How do you know when a politician is lying?
Their lips are moving.
Localism? The Minister of Transport, Norman Baker, whose remit includes taxis, told the National Taxi Association (albeit via video) at their conference in October;
&#x201C;The coalition government is committed to localism because the best form of government is one that lets people govern themselves.&#x201D; He carried on and stated;
&#x201C;Better taxi services can never be delivered through a one size fi ts all approach. Every local community is different. So if they are to be effi cient and profi table then taxi services must obviously meet the specifi c needs of specifi c local communities. So what I really want to see is local regulation that allows you to fl ourish. You know best what passengers want and you need to provide a service that meets passengers demands.&#x201D;
I don&#x2019;t want to call the Minister a liar, because I&#x2019;m sure he isn&#x2019;t, although he is a politician. I&#x2019;m also certain he believes every word he says, or is written for him by those folks in the DFT, I also believe in Doctor Who and that fairies live at the bottom of my garden.
There are a few sentences above I&#x2019;ve marked out in bold, I want you to remember.
I&#x2019;m sure all of you reading this magazine will be aware of the Minister&#x2019;s experience with a certain member of the Liverpool cab driving fraternity who didn&#x2019;t apparently know where he was going, the driver got lost even though they could see the building the minister was supposed to be at.
The minister points to best practice guidance, he&#x2019;ll be aware that the document is fl atly against zoning indeed the BPG states &#x201C;The Department recommends the abolition of zones&#x201D;.
I wonder if the minister or the DFT have thought this one through, I suspect, and it&#x2019;s only a suspicion, they haven&#x2019;t.
As many of you will be aware, we now have super dooper unitary authorities, these include Cheshire West, Durham, Northumberland, Cornwall and a couple of others (lazy journalism I know).
Durham licensing committee at the beginning of December decided to amalgamate the 7 zones which made up the authority, Chester le Street, Easington, Derwentside, Durham City, Sedgefi eld, Teesdale and Wear Valley will all have taxis that can ply for hire anywhere within the county.
The decision of the committee is to go to the full council for approval in due course.
According to his blog Mark Wilkes, Liberal Democrat Durham County Councillor for Framwellgate Moor, was very much in favour of de- zoning, indeed he was so much in favour he stated;
&#x201C;As long ago as 2007 I called on the old City Council to deal with the problem of a lack of taxis and the confusion which allows a taxi from Chester le Street to drop someone off at Durham City train station but not pick someone up.
I cannot begin to understand what a foreign tourist visiting our great City must think when told that a taxi can&#x2019;t pick them up because they are not allowed to due to being from Easington or Bishop Auckland. The sooner we have a more joined up strategy across this county the better.&#x201D;
I can&#x2019;t have a go at Mark because of his expenses, he doesn&#x2019;t even have ginger hair, although, worryingly, he does appear to have a centre parting; I honestly wish other councillors would take note of Mark&#x2019;s obvious care of the public purse. But I do wish Mark would stop and think for a moment. His vision of a taxi from anywhere in Durham being able to ply for hire and still fi nd passenger destinations with ease is patently daft.
I do like his use of the word &#x2018;strategy&#x2019;, this is defi ned in the dictionary as; &#x201C;a particular long- term plan for success &#x201C;. So the strategy Mark writes about is all the taxis in the licensing District of County Durham all descending upon Durham City Centre on a Sunday morning to pick up a few drunken University students? That&#x2019;s not a strategy, that&#x2019;s anarchy. It begs the question has Mark ever been to Durham? There are currently over 1000 taxis in the County Durham area, and 8 rank spaces in Durham City centre. Even if just a tenth of the fl eet descend on Durham, it will still mean mayhem. Durham&#x2019;s strategy is even more confusing as they want an &#x2018;all white&#x2019; vehicle colour, which coincidentally, is the same colour as neighbouring Sunderland.
If Mark &#x201C;cannot begin to understand what a foreign tourist visiting our great City must think&#x201D;, I would wonder what that same tourist would think if the driver either got lost or had to get directions or had to look at a map?
In fact, I wonder what Mark&#x2019;s view was about Norman Baker getting into that cab in Liverpool which got lost, furthermore I wonder what Mark thinks about his colleagues view that &#x201C;Better taxi services can never be delivered through a one size fi ts all approach.&#x201D;
The police view of the situation is equally brainless. Nothing new there then. They see Durham City centre as a potential troublesome
area come kicking out time, they want more taxis to cure the age old problem. They do seem to forget that once taxis are sitting in the centre of Durham, they are not sitting elsewhere. You don&#x2019;t need to be Theo Kojak to work that one out. The rest of the county will suffer a shortage of cabs during the same periods.
I don&#x2019;t know if Durham currently has a topographical knowledge test, presumably they don&#x2019;t, because if they did, the new one would have to be a humdinger, covering some 12 major centres of population and 885 square miles.
If you bear in mind Green Badge drivers in London need a detailed knowledge of London within a six mile radius of Charing Cross and have to learn 320 routes and also need to know all the landmarks and places of interest along the runs. I suggest the hippocampus of a Durham driver will be of biblical proportions.
Ironically, I write all this the day after the government published its &#x2018;localism bill&#x2019;. A bill designed to allow locals to be in charge of their own destiny, running various local services etc.
I suppose everywhere in the UK is local if you have the time.
However, if the idea Durham have came up with is localism, patently the locals should be in straightjackets.
So, are the good councillors of Durham really completely bonkers? Well if they are they&#x2019;re on the right side of it. Each of the 22 councillors sitting on the licensing committee collect &#xA3;13,300 per year, and don&#x2019;t forget, they get extra if they have a special responsibility, they can claim travelling expenses and in some cases can claim subsistence expenses.
In case you haven&#x2019;t made note &#xA3;13,300 is about &#xA3;250 per week, not a bad piece of tatty even though I say so myself. More staggering is the fact that 22 councillors cost the ratepayers of Durham some &#xA3;300K per year in wages.
It&#x2019;s nice to know the taxi trade&#x2019;s future in Durham has been placed in the hands of licensing offi cers who are obviously keen to look after their jobs with cuts looming, and the usual motley crew of retirees, professional local politicians, freemasons, printers, a bloke who works at B&Q and a guy who runs a mobile disco, who make up a licensing committee.
That about sums it up, the transportation of an entire County is governed by a hotchpotch of untalented amateurs, people with little understanding of the taxi trade let alone having a willingness to understand it.
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12
| Page 13
| Page 14
| Page 15
| Page 16
| Page 17
| Page 18
| Page 19
| Page 20
| Page 21
| Page 22
| Page 23
| Page 24
| Page 25
| Page 26
| Page 27
| Page 28
| Page 29
| Page 30
| Page 31
| Page 32
| Page 33
| Page 34
| Page 35
| Page 36