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Cabbies storm London City Hall over Uber row

16 September 2015

5:56 PM

16 September 2015

5:56 PM

Boris Johnson’s war with black cab drivers stepped up a notch today. His monthly Mayor’s Question Time session was abruptly shut down after cabbies packed out the public gallery of London City Hall to protest about what they see as Transport for London’s unfair regulations for Uber. As the video above shows, Johnson’s description of the cabbies as ‘Luddites’ did not go down well at all and the London Assembly’s deputy chair decided it should end.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, has told the Evening Standard Boris’s ‘Luddite’ was to blame, saying it was not ‘the smartest of moves but it escalated out of all proportion’. The fracas took a casualty too, as a member of City Hall security staff was knocked out and taken to hospital for ‘minor injuries’. Johnson condemned the cabbies’ actions on Twitter:

Boris’ relationship with cabbies has been deteriorating for a while, with the last incident occurring a few months ago when he told one to ‘fuck off and die’. But nor he is slavish to Uber, suggesting that Uber drivers should take a ‘mini Knowledge’ before picking up fares in the capital.

But after May next year, the cabbies might have less to complain about. The two most likely candidates for the 2016 London election — Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan — take a harsher view on Uber. Goldsmith said at a recent debate that black cabs could be extinct soon and called for a competition investigation into the market. The likely Tory candidate added there is ‘no question of banning Uber, but there is a need for more clarity in the regulatory system’.

Khan echoed these concerns, saying that ‘some private hire vehicles are being driven out of the market by the pricing model of Uber’. Either way, the cabbies will take some comfort that they are likely to get a fresh hearing after Boris has left City Hall. Both Khan and Goldsmith want the cabbies on side for the election, but there is also a chance they may become more sympathetic to the feelings of voters once they have been elected.

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