Residents in Heathrow villages say airport failing to tackle nightmare of parking by private hire vehicles

People in the Heathrow villages have the continuing anxiety of having to move out of their homes, if the government decides to approve a Heathrow runway. Now, in addition to the many trials and tribulations they face, from their airport neighbour, there is an increasing problem of parking by Uber drivers, waiting to get lucrative trips from Heathrow. Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) report that for years they have had to endure the anti-social behaviour of private hire vehicles in their streets.  SHE have found bottles of urine, excrement and litter left by the legions of private hire drivers who park in every available space. This nightmare takes place in Harlington, Colnbrook, Stanwell Moor and many other locations that enable these drivers to have speedy access to Heathrow. Clearly none of these drivers live close to Heathrow otherwise they could park in their own streets, so the taxi work is not going to local people. SHE says complaints have been made to Heathrow and TfL for years but residents have just been fobbed off with excuses. No action has been taken and residents have seen no improvement. Residents have experienced intimidation and threats from drivers if they photograph them and their cars. The number of Uber drivers licensed grows by several hundred every week. Better control seems to be needed.


Heathrow fails to tackle private hire vehicle nightmare

? 17th April 2016 (SHE – Stop Heathrow Expansion)

For years, people living near Heathrow airport have had to endure the anti-social behaviour of private hire vehicles in their streets yet Heathrow has failed to take action to resolve the problem – as seen on BBC London News today.

Local residents, including a member of the SHE committee, and Cllr Peter Money met Reporter Caroline Davies to take a look at the problem. Ms Davies visited the Bolton’s Lane area in Harlington to see for herself the bottles of urine, excrement and litter left by the legions of private hire drivers who park in every available space. This nightmare is replicated in other Heathrow villages, Colnbrook, Stanwell Moor and many other locations that enable these drivers to have speedy access to Heathrow.

DSCF8502Car parked on pavement and double yellow lines on dangerous bend.

Drivers using the Uber app to get business are particularly keen to be close to the airport to stand the best chance of getting a fare. However, even before Uber became established, streets like Bolton’s Lane, Doghurst Drive, Doghurst Avenue and Sipson Way were dominated by illegally parked private hire vehicles. Even the car park in Sipson’s Recreation Ground became so crammed with vehicles that the Council were forced to local the gates almost permanently. Before this action there was even a company that ran its business from the car park, using the location to store cars that their owners had paid to have parked safely while they were on holiday.

Illegally parked in a permit holders only area. Driver sleeps with sweaty feet out of the window.

Illegally parked in a permit holders only area. Driver sleeps with sweaty feet out of the window.

Are these the local jobs that Heathrow promises? Clearly none of these drivers live close to Heathrow otherwise they could park in their own streets.

Complaints have been made to Heathrow and TfL for years but residents have just been fobbed off with excuses. They have now formed a group and are discussing the issue with stakeholders. Meanwhile, residents see no improvement. Hillingdon Council is warning drivers that they will fine drivers heavily for anti-social behaviour – if they are caught. Residents can expect intimidation and threats if they photograph the culprits but these pictures and videos are now going on social media.

In some areas drivers can park if they "pay and display" - this driver has done neither.

In some areas drivers can park if they “pay and display” – this driver has done neither.

Tom Edwards commented on the 6.30pm London News that there are 30,000 more drivers than two years ago and anyone who meets certain conditions is granted a licence – that’s around 600 new licences every week. Transport for London (TfL) that issues the licences says that they want government legislation to put a cap on the number of licences that can be issued but Tom Edwards says a change in the law doesn’t look likely.

Frankly the only way forward is to remove the licence of any driver who commits offences, whether these are illegal parking, verbal abuse, threats of physical violence or intimidation.

Driver gives a rude gesture.

Driver gives a rude gesture.

Company that uses the V-sign driver saw nothing wrong with is behaviour when contacted.

Kent company that uses the V-sign driver saw nothing wrong with his behaviour when contacted.

The facts from the BBC report with our comments in brackets:

TfL figures – Private hire vehicle licences 2009/10 – 59,191

Currently 87,734. 600 new licences issued each week.

GMB Union – Professional drivers branch said not enough toilets for drivers in London but that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable. (No sign of action against offending drivers.)

Heathrow – Working with union to create a “code of conduct”. (No information on how this would be enforced since only a code.)

Heathrow and TfL – say they are working with neighbouring local authorities, residents etc. (No results so far.)

Councillors – Say that one option being looked at is a place for them to park. (This has been suggested but the response was that, unlike drivers of London Black taxis, the private hire drivers won’t pay a charge.)

Residents – Tom Edwards says that Uber want them to complain to Uber. (SHE is aware that complaints to bosses have been met with polite responses but no action.

Private hire driver leaves residents a glass of his own home-made brew - cheers!

Private hire driver leaves residents a glass of his own home-made brew – cheers!


From a Colnbrook Views article on 19.4.2016:

Cllr Hood also reported that Heathrow is cracking down on Uber cabs making them use onsite parking to tackle the problems on the surrounding roads of “litter and toileting”.

The new waiting facility for private hire vehicles was discussed at the Forum’s last meeting in December.  Intended to be ready for operation by the Summer, depending on permission from Hillingdon as local planning authority, the facility will provide up to 800 spaces but will incur a fee to use.  This fee will cover the cost of running the operation and will be set at a level that will be “attractive for the private hire industry to use”.

