How I will fight HCO over the next years
– an important point is that not only in HCO, but basically in the whole of Brighton & Hove City Council nothing ever works. How could it, when there is no mayor, when the councilmen don´t get paid? The whole system is inefficient and is neglecting the basic needs of the people. Moreover, the whole chain they developed to give people the right to complain does not work, because the system is defending itself, criticism is not tolerated, that´s why my complaint was ignored by the superior of HCO´s Head Officer, was ignored by the Standards and Complaints Officer, was ignored by the Local Government Ombudsman. The system defends itself.
– I, personally, think that B&H is, in terms of bureaucracy, stubbornness and sovereign attitude THE worst HCO in Western Europe (where-else do you have to use a phone first to talk to them and is a sign saying that abusive behavior is not tolerated, I´ve never seen this anywhere else and there certainly is a reason for that, that people are not satisfied with them!), but I want to know this for sure, so I will use my member-ship in cab-forums in so far four countries to actually pose that question, who is the HCO in Western Europe with the worst bureaucracy, and will only propose B&H. I will encourage a live discussion and there will be links to the other forums so that you can actually talk to them about this and have a discussion.
– HCO treats their clients not like people to be licensed, they treat them like cattle to be brandished. If they are not willing to make an exception in a situation which not only calls for an exception, but shouts, they are not willing to spend any thought on anyone. Yet at the same time they practice a system of endless self-perpetuating work, a bureaucratic monster called annual renewal, which is only there to ensure that there is enough work for the licensing officers and this in the dire times of public deficit! So, the whole thing contradicts itself, there are not there for the people because this would be too much work and at the same time they create superfluous work to keep them too busy to be there for the people. (Same with the DSA-test, which only ensures the drivers ability to drive like back in driving school for half an hour, instead of a test that ensures the ability of professional driving under stress, which could just be proven in the final road test, there is no need for an extra test.) I also very strongly believe that their neglect for the people is systematic, I think that they actually are going so far as to despise drivers and talk bad about them behind their backs, so that I will lodge a disciplinary complaint, accusing them exactly of this.
– Like I said, the licensing process is altogether not really good to separate the wheat from the chaff. Instead of annual renewal there should be even stricter licencing terms in the form of continuous checks of knowledge and language. That goes for other problems too, especially that there are too many licences on the market and there is no tool to remove them from the market again, once they are superfluous. Moreover, there should be a smart tariff, encouraging people to take cabs for a longer distance and not just for round the corner with three suitcases and no tip. The fact, that in B&H the meter doesn´t count up for the first, say, 500 yards, is not smart tariff, it´s stupid tariff. In Freiburg it´s the other way round, so there is basically no trip below 8 Euros anymore, even if it´s just short distance.
– I will try to involve as many drivers in this as possible and make them show solidarity, as this is nothing but any other random act of official arbitrariness the council has shown before and basically a result of the pointless process of annual renewal. For this I want to emphasize that I just want to be treated like anybody else. I may have tried the approach with HCO before that I am a special cab-driver who deserves some special attention (like I basically tried everything in the book to make them change their minds), but I do see now that this is clearly a blind alley. In this case I want to be nothing but an ordinary driver who is discriminated because of stupid regulations and stubborn bureaucrats, who are not doing their job and this is in no way different from other ordinary drivers who are victims of any official arbitrariness. The bottom line is we all can get into a mess like this and many have been already.
– I will try everything possible to get maximum public and media attention for this. From time to time I want to visit Brighton for certain activities that will ensure that. I will go to the ranks and try to talk to as many drivers in person as possible, I will let them know about this and I will ask them where they personally had trouble with HCO before. Some actions might be quite spectacular, depending on my mood at that time, it might very well be that I will dress like a historical person that has already been quite a pain in the arse of the English authorities, but I can´t promise. Following that line I might also be inclined to point out that English authorities have always been quite generous with rules and regulations, when it meant to invade countries (Iraq) and send destroyers to others (Malvinas, in case this word is unknown (which it shouldn´t) the Falklands) than they are inclined to make exceptions for small people.
– In any case, a very important column of my resistance will be the super-knowledge I have already announced. By now I already have the town-map of B&H in my head, I am capable of drawing a sketch of almost all the roads that are asked in the tests, in detail, within the next year or two I will be able to do this in every perfection imaginable, with all the little alley-ways and little specks and dots listed in the A-Z Street-finder. Like I said, I want to claim this as on official world-record, as the best cab-knowledge there is, in a major town and per square-mile and try to get into TV with this. (I know the London chaps still have done more work, but of most London areas they only have a rough idea about.) Anyway, this is just the “Brain vs Bureaucracy”-approach that will ridicule them sufficiently, on one side the bean counters of the council, on the other side sophistication and cosmopolitanism, Jochen Lembke, Europe´s cab-driving writer, generously and casually Sh****ing off some super-knowledge on the side just to make a point and them look ridiculous. Looks to me like I can only win and they can only lose, looks to me why should I drive a cab in Brighton, when I can get more attention as a writer this way, thanks indeed, B&H HCO.
Jochen Lembke, Europe´s cab-driving writer and author of the best Hitch-hiker´s-Guide-to-the-Galaxy-volume-six ever written. Or else money back (haha.) My blog in English language: https://ejochenlembke.wordpress.com/