Zamil Uddin, Illegal, Unlicensed, Minicab Tout and Sexual Predator

While City of London Police are busy doing Badge and Bill checks on Licensed Taxi drivers, sexual predators like Zamal Uddin prey on young women late at night with very little chance of being captured.

An unlicensed minicab tout who had not learned English despite living in Britain for 20 years has been criticised by a judge for failing to ‘integrate’.
Bangladeshi-born Zamal Uddin, 44, now faces a jail sentence and deportation for grabbing a passenger’s breasts after she got into his minicab in Hoxton, east London.
The 44-year-old, who lives among one of Britain’s biggest Bangladeshi communities in nearby Bethnal Green, was yesterday found guilty of twice sexually assaulting the 26-year-old woman.
Uddin, who required a taxpayer-funded interpreter during the hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court, was told he would be liable for deportation after he finishes his sentence.
‘The authorities may consider your continued presence here undesirable,’ Judge Timothy King told him.
‘These are serious matters and custody appears to be appropriate in this case,’ said the judge.
‘Also what troubles me, although it’s not something that bears on sentence, [is that] he has been her for nigh on 20 years and he requires an interpreter.
‘I suspect he lives within his own community and has never bothered to learn English.
‘It is highly desirable that those who come to this country from abroad integrate, rather than live isolated within their own community.’
Prosecutor Helen Owen had told the court: ‘The unlicensed minicab driver picked up a female who was intoxicated and then touched her breasts while she was in the cab.
‘She got out of the car and he followed her before pushing her against the wall and grabbing her under her clothes.
‘She then screamed and he ran off.’
A day after the attack on October 23 last year, brazen Uddin was caught illegally touting for fares in nearby Dalston.
Uddin, who lived in a council flat after moving to the UK in 1992, admitted two charges of sexual assault and driving while disqualified.
He was remanded in custody pending sentence on February 23.

This is the sort of perverted animal that the authorities are turning a blind eye to late at night under the STaN agenda, in order to clear the streets of potential trouble makers.

In its reporting of this story, the Mail on-line referred to Mr Uddin as a Taxi Driver and his car as a Taxi. This is a travesty of the truth and the Daily Mail should have taken more care before posting this story. Its poor journalism like this that is adding to the problem and putting young people at risk.

Thursday 17th February

Well last night was one of the worst nights I have ever had driving a Taxi in London, all I could see was rows of orange lights blazing their way along every street where I tried to ply my trade. I am not sure whether it was generally a bad night all round as some drivers I spoke to said that they were having an OKish night but mine was just terrible.

It sort of reminded me that luck has a lot to do with the way you earn in this job and if your luck isn’t with you then nothing you can do will change your night around. I tried all of the usual tricks and haunts but to no avail! I eventually gave up, went and had the cab washed (which was well overdue) and then called it a bad day.

Oh well lets just hope tonight brings more prosperous pickings!

How self-employed are Addison Lee’s 2,400 cab drivers

While surfing around the web I came across this interesting article by Nick Sommerlad!

How self-employed are Addison Lee’s 2,400 cab drivers?
BY NICK SOMMERLAD ON SEPTEMBER 9, 2010 1:32 AM IN WORK
Order a minicab anywhere in the country and the odds are, the driver who picks you up will be “self-employed”.

But how self-employed are they really?

A genuinely self-employed plumber comes to your house, decides if they want the job and then quotes you a price.

If you accept, your plumber tells you when it can be done, buys their own materials and might even send someone else to do the work.

That’s what self-employment should be, the freedom to make a profit – or risk a loss – on your own terms.

Europe’s biggest minicab firm is Addison Lee with 2,400 self-employed drivers in London.

Addison Lee boss John Griffin
But these drivers can’t use their own vehicles and must hire them through the company for £260 a week, plus another £38 for insurance and £12.50 for car washes. After paying for fuel, drivers start the week around £350 down.

There’s only one way to turn a profit and that’s by putting in the hours.

Those we’ve talked to work at least 60 hours a week, sometimes 70, over six or even seven days. If they work hard bonus payments mean the car can even come free.

“If I work five normal eight-hour days, I might make a loss,” said one. “How can you be self-employed working round the clock for one boss?”

The hours aren’t that flexible either. Drivers have to start by 7.30am or wait until 1pm. Those on nights start by 10pm or wait until 5.30am.

Addison Lee sets the prices for all jobs, including cash ones, and the driver can’t turn them down without being barred from work for 24 hours. It’s a world away from being a freelance plumber.

In theory, a driver can take a week off to work elsewhere but the reality is that Addison Lee is as good as it gets. Cabbies working for other firms often learn the hard way they’ve no right to the minimum wage.

