
However, I have the assistance of Jacqui Chart
You all know my sentiments about TfL’s view
version 10, albeit without the Pre-auth, card
with whom I have worked with for over 20
regarding the siting of the PED into the rear
reader and gratuity enhancements.
years and her input and dedication to me and
of the taxi from its current position. It’s quite
I hope all the above will demonstrate that the
the project has proven to be extremely valu-
simple - they have got it wrong! However,
only place you can get the true facts is in Call
able and productive, with only some very
being an intransigent organisation, they
Sign. Other trade papers giving opinions that
minor disagreements along the way!
refuse to compromise.
are patently based on guesswork, are putting 2
The next stage for you, the Shareholders, is
quite straightforward. I will again be sending
As a result, they have me over a barrel
+ 2 together and coming up with 22...
because if I do not move the PED into the
you a letter, circular and proxy voting form
etc together with details of a meeting that has
rear of the taxi, I personally would not
Brian Rice
to be held. You don’t need to fret too much,
suffer and neither would Dial-a-Cab, but
as it is just another stage in the process and
you, the Shareholder, undoubtedly would
as you have already voted to demutualise,
then all you really need do is to complete
your proxy form and return it to us. I will not
be going to the expense of hiring the HAC
and the ERS but will endeavour to hire the
local school one evening as the meeting
should be a formality, although at the time of
writing I have not set any dates.
Unit 10, Ford View Industrial Estate, 83 New Rd Rainham, RM13 8ET
Basically, the object of the exercise is to
split Dial-a-Cab in two with you, the
Tel: 01708 553037
shareholders, owning both companies ie
the Radio Circuit and Dial-a-Cab House
- which will be the property company.
So I have now come to the point where
TX1 servicing from £48
TX1s, TX2s, TX4s and Vitos
effectively, we are ready to split Dial-a-
TX2 servicing from £70
Rentals from £165 per week
Cab Holdco into two and demerge Dial-a-
TX4 servicing from £90
Cab House from the rest of the business,
with the result being that you will end up
All Work Undertaken
with shares in Dial-a-Cab Holdco (which
Servicing - Running Repairs - Overhauls - Small Fleets Welcome - Discounts Available
will own 100% of the shares in Dial-a-Cab
All TX1, TX2, TX4
Limited - the owner of the Dial-a-Cab taxi
Starters - Batteries - Alternators - All with 2 year Warranty
business); and shares in Dial-a-Cab House
Holdings Limited
("Propco Holdings"),
Fax: 01708 551443
which will own 100% of the shares in Dial-
a-Cab House Limited - the owner of Dial-
Call Sign November 2016
Page 5
The London Taxidrivers’ Fund for Underprivileged Children supporting the…
The LTFUC had the pleasure of being invited
Mayors, through the streets of the City to
to attend the (18th) anniversary of the tradi-
attend St Mary-le-Bow Church where the
tional and annual London Pearly Kings &
pealing of the Cockney Bow Bells welcomed
Queens Costermongers' Harvest Festival
the congregation for a thanksgiving service. I
Parade on Sunday 25th September at the
thought the roof would come off when my
Guildhall. I went along with the Fund's
wife joined in with All Things Bright and
Honorary Secretary Malcolm Shaffron and
Beautiful! Many tourists and onlookers lined
our wives Maureen and Evelyn to witness
the City streets waving, taking photos and
this colourful, traditional and spectacular
cheering the parade along.
Once again our congratulations must go
Scores of Pearly Kings & Queens from all
to Doreen Golding, Pearly Queen of Bow
corners of London had gathered for this
Bells and of the Old Kent Road (Freeman
festival, more than
130 years on from
of the City of London) for organising such
when road sweeper Henry Croft covered
a brilliant event.
his finest 'whistle and flute' (suit) in shiny
Raymond (left) and Malcolm with Doreen
May I also take this opportunity to thank all
white buttons in aid of the City's poor, with
the wonderful Pearlies for continuing to help
the modern day Pearlies continuing his
and support our charity and all the many char-
mission and doing such great charity
entertainment in Guildhall Yard. Afterwards
ities in London and the Greater London area.
work. It was a beautiful day and the crowds
we joined the long procession, lead by the
Raymond Levy
were out in abundance to enjoy the traditional
Pearlies, Chelsea Pensioners and many
LTFUC Press Officer
Brexit puts
diesel prices up!
“The double impact of the pound
English language requirement
weakening against US$ and global
TfL has confirmed that an English language require-
oil prices strengthening will cause
ment for private hire drivers was introduced on
pump prices to move sharply
upwards,” Brian Madderson,
Friday 14 October. The Taxi and PH licensing author-
Chairman of the Petrol Retailers
ity said it was essential for public safety that all
Association told Call Sign.
licensed drivers are able to communicate in English
“The pound has now fallen by
at an appropriate level and that drivers must to be
over 15% to US $1.23 since the
able to communicate with passengers to discuss
pre-Brexit level of $1.47 and
routes or fares as well as reading and understand-
dropped even more alarmingly in
ing important regulatory, safety and travel informa-
the second week of October to
just $1.15 in the ‘flash’ trading,
tion. TfL told Call Sign that they believe that is cru-
which started in Asian markets. Fortunately it recovered
cial to driver’s roles in transporting the public.
quickly, but there are City analysts talking about even lower lev-
The requirement applies to all applications for PH
els to come, including parity with US$.
drivers’ licences received by TfL on or after 14
“At the same time, renewed talks amongst OPEC members
October 2016 and includes applications for both
trying to curb oil production have led to a hardening of global
renewal and new licences. There is a transitional
oil prices, with Brent Crude passing the psychological barrier of
$50/barrel. As a result, Platts wholesale costs to retailers have
process for applications received from 14 October
increased by over 6p per litre for petrol and 7p per litre for
up to 31 March 2017 and drivers have until then to
diesel in the past few weeks, whereas the UK average pump
satisfy TfL that they have met the English language
prices have moved up by less than 2p per litre for both grades
over the same time period.
TfL said that applicants may satisfy them of their
“Thus motorists can expect increases of more than 4 or 5p
ability to meet the requirement by providing a
per litre by the beginning of November unless there are
favourable corrections to the exchange rate and to global oil
certificate from a test provider appointed by TfL
prices. This will also increase UK inflation rates.
confirming that the applicant’s level of proficiency
“The PRA has written to the Chancellor advising that the
in the English language is at level B1 on the
Government should support the economy in the face of such
Common European Framework of Reference for
fuel cost increases by reducing Excise Duty in his Autumn
Languages: (‘CEFR’) or above, or documentary
Statement from 57.95p per litre to 55.00p per litre. This would
be an extremely popular and valuable contribution to ensuring
evidence of a qualification (whether or not the
consumer spending does not start to fall away and damage
qualification was obtained in the United Kingdom)
business prospects as the new Government grapples with the
on the basis of which TfL is satisfied that the
aftermath of Brexit.”
applicant’s level of proficiency in English language is
Brian Madderson
equivalent to level B1 on the CEFR or above.
Petrol Retailers Association
Call Sign November 2016
Page 6
If you’ve met our Chairman, Mr Rice, then you’ll know that part of the deal will be that you wear our logo on your back!!!
or those that haven’t yet heard, in September Her Majesty’s
Government announced proposals that will increase sentences for
those caught making phone calls while on the move. According to
Chris Grayling, the Minister for Transport, using mobile phones at the
wheel is as socially unacceptable as drink or drug driving.
The result will be that in addition to the fine doubling up to £200 from the cur-
rent £100, the licence endorsement will also double from 3 to 6 points. That
means that if a driver were to be caught within 3 years, he or she will have
amounted a total of 12 points under the ‘totting up’ procedure and face a ban of
6 months. And then at the end of that period, drivers will probably face a huge
hike in their insurance premium in addition to needing a ‘chat’ with Transport
for London regarding their suitability to drive a London taxi .
What some may not realise is that should the above enter the statute
books, the penalty for new drivers will be even tougher. Totting up for
that group of drivers will be over a 2 year period instead of 3 and if they
reach just 6 points within those 2 years of passing their test, not only
will they have their licenses revoked but they will also have to retake
their driving test again - both practical and theory sides.
The regulations also apply to having a quick chat whilst at traffic lights and at
any time you are in charge of a vehicle with the engine running. But regardless
of whether the new punishments come in, the offence is still in force. So the
only way to not get caught is to not do it in the first place!
Jamie Corum
Call Sign Online
Call Sign November 2016
Page 7
1949 - 2016
It was with great sadness that members of the London Vintage Taxi Association learned
of the passing of their Vice President and former Dial-a-Cab driver, Keith White (ex-A16).
In the words of one of the members: “Keith White was an amazing man!”
Keith was a long standing member, past chairman and stalwart of the LVTA and long-
time driver with Dial-a-Cab until he retired due to illness. His funeral took place on 25
October and many LVTA members attended, together with their taxis.
Keith was a mine of information on anything that moved; this included taxis of course,
but also buses, trolleybuses, trams, rail, tube trains - and even canals! As well as being a
licensed London taxi driver, he was a PSV licence holder and was in his element at the
wheel of an old bus - even when carrying passengers.
One of the funniest moments, recalled by LVTA member Jimmy Waters and his wife,
involved a trip to Liverpool. They used to travel up in convoy for the Liverpool Taxi
Driver of the Year and Vintage Taxi Driver of the Year. It was the first visit by the
southern area of the LVTA; a contingent of about six cabs went with Keith leading the
convoy along a series of ‘A’ and ‘B’ class roads in his Beardmore taxi. Near Milton Keynes, Keith took a wrong
turn. The convoy all followed. While Pat, his wife, frantically worked a way out of the problem in the back of the cab, Keith had entered a
roundabout but continued going round. One by one the other cabs followed until moving taxis blocked the entire roundabout! This situation
was maintained much to the annoyance of other motorists who could not get on, until Pat had a new route worked out. Keith then gave a
couple of honks on his bulb horn and the convoy peeled off one by one to continue on their way! Keith actually won the latter award in 1994.
Keith worked tirelessly with the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Cabs (FBHVC) and Department for Transport to ensure the old
diesel vintage cabs were exempt from new MoT legislation. Had he not been successful, all members with older diesel cabs and many vehi-
cles from other clubs within the FBHVC would have been consigned to museums or the scrap heap.
Another LVTA member, Bob McPhail and his wife were good friends with Keith and Pat. Bob gave the eulogy at the funeral. He said:
“We shared a lot of interests - steam trains, buses, coaches and cabs of course. Keith was very knowledgeable about them all.
Keith was also a fan of ‘rock and roll’ and could play the piano very well ala Jerry Lee Lewis style! He served on the LVTA com-
mittee as Membership Secretary for about 10 years and was later Chairman, together with myself as Vice Chair, for around 15
years. We have shared many happy times and he kept his sense of humour and his jokes despite his illness over the last three
years. He was determined to keep going to the shows and also continued to work as a JP at Guildford Court.”
Keith attended the LVTA AGM in May 2016 taking an active part in the discussions. He will be sadly missed by all in the LVTA and also at
Rest in peace, Keith...
Sandie Goodwin
Call Sign Online
Call Sign November 2016
Page 8
Call Sign speaks to Helen Chapman
ALL SIGN had arranged to
letter from an authorised agent giving a
speak to London Taxis
date of when the PED would be fitted in
and Private Hire General
the back and that would have to be
before 31 October. However, Brian said
Chapman, regarding the safety aspect
that had been interpreted by at least one
to drivers if we were forced to move the
person at a TfL passing station who
Pin Enabled Device (PED) credit card
claimed the letter meant before that date
readers from the relative safety of the
and as soon as your cab was presented.
driver’s locked cab, into the passenger
In fact, one Dial-a-Cab driver was
compartment and the associated dan-
told by the London Taxi Company
gers that have been pointed out in pre-
after purchasing a brand new cab
vious issues of this magazine. We invited
that if he didn’t have a letter, then his
Helen to Dial-a-Cab House and also
new cab would not get passed. That
asked DaC Chairman Brian Rice to
was around 7 October and several
attend as he had access to relevant fig-
weeks away from the date given in
ures that might be needed.
the letter.
Brian pointed out that he agreed so
Although DaC said they would print
strongly with the Editor’s view that
letters for drivers telling passing station
moving the PEDs could put drivers in danger that had it
employees that taxi PEDs would be refitted within the timed
been purely up to him, he would have challenged TfL/LTPH
schedule (1 January 2017), Brian wanted to know whether these
decision in court. But the Chairman also added that it
were actually needed prior to 31 October. Helen seemed to agree
would be unfair for him to put drivers at risk of getting
that a letter should not be needed before 31 October and said
‘stops’ on their taxis because it wouldn’t affect him, only
that passing stations would be informed.
those drivers and that would undoubtedly happen if legali-
Several other subjects - mainly involving private hire and
ties delayed the final date.
English language requirements together with the possibility
Brian also said that our case had been weakened because
of legal challenges etc - were touched on at a meeting that
ComCab, who also previously had their PEDs in the driving
was scheduled for one hour but ran closer to two and
compartment, had capitulated to TfL’s directive, leaving DaC to
although our main aim may not have been achieved, Call
battle alone - something Call Sign had been doing for several
Sign would like to thank Helen Chapman for her time and
months. Brian pointed out that had ComCab not given in, then
honesty in answering our questions...
TfL would have had 3500 non-compliant radio taxis in addition
Baghwat Singh
to the 4000 not yet compliant anyway and would have had to
take the matter far more seriously with around one third of all
Call Sign Online
taxis not fitted.
The Editor then gave Helen a pile of letters from drivers - both
male and female - all against the change with many of them fear-
ing that it could put them into danger. Helen Chapman pointed
out that many cabs already had card readers in the rear compart-
ment and that there had been no reports of any problems. Alan
Fisher replied that many passengers didn’t yet realise that all
taxis would soon be compelled to take cards and that once it
became common knowledge, there could be some people out
there who might see that as an opportunity to rob the driver by
tricking them into getting in the back.
