Friday, 22 June 2012


Heathrow Byelaws?

We still don't seem to have been able to get to grips with the number of drivers who don't go through the Taxi Feeder Park at Heathrow Airport. It is a legal requirement that ALL taxi drivers pass through the TFP before proceeding to the terminals' ranks.
 The taxi ranks at Heathrow are like any other taxi ranks in the GLA Area, or the Met Police Area, as it used to be known. The only difference is that at Heathrow there are byelaws that have to be observed. These byelaws state:
9(10) Taxi feeder park;
No person shall drive a Taxi on to an Authorised Standing without having first driven through a Taxi Feeder Park unless at the direction or with the consent of a Constable, a traffic warden in uniform, an Airport Official or the Airport Company.
 Now this is where BAA/HAL seems to think that it's okay to allow a select band of drivers of their choosing the right to by-pass the TFP on a permanent basis. The wording of the byelaw is being misinterpreted for the convenience of BAA, rather than for the real reason why "a Constable, a traffic warden in uniform, an Airport Official or the Airport Company" may direct or allow a driver to proceed to an "Authorised Standing" without first going through the TFP. Isn't it clear that this byelaw was put there to enable authorised persons to direct taxis directly to the ranks on the rare occasions when there may be unusual or extraordinary reasons for doing so? This could be in times of emergency, high levels of traffic around the airport, or a number of other unusual circumstances. I firmly believe that this confusion could be cleared up in a Court of law, but more on that later.
So who are these drivers who are a select band that have been allowed to by-pass the Taxi Feeder Park? Well, they are made up of three separate groups and they are:
  1.  Taxi trade officials from Unite (the union) and the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA).
  2. Taxi marshals
  3. Certain members and so called "officials" of the private company, Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Society, or HALTS.
 All of these are working taxi drivers that possess no skills or authority over and above those of any other working taxi driver, except that they are all part of this select band of privileged drivers. So why are they allowed such status over their other colleagues? The reason is simple! It is because it suits BAA/HAL to have drivers of "importance" on their side. The last thing BAA/HAL wants is for taxi drivers at Heathrow to assert their rights in a proper and forthright way. This would undermine the possible intention of the airport operator to "deregulate" the taxi operation at Heathrow in a similar way that it did when it was the Airport Operator at Gatwick some years ago. There, drivers have to work under the terms and conditions set by the taxi operator that has won the contract to offer its services at Gatwick. No such thing exists at Heathrow, because there, any taxi driver who holds an All London Taxi License can work at Heathrow Airport without the need to do so through a third party company. BAA doesn't seem to like this one bit, and it would appear that the best way to deal with this situation is to undermine it. And this is where the role of the "Privileged" driver comes in.

 Unite and the LTDA
These two taxi trade organisations have had a presence at Heathrow airport for over 40 years, and have managed to establish themselves as the "official" voice of the London taxi trade. Time has seen a number of other trade organisations emerge at Heathrow over the years, but these two have managed to hold a dominant position despite this. In 1993 members of these two trade organisations were persuaded that it would be a good idea to set up a drivers' mutual society to promote the needs of all taxi drivers at Heathrow; this would enable all drivers at Heathrow to join an organisation that looked after their interests, even if they weren't members of another trade organisation, including Unite and the LTDA. This was the birth of Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Limited, or "HALT" as it became known.
HALT suffered years of mismanagement, and was beset with problems because of a poorly written rule book. I won't go into the detail here because it is too long winded and would require a separate and lengthy article to cover its history! Suffice to say, the executive committee took advantage of the flaws in the society's rules and systematically went about transferring its business and assets to a private company that they have set up with a similar sounding name, all without the consent of the members. That company now operates at Heathrow with funding from non-consenting drivers who are forced to pay a levy to it every time they enter the TFP. This company is registered at Companies House under the name "Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Society", or "HALTS".This is the company that produces the infamous Blue Vouchers that have caused so much controversy at Heathrow; but more on that another time.
So, back to the privileged drivers: Unite and the LTDA have regular meetings with BAA/HAL on a random basis to discuss taxi trade issues; usually once every month or two. There are two other trade organisations that also have trade reps who attend these meetings, and they are the London Cab Drivers Club (LCDC) and Heathrow Airport Taxi Drivers United (HATDU). The trade reps that represent Unite and the LTDA do not pass through the TFP, but have been given the dubious authority to park close to it and receive a large reduction in the amount of time that other drivers have to wait before being sent from the TFP to the ranks. They also have office space provided for them in the TFP compound to conduct business. Reps from both the LCDC and HATDU do not receive this perk, not because BAA won't allow it, but because they choose not to accept it. These reps know that it is inherently wrong, and have stated as much on many occasions. This begs the question, why do they agree to sit down alongside other trade reps who do accept this perk when they know that it isn't right? Herein lies one of the problems we have as taxi drivers at Heathrow. Unless those taxi trade reps who know that this is wrong come out and state it as a condition for attending meetings with BAA, the stagnated situation drivers find themselves in won't change and the status quo at Heathrow won't ever change either. A line needs to be drawn between what is, and what is not acceptable behaviour before ordinary drivers receive proper representation at Heathrow.

