LTDA council responds to claims that the taxi co-op has been ‘captured’

The general secretary says the group are ‘resisting change’ but they claim members are being denied a voice

The general secretary of the London Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) has answered allegations from a group of members who are trying to remove current members of the Council of Management (COM).

The group of 120 drivers claim the COM has captured control of the LTDA, the co-operative society which represents around 10,000 black cab drivers in the capital. Represented by Anthony Collins Solicitors, they have called a special meeting with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to remove council members.

But general secretary Steve McNamara says the group are resisting “change to a more democratic system”.

Speaking to trade website TaxiPoint he said: “We agreed, at the other side’s request, not to release any details of this pending its resolution.

“Quite frankly we are stunned that they have now done these press releases and have made a formal complaint to both the FCA and the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

“We have sought to get away from the ‘show of hands’ at a meeting that has resulted in intimidation and threats against members. We favour a one member one vote, by postal ballot, where all members have a democratic vote, not just a handful who hold a meeting in a pub.

“A small group of members are resisting this change to a more democratic system.”

The group of members have in turn responded to Mr McNamara’s comments.

In an online statement, they said: “Over 120 drivers signed a formal application to the FCA. In addition to this, over 300 drivers have signed a petition for the removal of the council. Neither 120 drivers nor 300 drivers is a small number.”

They say the application for a special meeting will allow all members to “hear the truth about what has been going on in the LTDA under the current council, and have a chance to ask their own questions and express their own views to them. We believe the council are frightened of this.”

They argue that the COM is proposing the rule change because “they do not want to have to face drivers in person at a meeting, and to answer difficult questions, which they have failed to answer so far.

“They are trying to change the democratic process so that they can secure whatever changes to the rules and other decisions they want without ever having to face the members in a meeting.”

Furthermore, the group argues that the council is trying to change the rules using “an illegal process”. They say the current rules require members to vote at a meeting on any rules change.

But, they add, “the council have destroyed the ability for the members to have any voice in the LTDA by suspending the branches representing 99.3% of the members; and changing the rules so that the members can no longer call a special meeting themselves unless 51% of the members sign a requisition for such a meeting, which is virtually impossible.”

They added: “The general secretary has consistently characterised our group as small, disruptive, intimidating and threatening. He fails to acknowledge the true number, the fact that we are following due process, and that we are doing so assisted by a law firm known for its expertise in co-operative law.

“The FCA has agreed that we have made out a case for a special meeting, and that meetings of the branches should be called as part of the process.

“Members need to understand why the LTDA has lost £4m in the last five years, why Taxi House was sold without member consultation and why elections are being held without proper oversight – such that a legitimate candidate has been disqualified from standing.”