As an example, Alan gave Helen the name of a driver who
had been robbed via the front of the cab and who later died
from a heart attack, which was probably brought on by the
attack. He suggested that it would be even easier for those
types of people to lure the driver into the rear compartment
From 10.15-12.15 - £10 per pupil
on the pretence that the card reader wasn’t working, rather
Minimum age of 16
than to attack a driver with locked doors. Brian agreed with
Kids Class: 12.30-1.30pm from age 8yrs to 15yrs
£5.00 per pupil
For her part, Ms Chapman said that the decision had been
Suitable for all skill levels, from beginners to
taken at TfL Board level and she couldn’t see that being changed,
accomplished boxers
but promised to put our points across. She also said that should
Female ONLY classes subject to demand
any incident occur re the problems that both Brian and Alan had
brought up, then TfL could relook at the situation. Alan queried
whether that would be rather too late? He later suggested in a
follow-up email the possibility of a movable PED on a cable in the
passenger compartment that could be passed through to the dri-
Another point raised concerned the letters sent to drivers
regarding that refitting of credit card readers into the passenger
compartment of taxis. TfL had issued the letter that both Brian
and Alan considered to be extremely ambiguous and which
could have been interpreted in two different ways.
The way the letter read and made it sound was that if you
didn’t have the PED already in the back, then you would need a
Call Sign November 2016
Page 9
re they
Another true story from Geoff Levene...
s t i l l
radio cir-
Are they still called
cuits? It seems point-
less considering that
‘radio’ - by which I
radio circuits???
mean voice despatch
- hasn't been used
At the time I was into a 14 year sojourn on
increase the chances of getting a job. The
for more than
Mountview. They were still on voice but
Board’s response worried me: “We have the
years. What could they be called now?
after a few years they followed suit. There
technology. We can change the system at the
London Taxi Data Solutions? Bit of a
was loads of work. I was getting 8 account
flick of a switch.”
mouthful. What about Traditional Licensed
jobs a day. It was brilliant and then came GPS!
Oh no, surely not. In the meantime, some
Transport? Maybe we should stick with radio
Suddenly 8 jobs became 5, but there was lots
drivers added another string to their bow by
circuits, the job is still basically the same. It's
of work on the streets so that took up the
joining Hailo. They reasoned that 90% of
getting people where they want to go. What
slack. But the problem I had was the fact that
something was better than 100% of nothing.
has changed is the technology.
it was a system that stopped you from think-
Even one Board Member said to me it was
Back in the Seventies it was two-way
ing for yourself. Plus you never had a clue
understandable, adding that drivers had to
radios. We drove round hoping a job would
where the work was.
earn a living. But let’s cut to the chase. After
come out near us. The despatcher went
So after a few years of that I was back on
the recent school holidays I felt things were
through what seems now to be a strange
Dial-a-Cab in July 2000. These were golden
getting a little bit busier, so imagine my sur-
mantra: First call... Second call... Open call...
years. Tons of work in Chelsea, Fulham,
prise when I heard GPS was going live. I won-
First assistance. If more than one cab came in
South Ken and St John’s Wood in the morn-
der which Board Member suggested the
for the job, the despatcher had to work out
ings. Later in the day the City and Canary
change and what did he say?
who was nearest. This could lead to argu-
Wharf were the places to be. But it couldn't
“Gentlemen, it appears that drivers are not
ments and accusations of false positions
last because while banks spent millions on
getting enough work, so I move we introduce
being given. The despatchers became leg-
huge bonuses, lavish expenses and taxi fares,
the GPS system and they'll get even less. But
ends. One of them still does a weekend shift
they were lending similar amounts - often to
maybe everyone will get one or two. It’s fairer
as a controller and it's always a pleasure to
people who couldn't pay back. The result was
that way. Some drivers are too greedy.”
hear ‘Uncle’ Ivor Belkin’s voice.
the financial crisis of 2008. Lehman Bros
Excuse me? Fairer? I didn't sign up for fair-
BBC work around Shepherds Bush was
crashed. Others had to be bailed out by
ness, I wanted to play by the rules and get as
called from the local rank. One morning the
HMG. Things got tougher when big business-
many jobs as I could. Does anybody do four
despatcher - a nice young chap I'll call Harvey
es started to cut costs and the first things to
rides and reject number five because they
- asked for the first two cabs. Number 1 was a
go were taxi accounts. Addison Lee took
wanted someone else to have it? I don't think
fellow I’ll call Tissue. He was given a job to the
advantage offering cheaper rides and a vehi-
so. Anyway in the event the new procedure
West End while Number 2 was told to get his
cle that many passengers preferred. The
was for me, as bad as I thought it would be.
details from another channel. Tissue smelt a
happy hunting grounds of Canary Wharf
Look, I know this game is all about luck but
rat and switched over to that channel only to
became arid deserts. But even as the reces-
even so, driving around aimlessly hoping a job will
hear the other guy getting off to Hemel
sion eased, another enemy appeared. Like
come out near me? But we've been here before. It
Hempstead. It turned out that Harvey and
the barbarian hordes of Attila the Hun they
was called voice despatch, except now a contribut-
Tissue didn’t get on. But it was a naughty thing
cut a huge swathe through America, Asia and
ing factor is how long you've been available.
to do and Harvey had to go. He drives a cab
Europe before landing here. It was Uber.
Gordon Gekko was right. Greed is good...!
now and is still as charming as ever. But as
things got busier, it was obvious that the old
Well, you know the rest. A few years ago
Geoff Levene (W32),
system couldn't continue and data despatch -
some drivers suggested we adopt GPS to
Call Sign Online
the zonal system - was introduced.
...and gives a big boost to a trade charity!
Can there be any licensed London taxi driver who hasn’t been stuck in traffic at one time or another as they sat
in Orchard Street by the side entrance to Selfridges wondering which lane was likely to move quickest. Either
way, it presents itself as a rather boring few minutes...unless you happened to be alongside a rather special cab.
I was sitting in my cab with two young lady passengers - neither of whom had much of a command of the English lan
guage - on our way to Claridges and moving every bit as slow as you’d expect. On my nearside and moving even slower
was another taxi with a familiar sounding personalised number plate - AK 51NGS - also with two females inside. It was a
rather extravagant looking cab with the face of a cab driver beaming from the door panels and a full wrap looking as
though it was advertising a West End show. As I pulled alongside, I noticed twinkling stars in the headlining. Although I didn’t
know him, I assumed the cab belonged to Aiden Kent, The Singing Cabbie! But any doubts vanished when I heard dulcet tones serenading his passengers!
My passengers stared in amazement - as did I. Meanwhile, his passengers - they looked like a young girl and her mother - were beaming away as they
enjoyed their surprise serenade. The astonishing part was that even with the sound of traffic and no instrumental backing, he sounded really good. Then rather
worryingly, my passengers pointed at me as if to ask whether we all sang and in their case, me in particular! I shook my head as we all enjoyed our brief break
from reality.
I remembered seeing Aiden on ITV’s Sunday Night at the Palladium a few months earlier where he was introduced by Bradley Walsh and really went
down a storm in performing Mack the Knife; so I jumped out the cab quickly and dropped a copy of Call Sign through his window suggesting just as quickly
that anytime he had a few minutes to spare that I’d appreciate a few words about how he became The Singing Cabbie. He said he would... and he did!
Aiden has been a cab driver for 27 years, following in the footsteps of his father and brother. For many years he has been a fan of the crooning style made famous
by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and his personal favourite, Matt Monro. He regularly plays concerts outside of the cab performing at weddings, clubs, restaurants and
bars in addition to the Palladium show. In January, Aiden will be going to Las Vegas where he will be talking to four of the major hotels with a view to The Singing
Cabbie performing on the strip.
But Aiden then surprised me with some unexpected kindness. When in conversation I asked if he was going to the Taxi Driver of the Year din-
ner and dance at the Holiday Inn, Carburton Street on 16 November. He said that he hadn’t planned to but as he had no bookings for that day, he
would be happy to do a 30 minute cabaret spot while the regular band took a tea break - and that he would do the spot for nothing because it
was a trade charity!
Not sure if there are any tickets left, but if you are going, then you are in for a real treat. On behalf of the TDoY Charity Fund, thanks Aiden.
For ticket availability, call Russell Poluck on 07850 056765 or 020 8952 1357.
Alan Fisher, Call Sign Online
Call Sign November 2016
Page 10
fter a short live test and listening to
comments from drivers, Dial-a-
Cab’s new dispatching system
Volante Automated Dispatch - VAD
VAD goes Live
for short - was launched on Sunday afternoon
25 September at just before 3pm, a time specif-
Goodbye V6, after it
ically picked to cause the least inconvenience.
It was set to replace the previous V6 dispatch-
had been up since
ing system.
29 April 1989
Volante is the name DaC uses for its
internally developed systems and Volante
Dispatch now adds itself to Volante MDT,
Volante Mobile and Volante Web. As we live
in a world of initials, the new system’s
name of Volante Dispatch was deemed
somewhat politically incorrect and
‘Automated’ was added to the middle!
The biggest difference so far as drivers are
concerned is that they no longer have to phys-
ically book-in to a zone because with VAD
working on a navigation satellite system
Daren Morley and
known as the Global Positioning System - or
John Connor watch
GPS in this world of initials - that is now done
out for drivers at
automatically. As a result, trips will be distrib-
the launch
uted to drivers based on their taxis actual posi-
tion and how long they have been available.
All drivers have to do is to push a button
telling the system they are ‘available’ and as
long as they are working and using the ‘soon
to clear’ button, their position will automati-
cally be updated and they will be offered work
when available.
If drivers do not use the STC button, then at
the end of that particular trip the VAD system
will assume that you do not want a radio job
and put you back to ‘unavailable’. All drivers
Theresa Whitfield
need to then do is to push the ‘available’ but-
and John Bankes
ton again and they are back in the system.
from DaC's IT dept
If drivers’ rejects a trip, or let a trip time out,
doing an all-nighter
then that driver’s availability will be adjusted -
so there is still a penalty for rejecting a trip.
just in case!
With IT’s John Bankes and Theresa
Whitfield on hand watching for any problems
in the system, Call Centre manager Allan
Evans and dispatcher John Connor dealing
with driver’s problems and DaC trainer Daren
Morley casting an eye over call takers, every-
thing seemed to be working well and the fact
that we are still on VAD, makes that even more
Perhaps the biggest problem is just to make
sure that when signing in, drivers don’t book
into V6 out of habit, because not much is
Living in a Camden
going on there!
Any problems call 020 753 7266 or
dream world...
Michael Toomey
his is the way Camden
Call Sign Online
Council designers see
Tavistock Place should
Call Sign
the alterations
become permanent. Of course,
November 2016
Editor: Alan Fisher
what it doesn’t show are the
Address: 39 - 47 East Rd, London N1 6AH
constant traffic hold-ups all
Tel: 0207 251 0581 Fax: 0207 553 7293
around the area or explain
why so many taxi passengers
Printers: Premier Print Group
no longer use our services thanks to the nightmare of try-
E6 6 LP
ing to get through Bedford Way just to reach Tavistock Place.
Design: Aldan Publications
Many Call Sign readers took part in the Camden consultation of which
Tel: 07958 300 428
we published details last month. That has now closed and the results
Views and opinion expressed in Call Sign must
will be announced in early 2017.
not be assumed to represent those of the Editor or
We can only hope that commonsense comes into the decision...
Board.No part of Call Sign may be reproduced
either manually or electronically without the express
permission of the Editor.
Call Sign November 2016
Page 11
Thank heaven that’s gone!
October should have been the beginning
of the run-up to Christmas... but we are
still waiting!
The traffic has been abominable with
every other car now being a minicab -
something TfL say they can do nothing
about. The latest total is over 115,000
private hire cars that are actually licensed.
God knows how many are unlicensed!
There were also two taxi demonstrations
held at TfL’s Palestra building, while The
Badge gave DaC Chairman Brian Rice a
hair makeover!
But Call Sign didn’t worry about
anything as we enjoyed ourselves at a
sixties revival party!
This is October in pictures...
Was this a taxi demo or were they really getting ready to operate... even after TfL
said no blood on Palestra’s walls!
It’s always nice to see a minicab with
class - or something!
Yes, there’s a bit of traffic here and there!
Can you afford not to get a copy!!!
Produced by Dial-a-Cabs PCN expert, John Vigus,
this book is all you need to know about moving
traffic and parking regulations in one easy to
Editor Al at a sixties party posing with
read guide!
The Searchers bass guitarist Frank
Allan and trying to keep one of his
chins hidden!
The Motorists Guide to Moving
The Badge see
Brian Rice as
Traffic And Parking Regulations
the golden
Hard copies £8. Electronic versions to
haired one of
the cab trade
Dial-a-Cab drivers are £5 per copy. Orders
- they also
via Driver Services with payment deducted
think that
from your DaC account.
Mary Berry,
Jenny Éclair
and Keith
Lemon are cakes! PS. Brian loved it!
Can you really afford not to get a copy!!!
Call Sign November 2016
Page 12
ial-a-Cab driver Jim Rainbird (T25)
has often appeared in Call Sign
over his 22 years on Dial-a-Cab,
Eamonn and Ruth:
whether that was during his time as
a WCHCD Master or via his many filming pro-
motions - including at least one smash hit
Bollywood blockbuster - although there was no
word on whether he had to dance!
How do you do it!
In 2001, he actually appeared on a Japanese
TV station quiz but doesn’t know how he did as
he doesn’t speak the lingo! Then there were the
Taking a break
times when Jim + taxi were hired by paparazzi
during filming
because that looked less conspicuous while
of How the
chasing celebrities than flying around on a
Other Half
motorbike with a huge camera lens hanging
around their neck!
Jim also appeared on these pages when he
and his cab were used by Motorcycle News to
promote their show at the Excel Centre when
he worked with motorcycle stars Chris ‘The
Stalker’ Walker and Tommy Hill. He has also
for celebrities!
appeared alongside motor racing F1 stars Lewis
However, I’m
Hamilton and Mika Hakkinen in a Johnnie
not sure about
Walker anti-drinking campaign!