For Addison Lee the benefits are obvious. If work is slack, the cost of the vehicles is paid by their drivers. If it’s busy they get money from every job.

As long as people want work, the company can’t lose. Last year, it took £83million and paid its board £7m.

What about the drivers? Addison Lee founder and chairman John Griffin says they can earn £500 a week “comfortably” and claims “the job has a certain freedom about it”. The company says it has a waiting list of over 100 drivers wanting to sign up.

But they better not get ill or fall out with head office because there’s no sick pay or redundancy rights for the self-employed.

They also better pay their national insurance if they want a full state pension when they retire, because Addison Lee certainly isn’t paying it.

Terry Flanagan of the GMB’s professional drivers branch told us: “The private hire industry is rife with bogus self-employment. Our members are denied basic employment rights and risk being fired without warning.”

Our Gizza Proper Job campaign is calling for a change in the law to end unfair self-employment.

Meanwhile, the success of Addison Lee has made Griffin, 68, from Potters Bar, Herts, a wealthy man, worth over £50m. His firm’s donated £150,000 to the Tories and he’s handed out £155,000 on Channel 4’s Secret Millionnaire.

Except he doesn’t like the word “handouts”. He even recently told his own brother, during a court case over their mother’s inheritance: “I’m not a fan of people who never work”. Well, what about rights for those that do?

Is your MP backing the Gizza Proper Job campaign?

Boris & his 15 Year Age Limit for London Taxis

Well Boris’s long awaited announcement on Taxi age limits finally came a few weeks ago. Boris has announced that he intends to introduce an age limit for London’s taxis from January 1st 2012 where no taxi over 15 years of age will be issued a license.

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Personally I think that this regulation is wrong and will do nothing except place and unnecessary financial burden on the ordinary working London Taxi Driver. For too long we have been the scapegoat for London with the London Taxi Trade paying for the sort comings of the rest of London’s transport infrastructure.

It was not so long ago when the Taxi Trade footed the bill so that London could go some way towards having a wheelchair accessible transport system. Why was it that every London Taxi needed to be wheelchair accessible by the year 2000, my thoughts are it was because none of the other transport options came anywhere close to offering a wheelchair accessible format. The trains were and still are far from being fully wheelchair accessible, the buses are gradually becoming wheelchair accessible although the drivers are often not willing to assist a wheelchair bound passenger as they are not allowed to leave the drivers seat and as for the Underground, well they are nowhere near being wheelchair friendly, some stations will never become wheelchair friendly due to their design. So basically to pacify the wheelchair user the London Taxi trade were compelled to become fully wheelchair accessible.

Then a few years later Ken decided to blame the London Taxi Trade for the Capitals clean air problems, he decided that all London Taxis would need to confirm to Euro 3 emission standards, once again an attempt to pacify another group of people where the Taxi Trade again footed the bill, why were all other vehicles not required to meet Euro 3 standards at the same time as London’s Taxis? Probably because to bring London’s buses up to Euro 3 standard would have cost the taxpayer whereas to bring London Taxis up to Euro 3 was not going to be a financial burden on the taxpayer, but instead would cost the individual taxi owner in the region of £2,500 per vehicle.

Now once again the excuse for enforcing a 15 year age limit on London’s taxis is because of the air quality in the capital. It really does seem strange to me that at the same time that the Low Emission Zone comes into force for all other vehicles requiring them to be Euro 3 compliant the Mayor is requiring London’s Taxis to attain a higher standard. All of London’s Taxis comply with Euro 3 standards due to the previous Mayor requirement for taxis so why are we being compelled to scrap perfectly good vehicles in the name of being green when all other vehicles are only required to conform to a lower standard.

I believe that once again the taxi trade are being used as a scapegoat for the rest of London’s short comings. It seems strange also that this new regulation is due to come into force in the same year as London is to host the Olympics, now this would not be so much of a joke if the London Taxi trade were being considered as an integral part of the Olympic Transport infrastructure, but from what we have so far learned it seems that London Taxis will be excluded from the Olympic Village!

So what effect will this 15 year age limit have on the trade?

  • Will the average age of taxis become younger?
  • Does this mean that we will all be driving around in shiny new taxis?
  • What will happen to those older semi retired drivers
  • Will this affect Taxi Rental prices?
  • Will this affect taxi resale prices?

Personally I don’t believe that the average age of taxis in London will decrease, I think that drivers may have no choice but to hold onto their vehicles longer due to the fact that resale values will not be high enough for them to trade their vehicle in for a newer one.

With fewer taxis on the road the rental prices for those taxis available will obviously be higher, this will put the price of renting a taxi on a part time basis out of the reach of the semi retired driver who only does a few hours per week.

