Taking a peek at the views of a
Dial-a-Cab night driver as for the last time we go...
alcohol is cheaper than bottled water here, diesel is 50% less and your local taxes are just a few hundred pounds per annum. And there seems to be every indication my state pension (when I receive it) will allow me to enjoy my retirement a little bit more comfortably when living in Spain.
Life has become a little hectic at present. There is much on my mind and therefore it is with sadness that I shall, for the moment, be unable to continue to write a regular column for Call Sign magazine. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my editor, Alan Fisher, for allowing me to write my articles unhindered and for publishing them in their entirety.
Steve, muchas gracias por todo el tiempo y esfuerzo
que puso escribiendo para
England, My England...
Having been born and bred in a land I have always considered to be the best country in the world to live in, I find it hard to accept this is now no longer the case. My reasons for being disillusioned with the country of my birth, the country that has educated me and provided for my welfare all these years are many...
I have thought long and hard as to whether my beloved country has genuinely lost its way or whether I am just getting old and, like my father, yearning for "the good old days." The fact is, I no longer feel safe in my country and the thoughts of life as a pensioner are frightening.
We work hard and save hard, make provision for our old age only to be penalised, with financial help appearing to be reserved for the layabouts. We are taxed to the hilt. As I write this article with one ear to the television listening to Mr. Brown's budget speech, it soon becomes apparent that once again the smokers, the drinkers, the car
owners and the taxpayers are being hammered.
Our legal system was once the envy of the world. All democratic countries modelled themselves on our legal structure. Now the law is geared up to protecting the guilty rather than the innocent. We are the most persecuted motorists in Europe, if not the world. Speed cameras, radar traps, bus lanes, congestion charges; just a few examples of stealth taxes. I am frightened to break wind for fear of being fined and receiving 6 penalty points on my licence! I could continue bemoaning the problems that I feel have now reshaped our country into a third rate state, but I wouldn't want anyone to think that I am unpatriotic.
So, it is with regret that I shall be leaving these shores to live in another country; that is, initially, for 6 months of the year. We are off to Spain. The house is in the process of being sold. Sister, brother-in-law and my mum (92 years old) are off to a warmer climate. A country where a packet of fags cost £1.50,
CALL SIGN LOOKS AT THE LICENSING OF PH DRIVERS
Selecting April Fools Day 2003 for the commencement of the PCO's Private
Hire driver licensing implementation was surely coincidental, yet some of
the decisions taken by Penton Street's Driver Licensing section seem to
come closer to the heading of practical jokes rather than the start of
such an important step.
There is no doubt that on such an important subject, the PCO will not be able to please everybody and perhaps the connection to All Fools Day is unfair, but to any outsider looking in, surely the impression given is that PH drivers are trusted more than we original licensed Taxi drivers.
Why? Well, from the April 1 commencement date, PH drivers (assuming that they work for an already licensed PH operator) have until May 31 to register for the new licence. Once registered, they will then be given a temporary permit to take them up to the "closing" date of March 2006 by which time all the current applicants will have to be licensed. Quite possibly, the applicants will be called up to the PCO earlier, but by giving the 2006 date the PCO are saying that many won't be called up until 2004/5 - let alone 2006.
Minicab drivers issued with their temporary permit before June 1
this year will, according to the PCO "...be exempt from having to demonstrate
Does that not strike you as odd for someone whose new position is to be licensed to ferry passengers around? So what are they actually licensed to be?
Even when they are called up to the PCO at some time during this three-year period, their initiation will undoubtedly be less daunting than the process we licensed Taxi drivers have to endure.
Again, according to the info sent out by the PCO, applicants will be given 8 weeks to submit their application. Included within this application pack sent out to them will be the application form itself, a medical form, guidance notes and a reply envelope. Will 8 weeks be long enough for the average minicab driver! Will they on arrival at the PCO be asked to prove that they are not bankrupt? That they have lived in the same abode for at least three years? To show that they are worthy of a licence other than the obvious CRB check? Let's hope so, because otherwise the whole exercise will be a sham.
Much of the responsibility governing fair play to PH drivers is to be handed to the already-
licensed PH operator's
offices. Yet companies such as Mr Ali in Cranbourn Street, Leicester
Square and Mr Teksi in Camden Town now swell the ranks of licensed
operators. Has anyone ever seen Ali's office? All Call Sign has ever seen
is a man with a clipboard who allows an assortment of old jalopies to park
outside along the length of a double yellow line. Naturally, they are
totally unhindered by wardens.
We can but wonder what magic spell the redoubtable Mr Ali uses. And does anyone remember when it was an offence to try to use a name to pass yourself off as anything connected to the licensed taxi trade. Mr Teksi? We must be wrong, because he too has an operator's licence now.
But the question still remains: Would you be totally happy for your daughter to get into one of Mr Ali or Mr Teksi's cars because the driver waves a temporary permit from the PCO in front of their face? Yet EVERYONE who applies before June 1, provided they work for a licensed operator such as the above two examples will be given a temporary permit.
Perhaps the April Fool connection wasn't so unfair...
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