THE BUCK STOPS HERE
Early last week one of my best friends, Danny Hussey, was swooped on by around ten Compliance Officers, in
They claimed his Cab Driver License was over a year out of date.
Although my mate had received his DBS in March 2015, his Cab License refused to turn up, even though his wife sent four written requests.
To be fair to all parties concerned, he had moved address.
It seemed obvious that my friend had filled in all the correct forms and sent them to the correct address, with all the correct details, because he had been issued with a DBS.
But according to Transport for
will have to go through the whole process again. Including a new medical and
new DBS. London
Believe me I am not one hundred, but two hundred percent sure you are looking at, at least eighteen weeks before you can work again."
Who can afford four or five months out of work?
TfL were unwilling to accept any responsibility for this cock-up.
And Danny was told he had to stop work immediately.
I rallied the troops and was preparing for a mass demo outside Palestra House everyday until Danny's license was reissued.
After all, the license is just a fee. Danny was still a legitimate Taxi Driver; considering he has passed the Knowledge, passed his advanced driving test, passed his medical, and still had two years left on his current DBS. We felt he was being treated harshly.
Surely, we thought, TfL could give him a temporary license/cover note?
But it seems red tape in Palestra House is made of the unbreakable and unimaginative kind, when it is applied to Taxis.
Luckily Danny is a member of a union. He contacted the RMT, and they started negotiating on his behalf immediately.
More and more it looked like TfL were not going to budge.
More and more it looked like a long drawn out war of daily demonstrations on the horizon.
Why do TfL assume that every Taxi driver is up to no good?
No one, it seems, is given the benefit of the doubt from Palestra House - even those like Danny, with an unblemished record.
To cut a long story short, the RMT negotiated a temporary license for Danny, with the proviso that he also renews his DBS. Don't ask me why.
At least they accepted his medial certificate was still valid.
Post negotiations, this story takes a different turn; highlighting the human side of TfL.
Danny is dyslexic. So when he arrived at the TfLTPH licensing office the next day, he was met by a friendly and extremely patient TfL officer, named Minette. She helped Danny through the whole process.
Other members of staff, like Jessie, went out of their way to make Danny feel relaxed, and defused a potentially stressful situation.
Danny told me of the chaos he witnessed, where drivers in similar situations to his, obviously burdened by financial hardship, were pleading with staff for their licenses, so they could just simply go to work.
I will not betray details, but suffice to say Danny wished he had some spare cash to give one particular driver, whose story was heartbreaking.
This is the day to day routine for counter staff at TfLTPH; dealing with drivers under extreme stress, caused by inept clerks and inconsiderate bosses, who delegate the sharp end of the stick down to them.
Danny could not speak highly enough of Lewis Norton, Branch Secretary of the RMT, for turning eighteen weeks into two days.
I refuse to compromise this story by promoting one
Union or Org above another. Needless to say, if you do not belong to any Union or Org, get your head out
of the sand and your finger out of your arse, and join one now, before you are
forced to take a long and unexpected holiday.
You do not want to find yourself up against a stubborn and unaccountable TfL, without some form of backing.
Footnote from Taxi Leaks editor:
There is no need for any driver to lose work under these conditions:
a) You have your DBS back and it's clear.
b) You have completed and submitted your application:
These are the words of Leon Daniels, who was speaking on behalf of Sir Peter Hendy, appertaining to the Transport Act.
"Where we are provided with a complete application, including the results of the DBS check and any other necessary information, but have not yet made a licensing decision before the old one expires, the existing licence will remain in force until a decision is made in accordance with section 17(7). In these circumstances, a driver will not be issued with, nor require, a temporary licence pending a decision being made on their application.
Please note that contrary to the comment in your email, section 17 of the Transport Act 1985 only applies to London taxi driver and vehicle licences, not London private hire vehicle driver licences.
Leon Daniels | Managing Director
Transport for London | Surface Transport | Palestra |
11th Floor - Zone R4| 197 Blackfriars Road|Southwark|SE1 8NJ".
If you are sending your application off using the postal system, send it recorded delivery.
Any driver who had lost work after being told they can't, after receiving a clear DBS and having presented a completed application form, should seek compensation from TfL for loss of earnings. In these extreme cases it's not the drivers fault, so TfL should reimburse the driver for work he/she could have undertaken while unlawfully denied the right to work.
Jim Thomas, Taxi Leaks.