After the fiasco outside the Dorchester Hotel last night John Mason has contacted us to explain the events regarding last night.
Email just received from John Mason
Further to my email earlier today I write again regarding the situation that arose at the Park Lane taxi rank adjacent to the Dorchester Hotel on the 6th and 7th September 2010. Quite understandably, like you I am sure, I received a considerable number of emails and telephone calls regarding this issue and I instigated an immediate investigation into the matter.
In the first instance and most importantly I would like to sincerely apologise to you, your members and all taxi drivers for the way we have handled this matter.
In June this year a request was made to TfL through the normal route by the event organisers for a suspension of the ranks and parts of the red route to create a “pick up zone” for departing guests. This is, I understand, is similar to requests made and accommodated for this and other events at the Dorchester in the past.
However, it is clear that a more detailed internal consideration of the nature and impact of this request should have been made at a Senior level. Whilst obviously TfL has a duty to do what it can to help organisers of such events service guests transport needs a more detailed and thorough understanding should have been given at the time as to the exact nature and purpose of the request and the impacts of accommodating it.
With regards to the use of the suspended bays by private hire vehicles clearly any bookings taken on street or cash journeys booked on street would be illegal and we have contacted both Lewis Day and Addison Lee regarding the nature of their operation. Both companies have assured TfL that all journeys were pre-booked by various TV associated companies such as ITV and guests from the Dorchester Hotel at the conclusion of the TV awards with Lewis Day employing their own marshals to ensure that their pre-booked customers were shown to the correct vehicles.
However, given the allegation that cash bookings were observed being taken on street, I have asked for all records for both companies to be reviewed to ensure that all journeys, as advised, were indeed pre booked.
In conclusion I would like to apologise again to you and your members for the way we have handled this matter and confirm that I have taken immediate steps to ensure all such requests for such suspensions are reviewed at a Senior level. I know and fully understand that many within the trade will be understandably annoyed by our decision to suspend this rank and I agree with the sentiments of all those who have contacted me that the suspension of this taxi rank to specifically accommodate private hire vehicles was not appropriate.
As I indicated earlier I have taken immediate steps to ensure all such requests are reviewed at a senior level and we will investigate the claims of cash / on street bookings.
Whilst we will continue to do what we can to assist organisers of such events this should not be to the direct detriment of taxi drivers.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss this matter further.