But Jim would be the first to admit that it isn’t
a hobby, he does it for the money! Whilst often
Eamonn made
enjoying the work because it’s easier than
to Ruth in front
searching around for a passenger, it doesn’t usu-
of me...”
ally involve much genuine gratitude. You turn
I don't know
up, do the film work, sort out the payment and
how Jim does his
it’s back to EC5!
job, Ruth. Look
But a recent television job changed that.
at what it’s done
Jim was filming the Tuesday evening at 9pm
to him... he’s
Channel 5 programme, How the other half
Jim told Call Sign: “On television, they look
only 25!!!
live, which is presented by Eamonn Holmes
like a lovely friendly couple, but we all know
“I assume that he must have been referring to
and his wife Ruth Langsford. The real-life mar-
how television can create an image that isn’t nec-
my T25 callsign!!! But it really was a lovely day
ried couple look at the lifestyle of the ultra-
essarily true. But having now worked with them,
filming with them and if the series hasn’t ended
rich, those people that can literally afford any-
I have to say that Ruth and Eamonn really are a
yet, you catch it on Tuesday's at 9pm on Channel
thing they want at literally any price.
genuinely lovely couple and that’s quite unusual
5 or on Catch up...”
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Call Sign November 2016
Page 13
At the first DaC SGM, Mike Son and Garry White came fourth and fifth in a vote to keep just three Board
Members. Mike asked Call Sign if he could say goodbye. He remains a driver...
Dear fellow shareholders,
tude the support given by the Chairman and colleagues.
I want to take this opportunity to offer
I must also pay tribute to all the Management and members of staff
my sincere thanks with regard to the
in all departments, both at Dial-a-Cab House and not forgetting Roman
support I have been given throughout
Way. During these turbulent times, they have all given 100 percent.
the many years I served as one of your
My sincere gratitude also goes to Al Fisher, Editor of Call Sign, for
his consideration and help when I had to write articles within our mag-
My time on the Board of
azine. Alan has without doubt created one of the taxi trades’ most
Management has been an adventure
interesting and influential publications.
and an extremely rewarding experi-
Sincere thanks to everyone...
ence. I will always treasure that time
and remember with fondness and grati- Kind Regards, Michael Son BEM
TfL prosecute Vodafone...
Transport for London has successfully prosecuted telecommuni-
January 2016. Including this latest offence, the company has been
cations company Vodafone for the second time this year as part of
ordered to pay a total of £12,706 in fines for mismanaging street-
its commitment to ensure that roadworks cause as little disruption
works since 2015.
as possible to road users.
Below is the number of times TfL has prosecuted utility com-
Vodafone’s offences, which took place between February and
panies since 2010:
March this year, include working without a permit in Borough
BT have faced 38 prosecutions, followed by Thames Water
High Street and failing to serve the required streetworks notices
with 13, Infocus with 11, Virgin Media faced 10, Fulcrum have 9
before starting work at St Thomas Street, Loampit Vale and
as have UK and London Power Networks. Following close
Bishopsgate. Vodafone failed to pay the Fixed Penalty Notices
behind come Vodafone with 7, National Grid with 5, Cable &
issued by TfL in response to these offences.
Wireless have 3, Abovenet with 2, O2 with a single offence as
Ahead of a hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on
have McNicholas (on behalf of Virgin Media).
28 September, Vodafone pleaded guilty to the offences and
was fined a total of £3,500 and ordered to pay prosecution
costs of £3,020.
TfL COO for Surface Transport, Garrett Emmerson, said: “These
offences prevent us from coordinating streetworks effectively and
we will continue to push for the toughest penalties possible against
telecommunications and other companies caught acting unlawfully.
We are committed to keeping London’s roads as clear as possible to
prevent unnecessary disruption to journeys and to help us tackle
poor air quality.”
Since January 2015, TfL has prosecuted Vodafone on three
Exclusive Taxi Insurance Scheme
occasions and issued the company with 78 Fixed Penalty
Notices, 33 of which were within the last year.
dedicated to DAC members only
In June Vodafone was prosecuted for failing to serve a required
statutory Streetworks notice for work in Tooting Bec on 7 and 8
5% Discount for members
Additional discount for existing protected Bonus policies
Public Liability
Breakdown Cover
Much more available
The Annual General Meeting of the
London Taxidrivers’ Fund for
Call below for quotations
Underprivileged Children will
be held on Tuesday 15th
November 2016 at 7.30pm.
Hillier Buchan Ltd, 18, Bourne Road, Bexley, Kent. DA5 1LU
There is parking at the Centre and
Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority - Firms Ref No: 304318
refreshments will be available. All dri-
Company Registration No: 4319231
vers are most welcome to attend…
New Park Day Centre
Tel: 01322 553313
19 Highbury New Park,
London N5
Fax: 01322 523315
Call Sign November 2016
Page 14
Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over!
There will be plenty of
readers out there who
claim their football
team is the ‘Pride of
North London’ - Call
Bob Woodford looks at London’s long lost sporting venues
Sign Editor included -
and from where I’m sit-
The stadium averaged a
ting, they both have
gate of
6,000 that season
equal rights to claim to the nickname. But
and so in 1904, a second
Arsenal actually has its origins in South
stand was added and it was
London and it was back in 1886 that the club
the first terrace in the coun-
was started up by munitions workers down in
try to be nicknamed Spion
Woolwich. The lads that worked at the Royal
Kop - but as Call Sign read-
Arsenal’s ammunition workshops were the
ers will know, many other
founding fathers of Dial Square FC - the loca-
clubs like Liverpool also
tion taking its name from the sundial that
built Kops, as they were bet-
lords above its entrance gateway and which
ter known. But Arsenal were
dates back to 1764.
on the up, literally, as they
Those founding fathers were hard up for
achieved promotion to the
cash initially and couldn't even afford to buy
First Division in the next
their first set of jerseys, let alone decide what
season and with additional
colours to play in! Fortunately, among the
on its southern side ran a large open sewer -
early ranks were a couple of former
capacity attendances, they reached over
so there was no rush to take a throw in on
Nottingham Forest players - the ‘Reds’ had
20,000 for some matches.
that side of the pitch! Neither were there seat-
been around since 1865 - and they wrote a
Just as all was going to plan, there was an
ing areas as such, but members came up with
letter to their old club asking if they would be
emergence of other football teams in South-
the unique idea to use wagons borrowed
prepared to let them have some kit. Forest
East London (including Millwall moving from
from nearby army bases to house spectators!
turned out to be extremely generous and
The team’s first fixture at the Manor resulted
the Isle of Dogs with a massive following), so
responded favourably with a full set of red
in a 3-0 victory against Millwall Rovers. But
Woolwich Arsenal faced bankruptcy in 1910 -
jerseys and even a football - so if you ever
that muddy pitch and smelly sewer forced the
the average crowd dwindling to around
wondered why teams play in the colours that
Arsenal to seek a fourth option and they
11,000. And there was ever more competition
they do, that’s one example!
rented the Invicta Ground, which was an
for spectators locally
- top amateur sides
Dial Square were up and running and
already established sports stadium close to
Dulwich Hamlet and Nunhead had been
while trying to organise a suitable ground
Plumstead Station on Plumstead High
around since 1888 and 1893 respectively,
to play home games, their first
Street complete with stands, terraces, chang-
plus Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace
away game was played over on the Isle of
ing rooms and no access to raw sewage!
had been attracting fans to their games since
Dogs against a side called Eastern
Wanderers - the venue being the site of
At that time, London property develop-
Arsenal FC and Hector St!
Millwall’s first ground in Tiller Road.
er and Kennington boy made good, Sir
Very little survives of this old ground, now
Within just a few months of forming, the
Henry Norris bought Arsenal out, rescu-
covered over with late Victorian streets and
decision was taken to rename the club Royal
ing the club and proceeded to move them
houses, but some of the back gardens in
Arsenal FC and they used a tree-lined green
across London to the new Arsenal
Hector Street include a row of terraces at
space on Plumstead Common to play their
Stadium in Highbury. His initial plan was
the end of their plot and I am grateful to fel-
first home match, beating Erith FC 6-1. The
to merge his own club, Fulham, with
low Tour Guide Paul Talling for the above
players used The Star Inn pub as a dressing
Arsenal into a new super London fran-
picture, which was taken from a precarious
room to change into the red strip they had
chise. That plan failed and Woolwich
position standing on a dividing wall - so be
blagged from Nottingham Forest and this pub
careful out there if you intend to investigate!
Arsenal played their final match at the
is still around today.
It was great while it lasted and success
Manor Ground against Middlesbrough in
began to follow winning 3 local trophies and
front of just 3,000 people in 1913.
Arsenal FC and Plumstead
pulling off a shock in knocking Derby
I wouldn't spend too much time looking
County out of the FA Cup, but 3 years down
for clues of the whereabouts of the Arsenal at
Bus Garage!
the line the landlord at ‘The Vic’ decided to
the Manor. After they left the ground, it fell
The following year the club moved to an old
exploit the club’s growing popularity and
derelict and was demolished - eventually
pig field on Plumstead Marshes, which was
announced he was going to double the rent!
becoming the home to a run-down industrial
quite often waterlogged until a little hard
It was around this time that the club were
estate and the last I heard, it was set to be
work made the surface playable. Over time,
re-named Woolwich Arsenal and the
members and fans began to name the club’s
unscrupulous landlord forced the cash-
Henry Norris’s Arsenal moved to their
second home ground as the Sportsman
strapped relative newbies to move back to the
new purpose-built stadium in Highbury
Ground after the Sportsman pub which was
Manor Ground in time for the start of the
in 1913 and he would play a pivotal role
nearby (although no longer there) and they
1893/94 season; they managed to purchase it
in holding back the development of arch-
played here for the 1887/88 season. There is
outright with money raised from an ambitious
rivals Tottenham Hotspur a few years later
no visible sign of this ground left as it's cov-
share issue and the sewer was culverted. They
by bribing members of the Football
ered over by the modern day Plumstead Bus
also erected a single main stand and banks of
Garage - although there is no truth that red
League to promote his side back to the
terracing. Their new found ambitions were
buses became red out of respect for Arsenal’s
First Division at the expense of their
built on the strength of the fact that the club
neighbours, despite their inferior final
were set to became the first southern member
The old Sportsman Ground flooded badly
league position. Bungs in football? Never!
of the Football League’s new Second Division
before the end of their first full season there,
Next month it's ‘jumpers for goal posts’
- the opportunity coming about because
so a hasty decision was made to move to the
down in South-West London.
Millwall had originally turned down that offer,
adjoining Manor Field (as it was originally
preferring to continue with the development
known), which was soon renamed Manor
Bob Woodford
of the Southern League (how things could
Ground. This was a slight improvement, but
have turned out differently).
Call Sign Online
the pitch got notoriously muddy at times and
Call Sign November 2016
Page 15
DaC driver Sean Farrell (B39) looks at trade history from a different angle
Brethren of the Whip
by Thomas Moody, a Birmingham busi-
procure him one if he so wished. Moody
nessman who demanded the return of his
insisted on the particular specimen that
‘curiosity’. Dr Evans related how he had
had been in his possession, claiming that if
The current law of
taken the specimen to Guys and after a per-
he had returned to Birmingham with it he
functory examination of its head, they flung it
would have been paid £5. He was however
handing items of
lost property into
away. Moody did not believe the doctor; he
willing to drop the case if the doctor
believed the creature was being held by him
would compensate him to the value of the
the nearest police
station within
so he could use it at exhibitions and such. Dr
£5. Dr Evans thought that the demand was
Evans was summoned for “unlawfully detain-
perfectly unreasonable “for a thing so com-
hours dates back to
1853 - and for a
ing a non-descript animal valued at £5, the
pletely valueless.”
property of Thomas Moody.” In court, Moody
A further witness for the prosecution was
good few years after that, it was actually
illegal to return the item direct to the pas-
was asked to describe the ‘curiosity’.
called. This was a colleague of Moody who
“The animal was between an elephant and
gave his evidence, but only after Moody was
senger. The law said the item had to be
handed in and a driver could be heavily
a pig” explained Moody, “in that it had a
asked to leave the courtroom. The witness’s
mouth and proboscis resembling the former,
testimony adversely demolished the case for
fined for not doing so.
In 1871, cabman George Bennett was sur-
while its body and legs were more like the lat-
the prosecution and Dr Evans was discharged.
ter; and that in fact it was what might well be
Moody had literally bought the ‘monstrosi-
prised to receive a summons for not handing
an item in to the nearest station. He had
termed a ‘monstrosity’.”
ty’ “from a man in a pub” and only paid half-
Dr Evans reiterated what he was told by
a-crown for the bargain...!
done exactly that - the only trouble was that
he handed it into the Lost Property Office
the anatomy department at Guys that the
creature (in all probability an ant-eater)
Sean Farrell
at Cannon Street Railway Station.
Fortunately for him the magistrate saw the
was not rare and that the hospital could
Call Sign Online
funny side of it and only made him pay the
costs of the summons, usually about
shillings (10p).
