Central London will be gridlocked this Wednesday if a planned drive-in demonstration of thousands of taxi drivers goes ahead, says the taxi union, United Cabbies Group.
Members of the UCG, which represents almost 2,000 licenced London taxi drivers, have agreed to stage a mass drive-in at Trafalgar Square from 4pm.
The union is demonstrating against Transport for London and the licencing body, Taxi and Private Hire (formerly the Public Carriage Office), for what it believes are unfair and unsafe rules governing private car hire licensing.
“We feel this action, as unanimously voted for by our members is necessary to stop Transport for London destroying the licensed London taxi trade and endangering the safety of the travelling public,” says the union on its website.
UCG spokesperson Jonathan Myers told LondonlovesBusiness.com he expected the protest to be “frighteningly big”, before adding, “If you block Trafalgar Square you block London”.
According to the union, TfL’s recent consultation into private hire and the subsequent Safer Travel at Night programme fails to adequately address the issue of sexual assaults committed in licensed and unlicensed minicabs.
The current system of licencing mini-cab drivers is insufficient says the union, who is calling for more stringent procedures to be put in place.
According to the UCG website, London saw a 54 per cent increase in sexual assaults last year, bringing the total number of assaults in the last three years to over 350.
TfL’s Safer Travel at Night programme is “grossly flawed” it says.
David Davis, who works closely with the union, told LondonlovesBusienss.com: “The bottom line is that they’re calling for a public inquiry into the improper and unlawful decision that TfL continue to make.
“It seems nobody is holding TfL and the mayor of London to account for their decisions.”
In September last year, the UCG organised a similar protest over the same issues in Aldwych and around 4,000 taxis drivers attended, says Myers.
This time the union plans to bring central London to a complete gridlock and is calling this demonstration the “Big One”.