The following piece was written as part of bootcamp week for my MA in International Journalism course. We will be expected write a short 300 word London news story every week from September, with sources verified.
London cab drivers have staged a mass protest against unregulated taxis, rickshaws and ride-sharing services working in the capital.
More than 5000 are thought to have attended the slow driving demonstration on Wednesday, which resulted in traffic blocks surrounding Westminster and Trafalgar Square from 2pm to 4pm. It was called by Steve McNamara, the head of the Licensed Tax Drivers’ Association and follows on from a previous demonstration by drivers in June against Uber, a smartphone app which allows users to hail private-hire cabs.
Protestors have demanded better regulations from the government, such as Nick Townsend, a 52 year old driver based in Heathrow and a member of the Unite union, who criticised Transport for London: “They’re supposed to provide the limitations on private hire vehicles; they’re not interested about rickshaws, which have health and safety issues, or apps like Uber. During nights, it’s like the Wild West. We just want a level playing field.”
He went onto condemn mayor Boris Johnson for turning his back on black cab drivers in the city centre: “When he was elected, he was all for the taxi trade. But over his four years in office, he’s gone the other way.”
Meanwhile, Sam, a 33 year old cabbie from Islington argues that TfL has failed to enforce proper taxi licensing laws: “We have to jump through hoops to get what we have to do. We study for years and our taxis have to be in a certain condition. Private hires can just get a car and that’s it. It can’t be one rule for them and one rule for us.”
In response to the protest, TfL has issued a statement: “The taxi trade has several forums with TfL and the mayor. We urge them to communicate directly with us on the specific issues they wish to discuss.”