The policewoman
Prior to 1853, a driver could hold onto an
item for up to four days before he had to
hand it in. Many drivers took advantage of the
thief and a DaC driver!
delay in order to see if forgetful owners had
placed an advert in the newspaper, offering a
A woman police officer, who refused to pay a £24 mini-
reward for the item’s return.
cab fare and then ran from the car, has been kicked out
If an item was claimed, the driver would
of the force. PC Nicola Elston was said to be “jaded
receive compensation for his time. If the
through drink after a social night out with colleagues,”
item remained unclaimed, it became the
when she refused to pay Mr Ali, a minicab driver, the
cab fare to Croydon, an MPS misconduct hearing was
property of the driver after one year. This
system was changed in 1853 with a sliding
Ms Elston was also accused of threatening and
scale of reward based on the value of the
punching the driver in the stomach, but was cleared
item and if it remained unclaimed, the
after an earlier trial at Southwark Crown Court.
item was sold and an amount to be deter-
She had initially claimed being innocent of theft, but
mined would be paid to the driver. This
the jury convicted her after a three-day trial, allow-
system was again changed in 1869 to the
ing the MPS to conclude the disciplinary proceed-
present one where the driver is entitled to
ings. She claimed that she left the money in the
a reward if the item is claimed, or can
minicab for the driver.
claim the item as their own after three
In a statement, Elston said: “I apologise for this
matter and in hindsight, I should have dealt with it
months if not collected.
in a different manner. I accept that it is hard to
When, during the summer of 1841, Joseph
continue to employ me, especially if I was asked
Hayward found “a monstrosity” in his cab,
to give evidence in court and would have to
he did what any young cabman would do -
declare any convictions.” She was dismissed with-
he took it home to mum! Hayward would
out notice.
later state that he found a package in his cab
Mr Ali may have been a minicab driver, but we
and when he opened it up “…he first thought
have to assume that the fare was legitimate oth-
it was a pig and then an elephant - in fact he
erwise it’s hard to see a tout taking anyone to
scarcely knew what it was and gave it to his
court for non-payment! However, the court kept
mother who he thought might know more
referring to him as a taxi driver and that did irri-
about it than he did.” Mrs Hayward con-
tate us - but not as much as it irritated Dial-a-
Cab driver Jon Robinson (E88) whose photo,
firmed that her son had brought the
including his registration number, was in several newspa-
“...curiosity to her and she took it to Dr
pers that reported on the case.
Evans, as it began to smell a little!” Dr Evans
Jon told Call Sign: We’re used to seeing ourselves in photos or TV news reports as we
sent the strange creature to Guys Hospital -
pass the cameras, but on this occasion when the write-up in newspapers mentions Mr Ali
who were not impressed with it at all. It was
as being a taxi driver and a woman who you could only describe as being a disgrace to the
not as rare as the doctor believed and as it
police force... and then several drivers point out that they showed a photo of her with me
had started decomposing, they threw it away
behind in my taxi!! But even accepting the poor reporting, you can tell my feelings about
with the rubbish.
this former police officer if I say I had more sympathy for the minicab driver!!!”
A few days later Dr Evans was confronted
Call Sign November 2016
Page 16
Many are undecided; is the long
Sunday 9th October 2016 -
journey of the Owner Drivers
Radio Taxi Service slowly com-
a new date enters DaC’s history...
ing to an end or was it the
beginning of a new exciting
journey when on Sunday 9
October 2016, the second and
deciding vote on demutualisa-
tion sailed through with well
over 97 percent of Dial-a-Cab
Current Chairman Brian
subscribers voting in favour. The
Rice with founder
meeting report is on the next
Chairman Bonnie Martyn
on his 90th birthday
DaC’s journey began on Thursday
January 1953 when the man who was to
become our Founder-Chairman, Bonnie
shop that was used for paying
Martyn, met up with a friend of his, taxi dri-
out credits and that often
ver Albert Hall. Both were then with a radio
become crowded with drivers
taxi organisation known as RODA - the
involved in queries while our
Radio Owner Drivers Association. The
first Pentonville Road tele-
RODA committee consisted of well-known
phonist, Florrie Culverwell,
drivers of the time: Lou Dunn, George
would try to sort it all out! We
White, Charlie Watson, Cyril Lumley and
even had a cleaner, Mrs
Ronnie Frewin but as hard as these hon-
Goodman - known as Mrs
ourable men tried, RODA was beset with
Gee - who on occasions
1953. At that meeting, the name Owner
problems and both Bonnie Martyn and Albert
would help to pay drivers, By then we had
Drivers Radio Taxi Service was agreed on
Hall decided that there had to be a way of
200 all paying 37/6 per month (£1.75) sub-
and a starting date of Friday 18 December
starting an owner drivers taxi circuit where
scriptions. The only thing we lacked was pub-
was decided on as the day ODRTS would go
the underhand dealings that the RODA com-
licity. Drivers kept handing out cards but two
live. But although a few passengers phoned
mittee found so difficult to control and stop,
drivers and part-time dispatchers, Bernie
following house-to-house card distribution,
could be prevented from ever happening
Lyons and Sam Harris, came up with a sug-
the signals failed to reach the taxis and the
again elsewhere.
gestion and spoke to Bonnie about it - an
launch was scrubbed. A new launch date was
The result was a meeting called by Bonnie;
official celebrity opening!
decided as being on Tuesday 26 January
it took place on Sunday 29 March 1953 in
So Tuesday 8 March 1955 ODRTS saw its
1954. This time everything went well and the
the back of his cab while parked on the
official launch by well-known MP of the
first official job was dispatched
- from
Grosvenor Gardens rank. Besides Bonnie
time, Sir Ian Fraser. Bonnie particularly
Pentonville Road to Holborn department
and Albert, squeezed into the taxi were also
wanted him because he was a founding
store, Gamages.
Arthur Cutmore, Doug Naismith, Eric
member and President of the Royal
The ODRTS name spread quickly. RODA
Stoffel, Alec Cobden, David Fiertag and
British Legion - an organisation forever
had long gone and competition was minimal
Frank Duncan.
tied in with the taxi trade. But he was tied
with just two working circuits - York Way
Bonnie had paid a visit to the PCO in 1952
up until March 1955, so ODRTS decided
Radio Cabs and Metropolitan Radio Taxis
where he had a meeting with Chief Supt
to wait! Sir Ian was famous for his work
with the latter also failing to survive.
Harold Gould to tell him that he planned to
on behalf of the disabled and had himself
However, competition was on the way with
start an owner-drivers radio circuit and the
been blinded during active service in
another cab driver, Joe Stern, calling his own
Chief Superintendent gave his blessing.
WW1.He had worked tirelessly to pro-
meeting at the Rifle Range in Harewood
Bonnie then tried to find premises for a
mote welfare for blind people and ex-ser-
Avenue, Marylebone for an opposing circuit
meeting to discuss the possibility, but money
to ODRTS and on Monday 14 December
was tight and eventually he decided that his
The work flowed in as did the money
1953, Radio Taxis (Southern) were regis-
taxi would have to do! After two hours in his
accrued by the circuit and on Monday 8
tered. They used the old RODA premises at
cab, the seven drivers decided that they
March 1965 under the Chairmanship of war
Townsend Yard, Highgate with the tele-
would try to pass the word around that a new
hero Jack Russell, ODRTS moved to larger
phone number of Mountview 3232 and
circuit was to be attempted. With no social
premises at 144 Shirland Road and a phone
became known as Mountview. But Joe Stern
media in those days, it was left to word of
and Bonnie Martyn both disliked each other
number that some say defined our future -
mouth and on Sunday 7 June 1953 at the
LORDS 1133. For many years after, we were
and it created a feud between the two. The
Albany Tavern in Great Portland Street,
probable reason was that when Bonnie heard
known as LORDS.
the drivers that attended raised the sum of
The rest are really just facts and figures. On
that Joe Stern was taking over at Townsend
£200 between them and the journey was
Yard, a rumour claimed he asked radio sup-
Monday 11 June 1984 we took the trading
about to begin.
pliers, Pye, not to let Joe have the equip-
name of Dial-a-Cab and on Saturday 29
By Monday 10 August, estate agent Jack
ment! Many years later, Bonnie admitted to
April 1989, DaC made its second attempt at
Rose told Frank Duncan that the building
Call Sign that the rumour was true!
going live from our then voice despatch sys-
they had looked at - 172 Pentonville Road -
“It was nothing personal,” said Bonnie,
tem to one of Data dispatch. Five months
was available to rent with a view to buying
“just business!”
earlier the system had to be taken down after
later on. The committee voted on it and by
Also many years later, Joe told Call Sign:
one day, but on that second attempt it
Thursday 1 October, Frank had come to an
“Bonnie showed off too much for my lik-
worked and stayed up until October 2016,
agreement with the phone company to fit
ing, but he certainly knew how to run a
when under Brian Rice we moved over to
four lines, Terminus 6444 was born and 47
radio circuit!”
our current VAD system.
owner drivers signed up and waited for work!
By the time Mountview dispatched their
But back to Wednesday 11 August 1984
Eight weeks later on Tuesday
first trip following registration, ODRTS were
under the chairmanship of Peter
November, the committee purchased the
becoming quite busy and had even opened a
Fennymore when we moved to Brunswick
Pentonville Road lease for £2400 following a
decision at their first-ever board meeting just
few accounts - something York Way Radio
Cabs refused to do. We had built a new front
continued on page 17
12 days earlier on Thursday 12 November
Call Sign November 2016
Page 17
ack in May, Dial-a-Cab Members voted
On page 16, you can read the history of Dial-a-Cab up to the
in an unofficial Board survey that they
moment it became a limited company. That takes this Society up
wanted to demutualise this Society,
realise the value in its assets and dis-
until 9 October 2016 and the start of the final demutualisation
tribute that value to Members. On Sunday 18
meeting. This is the record of that meeting - probably the most
September, Members went to the HAC
important yet shortest one this Society has ever held...
Barracks in City Road for the first of the two
meetings that would be required for the demu-
tualisation to be activated. To take the process to
DaC: The demutualisation
that second meeting, more than 75% of those
Within just 15 minutes, dri-
voting - now including proxy voting - had to be
vers went from being mem-
in favour with at least 50% voting. That was
bers of a mutual trading
achieved with a ‘yes’ vote of 95.9 percent.
society to shareholders
The first meeting also cut the Board down to
three members and the Chairman, with Mike
Son and Garry White being voted off.
Directors plus a Chairman onto
So it then went to that second meeting on
the Board. That could of course
9 October. For demutualisation to go
change depending on circum-
through, over 50% of those that voted need-
ed to be in favour with at least 20% of
“To give you the latest infor-
Members needing to vote. Again, the only
mation; I have been in touch
acceptable way of voting was either in per-
with around ten agents that are
son or via a Proxy. A ‘yes’ vote would convert
interested in the building or to
the Society into a Company incorporated
ued by asking those that had a ballot paper and
act as our agents to sell the
under the Companies Act 2006. A ‘no’ would
building. Seven of them have put proposals
hadn’t yet voted to fill them in with either a ‘yes’
see it remain as a mutual trading society...
or ‘no’ and hold them up. They were then col-
forward that are very interesting, although
The meeting opened at
11am. The
we haven’t yet gone into them in great
Chairman asked for the usual permission that
After several minutes, during which time a
depth but our accountants and solicitors
the sound recordist and two DaC ladies
are fully informed and have copies of
few drivers asked the Chairman question
remain present. As no one objected, the
about DaC, Brian Rice announced the result.
everything. We have had one firm substan-
meeting - probably one of, if not THE most
tial offer from a development company
This included those that had already voted,
important meeting in our history - began...
those voting via a proxy and those in the hall
who have offered a cash deal rather than
It was down to Chairman, Brian Rice. He
going through agents. However, knowing
that had not yet voted. He spoke what were
said: “In theory, we are here today with only one
probably this Society’s most momentous
accountants and solicitors as I do, they
topic on the agenda - that is to ratify the last
would say that if someone is prepared to
words since
12 November 1953 when
meeting that we had on 18 September. But
founder-Chairman Bonnie Martyn proclaimed
pay that, then someone else out there will
before we start today, there is something quite
probably be prepared to pay more! So
at the very first ODRTS committee meeting:
important, otherwise you will be driven nuts by
“Gentlemen, this is the first meeting since the
there does seem to be interest in Dial-a-Cab
this certain person. So I thought I’d get it out of
House at the moment and it would appear
registration of the Owner Drivers Radio Taxi
the way first! Today is the birthday of Alan
Society Ltd. We are responsible to a lot of dri-
that the property that you own is in the
Fisher, the Editor of Call Sign and if I didn’t tell
middle of everything that Hackney Council
vers, business houses and the GPO and we
you now, he’d probably go round to you all later
must therefore conduct all dealings in a
wants - social housing and office blocks etc
to tell you himself! So Alan, would you like to
- and it also appears that planning permis-
proper manner. I feel confident that we are
come and accept this...”
capable of fulfilling the work before us.”
sion is a formality, although that would
To applause, the Editor sheepishly went to the
probably take a minimum of 12 months.
Brian read out the results which were almost
Board’s table to accept a badge with his age on
unanimous with just thirty members out of the
“I suggest that what may happen - and
- one that had mysteriously gone missing from
this is all conjecture on my part - is that a
whole fleet voting against and needing over 50
his pocket earlier! Following a rendition of
percent, the result achieved a 97.2 percent
development company may come in and say
Happy Birthday, it was down to the serious busi-
they will give us £x million today or that
approval. He said:
ness and Brian Rice continued with the meeting
“The resolution is ratified and from today
they would seek planning permission,
proper. He said:
which they would have to pay for and which
(9 October 2016) onwards we move on. Dial-
“What the proposition or resolution is
a-Cab will no longer be a mutual co-opera-
could cost up to £1million and then in 12
today is to approve the special resolution
months’ time or whenever we got the plan-
tive, it will be a limited company limited by
that was passed at the first SGM of this
its shares, of which you will all be sharehold-
ning permission, they would then come
Society, held to approve the conversion of
back and offer us the initial figure plus a fur-
ers. To a certain extent, while that persists
the Society into a company limited by
you will have the same rights as you had
ther price. That will be your choice. We
shares. That is what we are here to ratify
would write to shareholders and say that
before. There will be an Annual General
today, so if there is anyone here that would
Meeting if nothing is done with the company
you have been offered one amount now or a
like to speak against that resolution, would
or the building with the first one probably
different amount in 12 months’ time.”
they kindly go to the lectern now please.”
being one year from now and as sharehold-
With that, the official and momentous meet-
No one responded, so the Chairman contin-
ers, you will still have a vote to elect three
ing closed after around 15 minutes...
House, where we were to stay until Saturday 5 May 2007 when under Brian Rice we moved to Dial-a-Cab House (then called Marten
House) in East Road. Astonishingly for a radio circuit, we bought the much bigger building without incurring any debt and it has now
increased in value by approximately 6 times the price we paid!
