Since Wes’ election last year, he has done his best to raise the serious threat to our iconic taxi industry and the impact being felt by the families of the men and women who are being driven off the streets through a combination of poor regulation, the explosion of unfair competition in the market and increasing congestion in London's streets. Wes proposed a number of changes to the law in Parliament, through a 'Ten Minute Rule Bill', which you can watch back here: http://goo.gl/Rws5Al.
Although the changes to the law haven't yet been taken up by the Government, the new mayor of London Sadiq Khan and the new deputy mayor Val Shawcross both understand the real threat to the future of London’s taxi trade. Despite it being parliamentary recess, Wes met with Val Shawcross in City Hall to talk about the future of London’s cab trade.
There are a number of things that the new team at City Hall are already planning. There will be new standards that private hire drivers will need to meet in order to get their licence, including on driving skills, a basic topographical understanding of London and intermediate English language. Hire and reward insurance will be required at all times. Because the Mayor doesn't have the power to cap the number of private hire vehicles in London these changes should help reduce the number of people applying for, and receiving, licenses. It will also help improve safety on the road for passengers and reduce congestion in the city.
In terms of supporting the Black Cab trade directly, Val and Sadiq are looking at increasing the number of taxi ranks around night tubes to help people get home safe, alongside increasing the access to bus lanes and support for fleet modernisation.
During the meeting Wes raised concerns with Val Shawcross about congestion in central London, which has been made worse by major construction projects happening simultaneously and the introduction of one-way schemes, like the one around Tavistock Square. Wes discussed the Mayor's plan to pedestrianize Oxford Street and was reassured that they're thinking about the design of the scheme to make sure that taxis are still able to access major stores and junctions to serve their customers.
Wes has done more to support the taxi trade as well in parliament, setting up the All Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis, bringing together MPs and Lords from different parties together to campaign for further change. The APPG will be watching the developments in London very closely and listening to feedback from London's cabbies. But they'll also be pressing our Government to take action nationally.