A guest post by Danny, @m37411ic48
On Friday 9th of September 2011, disgruntled London Taxi drivers staged a flash demo at the Grange St Pauls Hotel where the LOCOG committee were staying, to express their anger at plans that London Taxis are to be excluded from over 100 miles of London Roads for 100 days during the Olympics/Paralympics. Attempts by cabbies to highlight this to TfL (Transport for London) have been met with a point blank refusal to consider taxis access to these Olympic VIP lanes along the lines of "rules are rules and we aren't about to change them for you" which seems to have resulted in the more militant approach of direct action from the cabbies as we saw on Friday. The entire hotel was surrounded by London taxis for about an hour meaning that the Olympic committee (who had booked private hire vehicles to take them to the airport) were in a bit of an awkward position.
The Taxi flash demo was organised by the United Cabbies Group (UCG) and supported by many more, arranged via text & twitter within 12 hours, and resulted in many more taxis turning up than was actually needed to blockade the hotel resulting in traffic chaos all around St Pauls Cathedral. Of course, it could be that the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who is fully aware of the taxi drivers position on this, had failed to mention it to the Olympic organising committee, I'm sure that after being blocked in their hotel for an hour they won't be forgetting about it now.
The mood amongst many of the cabbies present at the demo of the situation appears to be thus, either the taxis are allowed access to the Olympic VIP lanes or there is the possibility of further demonstrations of this kind in the run up to and during the Olympic games themselves. The ball is very firmly in the court of the IOC & LOCOG as to whether they want London taxi drivers to be positive and promote the Olympics or whether they would rather have disruption through mass demonstration, time will tell which course of action the IOC deem preferable.
Submitted by Steve Dowding on Sat, 10/09/2011 - 12:14.