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Protest about TfL plans to privatise Taxi and Private Hire licensing amidst public safety fears

9 November 2011

Beginning on Wednesday 9th November, a series of protests and actions are being arranged after it emerged that Transport for London has short-listed two bidders for the privatisation of its Taxi and Private Hire Licensing department.

TfL had received seven bids for the tender but has decided that Capita and NSL will go forward to the next stage for consideration with the winner taking on the new contract for five years from April 2013.

The Mayor’s Office has been promoting the Safer Travel at Night scheme since 2002 and key to this initiative is the work of the London Taxi and Private Hire department.

Since the inception of the initiative, the numbers of sexual assaults on women by unlicensed taxi drivers has dropped. This has been the result of investment by TfL in employing staff to carry out a range of duties concerned with inspection, enforcement and administration of licensing and regulation. The scheme has also initiated the development of a close liaison with the Metropolitan Police and the London Boroughs.

Now the current Mayor, Boris Johnson, has seen fit to jeopardise this initiative by presiding over plans to privatise TfL staff in the Taxi and Private Hire Office, who play a key role in protecting vulnerable women passengers.

It is a serious concern that, regardless of which private company secures the contract, commercial aspirations and profit will take precedence over the safety of passengers, especially as both companies involved in the final stages have attracted adverse publicity about their failure to deliver public services in the past.

And the first way they would do this is moving most of the Taxi and Private Hire Licensing department out of London.

Dedicated workers in London have been told that many of them will see their work transfer to either Coventry or Northampton, dependent upon which company wins the contract.

Employees simply don’t believe assurances that there will be no redundancies, with many of them expecting to lose their jobs because of impracticalities of London-based staff travelling to Northampton or Coventry. The question therefore arises, “who will replace these experienced and dedicated professionals?”

Not only that, but many workers are asking whether or not there will be the same number of staff employed to carry out these vital functions, as the private contractors seek to maximise their profits by cutting jobs.

These real threats to jobs and expertise lead to real safety concerns for Londoners. Currently nearly 100 people are required to deal with the licensing of London’s Taxis and Private Hire drivers. Any cuts in those numbers can only reduce the effectiveness of the screening and enforcement processes, leading to an increase in unlicensed cab drivers and the potential for more sexual assaults – and all because TfL want to save money!

Together with the effected workers and community groups, Together for Transport is beginning a campaign against these disgraceful proposals. Why not join us on Wednesday 9th November at 1200 outside Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road, SE1, opposite Southwark Tube Station.   

“Don’t let London’s taxi licensing be sent to Coventry!” – Join us, support our campaign.

 

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