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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:43 pm
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Sussex wrote:
However I very much doubt I would have got the answer you did. :wink:

Well, like I said, I’m not very good at accepting things I don’t see a point in.

So, right away I asked for on emailadress of his superior to maybe appeal my way to the licence. Maybe just one go for the European Court would get my blog more visitors than a whole year of driving a cab in B&H? Well, have to check who is in charge for this first, anyway.

The other way would be to hang out the fact that they wanted us to be ambassadors of Brighton and well, I think I am one. Yet, I have probably to put a bit more weight on for this yet.

Either way it’s very unlikely yet I will just play their way. I know me, this wouldn’t work out.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2011 2:06 pm
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I saw a brand-new Mercedes-Taxi today in Brighton! (Crisis, what crisis?)

Today I was on a nice trip to Worthing, where I had live for almost half a year (just at the time when all that timber from the wrecked ship had washed upon the shore). I mean, they don’t have anybody living there between 20 and 60 (they are all living in Brighton) so there’s much more space there than in Brighton anyway, but Brighton to me is like trying to squeeze all of greater London into one small sardine box. Look at the nice pedestrian zone in Worthing full of happy people and imagine this would be the same in the Western Road/Churchill Square/North Street area in Brighton, which is normally busier than Oxford Street in London. Yet all the buses going from one end of town to another also squeeze through here!
Run a tram along the sea-front and ban the traffic along the axis where all the shops are!

Yeah, I know, us Germans, always want to take control! :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 9:18 am
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Today I was at the DVLA office in Brighton asking them, like HCO told me to ask, about a possible double driving licence for me, which they have declined yet, as it was only to be expected.
Yet it wouldn’t be necessary anyway, for I would be allowed to drive with a German (European) licence for six months before exchanging.
So HCO is left holding the baby again.

Only B&H HCO between me and coming back to UK!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:56 pm
Jochen Lembke wrote:
Today I was at the DVLA office in Brighton asking them, like HCO told me to ask, about a possible double driving licence for me, which they have declined yet, as it was only to be expected.
Yet it wouldn’t be necessary anyway, for I would be allowed to drive with a German (European) licence for six months before exchanging.
So HCO is left holding the baby again.

Only B&H HCO between me and coming back to UK!

If you have and can been a driver here before, just sit a test and have a UK license anyway, you should pass it easy enough, you always have one then and it makes you look more pro in the eyes of officials for the future.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:51 pm
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Interesting notion, you mean instead of exchanging my German licence into an English one I would just make the English one anew so that would get me two licences? I wonder if that would work?
No, I will try to nudge B&H HCO, I mean, like I said, the Zurich licence holds for life and you need to shove 50 quid or what into the councils pockets per annum for the renewal? Well, there’s only one way to keep me quiet about this, which is to make an exception for me, they will decide in which way I will be an ambassador of Brighton, it’s up to them!
Wether I will put the stress on telling the world about the beautiful Brighton cabs – or about the rather questionable licencing practise.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2011 12:48 am
Jochen Lembke wrote:
Interesting notion, you mean instead of exchanging my German licence into an English one I would just make the English one anew so that would get me two licences? I wonder if that would work?
No, I will try to nudge B&H HCO, I mean, like I said, the Zurich licence holds for life and you need to shove 50 quid or what into the councils pockets per annum for the renewal? Well, there’s only one way to keep me quiet about this, which is to make an exception for me, they will decide in which way I will be an ambassador of Brighton, it’s up to them!
Wether I will put the stress on telling the world about the beautiful Brighton cabs – or about the rather questionable licencing practise.

It’s what I would do, two is always better than one imo.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:37 pm
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Well, time passes awfully quick and being in Brighton seems just like a blur to me now that I am back in Germany for more then a week now. (Funny by the way, how different they treat you at check-in, when you check in Basel, French side, they are very tender when it comes to groping your various body parts and in Gatwick, UK, there is no groping at all but an extra check for liquids.)

Anyway, more of France for me soon, so it seems, I am very busy with French and Colmar knowledge and it seems just like the right thing to do for me now, that I have had a closer look at Brighton again and at English bureaucracy.

