The Hansom Cab of The Sherlock Holmes Museum - barred from entering any of London's Royal Parks.

THE SHERLOCK HOLMES MUSEUM
221B Baker Street, London NW1 6XE England.

The museum has tried unsuccessfully for almost two decades to obtain a licence to drive our 1899 Forder hansom cab through the Royal Parks. Under the Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997 (formerly known as the Royal Parks and Other Gardens Regulations 1972) commercial vehicles are prohibited from travelling along the park roads without a licence. "Hackney carriages" were formerly exempt from this prohibition, but subsequently only "taxis" were exempt (hackney carriages licensed by the Public Carriage Office.)

The hansom cab is deemed to be a commercial vehicle and therefore requires a licence.

Correspondence with the Royal Parks Agency initially began in 1993 with Mrs Adams, the Acting Bailiff of the Royal Parks and it is still live in 2011  with various officials including the Minister for Tourism and Minister for Culture.  We have therefore spent 17 years seeking permission to drive the hansom cab through the Royal Parks unimpeded by red tape - but we have still not succeeded in gaining a permit to enter any of the parks.

Mr George Hipwell for the Royal Parks Agency initially argued in 1993 that the hansom cab was not a hackney carriage (when 'hackney carriages' were exempt from the prohibition relating to commercial vehicles) and therefore it had no right to enter the parks. We attempted to argue that the Hansom cab is a prime example of a hackney carriage and moreover is a symbol of London's transport heritage.( Photos ) but our argument fell on deaf ears.

Mr David McClaren for the Royal Parks Agency raised the prospect of having to close roads for "health and safety reasons" were the hansom cab to be permitted to drive through the parks, while the senior parks manager Mr David Clarke raised the issue of "horse mess" being left unattended on the roads.

We ignored the bureaucratic bunkum of "road closures" postulated by Mr McClaren as amounting to no more than a lame excuse for not granting a licence and offered to clear up any "horse mess" left on the roads to appease Mr Clarke, but low and behold a Ms Julia Frayne - yet another official at the Royal 'Perks' Agency - popped her head up above the parapet to declare that even if the cab were allowed to enter the parks, we could not stop anywhere on the park roads!

It became obvious that the only way we could travel through the Royal Parks without stopping while at the same time fulfilling our obligation to clear up any "horse mess" would be to tie the horse's nosebag to it's rear end, which would not enamour the horse towards the cab driver.

The reader is invited to peruse extracts from the record of correspondence between The Sherlock Holmes Museum, The Royal Parks Agency,  and the various Secretaries of State for Culture Media and Sport and to then conclude whether the  term "Tin-Pot Hitler" does not admirably describe the typical British bureaucrat.

__________________________________


To Mr David McLaren
Head of Policy
The Royal Parks Agency.                                Thursday 13th September 2007

Dear Mr McLaren.

We were previously in correspondence with Mr George Hipwell in 1993 whom we understand has now retired from the Royal Parks Agency.

As you may be aware, the museum possesses an authentic horse-drawn hansom cab which we would like from time to time to drive through the Royal Parks, not least because the horse needs a rest away from traffic and a pleasant walk through the park does it good. We would like to drive along the roads in Hyde Park, Green Park and Regent's Park.

The detour that one needs to make if one cannot drive through a Royal Park is considerable as they take up prime areas of Central London and therefore we would like to know the Agency's current position about licencing the hansom cab so that it can pass along the roads in the Royal Parks.

The hansom cab will not be used to ply for hire as is not a licensed taxi and cannot pick up passengers. We may carry people who have pre-booked a ride, or the cab may be empty.

The cab may be used to carry VIPs say from 10 Downing Street to a hotel during the year, or it may need to pass along the park roads on the New Year's Day parade, or it may be used in conjunction with transporting guests to and fro a Garden Party held at Buckingham Palace; or it could be used to transport people who are required to attend Buckingham Palace to receive an Honour. There could be any number of perceived uses or reasons as to why the hansom cab may need to enter a Royal Park, even if it is to give the horse a break from London's traffic noise and disturbance.

A yearly licence would allow us to drive the cab on any day when the park gates are open to normal traffic, or when otherwise permitted by virtue of the cab being required to make a delivery to a residence in the Royal Parks.

We are aware of the Royal Parks and Other Gardens Regulations, and have a copy of them in our possession.

In order for the hansom cab service to be financially viable, discreet advertisements may appear on the sides of the vehicle from sponsors which would be impracticable to remove or conceal on each occasion that the hansom cab enters a Royal Park. We note that licensed taxis and tour buses are allowed to enter the Royal Parks and that there is no stipulation that advertisements are removed from such vehicles.

We would be pleased to hear from you with a view to discussing the possibility of obtaining a licence from the Royal Parks Agency that would allow the hansom cab to enter the Royal Parks.

I do not think it is necessary to touch upon the delight that the hansom cab brings to pedestrians and visitors to London, as it is self-evident that the hansom cab is a well known icon of Victorian London and creates enjoyment wherever it is seen, and I hope you will agree that few onlookers would consider it incongruous in the setting of the Royal Parks which have a long tradition of being a haven for horses.