And that brings us up to date when on Sunday October 9 2016 at the HAC Barracks in City Road, DaC drivers voted overwhelmingly
to become a limited company under the Companies Act. The journey began with Bonnie Martyn founding our Society and with Brian Rice
leading the Board onto our next step. Along the way there have been many chairmen, board members, staff and of course drivers whose
part, no matter how small, helped to get us here.
Now we are about to find out the answer to the question we asked at the beginning: Is the long journey of the Owner Drivers Radio Taxi
Service slowly coming to an end or is it the beginning of a new exciting journey for Dial-a-Cab Ltd???
Alan Fisher, Call Sign Online
Call Sign November 2016
Page 18
Ouch... Bet That Hurt!
egular readers will recall in the October Call Sign that
we featured the road racing exploits of John Wiles
(C60), his admission to being a ‘petrol head’ and how
for the the past twenty years he and a few friends had
travelled each year to the German race track of Nurburgring -
said by many to be the most challenging race track in the world
- and how they chase round that famous circuit in their own cars.
But what we saved our more squeamish readers from
were the finer details of an horrific accident that John was
involved in while on the same track several years earlier, but
on that occasion he was on TWO wheels instead of four!
“Yes, it was a bit inconvenient at the time, but it wasn’t my
fault,” John protested to Call Sign.
“It was back in 2006 and I was hurtling around the
Nurburgring race track, but this time on my BMW 1100
Sport motorcycle and the wheels must have come into con-
tact with some oil or engine coolant that had spilled onto
the track surface from another cyclist ahead of me. The tini-
est drop of fluid, or for that matter even a pebble, is enough
to de-stabilise a bike - and I was hitting over 90 mph at the
John and his broken elbow!
time! Suddenly the bike dropped away from under me, skid-
ding off in one direction while I found myself flying through
the air in another direction altogether, before landing heavi-
later before it was actually healed.
ly and ungraciously,” John remarked in a matter-of-fact tone!
“I also had to undergo immersion in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber
“As any motorcyclist knows, the contact area of a bike tyre onto the
therapy regime (HBOT) to re-establish the blood supply to my arm.
road surface is only about the size of the palm of your hand, so the
It’s a similar treatment to that which footballers undergo when they
slightest loss of that contact can have disastrous results, especially
break bones during a match. The increased oxygen level in your
when you’re pushing towards 100 mph!” Astonishingly to us, John
blood stream helps to heal fractures and damaged tissues far more
was grinning as he recounted his painful tale.
quickly than might otherwise be the case, and thankfully I made a
“Looking for oil patches to slide on is not the sort of thing I
good recovery. But I don’t think I’d like to do it again,” said John as
would recommend for thrills, because I ended up fracturing my
he drove off in his taxi at a sedate rate of knots - and still smiling...
left arm in 35 separate places, had to undergo a six-hour opera-
tion to put my arm together again and it was around one year
Alan Green, Call Sign Online
The ideal Xmas
...and you can get a discount!
By now, the three winners
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issue competition for the
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Now’s your chance to try our course. Any black cab driver who shows us their badge gets a
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Our 9 hole course is the perfect place for you to relax and get some fresh air
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For more information call Jacquie or Sue on 01474 573116 / 573113
The game is also available from selected retailers
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Call Sign November 2016
Page 19
all Sign often has irritated
drivers contacting us after
they receive a Penalty Charge
Notice for blocking a box
PCNs and buses
junction when in reality it was another
vehicle that popped up at the last second
to block their exit and leave them strand-
ed. The result is that PCN - very often for
blocking a junction along Euston or
Marylebone Road - comes under the
auspices of TfL’s Red Routes and their
But how often is that blocked yellow
box the fault of a bus that won’t wait
until the exit is clear? The answer -
especially along that stretch of road -
is fairly often. We could fill up two
pages with photos of buses offending
the box junction rules that drivers
have sent us, but we’ll just put in one
as an example of something we all see
at least several times each day.
So bearing in mind the number of taxi
drivers that have been stung at what a
TfL don't know how many buses
BBC Panorama program once described
get PCN's - if any!
Mastermind Final
as Moneybox Junctions when they
secretly filmed a CCTV camera operator
claiming that they had achieved another
record month, we asked Transport for
London via a Freedom of Information
request just how many buses had received
PCNs after being caught in yellow box
junctions? The astonishing answer was
that when they record a contravention,
for DaC
they do not record the vehicle type and so
do not hold the information!
We suspect that had they actually kept
the info we asked for, the answer would
have been zero!
Ron Yarborough
Name: "Fred Bloggs"
On behalf of Dial-a-Cab, Hillier Buchan Ltd
Occupation: "Taxi Driver"
Call Sign Online
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Call Sign November 2016
Page 20
Firstly, I would like to say a big thank you to
all the members who supported me in their
DaC Sales Report
selection for new Directors of the Society.
With the second SGM now having taken place
With Keith Cain
and ratified the decision to change from a
mutual trading company to a limited compa-
written before about this and the general
ny, it is now full steam ahead to finalise the
feedback is that the reason is solely down to
paperwork and move forward with the sale of
management instructing staff to cut down on
the building.
taxi usage. We always quiz further and ask if
Many drivers have asked how long this
another supplier is being used; the vast
will take and the only answer that can be
majority say no and that it is purely a financial
given without appearing to be patronising
decision by the company directors. They are
is to ask how long is a piece of string? Rest
all very happy with the service you the drivers
assured the process will be carried out as
give and equally as happy with the service
soon as is possible, but it will be the
given by our contact centre staff.
members - or should I say the new share-
holders - that have the final decision as to
who it should be sold to.
The new dispatch system is in place now and
I would also like to take this opportunity to
there have been mixed feelings and opinions
wish Michael and Garry well for the future
looking for alternative methods of speak-
from a number of drivers. I have to say that the
and to say how much it has been a pleasure
ing with as many potential clients as we
majority of you like it and think it is a much
working with them.
can. With our change of status, I believe
fairer system. There have been a few teething
that it will spark interest and help the
problems, which will be rectified by the IT
sales team to speak with many more
department in due course. This was the same
Attracting new
potential clients.
when we first introduced the V4 system back
We have recently completed two tenders
in 86 /87. From the very first day of going live,
As you know, it is very difficult to attract new
on which we are awaiting a decision. These
we constantly made upgrades to the function-
business and for some unknown reason, as
were both completed back in August
ality of the system and it was only until about
soon as you introduce yourself as being a
September and with the nature of the busi-
four years ago that we decided to stop making
black cab company, the shutters seem to
ness participated in, we don’t expect any
any further changes. I am sure we will enhance
come down with potential customers finding
decisions to be made for another couple of
the new system in a similar way as we all get a
an excuse to get you off the phone faster than
better understanding of its capabilities...
you could say Jack Robinson.
Much time is spent contacting those clients
But that does not stop us trying and who seem to have reduced their usage. I have
Keith Cain
DaC Head of Sales
Simon Scott is one of the new generation of taxi drivers whose life is
captured as a blog. The continuing story of his time as a butterboy is…
Book Aiden Kent
for your event
A Blogger’s Tale
...and make it go with a swing!
We meet many people during the months and years behind the wheel of a taxi in
central London; many of them seem to be quite open about themselves and chat
about their lives and work, but have you ever looked in the rear view mirror and
wondered what a terrorist looks and sounds like?
The taxi trade has a reputation of being London’s eyes and ears, so how
would a terrorist approach a ride in a taxi? Would he or she invent a story or
remain quiet, perhaps reading a newspaper? I’m not suggesting IRA bombers
used London taxis to get to or flee from the scenes of bombings, but if
you’ve lived and worked through bombing campaigns from any terrorist
organisation, then I’m equally sure it has crossed your mind.
Around the time of the French terror attack in Nice this year, I got chatting to a young lady. As we made our
way through the city, she asked if I was scared of another attack in London. My immediate reply without even
thinking about it was NO. After she got out, I began to wonder why. The taxi trade has been touched by many
bombings, even in my time there have been a significant number. The Public Carriage Officer who gave me my
Badge told me to always check the back of the cab after a fare had left, because the police were surprised that
a bomb hadn’t yet been left in the back of a cab. Then on Saturday 24th April 1993, the IRA let off a truck
bomb outside 99 Bishopsgate; the ensuing carnage cost £350million to repair and led to police rethinking their
approach to security, particularly in the city. I was nearby and heard the explosion; it rumbled through the
ground just as the bomb that killed Airy Neave had done when I was working at New Scotland Yard in 1979.
Just a year before that, the Baltic Exchange had been bombed resulting in loss of life and significant damage. If
memory serves me right, a London taxi driver had been sitting either outside or nearby at the moment the bomb went
off, his cab - along with his confidence - was completely destroyed. A photo of his cab appeared in the trade press
and every panel had been distorted by the debris that rained down on it. The bomb site is now home to the Gherkin
and is understandably still a sensitive area. There is a convenient rest rank opposite, but it is inadvisable to leave your
cab there for too long, as in October 2014 after a series of road closures nearby, the police assumed a parked taxi
that appeared to have been left on the rank legally, was a suspect vehicle and conducted a controlled explosion on it.
Perhaps the most audacious attack was on the government itself. On 7th February 1991 whilst the cabinet
were meeting to discuss the Gulf War, the IRA launched three mortar shells from the junction of Horseguards
Avenue and Whitehall in the direction of Downing Street. One exploded in the back garden of number ten,
Tel: 07956 456 360
a few feet from its target which would have destroyed the building and the government. They survived by the
skin of their teeth, just as in Brighton some years before.
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life...”
Winston Churchill
To be continued…
Simon Scott (O40), Call Sign Online
Call Sign November 2016
Page 21
• How can PH drive safely while looking at an app?
• When will TfL separate accident figures between taxis and private hire?
• A 44% increase in accidents for Taxis and PH. Yet taxi numbers are the same???
Caroline Dishes It Out To The Mayor!
The Mayor’s Question Time on
passenger asking where they
were and asking the driver to
Wednesday 19 October was inter-
respond as to whether the
esting because LibDem Assembly
traffic was bad? It was also in
Member and black cab supporter,
The Sunday Times article that
Caroline Pidgeon, asked questions
the drivers were being
of Mayor Sadiq Khan that could
encouraged to answer instead
of being focused on the road
have affected private hire so badly
and causing a danger to other
as to even put many of them out of
road-users as well such as
cyclists and pedestrians. She
Her first question was to query the safety of
wondered if the Mayor “could
smartphone-based apps used by most mini-
perhaps get TfL to look if
cab firms - and even by two taxi apps in
there was something else
Hailo and Gett. If it is illegal - not to men-
they could be doing in addi-
tion dangerous - to use a phone when in
private hire drivers should only read in
tion to the Mayor’s road safety campaign
control of a motor vehicle, then how can it be
response to a text message when they
that might help to tighten up what was
legal to use a phone-based app?
have pulled over and are safely parked?
The Mayor replied with a breakdown of his
The Mayor’s one-word answer was simply
The Mayor responded by saying that TfL
recent taxi and private hire action plan: He
were always looking at evolving new ways to
“I’m committed to ensuring that
Caroline then spoke again, thanking the
ensure that London had the best taxi and pri-
London’s Taxi and Private Hire industries are
Mayor for a clear answer and said that was
vate hire service there could be. He said that
as safe and accessible as possible. The signif-
what she was hoping for! She continued: “In
resources were not finite and that it wasn’t
icant increase in the use of app-based tech-
the past few weeks, The Sunday Times pub-
just taxi drivers that did this with apps (I
nology in both taxis and private hire vehicles
lished an excellent report by an undercover
think he meant private hire, but I didn’t
is a relatively recent development. To be
reporter who was an Uber driver for three
want to interfere...Ed). There was zero toler-
clear, hands-free phones, satnavs and other
weeks. His specific words were:
ance towards anyone doing it, he said, and
devices in cradles that are widely used by dri-
‘Beep! The next customer flashes up,
that TfL would continue to look at all types
vers, are legal as long as they are used safely
you have 10 seconds to comply!’
of answers to make sure that health and safe-
and in accordance with road traffic laws
“So drivers have to read messages and
ty on behalf of drivers and passengers was
while driving. Having said that, both taxi and
respond while driving. You simply can’t
paramount. Caroline said that she would
private hire drivers should give their full
do that safely. Mr Mayor, do you agree
take that as a ‘yes’ as part of the work Sadiq
attention to the road while driving. TfL and
that Uber and other apps are in effect
was already doing.
the police will take action against anyone if
forcing drivers to take risks?”
She then went on to talk of the 44% rise in
this is found not to be the case.