 This one will seem very strange to anyone who doesn't know how the taxi trade at Heathrow has managed to get its own "private army" of tout-busters. The airport operator (HAL) has an obligation to provide security at Heathrow, and does so by allocating funds to the police and employing its own security staff. Security at Heathrow is a major concern for travellers because the reality of a terrorist attack is currently set at "substantial" according to the Home Office website. This means that an attack is a strong possibility, and security at all places where large numbers of the public gather should reflect that. Unfortunately, HAL and the police seem to think that the passenger terminals at Heathrow are worthy of untrained taxi drivers to report "taxi touting and any suspicious behaviour" that may occur. I'm not sure that I would feel too safe in a crowded airport terminal knowing that taxi drivers were sometimes the only visible means of security, but that is what happens at Heathrow airport.
There are around 40 taxi drivers who "volunteer" to act as taxi marshals at Heathrow, and these drivers do not receive any payment from either the police or BAA for their time spent patrolling the terminals. A shift usually means walking around the terminals for about an hour or so, and then these drivers are free to go back to work as taxi drivers. What they do receive, in the form of compensation, is a reduction in the time they would normally have to wait in the Taxi Feeder Park before being sent down to the pick up a fare from one of the terminals. Just like all the other "privileged" drivers, they receive a reduction of around 1/3 of the time that their ordinary colleagues have to wait. There are times when the wait can be anything from 4 to 5 hours. This means that taxi marshals can get to pick up a fare at least one hour ahead of those who are compelled to go through the TFP. Over any period of time this can be a very lucrative advantage over their colleagues who have to wait behind them.
Not only that, but if they do a late shift marshalling, they can take a fare the next day without any wait whatsoever. They then come back to the airport and do yet another ride without having to wait, in lieu of another stint of marshalling later on that day. This offers a huge financial advantage that many other drivers rightfully resent. This all adds to the divide and rule culture that HAL seems so keen to encourage within the London taxi trade. But is this a price worth paying when you consider the risk that it poses to airport security? It is for professional police officers who have the proper training and powers of arrest who should be doing this, not inadequately  trained taxi drivers.
The fact that the police can save some of its budget this way is not good enough, especially when London is about to host the Olympic Games. If security is breached at Heathrow because of a lack of policing when the Games come to town, there will be some very embarrassing questions that will have to be answered. In the meantime, Heathrow by-laws are being ignored by BAA/HAL on a daily basis, and this in itself is enough to bring the airport operator to book.

Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Society (HALTS)
 This group really is the crème de la crème when it comes to perks and privileges. I mentioned the origins of HALTS earlier under the heading Unite and the LTDA, but it is only when you look at what this company does receive in the way of perks and privileges that it is possible to know how BAA/HAL seems to have orchestrated a "them and us" situation within the London taxi trade.
To say that BAA/HAL and HALTS are partners, as HAL officials often state, is to miss the point. The reality is that it is a one sided affair where one group - HAL - tolerates the other group - HALTS - for its own ends. To quote Franklin D. Roosevelt ‘Theymay be bastards, but they are our bastards.'
So what are these "perks and privileges"?
To start with, the directors of HALTS receive a payment of at least 78 pence every time a   driver enters the Taxi Feeder Park. This is compulsory as HAL collects this charge within the entry fee. This equates to around £700,000 per year! This money is subsidising a company that has managed to enter into an agreement with BAA/HAL which elevates it as the "preferred taxi provider" for Heathrow Airport. Part of this agreement means that the HALTS web-site is linked to the official Heathrow website. This is a major boost for any company that offers its services to travellers at the airport.
Without this money it is unlikely that HALTS would be able to survive in the real world, let alone compete with any opposition. So when our passengers approach the taxi desks in the terminals they are encouraged to pay by credit card and the passenger may then be taken out to the taxi rank as a fixed fare journey, but often these passengers never get to see the front of the taxi rank but are spirited away by a taxi that hasn't been through the TFP  - fixed fares into London are illegal if they are priced above the metered fare. All this is done by HALTS to "help" their colleagues in the London taxi trade at Heathrow; but the question has to be asked, who are these "colleagues"? It is now common knowledge that the price the passenger pays is between 17-25% more than the driver gets paid; so yet another little earner for HALTS at the drivers' expense, and let's not forget, the driver has already been forced to pay a levy to HALTS when passing through the Taxi Feeder Park!
The fact that HALTS has a website means that bookings from passengers can be taken. When the passenger arrives at Heathrow it is anybody's guess whether that job will go to the front of one of the taxi ranks or elsewhere. Many of these jobs are in fact being put in taxis that driven by HALTS' "colleagues". Colin Evans of HALTS has been spotted on many occasions waiting inside the terminals with a name-board! Could this be yet another little earner?

Until all drivers are forced to go through the Taxi Feeder Park, as the Heathrow byelaws state, there will never be fairness at this airport for ordinary taxi drivers. Until Unite the union takes some action against its members who are taking full advantage of exploiting this loop-hole in the system, there will never be fairness at this airport for ordinary taxi drivers, and until the marshals accept that they must receive a more equitable form of compensation for their labours, there will never be fairness or satisfaction for ordinary taxi drivers at this airport. But most importantly, until HALTS directors accept that drivers do not willingly pay a levy to their company, and start to develop their business without our help, there will never be fairness at this airport for ordinary taxi drivers.
Earlier on I stated that it might be possible to force BAA to accept that its interpretation of the byelaws is flawed, and that this could be cleared up in a Court of Law. It is not easy to do this because there are costs involved, and BAA is well known for fronting anyone who tries to force it to do anything. There was a case last year where BAA decided to evict two companies from the forecourts. These two companies had a legal right to be there, but nonetheless, BAA told them that they could no longer offer a meet and greet service on the forecourts. These two companies decided to take the matter to the High Court; a very bold and expensive thing to do, but they won the case after 10 days. The cost of this legal action was £1.5 million, and the two companies were awarded two thirds of their costs. This meant that even though they were right to challenge BAA, they still had to pay £250,000 in legal fees.
So what chance has the London taxi trade of getting BAA to accept that it is wrong to allow so many taxi drivers to by-pass the TFP on a permanent basis? I think that there could be a way, because as they say, there's more than one to skin a cat. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


The RMT London taxi branch is currently working on a new website that will have links to all sections. This will be much more convenient for users, rather than having to search for each blog. This will be a huge improvement, and we will continue to keep drivers informed of all the issues affecting the London taxi trade.

The new website can be found at:

Monday, 1 August 2011


      The Taxi Feeder Park entry fee will be £6.54 from Monday 1 August 2011

BAA announced a 26pence increase in the Taxi Feeder Park entry fee on July 11th, rather than the 34pence suggested in "The Taxi Feeder Park-Price Review Consultation Document 2011".This increase would have included a 2pence rise in the amount handed over to the private company Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Society (HALTS) bringing the HALT levy, as it is properly known, up to 80pence.