This proposal could ultimately mean that drivers will have to return to the days of driving a cab on the half flat or sharing a cab with a friend as the cost of a new taxi will still increase but the resale value decrease at such a rate to make it unviable to drive a taxi on the owner driver basis. For those drivers who do take the plunge and buy a new vehicle to be the sole owner driver they will obviously want to hang onto the vehicle longer in order to get their money’s worth from the vehicle, they would probably have to keep it until the finance is paid off in full otherwise they may find that they are in negative equity due to the poor resale value of second hand taxis.

Those older taxis that are still plying for hire on London’s streets are mostly in very good condition, most are owner driven and are very well maintained, there are of course exceptions to this rule and some of the taxis being in a condition that is less than desirable.

Had Boris just left things as they were then the older taxis would have started to come off the road due to parts shortages and the fact that it would have started to become uneconomical to keep putting these vehicles through their annual overhaul, also I know of many owners who were considering upgrading their taxis but have now decided to run their vehicle until they can no longer plate it as they now have no resale value to speak of.

In conclusion this age limit will do nothing to improve the average age of Taxis in London, in fact it could have an adverse effect and the average age of taxis could become older!

Two MOT’s a year! Good thing or Bad?

We have all read in the trade press that LTPH are proposing to do away with the current method of testing London Taxis in favour of the same test procedure that Private Hire vehicles currently undertake. This would mean that you will no longer have to take your vehicle to SGS for a full annual test but would firstly obtain a MOT test and once passed you would then present your taxi to SGS for a vehicle safety check and this you would have to do twice per year.

Now is this a good thing for the London Taxi trade or not, at first you may think it to be a good thing as taxis will no longer need to be fully tested by SGS under what some see as their draconian test procedures and rules which you may think is good for you. Also the cost of putting a London Taxi through the test would obviously be reduced due to not being compelled to have as much work done to the Taxi before presenting it for it’s test, but is this a good or bad thing?

Personally I think that this is a backwards step for the London Taxi trade for a number of reasons, those of you who know me obviously realise that I also run a Taxi repair garage so for the purpose of this post I will disregard that fact and write this as though I do not run a garage.

There are a number of reasons why I personally feel that this would be bad for our trade and those are:

  • The lowering of our standards
  • The standard of taxis in London will deteriorate
  • The dubious origin of some MOT certificates
  • Some Taxi garages doing their own MOT’s
  • 4 Test visits per year rather than the current 1
  • The blurring of the difference between London Taxis and Private Hire Vehicle
  • More vehicle inspectors out on the road

Now do we as a trade really want this to go ahead? do we want to lower standards down to those of the Private Hire trade? yes I know that for years we have all cried that the PCO and then later the SGS tests are unfair and draconian but you do have to admit that it the current status quo does mean that taxis in London are maintained to quite a high standard! If the current system is replaced with 2 MOT’s per year the standard of Taxis in London will most certainly deteriorate quite dramatically of that you can be sure, there is no requirement within the MOT test for a vehicle to be free of rust on its exterior panels unless of course the corrosion is so bad that the MOT tester deems that panel to be insecurely fixed to the vehicle rendering the vehicle unsafe to drive without remedy.

We have all heard of so called “sympathetic” or “fair” MOT testers where some people prefer to travel to an MOT test station some distance from their home so as to gain an advantage from one of these testers, I am sure many of you have heard the phrase “dial an MOT” where the said vehicle never actually enters the MOT station but an MOT certificate is presented to the owner for a fee over and above the normal MOT costs. LTPH cannot state that this will not happen as we all know that it most certainly will happen hence we will then have taxis driving the streets of London that are unsafe to be on the road let alone convey fare paying passengers.

I recently managed to get a sneaky view of some pictures of a Taxi that was presented to SGS for it’s annual test, now this Taxi had passed and MOT test 2 days before being presented to SGS, why did the owner bother with an MOT test before presenting it to SGS? well who knows, maybe he thought he was being clever and was going to try and complain if his Taxi failed the annual inspection. Well the whole thing backfired on the owner and may well have ramifications for the MOT test station who tested and passed the taxi 2 days prior as the vehicle had some serious suspension defects with bolts hanging out and nuts missing, this particular vehicle was an accident waiting to happen, this was not a minor defect, but one where the whole back axle could well have parted company with the rest of the vehicle!

On a personal level I have presented a Taxi for an MOT test before selling it in a condition that I would not have even thought of presenting it to SGS in and there was no reason for the Taxi to fail the MOT test as it was fully compliant but I am fully aware that the same taxi would have failed the SGS test miserably! There were dents in some of the panels and obvious corrosion to some of the exterior panels which did not make the vehicle look too pretty, obviously not the sort of Taxi that we would want to be plying for hire around London representing the London Taxi trade.

