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NATIONAL STANDARDS…OR NOT


undertake elective surgery without considering the options, the risks and maybe getting a couple of opinions. This is a big step and deserves serious consideration. Every business is one decision away from disaster – this is one big decision.


In many respects it has gone forward to Government because ‘we’ support it. Government will find time for legislation because it appears to be a problem that can easily be fixed and has some perceived public benefit in respect of safety. Meanwhile back on the farm I’m not sure that anyone has really given this much more than a cursory glance or a catchy title.


I can put my hand up here and say clearly – I don’t know! So why don’t I know – because I don’t know what it means, I don’t know what the problem is we are solving and importantly I have not seen anyone start to consider what is wrong with what we have now and whether national standards actually solve whatever problems we perceive that we currently have and at the risk of being nerdy may I men- tion it…. evidence!


New legislation is always a risk – a nuance here, a poor inter- pretation there, an amendment or two and what we had be- fore looked like the promised land in comparison. We need to risk assess any change. These are complex nuanced issues – if what we have is unworkable, wrecking businesses and im- portantly putting customers at risk change it – if not…..maybe talk yourself off the ledge.


In the dim and distant past (the 80’s) when Westminster Council wanted to close Oxford Street and make it a pedes- trian zone I and a group of colleagues at the LTDA spent months looking at all sides of the argument, of the benefits to each stakeholder group, of the options, and after reaching a clear decision why it was bad for the London taxi Industry and importantly other stakeholder groups, including I might add the traders in Oxford Street, of critiquing and testing our arguments and then we spent months lobbying and away it went.


The victory was not that we (by this time not just the taxi in- dustry) had stopped it BUT that we were clear why it was a bad idea what the alternatives and options were and were able to authoritatively deliver those arguments and crucially evidence. We had also built incredibly strong al- liances and positioned ourselves as an authoritative and evidence-based voice. Important for future challenges.


WHERE IS OUR EVIDENCE?


New legislation is not like going to the barbers for a quick trim to cheer yourself up. It is major surgery. Once in place it is not going away anytime soon. No one would normally


FEBRUARY 2021


Dr Michael S. Galvin Mobility Services Limited


https://mobilityserviceslimited.com/ 39


And before anyone pipes up with the Task and Finish Group and with great respect to them, I am not talking about a few meetings where the goal was consensus on a basket of differ- ent agendas. I am talking about laborious line-by-line scrutiny of detailed policy documents, of facilitated discussion of hard miles looking critically and as far as possible clinically at the options and potential outcomes. Who is gathering the evi- dence? I thought, he said and someone told me is not evi- dence. That is not happening and the industry does not have the infrastructure to make it happen. Neither I will add does the industry have the infrastructure to support the passage of any legislation through parliament – changes of this nature which are, make no mistake, fundamental to the industry’s future need constant lobbying, review of amendments, trade- offs and attention during its passage and implementation. That body does not exist in this industry.


SO WHAT DO WE DO?


National Standards are unlikely to go before parliament any time soon but that is no reason to leave it for another day. No one in the industry is busy at the moment and technology enables discussion. Rather than sit back, let it happen and then spend the rest of your career moaning and lamenting the change, now is the time to actually develop clear and well thought through policy proposals and come out with some- thing that is a better fit or, and let’s be really radical here, decide that what we have is already a good fit and that legislation with all its risks is not worth it.


Although a better/good fit might not sound much of an ambi- tion you are highly unlikely to get legislation that works solely for your business – so a good fit to me is a good outcome. How- ever, before any of that is considered whoever will do this work should look carefully at the benefits and disbenefits of what is in place now - maybe its not perfect but is it a good fit?


The best can be the enemy of the good – be careful what you wish for!


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