The taxi trade at Heathrow is unanimous in its rejection of any more money going to this company, and a further meeting was held with those trade reps that BAA will talk to on Monday 25th July 2011. The RMT London taxi branch replied to the BAA proposals rejecting the notion that any money should be going to a private company, let alone increasing the amount we are already forced to hand over. Many of the suggestions put forward in our response now seem to have made their way onto the agenda for further discussion. Funny how BAA doesn't want anything to do with the RMT but seems to listen, for fear of upsetting the trade, when the RMT puts forward suggestions that would be very difficult to disagree with.

The outcome of this meeting seems to have pacified some of those trade reps that were at this last meeting, but I don't think they have gained anything when BAA agreed to reduce the proposed TFP entry fee increase from 26pence to 24pence. This reduction may seem as though HALTS won't now be getting their 2pence after all, but does it? It would appear that there is a twist in the tail, and the taxi trade has been wrong footed by BAA after it was revealed that HALTS will be getting a 2pence increase after all.

BAA has stated that it will pay the increase to HALTS out of its own portion of the TFP fee! How is the taxi trade supposed to swallow this little gem? After all, the money that we pay to BAA is for the running of the Taxi Feeder Park, not for awarding its pet company more of our money. The trade has been sold yet another pup by BAA, and it seems to have done the trick. No wonder BAA doesn't want the RMT at any of these meetings! This piece of chicanery has not gone unnoticed.

Looks as though the HUTG has done another good job for its members. What, you may ask is the HUTG?
Apparently it is Heathrow's version of the UCG, which is a loose affiliation of taxi trade organisations consisting of Unite, the LTDA and the LCDC. The HUTG consists of HATDU, Unite, the LTDA and the LCDC. The irony is that this is all done in the name of "trade unity". United in what? Well anyone with half a brain can clearly see that this so called "trade unity" is nothing more than a ludicrous attempt at excluding the RMT. You  only have to take a look at the LTDA Taxi paper to see the pathetic lies and misinformation that emanates from Woodfield Road. It is known as the "Stop the RMT" campaign.

The sadness of all this is that there are members of these other trade orgs that actually believe what they are told by trade leaders who do very little for their money, except waste time finding ways of keeping the RMT on the outside. What was that you were saying about "trade unity"? The only people to suffer from all this is working taxi drivers and their families. 

Join the RMT today and stop the further decline of the London taxi trade.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


BAA has now announced the proposed Taxi Feeder Park increase for 2011 which will take effect from August 1 2011. This year's increase is later than usual and, along with the debacle that the trade was subjected to last year, there is controversy over the proposals, yet again.

The RMT response to BAA's proposed TFP increase this year makes it clear that the London taxi trade at Heathrow is no longer prepared to tolerate the continued undermining of its right to protect its own interests against those of a handful of carpet-bagging taxi drivers with the support of BAA.

This year the whole trade is unanimous in its opposition to an increase in the amount of money already handed over to the very unpopular private company, Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Society (HALTS).

In its TFP increase consultation document, BAA proposed an increase of 34pence bringing the entry fee up from £6.30 to £6.64. It was generally accepted that this would be broken down to as follows;

BAA to receive extra 29 pence
taking its part of the TFP up from      £5.52 to £5.81
HALTS to receive extra 5pence
taking its part of the TFP up from       £0.78 to £0.83
                                             Total:   £6.30    £6.64

The anticipated announcement by BAA arrived as scheduled on Monday 11 July with the following;

BAA to receive an extra        £0.24
HALTS to receive and extra £0.02

This would bring the TFP entrance fee up to £6.56.

Whilst it is customary for the annual TFP increase to be rather less than that initially proposed, any further increase in the amount paid over to HALTS was dismissed as unacceptable by all trade reps from every trade organisation at Heathrow, bar none. The slogan has been "Not a penny more!"

Despite this BAA has decided, in its infinite wisdom, to inflame an already controversial issue and ignore the wishes of all legitimate trade representatives at Heathrow. It would appear that the taxi trade at Heathrow has had its worst fears confirmed. Those fears are that BAA has chosen to listen to the voice of one person only, and that person has never legally gained the consent of any driver to represent taxi drivers' interests at Heathrow Airport.

For anyone who cannot understand the significance of what this all means I have this to say:
The legitimate rights and privileges that your Bill gives you are being blatantly undermined by a concerted attempt to take away the protection that both the Hackney Carriage Act and the Airports Act gives you. This is not about an extra 2p, this is about the future of the London taxi trade at Heathrow. 