There will also be a lot of Taxi garages that will set up their own MOT test stations which they are well within their rights to do, these garages will obviously test their own and customers vehicles. Now this will not give the garage in question an objective perspective of the test, they will be able to be as harsh or lenient as they please on a customers vehicle when testing it to MOT test standards which would mean that the customer will have to take the garages word that the Taxi would have failed on a certain mechanical item. This I think where the testing of vehicles that convey the public is concerned is not on, there does need to be some form of objectivity when testing a vehicle such as a London Taxi.

I did say that I was not going to mention my garage but I will for the purpose of a comparison, due to my geographical location I service and maintain a few Medway licensed Taxis, these are all LTI vehicles and to be perfectly honest they fall way short of our standards. I have to some extent manage to get the owners to change their attitude towards maintaining the vehicles but even so they still fall way short of the standards here in London, we have sent one of them for a test with the brake compensator valve leaking and the taxi passed its annual inspection, now this item controls the amount of brake fluid to the rear brakes and it was leaking quite badly resulting in a substantial loss of brake fluid from the reservoir, even so it still passed.

If LTPH do change the current system to 2 MOT’s per year there is one thing that you can be sure of and that is there will be far more vehicle examiners out on the road doing spot checks and issuing unfit notices for taxis. So lets look at a scenario, you present your taxi to your garage who are also an MOT test station for its annual test, the garage pass it through the MOT test and you then present it to SGS for its vehicle safety check, it passes as very few vehicles actually fail this safety check. So off you go to work with your newly plated taxi only to be stopped at the side of the road be a LTPH vehicle examiner, the vehicle examiner issues your taxi with an unfit notice for a defect!  so where do you know stand.

LTPH by doing this will blur the differences between the London Taxi trade and the Private Hire trade even further, do we really want this to happen? do we really want to go this road of lowering our standards, personally I think that this is a bigger threat to our trade than the 15 year age limit that Boris is proposing to implement, this will tarnish our reputation that we have so rightly earned over the last few hundred years until we are considered no better than the private hire trade whom most of us despise.

One last thought for you, most small garages will not be able to install a MOT test facility either due to space implications or due to the financial costs associated with its installation so a lot of these will disappear. also many garages subsidise their servicing charges as they know they can earn out of undertaking an overhaul on a Taxi, they also do a lot of things free of charge like adjusting rear brakes, topping up fluid levels etc. Well this will all come to an end, the only ones that will survive will be the larger garages who will then dictate costs and also you will be at their mercy as to whether than can fit your taxi in or not, servicing costs will rise to a more market cost so it could mean that maintaining your cab will not actually be reduced that much and could even rise slightly.

I would urge everyone to reject and campaign against this change, I would rather see some amendments to the current testing procedure that will make the test a lot easier on the owner and will make the testing process a lot fairer to everyone.

Addendum

I have learnt today that one of the reasons that TfL may want to change the way in which Taxis are tested is that they do not want the responsibility, and all that comes with that, of testing taxis. The argument being that should a recently tested taxi be involved in an accident and that accident be caused by a mechanical fault then TfL could be, to some extent, held liable. TfL would therefore like to pass over the responsibility to VOSA! this would obviously be done by requiring all taxis to pass an MOT test twice yearly the same test as any other normal car would go through! Followed by a twice yearly safety check of the Taxi by a company like SGS, much the same as Private Hire now have to undergo.

Now this brings about another worrying aspect to this change! and that is currently VOSA tend to leave London Taxis alone viewing them as the domain of LTPH or the PCO as they used to b known. Now with the onus of mechanical safety being put on VOSA this would probably mean that VOSA examiners, who can regularly be seen out on the road, would probably take a more keen interest in London Taxis, this in itself is not too much of a problem. The problem comes in that VOSA are usually accompanied by the Traffic Police and should a serious defect be found on your Taxi then you are more than likely to find yourself with a nick and a costly fine which is a vast difference to the current situation where the LTPH vehicle compliance officer would merely issue an unfit notice for the vehicle. An unfit notice issued by LTPH does not have a fine attached to it but is more of an inconvenice by way of the fact that you need to get the fault remedied and then present the vehicle to SGS for the unfit notice to be removed.

This is another reason why we need to make sure that this change does not take place and that the status quo remains in place. We could end up with a dramatically increase in the number of roadside inspection for taxis with us being scrutinised of both VOSA and the LTPH vehicle examiners. I know who I would rather have inspect my Taxi on the side of the road!

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