As soon as I find the time though I will write a letter to B&H council about that thing.
I mean, when they make an exception for me they are probably not afraid about foreign cab-drivers following my example, what they probably really fear is that this precedence might weaken their fortified position of annual renewal of the licence.

So, they think if they turn a blind eye here, soon no one is willing to pay the annual fee again and again, I am very much inclined to think.

Yet, what they don´t think about is that this all might get me cross and more that I have already gained a certain respect for being awfully stubborn and perseverant when it comes to me being cross and even more so if I think I am right about this.

So this attitude in this case might back-fire on them and the best way to not create an extra discussion about licencing procedure in B&H might actually be to make an exception for me.

But, of course I will be much more polite in this official letter, I know I cannot demand, only pledge and point out to all the good things I could do for Brighton and it´s taxis, for I´m reeeeeeally in love with them!

I mean, just look at these beauties! (The one on top was mine) to drive)

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:33 pm
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The whole thing is beginning to annoy me.

I´ve sent this new letter down there to the superior of B&H HCO´s superior per email, practically begging them to renew my license and I´ve just get this spine-tingling feeling there will be no reply!
I mean how can they have the world´s strictest licensing if later on the job doesn´t earn a living!

Just for illustration, Germany is doing just fine now, I could lead a much better life even just living on benefits than I could as a full-time cabby in Brighton, I would just have a little less money left to live yet a much better place to live in. This whole license-thing took me one year of my time, 15000 Euros and all I could achieve by doing it another time would be another round of full-time work to barely keep me alive, living in a rat-hole, getting abuse for free!

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I´d be out of my frickin mind to do this another time!

Here´s the letter:

“First of all let me introduce myself, My name is Jochen Lembke, I’m German, 50 years old, I´m a writer and cab-driver. I have done the license for Brighton & Hove in 2008 and then worked as a cab-driver in Brighton during 2008/9. Before that I had driven a cab in Germany in two major cities roughly the same size of Brighton and after that in Zurich (Switzerland).

So, this makes it a kind of a world-record, which I will apply for officially. (I applied previously, the first time they turned it down as it involved writing about it and that was just too complicatedly described for them), a cab-driver who has worked as a licensed driver in three countries so far and I am intending to expand it in the future to as many countries as I am able to achieve, my next step would probably be France.
About this I keep a blog since 2008 and wrote a book about each country, according to this project I call myself “Europe´s cab-driving writer”.

I am writing to you now because I would like to ask for an exception of the general practice in licensing. Regarding this I had already contacted Mr. … last October via letter from Germany and also in person, I had come to Brighton for a week just for this. Regrettably he turned down my request, but we agreed on that I should contact you about this, dear Mrs. …, as his superior.

The thing is, I wasn´t able to renew my license in 2010, because at that time I didn´t hold a UK-driving license, only a Swiss one. (The year before I could manage to renew it, though I was no longer a UK-resident, but kept the UK-license in order to do a renewal and exchanged it afterward.)

My project “Europe´s cab-driving writer“ requires me to go on from country to country. I´d really love to come back to Brighton yet (for another year in between or an even shorter period like only three months of a year), partly because of the standards in knowledge, that make me certainly more attached to Brighton than to Zurich, where I still by far don´t know all the roads by name, partly because of my undying love for it. I found out about the minute I left Brighton. Funny enough but only human.

The only problem is the license, with the required annual renewal, linked with UK-residency and driving license.

Therefore, I´d like to ask you to consider an exception to that general rule for me.

In a sense this would be meeting only EU-standards. (In France for example, one gets a lot of credit with a valid EU-cab-license. I was in Colmar at the office and I had to show my German cab-license and a certificate of my employer stating 2 years of employment minimum in full time and for that they are willing to free me from the first two parts of the exam out of four.
In Germany one can renew their license for 5 years and don’t even have to show a valid driving license, in Zurich the license even lasts for life without renewal.)

I am more than willing to pay the annual administration fee since 2010 and to show proof of my knowledge, which I have spent last year almost three months refreshing it, yet I can´t go through the whole process of renewing.