The RMT London Taxi Branch (Heathrow) response to the proposed TFP increase can be seen below.            

BAA Taxi Feeder Park- Price Review Consultation Document 2011.

RMT Response:

The TFP Price Review Consultation process took place without invitations from BAA for the RMT to attend any meetings convened for the purpose of this important process. Despite this, the RMT London Taxi Branch (Heathrow) has been kept fully informed of the details of all meetings that have taken place through the Taxi Feeder Park Network, and is fully conversant with the issues.

BAA will no doubt be aware by now that the RMT London Taxi Branch (Heathrow), along with HALT members, is in dispute with the Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Limited (HALT) de-facto committee and has taken the first steps in a legal resolution to this problem. With this in mind, it will be apparent that the RMT and HALT members do not recognise the assertion made by either BAA or Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Society (HALTS) that an increase for the part of the TFP entry fee, known as the HALT Levy, should be made.

The RMT London Taxi Branch (Heathrow) does not recognise the legitimacy of any part of the HALT Levy being paid over to any mutual society, industrial and provident co-operative or private limited company, whether limited by shares or guarantee, other than Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Limited (HALT). The right of HALT to raise funds for the provision of taxi information desks through the TFP Levy was established by the Competition Commission (CC) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in 2003, and was endorsed by such bodies as Unite (T&G), Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) London Taxi Drivers Club (LCDC) and Heathrow Airport Consultative Committee (HACC).

A Freedom of Information request to the CAA revealed no evidence that it had either endorsed or recommended any changes to this situation, except that it did extract from its files the following;

“Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) and Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Society (“HALTS”) entered into a new agreement for the provision of Taxi Support Services. The previous agreement with Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Limited (“HALT”) had expired in July 2008. The new agreement was executed on 1 December 2009 to run for a five year period.

The terms of the agreement prohibit HALTS from publicising or advertising the terms of the agreement. Providing a copy to third parties could render that term ineffective if the agreement itself were then distributed to persons not bound by that restriction.”

The RMT London Taxi Branch (Heathrow) will advise its membership to continue paying the TFP entry fee with the understanding that it has neither been consulted nor invited to participate in any discussions regarding any increase in the TFP entry fee. Further, that both RMT and HALT members do not recognise the legitimacy of any part of the TFP fee being paid over to HALTS.

RMT London Taxi Branch view on TFP Entry Fee Consultation Process.

The RMT London Taxi Branch considers the TFP consultation process to be flawed and lacking in information provided by BAA to the Heathrow taxi trade community.

The RMT recommends the following for the future:

• All established trade representative organisations to be included in negotiations with BAA.

N.B. Heathrow Airport Licensed Taxis Society is not recognised as a representative trade organisation, but rather a third party contractor. Both the RMT and HALT members strongly object to any payment made to this company through the TFP entry fee.

• A BAA accountant to be available on at least one scheduled meeting with a detailed break-down of the TFP costing. This information must be available to the trade for its own accountants to scrutinise.

• A chairperson to be present at all such meetings.

• Minutes of all taxi trade/BAA meetings to be taken and made available for all taxi trade reps in order to consult their own membership within 7 days of each meeting. Without this there can never be universal agreement on any issue.

• Details of the costs of any third party contractor in the running of the TFP.

• The taxi trade must have more say over the conduct and training of any third party company charged with running the TFP system. At the moment NSL staff is constantly at logger heads with the trade because of a lack of proper training, and the RMT considers that this company does not offer value for money because of inefficient working practices.

The proposal for an extra 5p to be paid over to HALTS has received universal condemnation within the Heathrow taxi trade community, and the RMT recommends that this company does not receive any increase in the monies it already benefits from. It is the opinion of the RMT that to do otherwise would inflame an already controversial issue.

However, the RMT London Taxi Branch is willing to concede to an increase in the component within the TFP entry fee that BAA has asked for. This is in recognition of the fact that the Heathrow taxi trade community has not been able to thoroughly scrutinise the costing of running the TFP on this occasion, and the time now required to so would bring the trade too close to the next TFP consultation period. Therefore, the taxi trade does not expect to pay the extra 5p that HALTS has asked for, but rather is prepared to pay 29p to BAA only, taking the TFP entry fee up to £6.59 from 1st August 2011.

