Deloitte hit with record-breaking £14m MG Rover fine

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Deloitte have recently undertaken a review of LTPH after Leon Daniels requested it. They have put forward proposals that will have major implications on how our trade is run in TFL. They also negotiated the deal for the Caryle Group to buy Addison Lee, of which Deloitte is one of Addison Lee biggest accounts. Are Deloitte having to much of a say in our trade when the have vested interests with the PH trade.

Accountancy firm Deloitte has been fined a record £14m by an industry tribunal as a result of advice it gave investors involved in collapsed British carmaker MG Rover.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said Deloitte had failed to spot conflicts of interest when it acted as adviser to MG Rover directors.

Four directors bought out the company in 2000 for a token sum of £10.

But the carmaker went under in 2005 with £1.4bn in debts.

In July, the tribunal found that 13 allegations brought against Deloitte by the FRC were proven.

Deloitte showed a “persistent and deliberate disregard” of accountancy ethics, the ruling said.

The £14m fine is below the £15-20m requested by the FRC, but it dwarfs the previous fine handed out to an accountancy firm – £1.4m for PriceWaterhouseCoopers in 2012.

Former Deloitte partner Maghsoud Einollahi was also fined £250,000 and banned from accounting for three years.

Deloitte, which was also severely reprimanded as part of the judgement, continues to disagree with the main conclusions of the tribunal.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: “We are disappointed that the efforts we and others made did not successfully secure the long-term future of the MG Rover Group.”

An independent report found that the directors advised by Deloitte, known as the “Phoenix Four”, received more than £40m from MG Rover before its collapse, which led to 6,000 job losses.

London Lib Dems criticise car charging scheme

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Lib Dem London Assembly member Stephen Knight says Source London charging network is ‘failing to have much impact’

Members of the Liberal Democrat Party in London have criticised the Mayor of London’s support for electric vehicle charge points, claiming that as many as three quarters of those installed in the capital are not used.

Source London – the capital’s publicly available electric vehicle charging network, which is partly funded by the Department for Transport – was launched by Boris Johnson in May 2011. Improving air quality in the capital by encouraging the uptake of low emission vehicle usage is among its goals.

Around 1,300 electric car charge points have now been planned for London

Figures on the scheme released by the Mayor’s office in response to a question raised by the Liberal Democrats show that in the last three months of 2012, only 198 of the then 800 existing electric charging points were used.

The scheme has since been expanded to include 1300 charge points across the city, which the Liberal Democrats say could be better spent in other areas.

Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Stephen Knight has urged the Mayor to consider changing the focus of the scheme to investing in low emission buses and taxis, as he says this will have a greater positive effect on air quality in London.

Impact
Mr Knight said: “It is quite clear that Source London is failing to have much impact. A growing network of charging points, which are aimed primarily at private, electric cars, clearly has long term merit, but the Mayor’s number one priority must be to switch London’s 20,000 diesel taxis and 8,500 diesel buses to electric power.

“It is these diesel vehicles which clock up the most miles and make the greatest contribution to air pollution, especially in central London.

“The Mayor should concentrate on what he can actually deliver. Taxis and London buses are either run or licensed by Transport for London and the Mayor is in charge of the running of Transport for London. If the Mayor is serious about reducing air pollution in London he should concentrate resources on what he can actually influence.”

Source London
Responding to the comments, Source London said that the network will be used more regularly once the technology becomes more popular with drivers.

John Mason, Director for Source London, said; “Since its launch over 1,300 publicly accessible charging points have been installed across the capital as part of the Source London scheme, making it Europe’s largest charging network. We’re putting in the infrastructure now so that motorists know there is somewhere convenient to recharge their vehicle and ensure there is capacity as electric vehicle use becomes more commonplace.

“The tightening of the Congestion Charge discount so that only the cleanest and greenest vehicles qualify and the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone are set to encourage further electric vehicle take-up in London.”

In September 2012, MPs on the Transport Select committee criticised the government’s plug-in strategy for not effectively encouraging a strong enough uptake of plug-in vehicles in the UK (see airqualitynews.com story).

– See more at: http://www.airqualitynews.com/2013/08/20/london-lib-dems-criticise-car-charging-scheme/#sthash.WEkLDWXT.dpuf

Boris responds to LCDC request to write to all London MPs to fight Law Commission proposals.

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After recent Mayoral meeting where LCDC Chair Grant Davis asked Boris to support cab trade with the Law Commissions review, he promised to write to ALL London MP’s.
Letter below

All London MPs
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA Date:

Dear

Law Commission review of taxi and private hire services in England and Wales

As I am sure you are aware, the Government has tasked the Law Commission to review taxi and private hire services in England and Wales.
London taxis and their drivers are renowned the world over.