So let me please explain my personal situation to make this plausible to you why I can´t do this anymore, why a refusal of my request could at the worst result in me not coming back to Brighton ever again.

The whole process of coming to England and getting the license ended up costing me about 15000 Euros, which I had to put up myself, there was no support such as grants from any side, Germany or England, I wasn´t entitled to any benefits so I had to borrow the full amount from a close friend of mine (who is no friend anymore, in fact he doesn´t talk to me anymore because I was completely unable to pay him any money back due to the recession mainly). When I came over to Brighton I still could see passengers queuing for taxis in the station, by the time I finished the license it was the other way round, due to the recession there were now just queues of taxis, no passengers anymore. So, due to the high costs of living and low income I was completely unable to put any money aside for all of the 9 months I was working there, I was even unable to pay the aprox £900 tax, I had no other choice than to leave England without paying them, I had no money left at all except what I had to use for moving back and to support myself for the first month back in Germany.
As it stands I am still 30000 Euros in debts and I am not able to finance another licensing procedure again this time. I may not be able to do this at all, like I said.

So, practically I am begging you to make an exception for me.
I would be really, really glad if I could go back to Brighton for another time, I still remember perfectly well what we were being told back then that we should be ambassadors of Brighton and what better ambassador can you think of than me blogging about it!

If you´d have a look on my blog you´d see that I wasn´t in a really cheerful mood when I left in early 2009, but that was mainly because of the recession and the really gloomy atmosphere at that time, also because I had serious problems at the place I stayed and furthermore I had high expectations in some private matter, about someone, which didn´t turn out the way I was hoping, which resulted in me regretting I had left England right from that moment on.

Of course there are big cultural differences between our two countries and I am sometimes amused or tend to look at England in a satirical way, but that´s because I am a writer and it certainly helped to put this all into a much better perspective when I left chaotic England and came to well organised Switzerland, where everything is perfect but somehow lifeless, so I really began to miss the English and the way they always manage to stay on top of chaos.

Though I think even more exchange of thoughts and ideas would do Brighton good as it would to England, which is about to become more isolated than ever. Not only as a writer but in general I´m a very considerate, responsible and caring person and I had a lot of thoughts about problems I could observe in Brighton, for example I very much miss in the city with the oldest tram in the world a tram, actually, in Freiburg (Germany), where I spent most of my life or in Zurich, where I drove a cab for 16 months, public transport rely mostly on trams and it´s just perfect.

So, for example I was speaking in favor of running a tram along the sea-front, as many people in Brighton would like, and it would keep the buses away from the main taxis, which should be pedestrianised as in Worthing (where I lived for half a year), I have written a huge article about day-to-day problems in Brighton and how they could be solved (you´d find the whole article on my blog) and sent letters to officials (but they were ignored.)

I´d also very much like to do my small part to make some kind of an impact on the cab-trade in general, according to my plans all throughout Europe, to help wherever I can with my knowledge and experience to improve this job, I am I enlisted in cab-forums in four countries at the moment and I hope I can do a lot more constructive work within the next decade. In general, I am very much a supporter of the strict licensing procedure in Brighton, it sets the standards of how it generally should be anywhere and I am willing to point that out to everybody, yes, all over the world.

So by helping me and making an exception to the strict rules in licensing you might actually add to make Brighton influence the cab-world a tiny bit and make rules more strict. A contradiction, but then again, no rule without exception, isn´t it?

Last but not least, of course, I´d like to point out my literature work not only in the field of cab-driving (to which I have dedicated four novels so far), but also Douglas Adams, too, the Hitch-Hiker´s Guide to the Galaxy, where I have done another translation of all the five books and even written a sixth volume in both German and English, of course all of it was not authorised yet it made quite an impression, I´ve even had personal contact to the deceased author´s own brother about it. Obviously I am not giving up on it to be another official version along the one of Eoin Colfer, which is surely more suitable for young readers.

I’d like to end now, apologise for having written a lot of stuff which is not really relevant for the licensing, I hope you don´t mind, I just wanted to give you a short impression of me and what I am doing that perhaps could influence you to think that I would be worthy to make an exception. According to what Mr. … said, there had never been someone else in my situation and I don´t think that this would do any harm to anything, yet would help me and my project tremendously.”