The taxi trade hopes to see this reflected in the BAA TFP entry fee announcement on 11th July 2011.

Michael Moran
RMT Taxi Trade Rep, Heathrow.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

You Can't Do It On Your Own

On March 4 2011 the RMT won a Court of Appeal victory which has effectively stopped employers from taking away the right of workers to take industrial action.

This has been a victory for millions of union workers, and it has also highlighted some of the “bullying” tactics that many employers use to keep their employees in line. The case was RMT v Serco.

Employers within the construction industry have for years been using blacklists for denying employment to workers who belong to certain unions; members belonging to the RMT and Unite amongst others have appeared on these lists. A company called The Consulting Company (TCA) has been selling these lists to construction companies for many thousands of pounds, and workers who appear on them are effectively barred from finding a job within the industry. This blacklist was discovered when the offices of TCA were raided in 2009. It is now illegal to keep, disseminate or share blacklists.

So what has this got to do with self employed taxi drivers at Heathrow? The fact that we are self employed does not mean that we cannot benefit from union membership; in fact it is essential that self employed people have proper union representation as they have far fewer rights in law than employed workers. The attitude amongst most drivers is that they don’t need any representation at all, and those that do often decide to join one of the trade’s own mutual societies. All of these mutuals have been set up by taxi drivers who have very little industrial relations experience and seem to think that knowledge of the taxi trade is enough to see them through the myriad of problems that can befall not only the individual, but also the taxi trade itself.

I cannot stress the importance of belonging to a proper union strongly enough. Yes, the executive committee may not have a sound understanding of how the London taxi trade works, but that in itself is not important. The important thing is that any taxi branch of a major union is made up of taxi drivers who do know the issues of their trade, and they can draw on the wealth of experience that the executive committee has in dealing with industrial issues, no matter what trade their members belong to.

Bob Crow is not a builder, but I bet there are many thousands in the building industry who now feel that without the power of the RMT they would truly be dumped on the scrap-heap created by blacklisting.
Join the RMT to effectively fight for your trade.

Plan for “meet and greet” agents

Heathrow Taxis (HALTS) and Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL) recently posted a notice in the airport canteen lobby and Cab In seeking drivers who would be willing to volunteer to act as meet and greet agents for the taxi desks.
This has caused uproar as these drivers would be expected to work a “shift” as unpaid staff for Heathrow Taxis, and then be allowed to by-pass the Taxi Feeder Park in lieu of payment.

Emergency meetings have been held with various trade orgs which included Unite, LTDA, LCDC and HATDU. It appears that they will not stand for this, and neither should they. I have been approached by one of the leaders of one of these trade orgs for support in the event that there is a Feeder Park stoppage.
I have stated that the RMT would be willing to take part if certain conditions are met. This would include a commitment from all trade orgs that they are united in a call for a stoppage, and that the RMT is recognised as an equal participant in any stoppage.
The London Taxi Branch has agreed to any action that may take place so long as all other conditions are agreed to.

Chief Superintendent Bert Moore
I would like to welcome Chief Superintendent Bert Moore in his new post as head of SO18, airport security at Heathrow Airport, and I hope that the taxi trade can have a good working relationship with Heathrow Police on any issues that may affect all of us.

In last month’s RMT Newsletter I featured the issue of airport security and the waste of both police and taxi drivers' time when drivers were pulled over for having their For Hire lights on.
I have been in contact with Jenny Croft of NSL and Chief Superintendent Bert Moore of Heathrow police, and it appears that there is no record of any such events taking place, or who authorised the digital display message that advised drivers to turn their For Hire signs off when making their way to the terminals.

Of course, we all saw the message on the digital display board in the canteen, and in the Feeder Park. We also know that there were a number of drivers who were pulled over by police. So I think it is fair to say that something needs to be done about this. I have been offered a meeting with the man in charge of traffic at Heathrow by Chief Superintendent Moore, and I have also advised Jenny Croft that any messages that are posted on the display boards must be approved by the trade if they concern either Hackney Carriage or Heathrow byelaws.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Airport Bombing

Three Britons were amongst the 35 killed at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport a couple of weeks ago, and another 110 were injured following the suicide bombing that left so much human suffering in its wake.

