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

Lock-in at black cab factory after 156 staff lose jobs

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Workers at the London Taxi Company were understood to be attempting to lock themselves in at their Coventry factory last night after the insolvency accountants now running the business sacked more than half the workforce.
The news of the sackings came hours after workers had read upbeat messages from PwC about the list of potential bidders for the stricken company. Late yesterday it emerged that PwC, the administrators of Manganese Bronze, which makes and markets the black cab through the London Taxi Company, said it would be making 156 workers redundant. It would leave just 96 workers on full pay with others sent home on standby.
On Tuesday, Matthew Hammond, the lead administrator, said: “There has been an enormous amount of interest . . . those expressions of interest — domestic, from Europe and internationally — gave us a fantastic start and puts us in a better position than we might normally have been in at this stage.” Mr Hammond had also paid tribute to Manganese’s engineers, who he said “effectively hand-build” the cabs.
Unite, yesterday expressed outrage at the redundancies. Roger Maddison, the union’s carworkers’ leader said: “Only last night PwC were telling us there were significant interested parties. Now the administrators are ruthlessly sacking over 150 highly-skilled workers. How can PwC treat this company as a going concern with virtually no staff? The black cab is part of Britain’s car manufacturing heritage.”
At the Coventry plant where unrest was being reported last night, 99 workers were made redundant, with just 55 kept on. PwC said the retained staff would focus on finding a solution for the steering fault, which led to the withdrawal of 400 new cabs and the suspension of all sales. Manganese had been plagued this year by plunging sales and an IT-related black hole in its accounts.
The other redundancies came at Manganese’s black cab dealerships in London, Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Coventry.

Source : The Times

Latest email update from LTC re: Steering Box Recall

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The Steering Box Recall was implemented because there was the potential for a sudden and unexpected loss of steering control to be experienced on specific vehicles.
To prevent any occurrence of this condition, The London Taxi Company states that you should immediately STOP using your vehicle.

We have been advised that there is a belief that the above statement is merely advisory. We can assure you, it is not.

To be clear:
· Please do not use your vehicle for ANY reason.
· ALL affected licensing authorities, including Transport for London, have suspended the licences of the affected vehicles.
· Do not put your career, yourself, passengers or the general public in needless danger.

STEERING BOX RECALL

Our objective continues to be to resolve the situation as quickly as possible for affected drivers.

We continue to work towards a solution that will, in due course, be validated by MIRA, VOSA and also Transport for London (TfL).

You are still our top priority; and you will continue to be so, should the company enter into an Administrative process.

Thank you again for your patience, understanding and loyalty during this difficult time.

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Taxi drivers braced for crash by Manganese Bronze

John Robins’ TX4 had been deemed unsafe by Manganese Bronze

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Transport chiefs in London are being urged to draw up a contingency plan in case the troubled taxi maker Manganese Bronze goes out of business.
Industry representatives are warning of a looming shortage of black cabs because of a financial crisis at the loss-making Manganese, which has halted sales of its TX4 taxis after a steering fault was discovered.
John Robins’ who’s Taxi has been affected Said ” I haven’t slept properly for three days” said taxi driver John Robins whose TX4 taxi has been deemed unsafe by Manganese Bronze
“I’m the only earner in my family at the moment-my wife looks after our children”
His taxi was only two weeks old when he got a phone call on Sunday.
“They told me in no uncertain terms to stop using the cab and that its licence had been suspended”
After much searching he found a taxi available to rent, on a temporary basis for £180 a week.
He wants Manganese Bronze to take back the TX4 entirely and to release him from a deal under which he is obliged to pay £135 a week for four years . It has declined to do so.
“They haven’t got a solution and they have not got the finances to sort this out”.
Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has agreed to relax temporarily tough emissions requirements for taxis so that black cabs used in other cities can be brought in on a temporary basis.
Manganese has recalled 400 vehicles across the country, including 316 cabs in the capital because of the defect. Dealerships have run out of replacement cars, leaving frustrated taxi drivers without a livelihood. At a recent industry liaison meeting, taxi drivers’ representatives asked Isabel Dedring, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, to suspend a rule that bans drivers in vehicles older than 15 years from plying their trade.