The Mayor came back by agreeing that 10
casualties caused by “taxi and private hire
“The Met police service stopped nearly
seconds clearly wasn’t safe and Ms Pidgeon
vehicles” since early 2013 before raising a
27,000 motorists for this offence last year and
then asked Sadiq if he would look and under-
salient point. She said:
there is ongoing work to enforce traffic regu-
take research as to how all apps are actually
“But we know that taxi numbers have
lations and warn road users, with the aim
used in practice on the roads and whether he
stayed relatively the same! However,
being to reduce instances where this offence
could issue some safety guidelines?
there has been a huge rise in private hire
The Mayor repeated his initial comment
vehicles; will you give a precise date as to
“My taxi and private hire action plan is
that hands-free phones, satnavs and other
when TfL will start to regularly publish
aimed at improving driving standards and my
devices in cradles were not prohibited in law
data showing the number of incidents
intention is that TfL should introduce an
provided that the driver was safely in control
involving taxis and those of private hire -
advanced driving test for private hire drivers
of the vehicle. He continued:
but showing them separately.”
by the summer of 2017. I am also boosting
“I’ve talked about the numbers of those
The Mayor said they were working on it
the number of on-street compliance officers
stopped by police - 27,000 last year - and we
and were looking at spring 2017 which he
by quadrupling the number from 82 up to
have quadrupled the number of enforce-
thought would be the earliest they could do
332 to clamp down on any illegal activities. In
ment officers we have out there.
it because of having to segregate the data.
addition, there is to be a road safety cam-
“It’s something that hasn’t been done
paign that will target all professional drivers -
before in a separate form,” he added. “We
including freight, taxi and private hire - to
believe there should be greater transparency.”
highlight the danger of being distracted while
“It’s not just their safety; they also have the
This trade should offer its sincere
driving. This comprehensive action plan will
passenger’s safety as well to think of.”
thanks to Caroline Pidgeon for stating
improve public safety by putting up stan-
Caroline Pidgeon spoke again and asked
the obvious and asking the questions
dards across the private hire industry, pro-
the Mayor if he would speak to TfL to ask
that Call Sign and indeed all the trade
vide the support taxi drivers need and deliver
them if they would consider new regulations
organisations, have been calling for
the world’s greenest taxi fleet.”
to say that apps could only be used by a dri-
over many years. The public need to be
Caroline Pidgeon then came back: She
ver when the vehicle is stationery.
able to see for themselves the differ-
said: “I really want to focus on the issue
The Mayor said the law was clear and that
ence between the two sides of our
of apps. Driving while texting is a serious
drivers should know and understand the
industry. Although we are still waiting
offence and studies have shown that if
regulations. But there was nothing to stop
for the separate crime figures that we
you use hands-free or hand-held mobile
passengers asking the driver to concentrate
were promised to be published, the
phones then you will be slower to react to
on the road and to not use their phone while
assistance from Caroline Pidgeon is so
hazards. Some drivers - particularly pri-
very welcome and we thank her...
vate hire drivers - are reading text mes-
Caroline said that the way those types
Alan Fisher
sages and interacting whilst they are dri-
of apps worked was that suddenly the PH
ving a vehicle. Do you think that taxi and
driver would receive a text from the next
Call Sign Online
Call Sign November 2016
Page 22
Call Sign read-
Call Sign’s Marc Turner (R97) is also known as Drumslayer. This
ers will have to
month he is writing about problems between taxi drivers and our
forgive me if,
licensing authority, TfL...
while strolling
towards the
GPs TO GPS! Private
TfL/LTPH offices
at Palestra at
Hire faking medicals???
Blackfriars Road
on the bright autumn day that
up those placards while dressed as doc-
tors; it certainly held the attention of
was Thursday 13th October, my
many passers-by. Fortunately none of
mind suddenly reverted back to
them enquired about treatment for piles!
1966 - no, not to England win-
It’s more than unfortunate that corrupt
General Practitioners have confused the
ning the FIFA World Cup, but
National Health Service with Naturally
more towards a hit record of
Help (PH) Service. Just four days after the
that year... Napoleon XIV:
LCDC demo, a second trade demo - this time
a mass ply for hire - was also held outside
They’re coming to take me away
Dr Davis leads the LCDC demo against
Palestra and added a basket load of com-
ha ha!
TfL PH medicals
plaints against TfL to the one regarding the
Why? Well it was probably while suddenly
medicals. This one was organised online and
could be down to impaired vision, epilepsy,
being besieged by a group of people in white
caused havoc stretching back to a gridlocked
diabetes, mental health issues, heart prob-
coats, face masks and stethoscopes! On fur-
lems or the numerous other medical prob-
ther inspection - mine, not theirs - lo and
Call Sign Editor, Alan Fisher, confirmed
lems that could stop we taxi drivers being
behold there was LCDC Chairman Grant
to me that following a meeting he had held
given a licence. In fact, they have deemed it
Davis standing amongst them! Hundreds of
with Helen Chapman, LTPH admitted there
OK for cheats to continue driving until their
cabbies had congregated for a static (opposed
next scheduled medical.
was little they could do now other than make
to a drive-in) legitimate protest called for by
sure that relicensing requests three years after
Grant Davis has been in dialogue with TfL
the LCDC regarding what they claimed was
on the matter but to no avail. He told Call
the initial one would be very carefully
TfL’s scant regard for passenger safety. This
checked. A bit like locking the stable door
followed a shock exposé by The Sun’s detail-
“After The Sun expose, I felt this was far
after the horse has bolted...
ing the scandal of PH drivers purchasing med-
from satisfactory and contacted TfL but was
Marc Turner
ical certificates from crooked doctors!
told by a senior manager that they had no
Truly a case of the minicab fraternity
plans to re-test PH drivers. I was flabbergasted
Call Sign Online
transferring its reliance on GPS onto dis-
and told them that it was surely their duty to
honest GPs! If these disgraceful deeds ever
protect the public. I spoke to my committee
end up in public maiming or even worse,
and we agreed to hold a static protest at TfL
then it really would be a 'cash for crash'
and have flyers printed to hand out to the
public informing them of the dangers.”
TfL really do not seem bothered that the
Personally, I thought it was an innova-
drastic rise in minicab Road Traffic Accidents
tive touch having some protesters holding
Taxi Globe closes
One of the trade’s long-standing ‘freebie’
newspapers, Taxi Globe, has printed its last
copy, following Editor Sandie Goodwin
announcing her retirement.
Whilst always maintaining an indepen-
dent approach, Sandie always had an excel-
lent relationship with both Dial-a-Cab and
Call Sign and the two papers were never
afraid to ask for the occasional assistance in
covering an event or just using each
Your old TX1 Taxi is wanted
other’s’ photo library when needed.
Taxi Globe first published on 1 May
Quick viewing and decision
1985 when it was edited by Janet
Gordon from a portacabin above taxi
Cash waiting!
garage BeeJays in Three Colts Lane.
Janet later moved on to edit the LTDA’s TAXI and in 2000,
Top price paid for really clean
Sandie Goodwin, who had been previously been involved in the delivery side of the Globe, was
appointed Editor.
Very few readers realised that her experience of the taxi business at the time was almost nil,
because she covered most of the important news stories with a flair that gave the impression that she
was perhaps a former cab driver! Sandie was also a regular on most of the trade’s charity outings.
Please ring Graham on
“I’ve enjoyed most of my 16 years as Editor,” Sandie told Call Sign, “but I’m now look-
07435 562759
ing forward to taking it a bit easier, giving up schedules and living more to the pace I
want to live at! But, yes, I will miss the paper and the connection it gave me to such a
or e-mail on
wonderful trade...”
Taxi Globe follows last year’s closure of Taxicab News and a bad 12 month’s for the trade press...
Call Sign November 2016
Page 23
As Laurence Lacom says goodbye to Dial-a-Cab...
“The snaking conveyor belt at BH still
trip, were going hell for leather in order to
jammed occasionally as dockets fell into the
keep up with the flow, but we did it as a team.
machinery, but even so, on one memorable
“Now, I’m going to take life a little easier;
eight-hour shift we covered 3000 trips! Can
maybe play a bit more golf,” Laurence con-
you imagine that - and all on ‘voice’ dispatch
cluded before walking away. We wish him
too; none of this modern day technology!
well for a long and happy retirement...
The back-channel operators, who were
Alan Green
responsible for giving the drivers their job
details once the cab had been allotted the
Call Sign Online
Onto the golf course for Laurence!
“YES, it has been a long and enjoyable road,
to Al Fresco
but the time has come…” Laurence Lacom’s
(D68) voice tailed off with emotion as he
recalled to Call Sign his time with Dial-a-
all Sign would like
Cab, even though in conversation he regular-
to congratulate Al
ly referred to the Society as Lords - our pre-
Fresco, who recently
vious moniker from the Shirland Road days
celebrated fifty
when we were known by the telephone
years as a licenced London
exchange prefix.
taxi driver.
“I joined in 1973, so when in 2003 I
There was time when the
applied for a reduced subscription
old PCO would invite those
according to the 30 year unbroken service
with 50 years behind them
rule and was told the records only went
up to Penton Street for a
back to 1976, I was disappointed but
small celebration, but
couldn’t prove my membership for the
according to LTPH General
additional time, so I accepted the situa-
Manager, Helen Chapman,
tion, even though I had kept my original
the impression they used to
call sign over the years!
get was that most invited
“Shirland Road brings back memories of
drivers didn’t really want to be there, so
what life was like in the Control Room down
it ceased! But if anyone deserves at least a mention, it’s my friend Alan
in the basement of No 144; trips were written
Fresco and I have no doubt that he would have attended and told Helen some of the
out on paper dockets by telephonists taking
stories he is so brilliant at recounting!
passenger details and then dropping them
Among Alan’s achievements in this trade - and no doubt we will have
onto an endless, constantly moving conveyor
missed many - were his editorship of Taxi Trade Times, London Taxi Times and
belt that snaked its way round the Control
Room to a dispatching position. The trip
Steering Wheel - which along with joint owner, Ernie Keates, he renamed The
Cab Driver. Al also edited Mountview News and although he would never say
would then be allocated to the nearest cab to
the pick-up point. Absolute fairness to drivers
it, is probably the best writer in this trade.
regarding trip allocation was always para-
I’m proud to call him a friend and I know that his late wife, Carole, would not only
mount and drivers would run from wherever
have been proud of the achievement, but would probably have taken over the PCO for
to cover an account ride, as they in turn appre-
the day to give Al that deserved congratulatory drink and certificate!
ciated dispatchers’ integrity,” Laurence empha-
Alan Fisher
“In fact, to endorse that fairness, we had a
Call Sign Online
hard plastic sheet over the map on our dis-
patching table so that drivers would hear the
coin drop if it came to a ‘toss-up’ between
cabs equidistant from the pick-up address.
“I frequently covered as a dispatcher for
Ivor Belkin (C97) at weekends when he
took his lunch break, but I still remember
that first time. Ivor had been dispatching as
usual in Shirland Road until midday when
the swap to me took place. I took a deep
breath, carefully held that first docket in both
hands, fixed the pick-up point, opened my
mouth, allocated a cab and sent him in!”
Laurence grinned while savouring the recol-
“So when we moved from Maida Vale to
Brunswick House I had an idea of what to
do. In fact, mine was the first voice that
dispatched the very first trip at noon from
our then new building.
Call Sign November 2016
Page 24
n the October Call Sign, Graham
Waite (B35) wrote an article about
the state of our trade in which he
Trade Unity???
wrote that he now only drives his
cab at weekends after holding a Green
It is in Walthamstow!
Badge for 38 years. He also wrote of hear-
ing that many other older taxi drivers
Creasy. At that meeting, we were able to
were retiring early, whilst younger ones
explain our point of view and discuss many
were often going back into trades they
other issues relating to the trade.
did before going onto The Knowledge.
On 11th July, Stella Creasy sent an email to
Graham wondered if we could be witness-
Sadiq Khan asking the Mayor to reconsider
ing the end of the London Taxi trade as we
our request for PHV Regulations Proposal
know it - unless we did something about it
(operators must not show vehicles available
and quickly before also adding that this was
for immediate hire, either visibly or via an
still the best taxi service in the world.
app, to be implemented). Our group of dri-
The Dial-a-Cab driver’s suggestion was
vers believe that if we can achieve that, then
that the various taxi trade associations
drivers in other boroughs can too.
should put aside any differences to form
Yes, it is important to belong to a trade
a united front to fight Uber and any other
organisation but we cannot rely just on
PH enterprise that attempts to dominate
those representatives to do the work. We
the trade. Graham’s idea has been floated
must play our part too by contacting our
around by many others over the years,
come in smaller packages???
MPs - or the Mayor directly - or anyone
from the early days when it was the LTDA
John Minihane wrote to Call Sign on
who can help our cause.
against the T&G (now Unite) to 2016 with
behalf of a growing group of cab drivers
If any Dial-a-Cab driver, or any other cab
the LCDC, UCG, RMT and several other
that live in the Walthamstow area after
driver reading this who lives in
organisations that operate online.
reading Graham Waite’s appeal. He told
Walthamstow wishes to join our informal
However, the suggestion seems to be a
this magazine:
group then they can contact me by email at
highly improbable one with many of the orgs
This is just to report that a group of Green or call me on
in a constant state of disagreement with oth-
Badge cab drivers living in Walthamstow
my mobile at 07904 555 963. There are no
ers and of course, in any joint enterprise,
who are all members of either the RMT,
subs or dues, we just send emails, make
there would be an awful lot of cooks and very
LTDA or Unite, managed after many efforts
phone calls or arrange meetings with our MP.
few bottle washers! But could trade unity
to obtain a meeting with our local MP, Stella
You will be welcome...
Taxi Driver Of The Year
LTC to take on
another 1000
Dinner and Dance
Celebrating its 45th anniversary, the Taxi Driver of the Year Charity
Fund presents its annual Dinner and Dance on
Saturday 16th November 2016 at the:
Holiday Inn Regents Park, Carburton Street, London W1W 5EE
Tickets are just £65 per head and include a 4 course meal, half a bottle
of wine per person, dancing to a live band and a celebrity cabaret by the
Singing Cabbie - direct from Sunday Night at the Palladium with
Bradley Walsh - Aiden Kent!
Please complete and return the form together
with your cheque made out to TDYCF to:
Russell Poluck MBE (Hon Chairman)
manufacturing and engi-
5 St Brides Avenue, Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 6BT
neering recruitment consul-
tancy based in
Shakespeare country,
Consilium Recruit, has been
appointed a recruitment partner of
Company (if applicable):
the London Taxi Company and will
help to fill the 1,000 new posts that
are to be created at LTC’s new multi-
million factory, currently being com-
pleted in Ansty Park, Coventry.
Among the new recruits will be
Number of tickets:
highly skilled engineers, managers
and advanced manufacturing techni-
Dietary requirements:
cians who will be involved in the pro-
duction of a green version of the
Dress smart
London taxi, which is due to be
For further information, contact Russell Poluck:
launched in 2018.
07850 056 765 • Tel/fax 020 8952 1357
Production of the current TX4 will
remain at the company’s base in
Email: • Website:
Holyhead Road, Coventry.
‘ Remembering those less fortunate than ourselves’
Call Sign November 2016
Page 25
Hello Ladies & Gents,
Thank You
I’d like to thank all the members that
voted for me at the recent SGM; it was
flattering to know that you have put your
trust in me to be part of the newly formed
Board of Directors that will carry out your
Credit Cards (Hail
wishes in the weeks and months ahead.
