Despite being “attacked” by taxi drivers, black cabs need protecting, Massow insists
Ivan Massow, the entrepreneur turned mayoral hopeful, believes that London’s iconic black cabs need protection from the growing number of minicabs on the streets.
Speaking to LondonLovesBusiness.com, Massow said that despite being “attacked” by cab drivers on Twitter, he believes that London’s iconic black cabs should be protected by restricting minicab licences and removing red-tape imposed on black cabs by Transport for London (TfL).
He said: “Taxi drivers, though I’m reluctant to say it, are so, so evil to me these days, though I’ve never said anything bad about them. For some reason they attack me constantly on Twitter, using the most grotesque language. I don’t know why they think that’s a good tactic, but it’s deeply upsetting. However I do really understand their plight.
“They have massive training, they were forced to produce taxis that had wheelchair access, they have iconic cars that are expensive and are a symbol of London, and for me are an exciting part of coming to London, and I do believe that needs to be protected in some way,” he added.
Massow set up his own financial services company in 1990, offering gay men insurance and mortgage advice at a time when fear of HIV and AIDS was at its highest and most discriminatory. The firm, Massow Financial Services, grew to become one of the UK’s top 10 biggest financial services companies. This background, he says, means that he is keen to see established business models challenged.
“I am an entrepreneur, I do approve of disruptive businesses, and I do think markets are entitled to find a better solution for customers.
“So it’s about somehow finding a middle ground and finding a way through that’s also legal, because there are very few restrictions you could put on Uber that wouldn’t be challengeable through court anyway.
“So I don’t think you can ban Uber, but there is the option of restricting licences, and that could possibly work. And that’s happened elsewhere in the world, and we do have an awful lot.
Nonetheless, Massow is clearly conflicted about his own experiences of using taxis in London.
“As I walk down the road and see these yellow lights floating about, I do feel guilty.
“Cab drivers have needed a lot of help to move forward with modern times. In the past it was hard to get a cab to take you to Brixton seven or 10 years ago, let alone Dalston, and you often couldn’t get one if you were black. I’d often have to stand with friends to get them taxis, while they stood in doorways. When I lived in Dalston 20 years ago, I remember having to hide my friends, hail a cab, and put them in, such was the racism – it was a different time.
“But now, one of the reasons why cabs can’t compete is to do with restrictions placed on them by TfL and I think we can look at those.”