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 8:33 pm
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Perhaps the council would be more sympathetic if you told them you needed a badge to earn a living rather than to for the purposes of breaking some kind of taxi driver’s world record?

That’s certainly how I’d look at it.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 9:25 pm
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That´s a thought! :shock:
Still, the sponsors don´t ring me up all 30 minutes yet, so it really is for earning a living.
And to go back to Brighton would actually be a step back, not much glory there to be earned.

I´m dead honest I really miss Brighton!
Yet, not so much I´d go through the whole procedure again. :roll:
So, let´s hope they give in in the end, who knows, maybe the email didn´t work (fat chance, ha).

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2012 8:48 am
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So the email has gone trough, proof of that? Well, how about this? “our legal advice is that we cannot accept a renewal application for an expired licence under any circumstances and as your licence expired on 18 May 2010 this means that you will have to apply for a licence as a first applicant.” Now, where are the emoticons, quick! I need them! :twisted: :mrgreen: :evil: :x
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 10:35 am
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Well, I´m pretty sure by now she decided to sit that one out and on not answering (if I´m wrong I apologise) so I publish this second email from this Thursday now here, currently writing on the third, which will really be quite something, they haven´t seen the end of it! :evil:
I wait a few days if there´ll be an answer and if not I will publish the letter here too.

“Dear Madam. Thank you for responding.
As you have declined me what I was hoping for it leaves me now with asking for a compromise.

I mean, it´s just a fact that regulations as they are do not fit for a case like me. I didn´t let the license expire carelessly or because I was no longer interested in the job, but because, although I was still working (!) as a cab-driver, I just simply could not renew it at that time, for a UK-driving license was required. Therefor I shouldn´t even be in the position to beg for an exception, it should indeed be the other way round, whoever is responsible for making such regulations should clearly see that there is a flaw and be happy to make it up to me.

Still, I am ready to make a compromise. Why can´t we have an agreement that suits us both? I would apply as a first-time applicant and follow the exact procedure, which would take 3-4 months and in the mean-time you would allow me to work on a provisional license?

You know I understand your position just as you surely understand mine, so I would be okay with this. Yet if you would not agree even on a compromise and send me away completely empty handed and if this would end up in excluding me completely from working in my job I had trained for a whole year, invested 15000 Euros I had to borrow and passed all tests successfully, I might be inclined to seek legal advice about this if there is a way to sue HCO for discrimination.

Please don´t get me wrong, Madam, I don´t take this in any way personal or would blame you for it, I don´t want to lead this to any resentments on any side, I might really just be happy in the end, if none of this works out, to apply as a first-time applicant again, if I could miraculously get this funded somehow still, yet I am sure you can perfectly understand me, for I have depicted my really dire situation in any detail.”

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 12:29 pm
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Think that will be received like a red hot suppository :lol:
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:57 pm
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Well, I´ve tried nice, haven´t I! 8)
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:25 pm
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gusmac wrote:
Think that will be received like a red hot suppository :lol:

Moreover, why does it always have to be the small people who get it up the arse? :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 10:14 am
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I have received an answer, so I do apologise!

As you realise, we are governed by UK legislation and unfortunately there is no provision in that legislation, or within the council’s Blue Book, to allow us to grant you a provisional licence.

Yet it´s not an answer I am satisfied with, so I will sent my third email today and quite long it is.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:50 am
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After careful consideration I have come up with this! The Ultimate Proposal!!!!

“Dear Madam, thank you again for answering and please accept my apologies that I may have assumed too quickly you wouldn´t.

Moreover, I am sure you have looked at this thoroughly and from all sides.

Yet, you see, my point is, whatever regulation there is and there has to be, for good reasons, there always has to be room for an exception to that rule.
What I´m trying to get across with all this is that my case would justify such an exception.