Before becoming licensed, drivers must complete the world-famous Knowledge of London which takes, on average, four years to complete and equips them with an in-depth knowledge of the capital’s streets. This 300 year old service ensures that your constituents can travel safely, and by the shortest available route; and all 25,000 London taxis are wheelchair accessible.

These high standards are what sets the London taxi trade apart from the rest of the country and this is exactly why we must ensure that the Law Commission does not make recommendations which dilute the trade, or flood the capital with minicabs or taxis licensed outside of London over which Transport for London (TfL) has no powers.

Currently, taxi and private hire licensing is carried out at a local level, and the needs of each area are reflected in the standards set on drivers, operators and vehicles. However, the Law Commission is recommending some proposals which will nationalise standards across the country, allowing private hire vehicles to be licensed anywhere in the country and operate in London.

We need to make sure that our London taxi trade remains both the pride of London and the envy of the rest of the world, and that the proposed changes do not detract from this. Therefore, I would urge you to write to the Law Commission, reminding them that London is different from the rest of the country and why the current system should be maintained.

I would like to thank you in advance for your support and hopefully together we can protect London’s historic taxi trade, its iconic vehicles and its trusted drivers, which are very much part of the capital’s landscape.

Yours ever,
Boris Johnson
Mayor of London

What’s The Biggest Obstacle To Google’s Driverless Cars? Maybe The Taxi Drivers?

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A long running theme of mine is that we can’t have nice new things because the people who supply us with the old ones won’t allow the competition. We’ve left too much regulatory power in the hands of the incumbents in many businesses. My current poster child for this argument is Uber: they’ve had to spend a year just to get permission to offer a smartphone app to hail a cab. Quite seriously part of one court case to refuse them access to the market was that older people are less likely to have a smartphone and therefore this was age discrimination.

Which leads me on to the subject of Google‘s driverless cars. Over at Grist there’s an article about how the world might look if as and when the technology becomes widely deployed:
Now imagine a mash-up of this popular model and Google’s self-driving car technology. The car-sharing fleet could be retrofitted with self-driving navigation systems. (Let’s call the hypothetical startup company “Car2Google.” Of course, other car-sharing services like Zipcar or even traditional rental car companies could jump into the game.) Layering self-driving technology onto this system would allow people to order a car from a fleet and have the car pick them up. It’s a taxi service without the drivers.

Users would summon a car with their phone and wait comfortably indoors. The car would call or text them as it approaches. Users would then hop in, talk on the phone, or nap while the car drives to their destination. Once there, they can just walk away. The service charges their credit card an amount based on the time or length of the trip.

This entirely destroys the taxi business of course. Or at least it entirely destroys the business of driving a taxi. For if the streets are full of cars without drivers that can be hired by the minute or the hour or the trip, then what need is there for anyone to actually be driving such a vehicle?

Actually, I think it’ll be rather fun to see how this goes. From the Uber case we do know that the taxi industry is powerful, even if not all powerful. So I’m absolutely certain that we’ll see attempts to make sure that such driverless cars cannot just be allowed to replace taxis. The interest will come from the arguments that are used to attempt to prevent the adoption of the technology.

I could imagine someone arguing that even though the car can drive itself there must still be a driver. You know, just in case. I can also imagine the taxi companies arguing that all such cars should have to have a taxi shield: but that there should be no increase in the issuance of shields at all. thus the driverless cars would all have to belong to the people who own the taxi shields. Or rather, private owners can have driverless cars but those available for public rental must have a shield.

That would of course be immensely profitable for the current owners of the shields. We can imagine higher demand for such rides, but they’d obviously be paying lower costs (no drivers!). So that’s definitely an argument I expect to see at some point in the next few years. That driverless cars for hire must have a taxi licence.

Anyone think of any other ways the current taxi industry will try to fight back against being wiped out?

Source : Forbes

Multiple thefts from Swanley and Hextable taxis prompt police warning

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A SPATE of thefts from taxis left unattended overnight in Hextable and Swanley has prompted a warning from police.

Over the past 10 days thieves have stolen cash and personal items from a number of Hackney carriages parked outside victims’ homes.

In Hextable, three taxis were broken into in Claremont Road on May 30.

The thefts were reported to have taken place between 1am and 9am and items stolen included headphones, a men’s jacket and £50 cash.

