DBS UPDATE: Home office replies

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I know you all share concerns regarding the issues with the DBS following the changes implemented by the Home Office earlier this year.

The Mayor and TfL have continued to raise this issue with the Home Secretary and other delegates within the Home Office. As a result of our correspondence the Home Office agreed to a meeting with Sir Peter Hendy and this took place last week.

I am pleased to advise you that following discussions, the Home Office have agreed to escalate cases for taxi and private hire drivers that are older than 45 days with the relevant police forces to ensure these are prioritised. Usually the DBS would not escalate a case until it is over 60 days old.

We are confident that this will go a long way to resolving the issues of drivers being unable to work.

For the longer term with renewal packs now being sent with four months notice and drivers signing up to the update service this issue should soon diminish as everyone settles into the new ways of working and the transition period comes to an end.

The Home Office have confirmed the agreement in writing and I attach a copy of the letter.

Regards Helen Chapman

REPLY FROM THE HOME OFFICE

22 October 2013

Dear Sir Peter,

DISCLOSURE AND BARRING SERVICE CHANGES
Thank you for your letter of 17 September to Mike Anderson here, and for attending our meeting on 15 October. I hope you found it helpful.

As we discussed, the change in your licensing procedures has coincided with a backlog of DBS checks which have been referred to police forces. These cases have been referred to police forces because they may be holding relevant police intelligence information. The police must in each case consider whether or not the information relates to the applicant and, if it does, whether it should be disclosed. Delays in this part of the process have resulted in delays in the issuing of some checks and this is clearly impacting upon taxi drivers seeking to renew their licenses.

The DBS already has specific recovery plans in place with the police forces responsible for the greatest delays but we agreed some additional measures for taxi drivers. As I explained, the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) has agreed to put in place specific arrangements to help conclude those checks as quickly as possible.

It will actively follow up on individual applications from taxi drivers which are significantly delayed, highlighting these cases so that they can be quickly resolved. We agreed that we should focus on clearing the oldest checks first and, as a result, DBS will highlight any case which has not been resolved after 45 days, drawing it to the attention of the relevant police forces. This new process will be brought into effect immediately.
You also indicated that renewal packs are now being issued to drivers at least 4 months in advance, which should provide sufficient time for certificates to be issued.

In addition, the DBS e-bulk service provides information on when certificates have been issued and whether they are clear of any criminal record information. In these cases, TfL are able to go ahead with renewing licenses as soon as this information is available.

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Business cards to passengers at Heathrow.

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After several meetings with BAA the trade Orgs have agreed with these cards being funded by BAA to be handed out at Heathrow Airport.

As you can imagine trying to put as much info on cards was the challenge due to space but hopefully they will help the licensed trade at Heathrow Airport

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Black cab drivers could be getting illegal state aid

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Drivers of the capital’s 25,000 black cabs could be illegally receiving state aid, according to the Court of Appeal.

Part of minicab operator Addison Lee’s legal battle to win the same rights to use bus lanes as London’s iconic black taxis is heading for the European Court of Justice after the British court asked for a ruling on European anti-competition law.

The court has requested a European ruling on whether “making a bus lane on a public road available to black cabs but not minicabs, during the hours of operation of that bus lane, involves the use of ‘State resources’ of Article 107 (1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union”.
This is the section of the European Treaty originally intended to stop member nations from illegally supporting their major industries to give them advantages over other nations It was used to force RBS to sell hundreds of bank branches as a condition of its huge state bail-out during the financial crisis.

The ruling could ultimately mean the right to use London’s roads could be decided across the Channel in the Luxembourg-based court.

Addison Lee, through its subsidiary Eventech, has been fighting with Transport for London (TfL) for several years to win equal rights to black cabs. In April the battle reached the Court of Appeal with a ruling now awaited.

However, only in recent weeks have documents been officially released which revealed the court wanted a European decision on state aid.

A spokesman for Addison Lee said: “We are pleased that the matter has been referred to the European Courts as we believe that the current legislation is a breach of the EU and UK law. You can’t discriminate between two types of taxis and we are pleased to have the opportunity to continue the fight against this injustice.”

A TfL spokesman said: “In the original judicial review proceedings, we explained to the court that taxis are allowed to drive in bus lanes because they can ply for hire, whereas minicabs cannot. It would be more difficult to hail a taxi, especially on a busy road, if the vehicle concerned was not near to the kerb. Mr Justice Burton agreed.

“The Court of Appeal has referred to the European Court of Justice the issue of whether or not TfL’s policy, which allows taxis but not private hire vehicles to drive in bus lanes, amounts to State aid. Once the European Court has given its judgment on this aspect, the case will be referred back to the Court of Appeal for a decision on the wider appeal. Pending that outcome, we continue to maintain our policy on access to bus lanes and to contest the appeal.”

Source: The Telegraph

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More road closure madness!!

SORRY FOR THE LATE NOTICE BUT WE HAVE JUST RECEIVED THIS

On 9 October the Queen’s Baton Relay will begin. The Baton Relay will take a ceremonial baton on a 248 day journey through 70 Commonwealth countries before it arrives in Glasgow for the opening of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. Full details can be found at http://www.glasgow2014.com/queens-baton-relay

The ceremony will take place in front of Buckingham Palace and will include a number of dignitaries.

The ceremony will require a number of road closures which will be implemented at 8am in order to allow security sweeps to be completed. Reopening time is estimated as 12.15.

Affected roads will be:

Cycle and pedestrian routes will be kept open until the Ceremony itself, which is scheduled from 11-11.30am. During the Ceremony managed crossing points will be in operation.

It is anticipated that the customer groups most likely to be affected are the taxi and private hire trade and cyclists, including Barclays Cycle Hire users.
Travel information and advice messaging
• The Queen’s Baton Relay will be launched at Buckingham Palace on 9 October.
• The Relay will take the Baton, which incorporates a message from the Queen, through 70 Commonwealth nations before arriving in Glasgow for the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in 2014.
• The ceremony around the Relay’s departure will mean that some roads in the area are closed from 8am.
• Affected roads are:
o Constitution Hill
o Marlborough Road
o The Mall (west of Horse Guards Rd)
o Spur Road/Link Road
o Birdcage Walk eastbound
• These roads will reopen once it is safe to do so. Expected reopening is around 12.15.
• Taxi and private hire drivers and operators should note that alternate routes should be used.
• Cyclists and pedestrians will be able to continue to use routes in the area until around 11am when the departure ceremony begins.
• The ceremony will continue from 11-11.30. During this period crossing points managed by stewards will be in operation, enabling pedestrians to cross the closed roads when it is safe to do so.
• Wherever possible, drivers are advised to avoid this area until roads reopen.