In a week when Britain was conducting its own inquiry into the London tube and bus bombings that killed a similar number, the Moscow bombing acts as a stark reminder of the dangers that we all face. We are constantly being told to be vigilant, to report anything suspicious. There is even a dedicated “Terrorist” hotline that is manned 24 hours a day; I have had occasion to call this number myself to report a suspicious situation, and the phone didn’t even rang twice before it was picked up. A week after I had made that phone call and had given my statement, I received a follow up call from a police officer from Kings Cross to let me know that what I had reported was also reported by at least 3 other people. Thankfully our suspicions were not terror related, but they could have been, and the fact that a central phone number exists for anyone to call is reassuring.

The problem, however, is that there are now so many holes in the security measures that are supposed to protect us, that it may only be a matter of time before a similar thing happens again somewhere in the U.K. Anyone that takes the time to look around any public place where large numbers of people gather will notice that there are numerous opportunities for terrorists to create carnage. We all know that a determined terrorist will succeed if they are not challenged early enough, or if they manage to go undetected by the intelligence services. So why hand it to them on a plate?

Last week a number of taxi drivers were pulled over by police at Heathrow on the airport perimeter road. Their “crime” was having their For Hire signs illuminated whilst making their way to the taxi rank! Each of these drivers were told to switch the For Hire sign off, as plying for hire within half a mile of any taxi rank at Heathrow is illegal. What the police at Heathrow don’t seem to understand is that the For Hire sign is only a visual aid, and does not constitute “plying for hire”. So what a waste of police time and resources this turned out to be. Could the police have been better deployed at one of the largest airports in the World?

Heathrow airport has been the target of terrorist attacks in the past, and the current climate of terrorist threats makes it a very sensitive and potentially dangerous place for the public. Rather than pulling taxi drivers over on the perimeter road, the police should be making sure that the areas where the public do congregate are looked after. After all, if a bomb were to go off on the perimeter road it is unlikely that many people would be killed or injured, but if this was to happen in one of the terminals the consequences would be horrendous.

The main focus of police activity should be in the terminal buildings themselves, not the perimeter road. And the freedom of people to wander into the terminal buildings when they have no business there should be of far greater concern to them than taxi drivers who have their For Hire signs on when legitimately making their way to the taxi rank. The illegal taxi touting that is carried out by both licensed and unlicensed minicab drivers is now at epidemic proportions in some of the terminals at Heathrow, and this in itself is a major security issue. It’s not the touting that should concern the police so much, as the potential for a suicide bomber to be ignored under the pretence that it is just another tout.
Wasn’t it illegally parked “minicabs” that were packed with explosives in Haymarket, before suspicions were raised, after it became apparent that they had been abandoned?
If these two car-bombs had not failed to detonate, there would have been a terrible loss of life as a consequence.

Domodedovo airport has been accused of lax security, and President Medvedev has called for the sacking of senior security staff at the airport. Could a similar thing happen at Heathrow? Let’s hope that David Cameron doesn’t have to call for the sacking of those responsible for security at Heathrow in a similar fashion.

If the police at Heathrow want to really do something worthwhile, they should forget about taxi drivers legitimately displaying their For Hire signs, and concentrate on the illegal activities of taxi-touts in the terminal buildings instead.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

All HALT members should be aware that Colin Evans is trying to have HALT "struck off" by the FSA so that HALTS can go unchallenged with its plans to take the business away from its legitimate owners, i.e. Heathrow drivers.

If you are a HALT member, please show your disapproval of this move by emailing me at 

I will be happy to register your disapproval with the FSA on behalf of ALL HALT members.

I have been warning drivers of the dangers that we all face at Heathrow with HALTS' plans for some time now. It is now crucial that drivers realise where this is leading before it is too late. Act now, or repent later.

Once HALT is gone, say "goodbye" to Heathrow, because it will be at the mercy of "free enterprise".

You have been warned.