Between May 27 and 28, £20 was also stolen from a taxi parked in Glendale, Swanley.

During each of the break-ins a window was smashed to gain access to the vehicle.

Kent Police is urging taxi drivers to ensure valuables are not left unattended in vehicles overnight.

Detective Sergeant Gary Scarfe said: “We would like to remind anyone who owns a taxi cab to remove any valuable items from their vehicle overnight.

“Thieves will also target any item which they believe may contain money or other valuables.

“It is also important to not leave items like bags, jackets or containers on view.”

Anyone with information on the Claremont Road break-ins should call 101 and quote any of the following references: YY/010455/13,
YY/010435/13, YY/010458/13.

Source: News Shopper

Eco City lifts sales after rival London taxi supplier falters

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Eco City Vehicles has benefited from the troubles of its rival taxi supplier, doubling its share of the licensed London market to 40 per cent and increasing its revenues by more than a third.

While the number of new cabs licensed in the capital last year was fairly static at about 1,400 – keeping the total number on London’s streets at around 22,000 – sales of Eco City’s customised six-seater Mercedes-Benz Vito van picked up strongly, as competitor Manganese Bronze went into administration.

Manganese, which until five years ago enjoyed a monopoly in manufacturing the totemic London taxi, was brought low last year by IT problems and defects in steering boxes, which forced it to recall 400 cabs. The company was bought out of administration by Geely, the Chinese carmaker, in February but has yet to regain the momentum lost last year.

Eco City, whose £40,000 six-seaters still achieve the 25ft turning circle required by London’s Public Carriage Office, also gained from the introduction of a 15-year age limit on London taxis.

This sales boost has brought the company to the verge of profitability, its chief executive suggested on Tuesday. Trevor Parker was brought in by Eco City’s founders in April “to take the company to the next level”.

On the down side, however, the London market is expected to open up further next year as Nissan prepares to launch its version of a London cab with a 25ft turning circle. Ahead of this, Mr Parker has launched a strategic review to look at diversifying into new cities and new business opportunities – such as servicing “blue-light” emergency vehicles.

Eco City reduced its pre-tax loss of £2.7m in 2011 to £1m in the year to December, and sold a Coventry property for £2m to help cut net debt from £3.1m to £1m. It also raised £1.75m of working capital during the year, with Nigel Wray, owner of the Saracens rugby club, boosting his stake to just over 17 per cent.

Excluding one-offs, Eco City earned £800,000 before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in 2012, against a loss of £900,000 the year before. Revenues in the year to December rose to £30.5m.

The Aim-quoted shares, which reached a peak above 8p in 2008, rose 3.6 per cent to close at 2.15p on Tuesday, valuing the group at just under £10m.

Source: FT.com

John Griffin goes back to court to appeal bus lane ruling

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Black cabs were granted permission to use London’s bus lanes under a “cosy deal” cooked up by Ken Livingstone and the taxi trade, the Court of Appeal was told today.
Nicholas Green QC, representing Europe’s largest minicab firm Addison Lee, said the arrangement breached European fair trade laws as it allowed black taxis an “accelerated course” through London that was unavailable to minicab passengers.

Three Appeal judges today began hearing Addison Lee’s bid to reverse a High Court ruling last July that maintained Transport for London’s ban on the capital’s 50,000 minicabs from using bus lanes.

TfL contests that only black cabs should be allowed to use bus lanes as they are unique in being able to “ply for hire” and it is easier for taxi drivers to be spotted and pick up passengers when using the lanes.

Opening the lanes to minicabs has sparked fears about buses being caught in congestion and a greater safety threat to cyclists.

Mr Green said: “My client has long taken the view that the initial decision to allow black cabs into bus lanes was a cosy deal between the then mayor, Mr Livingstone, and the black cab trade.”

He told the court he had just obtained previously undisclosed “dynamite” and “explosive” TfL research into bus lanes.

“It shows that the reasons TfL had worked on for 18 months to justify keeping private hire vehicles out of bus lanes would apply equally to black cabs,” he told the court.

But the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson, who is hearing the case with Lord Justice Elias and Lord Justice Patten, said: “I can’t see anything that is explosive or dynamite at all.”

Mr Green said there was a “wafer-thin distinction” in practice between the way black cabs and minicabs were used – though minicabs must be pre-booked and cannot be hailed in the street.

He said Addison Lee, which has 2,900 minicabs, took £30m a year in fares for journeys to and from airports and Eurostar services at St Pancras but was penalised by being unable to use bus lanes to speed up its passengers’ journeys.

The case continues.

Source: Evening Standard