The rule, introduced last year, has already meant the withdrawal of 1,495 taxis from London’s streets and a further 994 are due to be retired by the end of the year. The capital has 25,000 taxis.
Darryl Cox, secretary of the London Cab Drivers’ Club, said that Ms Dedring had been urged to plan for a scenario of Manganese ceasing trading: “It’s a worst-case scenario. It’s a bit like the euro collapsing — everybody’s got an opinion but nobody really knows what would happen.”
Manganese’s shares have slumped by 75 per cent in a year and trading in the stock has been suspended. The company, which made a £3.6 million first-half loss, is in talks with Geely, its Chinese partner, in the hope of securing funds.
The problem with Manganese’s taxis lies in a steering box from a new Chinese supplier, introduced in April. There have been two recorded instances of steering suddenly becoming locked. Some taxi drivers, who are on hire-purchase deals, are trying to surrender their vehicles entirely on the ground that they are not fit for purpose — a conjection that Manganese is rejecting.
“We’re quite disgusted, really. Many of us knew about this steering problem in August,” Mr Cox said. “A lot of innocent people have been caught up in it.”
Most of London’s taxis are Manganese models. The only other manufacturer with a cab that fits the capital’s unique requirement for a tight, 25ft turning circle is Mercedes, which makes a six-seat minivan, the Vito, that costs £42,000.

Peter Da Costa, chief executive of Mercedes’ EcoCity Vehicles division, said: “We’re obviously concerned about drivers caught up in this and we’re helping them in any way we can.”
Rival taxi manufacturers have suggested that London is far too reliant on two suppliers and that the capital’s “conditions of fitness”, which set exacting standards for taxi specifications, should be relaxed.
Donald Pow, general manager of the Glasgow-based taxi maker Allied Vehicles, said that the capital’s rules were anachronistic. “There’s a lack of choice in the market. That choice is what drives innovation, price and quality. It’s ironic, given that the turning circle in London is such a bugbear, that it should be steering that’s caused this issue,” he said.
A Transport for London spokesman said: “We continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Source: The Times

TFL Enforcement just can’t be bothered!!

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We were so confused to who should be enforcing the Law and arresting the illegally plying for hire mini-cabs, that are plying for hire all over the capital, that we put in a freedom of information request about this matter,to see what authority LT&PH have.


1. What legal authority do LT&PH Compliance and Enforcement Officers, have when it comes to enforcing hackney carriage law.


2. Can you supply me with the names and the positions held by the person or persons who supplied the relevant information to question 1.


FOI REPLY: There is just one role now, rather than a separate Compliance Officer and a separate Enforcement Officer, and they are both covered by the same power. Dave Stock, Head of Compliance, has also confirmed that under the ‘Definition and Interpretation’ section of the London Cab Order 1934, “Public Carriage Examiner” means any person appointed by [Transport for London] to examine and inspect public carriages for the purpose of the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869.


Regards


Darren Crowson Strategy and Infrastructure Manager

Transport for London – Taxi and Private Hire Palestra, 197 Blackfriars Road 4th Floor – Yellow Zone (4Y7)Southwark, London SE1 8NJ


So we took a look at the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869, and guess what we found, which they fail to mention. Was that they can in fact prosecute someone in an unlicensed hackney carriage, so if a mini-cab is plying for hire and is not licensed as a hackney carriage to ply for hire, can they prosecute them ??.


Metropolitan Public Carriage Act 1869.


Penalty on use of unlicensed carriages. E+W+S+N.I.


If any unlicensed hackney . . . F1 carriage plies for hire, the owner of such carriage shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds for every day during which such unlicensed carriage plies. And if any unlicensed hackney carriage is found on any stand within the limits of this Act, the owner of such carriage shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding five pounds for each time it is so found. The driver also shall in every such case be liable to a like penalty unless he proves that he was ignorant of the fact of the carriage being an unlicensed carriage.


What I find more distressing is that it is us, the trade who are the ones trying to find a solution to the problem of mini-cabs plying for hire, outside most bars and restaurants in london were sexual predators are infiltrating the ranks of cars out side these venues.We have posted on numerous occasion’s on this blog site that licensing officers up and down the country are enforcing and arresting mini-cab drivers for plying for hire.


Or could it be the case that they don’t want to enforce the law and stop mini-cabs ranking up and plying for hire outside, where there is a mini-cab booking office (satellite office) because they are encouraging them to operate from specific venues and are earning money off the back of these people. So once again, is money more important then the safety of the traveling public? Are LTPH guilty of negligence?


The Legal Definition of Negligence.


Conduct that falls below the standards of behavior established by law for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm. A person has acted negligently if he or she has departed from the conduct expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances.