Surely, if this might be something that even you as the superior cannot decide I´d be happy to deal with the authorities that can. I am sure there will be someone who is directly responsible for these regulations and if it is B&H City Council itself, then I will be happy to deal with them, I am convinced, and I don´t want to appear immodest, that this is something they might accept as an exception and I don´t care how much time it takes or what effort, you see, unlike it would be if I´d come over to England I can keep my head above water here and I have always other work in between. (For France is still not in reach soon I could work towards Innsbruck, Austria, perhaps, in between, to get the license there is a small matter compared with Brighton).

If it would not be possible to supply me with a provisional license then I have a further suggestion, because I would be happy not having to ask for an exception out of sheer mercy or even pity with me, yet as an exchange for something I have to offer!

Now, I might very well just submit this offer to you for your own consideration, yet I´d feel much obliged, if this is indeed something which is out of your hands, that you could perhaps name me someone I could send this to or even forward it to this authority yourself, together with the whole correspondence.

It is an offer which would be very generous on my side, the way I am looking at it, for it would involve a tremendous amount of extra work, much more than a new application would involve, yet it could just be a fine way to sort out this issue in a way that would suit us, and even others, both and therefor I would do the sacrifice gladly.

As I have already made clear I don´t see any point in any of the requirements I would have to meet as a first time applicant again, but I do see a point in Sh****ing proof of a very profound knowledge, even more, it is something I would take much pleasure in Sh****ing to you, because it would be a real challenge for me.

So, to compensate for your generosity, perhaps, by making an exception for me, I would return this favor by demonstrating to you a profound knowledge of B&H roads, as a matter of fact I would have the pleasure to prove that I would be therein the best applicant you´d ever had!

I want to be able to show that my knowledge is so good, that I have a photo-copy of the town-map in my head!

Not only want I be able to answer you all questions in the Theory Test to a hundred percent, in naming which road out of the list is the beginning and end of any road, I want to be capable of drawing a little sketch of the road and it´s adjoining roads, of course not as a piece of art, but still accurate enough!

Of course, if the council or someone else would provide me with a vehicle for the Road Test (as I will not have the means to buy a car like the last time, not even the cheapest one) I would be more than happy to demonstrate my skills in finding the roads behind the wheel, but if not I am offering to go even a step further and demonstrate my capability of finding the shortest way to whichever road you name me from the list, from whichever point in town, blindly, by naming all the roads necessary to pass through or where to turn!

Now you know that this is much more difficult than finding them in reality, for then you would be able to orientate yourself on landmarks and obviously by driving slow enough to spot the road signs, which, I have to give it to the authorities, are quite exemplary signed for in B&H, (even more so if compared with some French towns where they are almost invisible).

Moreover, I would be more than willing to do this in a sort of a contest, thereby helping to motivate drivers to do a good job and be more satisfied with it by triggering their ambition, in Brighton and elsewhere, the more drivers who would want to take part in that contest the better. Now to pimp this up media-wise we could even try to get this on TV in shows like “Wetten, dass” (You Bet!) or anything else suitable. (Though it pretty much looks like Wetten, dass, the most successful TV-show in Europe will not run again, sadly.) Yet, just trying to get on shows like these will get a lot of positive attention for B&H´s standards on knowledge, which should be standard world-wide, I still am happy to emphasize, just as I want to emphasize that annual renewal is, erm, less good.

(Needless to say, of course, my knowledge right now is not up to scratch yet, so I would need time for it and advance notice.)

Yours sincerely, Jochen Lembke

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:04 pm
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Dont forget that you have already done the knowledge and a dsa driving test if required so all you require is your badge renewal
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:43 pm
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Your word in God´s ear, Skippy.

Well, that approach “I´ve done that already, now gimmie the badge, alright” unfortunately has not worked. So, now this is the “Brain vs Bureaucracy”-approach.

I mean, there´s still enough time to bring out the big guns if even that won´t help.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:03 pm
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The council are saying, quite rightly, that a person without a license is a person without a license.

The reasons you don’t have a license might be genuine, but you still don’t have a license.

Therefore as you don’t have a license you need to do whatever the council deem fit for you to gain a license.

However I suspect they will not require you to do the DSA is you have a pass certificate.

_________________
IDFIMH
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About Jochen Lembke

Europe's cab-driving writer
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