The final decision was overwhelmingly in
and Ride)
favour of demutualisation. I know that
As you know, the new credit card charges were
the Chairman has worked tirelessly on
introduced by TfL some eight months ago (in
this and will continue in the same vein to
April) and overnight the number of DaC street
conclude the process as quickly as possi-
transactions increased substantially for a number
of obvious reasons. I believe it soon became
apparent that when comparing our charges to
those of our competitors, ours undoubtedly
New dispatch system
offered members the fairest and cheapest process-
It is over a month since the introduction of
ing fees of all.
the VAD (Volante Automatic Dispatch) system
No additional costs for the PEDs or printers,
was introduced. In the main, most of you are
which are part of the latest available bundles
now getting used to the new way of dispatch-
out there in the market place and no limit on
ing. It is important to know that apart from
the number of transactions per mobile.
the normal physical zones and ranks that
new system, if you overdo your normal
Now that the acceptance of cards in
remain unchanged, this system doesn’t offer
run-in of up to £4.20 you will not be able
taxis is mandatory after 31 October and
trips to the nearest taxi to the pickup or to the
to press the arrival button until the meter
with the expected surge in usage, we will
cab that is longest in a zone, it is a combina-
is reset. In the majority of cases, the pick-
be adding 1.5% (excluding vat) to street
tion of the position of the taxi and the mem-
up should be reasonably near to your
credit card journeys (Hail and Ride) from
ber (shareholder) with the longest period of
location so you must judge the run-in and
1st January 2017. This step was not taken
arrive with no more than the agreed
lightly by the Board and will be intro-
It is also worth noting that the Soon To
amount - no different from the old V6 sys-
duced solely to offset the noticeable pro-
Clear (STC) button offers up to fifteen min-
tem. Asking dispatchers to add the
cessing fees that we as a Company now
utes of availability before you clear the trip
amount on at the end of the journey is
incur, charges that will steadily rise.
and will automatically make you available for
incorrect procedure.
On balance, it is still a more than reason-
the next offer. If you do not press STC when
This was specially designed; it has a selling
able deal and the charges will be incorporat-
you are within fifteen minutes of the destina-
point for the customer and will be regularly
ed in your variable subscriptions each week.
tion, you will need to make yourself available
monitored. With competitors offering no run-
All other types of trips will remain the same..
at the end of the journey, which starts your
ins, no service charges and fixed rates with
availability from zero. If you experience any
up to fifty percent below the meter, I’m sure
Allan Evans
problems, the help line number is 020 7553
you understand where I am coming from -
DaC Operations
especially when these charges appear on the
MI stats that customers receive.
Compliance Manager
You should also be aware that on the
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…
Walton Heath new course
In a previous issue of Call Sign I reviewed Walton Heath Old Course but this August I was lucky
enough to be invited to play Walton Heath New Course. Although the New Course is consid-
ered to be the lesser of the two, it still ranks as one the best I've played.
The first two holes are a very pleasant introduction to your round; a gentle short par 4 and a
short par 3 - although I knocked in a birdie at the 2nd! But after that it ramps up your shot-
making abilities to a higher level. There are 6 par 4s of over 400 yards, with one being 469 yards
off the white tees (stroke index 1, unsurprisingly). However, what makes it perhaps more fun to
play than the Old Course is because for the amateur it's a little more playable.
Each year when they host the final qualifying day for the US Open in the UK, they
use both courses so you can see it is a challenge even if not quite so brutal as the Old
The New Course is misleading; it was designed by Herbert Fowler as 9 hole course in 1907
and extended to 18 holes in 1913. As with the Old Course, the heather here is treacherous so
you must try at all costs not to find it!
If you can finish with the same ball you hit off the first, you’re a better man than me my
son, to quote Rudyard Kipling (did he play golf...Ed)!
Both courses are rated in the UK top 50 and for added kudos, if you could only play one it
would have to be the Old course. But if I was a member there, I think I'd be playing the New one mostly...
Happy golfing...
Simon Wallis (M11)
Call Sign Online
Call Sign November 2016
Page 26
Alec Wilkey (W83) has been on
More boxing success
Dial-a-Cab for 11 years, but in a
life far away from taxi driving,
Alec is also a much respected
for DaCs Alec Wilkey!
trainer in the world of profes-
far more fights
sional boxing - and in October,
than he has won,
this was an experi-
the wins for his TeamWilkey
enced boy who
kept on coming!
knew all about
It began with a Frank Warren Promotion
fighting. But
Ritchie used all his
on 8th October held at The Harrow
Team Wilkie skills
Leisure Centre, Alec’s hot prospect,
and got the win.
Johnny Coyle, was up against the tough
The next
Spaniard, Geiboord Omier. But Johnny
TeamWilkey out-
cruised to an easy victory, winning every
ing will be in the
one of the 6 rounds. Johnny, who is man-
Czech Republic
aged by MGM, is now looking for-
where Alec’s
ward to a major title fight before
fighter, Arthur
the end of 2016.
Hermann, will
The next TeamWilkey outing
take on Stephan
was at Bethnal Green’s York
Horvath for the
Hall on 15th October where
WBO European
Alec and his right-hand man
Johnny Sparks paraded two of
their newest hot prospects.
First up was Cheznie Hawkins,
Alec told Call
who was making his professional
Sign: “This is a
debut against Hungarian boxer,
Ritchie Gray, Johnny Sparks, Arthur Hermann,
major fight for
Roland Farago whose career so far
Alec Wilkey and Cheznie Hawkins.
Arthur (17-2-13
Inset: Stephan Horvath will be defending his European
showed 3 wins and 2 TKOs. But Alec’s
TKOs) and I really
title against Alec's boxer, Arthur Hermann
boy - aged 20 and from Mitcham - showed
believe he has all
great ring presence to give a really mature
the tools to beat
performance for someone having his first
protégé in Ritchie Gray from Brentwood.
Horvath - even in his home town. A win
bout and picked up the win with a 40-36
Ritchie who was having his second pro
would then put him into the World rank-
points victory.
fight, was up against a tough opponent in
ings and once that happens, who knows
Cheznie was followed by another Alec
Edgars Sniedze. Although Sniedze has lost
how far he will go...”
The UK’s most dangerous top ten!
ew research on behalf of
has revealed that 20% of British drivers that have had either
a near-miss or a car accident, had been paying too much
attention to the music they were listening to rather than the
road. According to the report, it’s Adele and Justin Bieber who top the
list of musicians that drivers were listening to at the time of an incident.
The research confirms the worst in-car distractions other than family
members such as children, as being mobile phones (31%) with music
voted the next biggest danger (20%). conducted
the research as part of an ongoing study into attitudes and behaviours of
British drivers with 2,186 Britons taking part, all of whom were aged 18
and over and who had held a full driving licence for a minimum of two
years. All respondents had stated that they had caused at least one car
accident when behind the wheel.
Initially all respondents were asked how many car accidents they’d had
in the past two years, to which the average response was two accidents.
They were then asked how many near-misses they estimated that they
had experienced over the same period, to which the average answer was
All respondents were then asked what musicians they had been listen-
ing to when they had been involved in a car accident, or come close to
having a car accident. When provided with a list of possible responses
and told to select all that applied, the top 10 musicians were revealed as:
1. Adele - 18%
2. Justin Bieber - 17%
3. Sia - 15%
4. Slip Knot - 14%
5. Rihanna - 14%
6. Drake - 13%
7. The Beatles - 10%
8. Calvin Harris - 8%
9. Eminem - 8%
10. Kanye West - 7%
Perhaps the answer is to only play music that you don’t like!
Call Sign November 2016
Page 27
And you ask why we don’t trust TfL?
in mind that they will then be unable to
Call Sign Says...
Saying and doing are two totally alien
lock the front - there will be one hell of
concepts to this licensing authority.
a law suit against the organisation that
Should just one Dial-a-Cab driver get
refuses to listen...
injured after being told the card reader
Alan Fisher
isn’t working, he or she is forced to get
Call Sign Editor
in the back and then attacked - bearing
On Monday 17 October, a taxi
demonstration - called a ‘mass
ply for hire’ - was called for out-
side TfL’s Palestra building. With
heavy rain falling, it certainly
caused much traffic havoc with
hold-up reaching as far as
Holborn and Kingsway!
Many asked if it was necessary, coming
as it did just days after an LCDC demo
outside the same building. It wasn’t,
according to TfL’s Director of Service
Operations, Peter Blake (pic), who said
just before this second demo:
“There is no need for this protest
that will cause unnecessary disrup-
12 month refurb
tion to people trying to go about their
business. We urge the organisers to
FROM 24 October 2016, the
call it off. The Mayor has recently
Lancaster London hotel will be cov-
Immaculate White
launched a comprehensive Taxi and
ered in hoarding for its year-long
Private Hire Action Plan that is aimed
refurbishment. The hotel will remain
Cab Available for
at driving up standards and improving
open for business during this period.
safety. We will work with all industry
During the refurbishment, the cur-
stakeholders to help shape the imple-
rent taxi rank will become a feeder
mentation of the Action Plan.”
taxi rank as the hotel’s temporary
Mr Blake, that would all be great if it
entrance will move 20 metres to
were true. In reality, that may be what
Westbourne Street (the SE corner of
you would like to do because I hear you
are an amiable person who listens. The
the hotel). Outside the temporary
problem we in the trade come up against
entrance, there will be a new tempo-
time after time is that everyone at TfL lis-
rary taxi rank with space for two taxis,
tens... but then does absolutely nothing.
plus additional space for drop-offs. To
The biggest example is forcing drivers to
assist taxis, the hotel will be hiring
put credit card readers in the passenger
additional doormen who will be on
compartment when, so far as DaC taxis
duty from 8am until 11pm.
are concerned, they are already well
On 19 August 2017, the hotel’s
positioned for both driver and passen-
refurbishment will be fully complete
ger. Yet when we called a meeting on the
and the hotel will once again become
subject, we were told that the TfL Board
known as the Royal Lancaster and
had agreed and were unlikely to change
their decision.
the taxi rank will resume its original
When we pointed out the possible
danger to drivers being coerced into
Twitter Feed: There will be regu-
entering the passenger compartment
lar large events at the hotel
Female driver
because of a “faulty reader,” we were
throughout the renovations and
10% reduction for Dial-a-Cab drivers
told that should an incident like that
these will be tweeted to all taxi
Contact Debbie (W18) on
happen, then TfL may look again at the
drivers as the hotel needs your
subject. So our lives could be on the line
continued support.
07956 317040
when the obvious answer is staring TfL
in the face.
Call Sign November 2016
Page 28
One of Anglia TV’s ‘Fundraiser of
the Year’ nominees for the 2016
Daily Mirror Pride of Britain
Mike Son nominated
awards has been revealed as for-
mer Dial-a-Cab Board Member and
long-time driver, Mike Son (V52).
Mike, who lives in Westcliff-on-Sea, has
been part of the London Taxidrivers’ Fund
for Underprivileged Children committee for
thirty years and as part of that amazing charity,
has helped to raise £millions for thousands of
underprivileged children.
Mike has organised many events as the
Funds’ special projects committee member
and they include concerts and events in places
thousands of children.”
such as St Paul’s Cathedral, House of
Mike was, as always, very humble in receiv-
Commons, the prestigious St John’s Church
ing the nomination - especially so close to get-
in Smith Square and even Burlington
ting his BEM award - and told Call Sign that
Arcade, where he managed to do the impossi-
as wonderful as the Pride of Britain nomination
ble and get LTPH to temporarily allow the
was, it was really an award for the LTFUC com-
major study from the
nearby rank to be used by the committee only
mittee and he was just a cog in the wheel of
Capital City
for the day!
that amazing charity.
Foundation think-tank,
Mike was proposed by former DaC Board
Nevertheless, the nomination is an amazing
has claimed that the
Member, Tom Whitbread, who told Anglia TV
pat on the back for the charity as well the taxi
that Michael was a “people person who just
trade too.
price of taxis is 'prohibitive' after
loved helping chil-
10pm and says that night-time fares
dren, whether they
need to be “slashed” if drivers are
were from broken
Keith Reading
to have any chance of fighting back
homes, suffering
Professional Toastmaster
against the threat from Uber.
from serious illness
Master of Ceremonies
The report said that passengers felt
or just coming from
a “meter anxiety” on longer cab jour-
a family suffering
Tele: 01279 465 938
with undue hard-
neys and that the annual “inflation
Mobile: 07774 860 374
busting” rise in taxi tariffs had to be
As Anglia reporter
addressed in order to stop this trade
Kate Prout put it:
haemorrhaging and losing London
“Michael Son is
10% discount for DaC drivers and staff
one of its best loved symbols.
someone who has
Fellow of the Guild of
However, the report also goes
raised £millions to
help raise a smile for
Professional Toastmasters
on to urge far tighter regulation
of Uber and to tackle what it
claims is the app-based service’s
high accident rate and inade-
quate vetting of drivers - some-
thing our trade organisations
have been bringing up with TfL.
The foundation said we had effec-
tively “priced themselves out” of
the night-time market through our
“prohibitive” rate 3 premium after
Treatment for pain & discomfort doesn’t have to be expensive
10pm and that trips had been
reduced by one third in just two
The Centre offers fully qualified therapists in Physiotherapy,
Osteopathy, Sports Massage, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Remedial
The report was written by LBC
Massage, Indian Head Massage, Hydrotherm, Massage
radio presenter Nick Ferrari and
Therapy, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.
called for the trade to scrap Tariff 3,
which he says can make black cab
Call us on 020 8507 8169
fares twice as dear as those in an
or mobile 07973 639 473 for an early appointment
Uber car, giving an example of what
Email: or fax: 020 8507 9650
he claims is a typical six-mile ride
Out of hours enquiries welcome
home in a black cab at 11pm cost-
ing £25.60, compared with £13 to
Barking Physical Therapy Centre
£17 for an Uber, according to his
90 Longbridge Road, Barking, Essex, IG11 8SF
report called “Saving The Black
Opening Hours: Monday - Friday 9am till 8pm and Saturday 9am till 2pm
Call Sign November 2016
Page 29
And proposes in New York’s Central Park!
Emmie shows off her new engagement ring after Taylor proposed on a horse
and carriage ride in New York's Central Park!