If any Victim of Rape or Sexual assault was attacked as a direct result of a Private Hire Driver, that was illegally Ranking up or Plying for Hire, outside a late night venue that has been licensed by London Taxi and Private Hire (LT&PH) to Operate a Minicab Booking Centre from inside that venue would leave them open to a Legal challenge of Negligence, for failing in their Duty of Care to protect the travelling Public and not enforcing the law.


Also If any victim of rape or sexual assault that was attacked as a direct result by a private hire driver that was illegal ranking up and plying for hire in London could bring a case against Safer Transport Command(STC),and the City of London Police(CoLP) for failing in their Duty of Care to protect the traveling public for not making one single arrest of a Private Hire Driver Ranking up and Plying for Hire in London in what we belive could stretch back 10 or more years.

The compensation pay outs to theses victim’s that could date back ten or more years if proven could run into Millions of pounds


Helen Chapman takes over enforcement next year and in her own words a lot is going to change. So why wait till after christmas when we all know that the rise in sexual assaults goes up in the festive party season.

(TFL’S) Bigger Picture To Kill Us Off !! ? Part One.

Question: If (TFL) main objective is to have Private Hire pick up points all over London.

How will TFL achieve this objective.

  • First to deplete the Taxi trade of taxi numbers in London.
  • How do TFL achieve this.
  • Introduce a ten-year age limit on all taxis.
  • By 2012 the taxi trade will have lost 7,500.
  • They knew how to achieve this because the Blackburn and Darwen drivers had all ready voiced their concerns what the Ten-year age limit would on their trade.
  • 2012 the Olympics comes to London over 3 million people will visit london.
  • Due to the loss of taxis we can’t meet the public demand on the street.
  • How do TFL meet the public demand.
  • They will try introduce Private Hire pick up and drop off points in London help meet the public demand.
  • In January 2012 the motor cycle trial in London bus lane’s comes to an end.
  • This will pavé the way for the Private hire industry to gain access to all london bus lanes to help with the Olympics in 2012.
  • Then if and only if Boris Johnson loses to Ken Livingstone in the mayor elections it will be end game.

Before you dismiss this has a conspiracy theory please take some time to read the facts that I will supply in part two on this blog site.

100 arrests as police crack down on illegal cabs

This is a TFL press release.

legal cab drivers caught red handed as Safer Transport Command officers continue to tackle touting in the capital.

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Cab Enforcement Unit, part of the Transport for London (TfL) funded Safer Transport Command (STC), made more than 100 arrests as fresher’s weeks got underway across the capital a month ago.

As part of the Operation Safer Travel at Night (STaN), officers from the Cab Enforcement Unit, Safer Transport Teams and TfL, increased night-time patrols over three weekends. These took place between 23 September and 9 October to deter, detect and apprehend illegal cab drivers, also known as touts, and to help people get home safely. This operation coincided with the STaN marketing campaign, which aims to make people, in particular young women travelling at night, aware of the dangers of using unbooked minicabs picked up off the street.

Officers tackled touting involving both licensed and unlicensed drivers in student areas across London, successfully deterring and arresting illegal cab drivers, and acquiring valuable intelligence.

The operation covered every borough in the capital, as the Cab Enforcement and Safer Transport Teams engaged with thousands of Londoners, and in particular students. The officers provided safer travel information and encouraged them to book minicabs as well as reminding them that only black cabs can be stopped and picked up off the street without being booked.

To support the enforcement and in advance of the darker and colder nights ahead, the MPS and TfL have also put together a short YouTube video, providing safer travel information for Londoners. For tips on making sure your minicab is legal and keeping safe visit http://www.youtube.com/metpoliceservice.

Chief Superintendent Royle, Safer Transport Command, said: “Unbooked minicabs are uninsured for carrying passengers and not only do they undermine the legitimate cab trade but are a danger of the capital’s night life.

“The Safer Transport Command regularly carries out major operations to tackle touting and this increased enforcement activity was to remind students, particularly those new to London, about the dangers of getting into unbooked minicabs.

“The safety of the public is paramount and I would advise anyone not to get into any minicab that they have not booked and always book it through a licensed operator.”

Steve Burton, TfL’s Director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing, said: “These operations are a priority for us and these arrests should serve as a clear reminder to touts that the Safer Transport Command is out there and will take action.

“However as part of our efforts to crackdown on illegal cab activity we also need Londoners to stop taking unbooked minicabs and remember that only black cabs can be hailed in the street or picked up at a rank without booking.”