Bitesized Blighty: March 1, 2019
- Minicab and Uber drivers are taking action against the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan following his proposed requirement that they pay a congestion charge while operating in central London. United Private Hire Drivers, a branch of The Independent Workers of Great Britain Union mounted it’s protest on the ground that requiring minicabs and Uber drivers to pay a daily London congestion charge indirectly discriminates against and breaches the human rights of a mainly black and ethnic minority workforce. Currently, all taxi drivers are exempt from paying the charge. However, once the new rule comes into force on 8 April, minicabs and Uber drivers will have to pay £11.50 daily, while black cab drivers will remain exempt. According to a report by Transport for London (TfL), around 94 per cent of London's minicab drivers are from ethnic minority backgrounds, and a majority of black cab drivers are white British. On Friday, the union took the first step of a judicial review process into Mr Khan's decision, by sending him a “pre-action letter” which gives him until March 6 to reverse the policy before the union launches a full judicial review in the High Court under the Equality Act 2010.
- The UK government has agreed to pay Eurotunnel £33m over the procurement of no deal Brexit ferry services, in a deal which would have been worth £13.8m. In January, Eurotunnel which operates rail services between the UK and France wrote to the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling – and also filed a lawsuit - complaining that it had not been considered when contracts were awarded to provide ferry services, in the event of a no deal Brexit. Shortly after contracts were awarded, it was discovered that Seaborne, one of the firms that was awarded the ferry contract, had no ships and had never run a ferry service. Eurotunnel said the contracts had been handed out in a secretive way and Chris Grayling has since come under fire over the deal. Due to these factors, the government has now agreed to pay Eurotunnel in order to settle the lawsuit.
- It looks like New Yorkers are not alone in the daredevil act of dodging those pesky turnstiles at train stations. According to a Transport for London (TfL) report, Londoners are just as daring, because fare dodgers cost the city up to £100m a year. Commuters avoid paying fares on London's transport network in a range of ways, from failing to touch in and out with an Oyster card, to the use of counterfeit tickets. The resulting annual revenue loss is estimated to have gone up by almost £20m since it was last calculated in 2016. A spokesperson for the TfL noted that it was imperative that deliberate fare dodgers are made to pay for their fares, given that the TfL is facing a deficit of about £700m in the next financial year.