Cabbie demo jams streets of London

Cabbie demo jams streets of London

Demonstrating taxi drivers brought some of central London's roads to a halt on Tuesday.

Motorists travelling in and around Victoria Street and its surrounding areas were stuck in hold-ups, as cabbies packed the street home to Transport for London's TfL national base, Windsor House.

This isn't the first time the taxi industry has taken to London's streets to protest in recent weeks. Only last month, hundreds of taxi drivers disrupted routes in and around Oxford Street.

United Cabbies Group's (UCG) latest protest was against alleged illegal trading in the capital from some taxi and minicab firms. The group said it has repeatedly complained about insufficient enforcement of illegal operators.

It means unregulated minicab and private hire drivers are not having their history checked when they apply for licences, the UCG claims.

The lack of regulation is creating a clear danger to women travelling on their own at night, according to Len Martin, chairman of the UCG .

The union also claims minicabs are picking up fares off the street when rules specifically state they must only take passengers who have pre-booked. Things have worsened since the arrival of a new smartphone app which books cabs, the group says.

TfL officials say measures have already been taken to allay the cabbies' worries. It said a new campaign to prevent such illegal activity has resulted in 331 drivers working for private hire firms being reported.

But one protesting taxi driver, 45-year-old David Garness, from Dagenham, Essex, said that TfL is "turning blind eyes" to the activities of illegal operators.

Mr Garness, a black-cab operator with over 20 years' experience, said his colleagues do not like protesting. But illegal motorists are driving without car insurance or necessary checks and sleeping overnight in their cabs, he claimed.

TfL's Garrett Emmerson said it is "determined" to safeguard legitimate taxi drivers' livings via strong enforcement action.

Copyright Press Association 2015

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