A video of the moment, taken by a
and waited for him to get in as well, when
passing stranger, at first showed a look
he suddenly got down on one knee and
It was a secret that Call Sign
on Emmie’s face of total disbelief that
was soon replaced by the broadest grin
Then we finished the day off with a
Editor, Alan Fisher, almost let out
anyone had seen in Central Park for
beautiful dinner on a boat. I just could
of the bag several times and it
some time and a single word answer of
not be any happier! If he reads this, then
was only thanks to his wife
I love you Taylor!”
After their ride, Emmie, who had
Linda’s ability to deliver a left
Michael Toomey
stepped onto the carriage as Taylor’s girl-
foot kick to Alan’s right shin that
Call Sign Online
friend, stepped off
stopped him blurting out to his
as his fiancée!
grandson Taylor’s beautiful girl-
been planning
friend Emmie, that their five day
this for several
holiday in New York wasn’t
when Call Sign
going to be just a run of the mill
asked Alan if
shopping trip, but one that
they had spoken
would change their lives forever.
to him yet, the
It was the fourth day of the trip. Their
Editor told us
hotel, the Crowne Plaza, served the
that he had once
usual hotel breakfast buffet and having
already been round Macy’s store on
what would hap-
West 34th Street and the usual tourist
pen if Emmie
spots, this day was going to see them
said no!
relax a bit with a 15 minute helicopter
His answer was
trip around New York and then a walk in
simple and to the
Central Park. But Taylor’s plan at
“We love
Central Park included something else.
each other, why
He asked Emmie if she’d like a tour of
would she say no!
the park via a horse and carriage ride.
We managed to
Although she found the helicopter trip
speak to Emmie
amazing, Emmie admitted that she and
when she returned
helicopters weren’t as ideal bedfellows
to the UK. She told
as she thought they may have been, so a
much slower and more sedate ride
“We’d had an
sounded much calmer! But little did
amazing day out. It
Emmie know what was about to happen!
began with a heli-
Taylor helped his girlfriend into the
copter tour of NYC
carriage and then, just as Emmie was
- even though it
expecting him to join her, he dropped
was a bit scary
down onto one knee, pulled the ring
then Taylor took
out of his pocket that he had been
me to Central Park
guarding so carefully during the first
for a horse and car-
few days and asked her if she would
riage ride. I got
marry him!
into the carriage
Call Sign November 2016
Page 30
Either write to Call Sign at
Dial-a-Cab House
or email us at
want a PED placed in the passenger com-
want to win by creating better products;
DaC PEDs in the
partment due to safety concerns. I passed
they want to win by getting the govern-
them all over to Helen Chapman, General
ment to rig the market so they won’t be
Hi Alan
Manager of LTPH, in a meeting on 11
challenged. …. Great entrepreneurs don’t
Following last month’s letters re having
October. She understood my concerns
rely on loopholes to make profits. Of
PEDs put into the back; a tragic event took
and took them back to TfL with her, but I
course they want to win, but they want to
place some years ago when a taxi driver col-
have to say that the chances of a change
win by having the best products and ser-
league known as Jack the Hat was fatally
seem remote as all the decisions have
vices - not the best lobbyists and lawyers.
shot in Baker Street. The shooting took
been made and they rarely change them.
… So when “pro-business” politicians say
place early one Sunday morning and high-
However, she had both Brian Rice and I
they want to leave business alone, what
lights the risks that could arise if a driver
pushing and she knows our view. But I
they’re really saying is that they want to
had to assist a 'passenger' claiming to have
don’t think that we can ask Roman Way to
maintain the unfair, often uncompetitive
problems with a PED.
deliberately break TfL regulations.
status quo. They want a free market only
Although the event took place before we
It has occurred to me that one answer
after it has been structured to unfairly
accepted Credit Cards, unfortunately a
could be to have the identical PED in the
privilege their donors.”
repeat scenario could arise. Just thought
back as we have in the front ie on a cable
The above is from an excellent book,
this info could help our cause to have PEDs
that could be passed back to us just as we
More Human by Steve Hilton. What is
front mounted.
pass it to passengers. That way, in case of
surprising is that his wife, Rachel
Dave Cohen (E94)
problems, they could just pass it through
Whetstone is senior vice-president of poli-
the gap. But as I haven’t heard, I assume
cy and communications at Uber. Of course
the answer was also no. As a final result I
there is no reason why husband and wife
Non-DaC PEDs in the
have gone to a national newspaper to tell
should agree on all issues, but it would be
them our concerns ...Ed
interesting to find out her views on this
Hi Alan
My name is Jane Wolsey and I have been a
Laurence Kelvin (W88)
Good news!
London cabbie for 16 years. I have heard of
Thanks Laurence, but wouldn’t you
Dear Alan
your efforts in trying to get TfL to change
rather read Call Sign on your rank!!!
For several years the trade press have had
their PED rules re having them in the back
almost nothing but negative stories, moans
of the cab. I feel that having them cited in
about the economy, complaints about the
the back would compromise my safety if I
opposition and criticism of TfL. It is time that
had to get into the back of the cab to show
Lost contact
we had some more positive reporting and I
the customer how to use the machine.
Hello Alan
would like to start by listing a few items.
I work nights and am often in dimly lit
I wonder if you might be able to help me
Some large events in London have brought
out. In your January edition of Call Sign I
streets taking card payments with my hand-
in visitors and work has started to look a bit
found an article by driver Brian
held iZettle machine. It works fine for me;
better. London Fashion Week and Regent’s
Marcantonio (R73) regarding the wife of a
I put in the amount and pass it through for
Park Frieze have certainly helped. Our latest
friend of his - Susan Harrington - who
them to put in their PIN number. It is cer-
despatch system is easier to use, especially
had just passed the Knowledge at the age
tainly feasible that I could get a predatory
for credit cards (a big ‘thank you’ to the DaC
60. He also mentioned her husband
man in who pretends that he doesn't know
IT department). More passengers are using
Frank, who I’m pretty sure is an old friend
how to use the card machine, then I would
credit cards and as it becomes widely known
of mine that I have lost touch with for many
lose out on the fare because I certainly
that all London taxis take cards, increasing
years. He too was a cab driver and I’d like
would not get in the back. Thank you for
numbers of people will just get in a cab if
to contact him. Please would it be possible
your support, Alan.
payment is just a swipe away and the cost
for you to forward my email to Sue or
Jane Wolsey
Frank if you have an email for them or give
does not have to be dealt with till the follow-
Badge number 63395
ing month. And now I hear that TfL are going
them my number and ask them to call me.
Thank you for any help you are able to give
to launch an advertising campaign to let the
Hi Alan,
and sorry to put you to any trouble.
public know about the new comprehensive
When the time comes for the PED to be fitted
Bill Butler
facility, which should lead to even more
into the rear passenger compartment of my
members of the public just getting into the
We forwarded details to Bill and he
cab, would it not be possible for the engi-
nearest taxi for long and short journeys.
came back after making contact to con-
neers at Roman Way to fit it in a way that
There is also news that TfL are to approve
firm that it was the same Frank and Sue
would enable me once it has been up for its
additional taxi ranks and give taxis access to
he had been looking for ...Ed
inspection, to unlock it from its holder and
several more bus lanes.
replace it back into the front. I know there
Work is still not as vibrant as it was before
would be a risk of getting a stop notice put
2008, but even that can have a constructive
Familiar Sounds
on the cab if caught on the street by a com-
side to it. I have noticed large numbers of dri-
Dear Alan
pliance officer, but I would rather take my
vers on ranks taking the opportunity to
Thank you for the October issue of Call
chance with them than a bunch of blokes or
spend the extra time reading various maga-
Sign Online. In your Mailshot page I read
a drunken woman in the early hours.
zines or books. It was during one of several
a letter written by retired taxi driver Mr
Paul Arrowsmith (T83)
long waits at Paddington that I read the fol-
Pete McKenzie, who resides in New
Thanks to the many drivers, both on
lowing and wondered how much of it could
and off Dial-a-Cab, who sent me letters,
be seen as a criticism of the tactics employed
Like myself, I am sure Mr McKenzie is
texts and emails saying that they didn’t
by Uber? Too many big businesses “...don’t
enjoying his well-earned retirement. I
Call Sign November 2016
Page 31
know exactly where he is coming from
me that DaC had let her down a few times
the nearest taxi or to the taxi that is
when he states that there are times when
recently and she’d had to use Uber to get her
longest in a particular zone, trips will
he misses the sound of his Fairway starting
home! She told me that so many of our drivers
be distributed to drivers based on their
up in the morning.
often complain to her about Uber yet many
taxis actual position and how long they
Having officially retired over five years
cabbies don't want to stop for her in her chair.
have been available. So in real terms,
ago, I too suffered from taxi trade with-
Talk about our own worst enemy...
apart from EC5, LHR (Heathrow) and
drawal symptoms. I missed the sound of
Jon Robinson (E88)
the normal physical ranks, queue posi-
that engine starting up and ticking over;
I think our VAD system makes credit card
tions are immaterial - it is the driver
taking a real doddle. No more having to
with the longest availability
the sound of the passenger doors being
slammed, the squeaky brakes, passengers
reset the meter and losing your STC facil-
querying my route and of course, the ver-
ity because the passenger suddenly
announces they are paying by CC after
bal abuse! After 45 years of cabbing, I felt
Infra-red images
you have stopped the meter and a gratu-
that there was a big void in my life!
ity option will be on the next software
when driving?
One day I was reading a very interesting
release. As for Ruth Owen, I have never
article about people who listen to the
Hi Alan
sounds of whales communicating and also
picked her up but Whizzkids is an amaz-
Recently you made a humorous comment
ing charity for whom several of our dri-
the sounds of the Brazilian rain forest. By
about a driver using a portable Sat-Nav that
vers have run Marathons for over the
projects its Sat-Nav screen images up onto
doing so it helped them sleep and relax.
years. If anyone is offered Ruth’s trip - or
This gave me the idea of doing the self-
the windscreen of a vehicle. It made me
any wheelchair passenger come to that -
laugh! Why? Well because I was responsible
same thing. I now have CDs for sale aimed
then please, if you reject for any reason,
for the idea!
at those drivers who, like myself, miss those
don’t let that reason be anything to do
I wrote a thesis and called it Head up
wonderful sounds of the taxi trade. Should
with their disability. Our supporters are
Display Sat-Nav after seeing that there was
anyone be interested in purchasing one of
diminishing and we need to have the
nothing like it in the market. I sent the the-
these CDs, please state which model taxi
‘good word’ spread about London’s black
sis to a manufacturer, Garmin, they liked
engine they would like to hear (Metro,
cab service - and especially DaC’s ...Ed
the idea, developed it and it has now gone
TX1, TX2, TX4 or Vito), not forgetting any
around the world.
obscenities of their choice. All CDs are tai-
My original Head Up Display concept
lor made and designed to the purchaser’s
started in
1957. A Provisional Patent
specifications with all profits going to
Hi Alan
applied for 26992/59 - Refractive Infra-
retired London taxi drivers living abroad.
It's now three weeks since we went onto the
Red CCTV Head up Display! To allow a
Steve Shaller (ex-W23, ex-R75, ex-F34j,
VAD system. What I would like to know are the
person/driver to see an Infra-Red image on
advantages of this system to the driver because,
a windscreen of the way ahead in low visi-
Are you trying to say something Steve???
to me, I've detected only negative things.
bility ie FOG. Alan kindly published an arti-
1/ Job offers are so small in lower case you
cle about it in the December 2008 issue of
are unable to read them if you rely on read-
Call Sign. So, a reflection of an item
ing glasses.
placed on a car dashboard is a negative that
Credit cards and
2/ Lead times have increased meaning
eventually turned into a positive...
more time waiting to start meter. I assumed
Norman Kerstein (ex-A81)
that the new system allocates the job to the
You can read Norman’s original article
Afternoon Alan
nearest cab therefore I would assume lead
on page 27 of that issue at:
Credit cards will soon put an end to some
times would decrease.
older part-time drivers and suck money out
3/ I noticed whilst on the St Pancras rank I
of my pocket. Suddenly the days of paying
was logged into N1, which mean's little
Norman points out two incidents that
a utilities bill by earning the cash when the
chance of getting a Eurostar job even though
have taken place since the original arti-
bill arrives will be gone and gross earn-
you’re on the rank.
cle where he says infra-red technology
ings/takings on paper will rise by around
4/ There’s no way of knowing how far you
might have made a difference; the heli-
60 - 80% for some non-radio drivers. A gra-
are up in a particular zone you are.
copter pilot who crashed into a crane at
tuity will rapidly become a thing of the
Barry Spear (Y16)
Vauxhall in 2013 and the appalling acci-
past. Helen Chapman’s letter earlier in
Allan Evans replies:
dent that occurred on the A249 on 5th
the year told us that cabbies tips in New
1. The IT department are aware of the
September 2013 when there was a huge
York had risen after credit cards become
text size, Barry, and should be able to
crash of around 100 vehicles piling into
mandatory, yet nowhere on the new sig-
increase the size in an upcoming software
each other in poor visibility. What
nage does it tell people they can tip, but
Norman says is that if vehicles were fit-
only how to complain! Also there’s the
2. Lead-in times are the same as they
ted with infra-red devices, which per-
notice: “This cab now takes credit cards.”
were on V6 (old system), and after all
haps could be via a dash cam device
Well this cabbie has been taking cards for
zones have been closely monitored for a
that could pick up radiated heat, then
more than 25yrs!
period of time there is an option to
that would provide advance warning of
Changing tack, I picked a lady up this
reduce them.
accidents and virtually allow drivers to
morning from Rotherhithe, a really nice
3. St Pancras station is actually in
see through fog. As Norman points out,
lady called Ruth Owen. She is a wheelchair
postal district N1C so Eurostar trips will
even an ice cube gives off some heat
user and regular Dial-a-Cab rider who I
in fact be allocated to you on the rank.
and even that could be picked up. I’m
believe works for Whizzkids. She was telling
4. The system does not allocate trips to
not laughing now Norman! ...Ed