Cap on taxi licences in London will stay

Council sidestepped a loaded decision about ending city hall regulation of the number of taxi licences in London, punting the controversial proposal back to staff on Tuesday night.

The direction to city staff? Talk to the taxi industry.

Again.

It’s the latest chapter in the never-ending saga over London’s bylaw governing taxis, limousines and private ride-hailing companies like Uber.

VEHICLE FOR HIRE BYLAW

Staff will bring a bylaw back to the community and protective services committee to finalize the following changes:

  • lowered fees and a streamlined application process
  • deregulating taxi fares over and above a minimum fare
  • removing a requirement for in-cab cameras
  • allowing taxi, limo and Uber vehicles to be up to 10 years old
  • adding 10 new accessible cab licences

Though a controversial proposal to lift the cap that limits the number of taxi licences was narrowly defeated on a tie vote, council also directed staff to make other changes to the bylaw, including deregulating fares and removing the requirement for in-cab cameras.

“I don’t think that’s a fair thing for us to do overnight,” Coun. Phil Squire said of lifting the cap. But he addressed his next comment to the taxi owners watching from the public gallery.

“There is going to come a time when there is no cap on taxi licences. It’s going to happen. You should get ready for it.”

The delay is at least a temporary win for taxi plate owners, who invested big bucks – in some cases, more than $100,000 – in licences to operate cabs in London. Thousands of Uber drivers have since flooded the market, lowering the value of transferable taxi licences below $30,000.

Uber licences aren’t capped. And many taxi drivers want to have the same freedom to get a licence from city hall rather than leasing from a plate owner.

City hall bylaw boss Orest Katolyk told council on Tuesday that some now report those plates going for as little as $15,000 or $20,000.

Last week, plate owners threatened to sue city hall if the cap were lifted.

And a motion from Coun. Michael van Holst to look at compensating the taxi industry for that loss in value, which was defeated at Tuesday’s city council meeting, showed a flicker of a future battleground between the industry and city hall.

Right now, the city regulates the number of cabs on city streets, issuing one licence for every 1,100 Londoners.

Coun. Virginia Ridley, an advocate for ending municipal regulation in the taxi industry, proposed adding 19 new licences by changing the ratio to one licence for every 1,050 London residents. That amendment was also defeated 7-7.

Mayor Matt Brown and councillors Michael van Holst, Jesse Helmer, Maureen Cassidy, Ridley, Harold Usher and Jared Zaifman were in favour. Josh Morgan was absent, and all others were opposed.

As first reported by The London Free Press, Ridley faced an anonymous death threat after voicing her support for lifting that limit on taxi licences at a committee meeting this summer.

A letter sent to her home and city hall office warned she was “playing with fire” and suggested she’d be shot in the head unless she backed down from her stance. The taxi industry condemned the threat at city hall on Monday, pledging to work with police in hopes of finding the sender.

Ridley was frustrated at Tuesday’s debate, asking her colleagues what good more consultation with the taxi industry would do. City politicians gave city staff the same direction— to discuss with the industry— back in July.

“We are the ones prolonging this and trying to make it messier than it needs to be,” Ridley said.

But Coun. Mo Salih said more information was needed about how lifting the cap would impact the taxi industry, already gutted by the entrance of Uber. That’s what city staff were directed to gather in more talks with taxi drivers, owners, brokers and Uber.

“I don’t know what it means to release 19 plates tomorrow,” he said.

lfpress.com
LONDON CITY HALL LONDON TAXI ASSOCIATION
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
1 view in december
I recommend
No recommendations yet

Comments

Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Society
A man who survived 12 years in a children's home blighted by a "paedophile ring" told a public inquiry how he cowered under his bed most nights as he called on the council who ran it to apologise to him directly. Paul Connolly, 56, spent 12 years living at St Leonard's Children's Home in Hornchurch while staff routinely attacked boys in their care. Mr Connolly this week told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse how he arrived just before his eig...
Society
U.S. lawmakers have reached an agreement on the Farm Bill that drops a proposal to tighten food stamps restrictions backed by President Donald Trump, and are looking to vote on it this week, according to congressional staffers. Attendees wait in line to enter the 2018 Farm Progress Show in Boone, Iowa, U.S., August 28, 2018. REUTERS/Jordan Gale The agreement between Republicans and Democrats on the crucial piece of legislation caps a months-long bitter deb...
Society
Historic black and white images give a glimpse inside London's abandoned central London Tube stations which still survive to this day. Londoners are being given the chance to explore inside sealed-off stations including Aldwych and the Jubilee line branch of Charing Cross this winter. Though all tickets for these stations were snapped up within hours of being released, additional tours are expected next year. Remarkable photographs show the escalators lead...
Society
Protesters will march through central London for a pro-Brexit rally backed by English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and Ukip's leader. Several thousand people are expected to descend on the streets of the capital this Sunday to demand that there is no “betrayal” over Britain’s exit from the European Union. The rally will take place just three days before parliament’s crucial vote on Theresa May's deal. Almost 4,000 people have said they are going o...
Society
Westminster council has launched an inquiry into discrimination and “body-shaming” at nightclubs in the heart of the capital. Officials have revealed a “task group” has been created to look into the problem following recent reports of discriminatory door policies, including at exclusive clubs in areas such as Mayfair. Body image and anti-discrimination campaigners today welcomed the move after a series of cases of alleged racism and “fat-shaming” were high...
Society
A teenager has been stabbed to death in south-east London. Police were called at about 21:40 GMT to Topham House in Prior Street, Greenwich, following reports a man was unresponsive after being stabbed. The 18-year-old died at the scene. A 17-year-old boy has been arrested in connection with the death and taken to a police station for questioning. More than 120 murder investigations have been launched across London this year. Image captionPolice have cordo...
Society
Thames Water said the Beast from the East and summer heatwave had an impact on its ability to meet leakage targets as it reported interim pre-tax profits crashing to £67.7 million from £218.5 million a year ago. The water company also revealed the extreme weather sent complaints soaring as it battled supply interruptions, with written customer complaints jumping to 11,083 in the half-year to September 30 from 8,242 a year earlier. Thames Water was ordered...
Society
A British tourist has gone missing in New Zealand, sparking an international appeal for help from her family. Grace Millane was last seen in Auckland on Saturday night (Dec 1), and has not been in contact with her family since - despite her 22nd birthday being on Sunday. Her family, from Basildon in Essex, have alerted the British Embassy in New Zealand and reported her missing to police in Auckland, as well as sharing 'missing' posters on social media. De...
Society
The main reason for sickness absence in the London Fire Brigade is now stress, anxiety and depression, Commissioner Dany Cotton has said. LFB has seen a "small increase" in the number of days taken off as sick leave over the last three years, Ms Cotton, the brigade's most senior firefighter, said. It is the first time mental health has been the leading cause of the absences, she told the London Assembly on Thursday. LFB employed four extra counsellors foll...