The black cab community has been engaged to mitigate any issues that may arise with them when this new facility is opened, minutes report.

In December Cllr Hood expressed the view that that the community impacts from Heathrow on the road network was significant. He said that Heathrow needs to accept their share of the responsibility. The airport’s Sustainable Travel Manager, Theo Panayi, agreed and said that specific concerns with HGV’s would be raised at the next Freight working group.

Asked what incentives will be given to encourage drivers to use the facility, Panay said there would be good facilities including food, toilets and litter bins. Heathrow would work with app based private hire vehicles to blank out areas around Heathrow to prevent drivers parking in local streets and villages, using geofencing technology. This means that cars would not be called for a job if they are on any of these roads.

He acknowledged the problem will not disappear overnight but is confident that the facility will be used by taxis.



Local taxis to be hit as Heathrow launches clampdown on “antisocial” drivers

27 APRIL, 2015 (Colnbrook Views)

Heathrow is set to impose a further crackdown on local taxi cabs using the airport, it told community representatives last month.

Local taxi firms, first hit with punitive ‘taxes’ by Heathrow in August 2010, are to be hit yet again by the airport.

Heathrow is working on an “informal agreement” with Transport for London to reduce reported issues with a number private hire vehicle drivers, the airport told representatives at a meeting of Heathrow’s Local Focus Forum on March 17th 2015.

The clampdown comes in response to concerns apparently raised by residents regarding the “antisocial behaviour” of private hire vehicle drivers.

But the new tool could be used by Heathrow to bar local cabbies from the airport altogether following calls from residents of the Heathrow villages.

Armelle Thomas, a resident from Harmondsworth, said the attitude of some of the private hire drivers was very poor and pushed Heathrow during the meeting to ban them altogether.

Chris Joyce, Surface Access Strategy Manager for the airport, said the airport is working with TfL and looking at introducing a ‘charter’ for drivers:

“The charter will provide a basic agreement linked to their licence that can be used as leverage to improve behaviour.”

Since 2010 local taxi cabs have been penalised with short term car parking fees every time they pick up from any of the Heathrow terminals, adding a £3.50 surcharge to a £10 taxi fare from Colnbrook.  They risk a £40 charge if they do not use the designated zones.  Black cabs, meanwhile, go free.

Local taxi firms have struggled amid falling demand since the recession and inter firm rivalries.  Colnbrook taxi firm Elite closed down at the end of last year.

Heathrow says details of the agreement will be communicated once finalised.



Transport for London approves clampdown on Uber and minicab drivers

17 March 2016 (Evening Standard)

Transport for London has today approved plans to curb the soaring number of Uber cars and minicabs by using English and geography tests alongside beefed up insurance requirements.

Drivers will now have to take basic English language and “Knowledge-lite” style geography tests before driving in the capital.

Minicab drivers also face a crackdown on insurance requirements to ensure passengers are covered for accidents.

The TfL board approved all but one of Boris Johnson’s proposals to crackdown on minicabs at their meeting this afternoon.

Plans to scrap “men with clipboards” outside nightclubs who were licensed to provide minicabs have been put on hold and will be reconsidered at a later date.

The Mayor has come under growing pressure to do more to curb London’s 25,000-vehicle strong Uber, which the black cab trade claims is driving it out of business.

But in a statement, Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the London Taxi Drivers’ Association (LDTA), said the changes did not go far enough.

He said: “TfL has wasted a huge opportunity to improve standards within the private hire industry for the benefit of drivers, passengers and other road users.

“The review of private hire regulations was aimed at improving passenger safety, and most of the proposals were sensible and endorsed by the LTDA.

“We are pleased TfL has committed to taking some of them forward, but as result of undue influence, TfL has not gone anywhere far enough.

“Introducing Hire and Reward operator insurance is the only way to categorically ensure that all passengers travelling in a private hire vehicle (PHV) in London are covered in the event of an accident.

“The failure to take this proposal forward means uninsured PHVs will continue to operate in the capital, putting Londoners at risk. The next mayor needs to address this issue as a matter of priority.

The number of private hire drivers has grown from 59,000 in April 2010 to about 100,000 today, contributing to congestion, pollution and illegal parking.

Mr Johnson has previously failed to persuade the Government to allow him to cap the number of minicabs.


Uber scrap flat rate fares to London airports, but residents report problems with residential parking by drivers

Uber has announced it will stop offering flat rate fares to customers travelling to Heathrow and Gatwick Airport.  Uber used to offer a series of set fares for trips to the London airports, so customers know what to expect when going on their holidays and leisure trips. Uber fares to Heathrow from west London would start at £30, while passengers from south east London could get to Gatwick for £50.  Now the fares will be calculated on the time and distance, as they are for other Uber journeys. Customers can see from the phone app how much their trip will cost. Uber also announced that airport pick-ups will incur an additional surcharge, to cover minimum parking costs. However, there are a number of reports indicating that Uber cars are upsetting residents in areas near Heathrow, as large numbers park (for free) in residential roads, for hours, waiting for calls to pick up passengers. Waiting in streets with no facilities mean drivers have been reported urinating in gardens, or defecating near their cars. There have been complaints of groups of drivers appearing to be a threatening presence, being rude to residents, sleeping in their cars, and playing music into the night, while they wait.  Uber and Heathrow are meant to be trying to sort out the problems. Problems are also reported in the Stansted area.

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