It is important for London that such a vehicle can be seen more frequently on the roads of Central London, and we trust that the Royal Parks Agency will accede to our request to arrange for a licence/permit  to be granted to the Museum.

I await to hear from you as soon as possible.

Yours faithfully,

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk

Tel: 0207-224 3688

The Hansom Cab in Regents Park London - The Royal Parks Agency refuses to allow the hansom cab to drive in any of the the Royal Parks

Dear Mr Aidiniantz                                                       27th September 2007

Thank you for your email. As you say, you have been in touch with this organisation before about driving your hansom carriage through The Royal Parks. The position has not changed and park regulations restrict advertising in the Royal Parks.   

We are therefore unable to agree to your proposals.  I should add that there are other practical challenges to do with traffic management and Short Notice Road Closures which also cause difficulties.


I am sorry for what will be a disappointing reply.


David McLaren

dmclaren@royalparks.gsi.gov.uk

Tel 0207 298 2018/2008

Hello Mr McLaren                                            29th September 2007

Your decision comes as no surprise - what would be a surprise is if the Royal Parks Agency paused for a moment to think a little more deeply about such requests.

Whilst any amount of noise and disruption seems to be the order of the day in arranging the large outdoor concerts in the park that the Agency permits, with all the attendant road closures involved, there is no room it seems to accommodate the 'spectacle' of a horse-drawn carriage quietly passing along the thoroughfares.

Where is the sense in this and what right does the Agency have to allow one, but not the other? In addition to the outdoor concerts and other events that the Agency permits, the Agency has for many years permitted taxis and tour buses to enter the Royal Parks whether they carry trade advertisements or not.

I am at a loss therefore to understand the continued refusal of the Royal Parks Agency - which goes back more than a decade - to allow a hansom cab horse-drawn carriage to enter the Royal Parks.

The issue of road closures is totally irrelevant to our request and has no bearing on the matter whatsoever.

In fairness to yourself  I am giving you the opportunity to add to your reply if you wish to do so before I take this matter up directly with Buckingham Palace.

Her Majesty as you will know has always been very fond of horses and therefore I am sure she would find it difficult to understand why the Royal Parks Agency appears to have something against them.

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum

Dear Mr Aidiniantz                                      Monday, October 01, 2007

Horse riding has taken place in the Royal Parks since their creation and horses are a familiar and much loved feature of many of the parks today.  This organisation does not, as you say, have anything against horses.

There are restrictions on advertising in the parks and your proposal breaches the regulations in this respect.

David McLaren

Hello Mr Mclaren                                                                     1st October 2007

Unfortunately we do not have Government funding and therefore must rely upon sponsorship to run the carriage. It would not be feasible to remove advertising from our vehicle simply because we wish to travel along the roads of the Royal Parks.

Whilst we are on the subject of funding, can you please let me know why the Royal Parks Agency considers advertising on taxis and tour buses to be permissible under the regulations, but not on privately owned horse-drawn vehicles?

John Aidiniantz

To The Royal Parks Agency

Mr David McLaren - Head of Policy

Dear Mr McLaren                                                               4th October 2007


Can you please reply to the question I have posed in my earlier email to you
of 1st October 2007:

"please let me know why the Royal Parks Agency considers advertising on
taxis and tour buses to be permissible under the regulations, but not on
privately owned horse-drawn vehicles?"

If the Royal Parks Agency has created an exemption for trade vehicles such
as motor taxis and tour buses carrying advertising to pass along the park
roads, either by way of licence or acquiescence, then to exclude our hansom
cab from passing along the park roads would I believe be an affront to a
sense of fairness.

Let me take the opportunity of reminding you of the following principle of
public law:

The Wednesbury principle, which dates from 1948, states that public bodies
are required to be reasonable in the decisions that they make. It is the
criteria used by the court when a judicial review case is taken to it-it is
the basis on which public bodies are taken to judicial review. The
Wednesbury principle of unreasonableness is used to determine whether the
decision taken was one that no reasonable person could have come to. Without
question, therefore, reasonableness is in the body of law and is an
obligation on public bodies.

I bring this to your attention only because we do not intend to let this
matter rest much longer.

We intend to drive our horse-drawn hansom cab up the the gates of St James's
Park while tour buses and taxis are entering the park, and to publicise via
television and the press, the unfairness and unreasonableness of the
Agency's policy towards horse-drawn traffic.

I await to hear from you in response to our question raised above, and to
receive any other comments you might wish to make at this stage.

John Aidiniantz

To The Royal Parks Agency
Mr David McLaren - Head of Policy

Dear Mr McLaren                                      2nd November 2007

It appears that I have not received any response to my earlier email  of 4th October 2007, which was a 'chasing' email as a result of the non-response to my previous email dated 1st October 2007.

I pose the question again, set out in my emails of 1/10/07 and 4/10/07:

"can you please let me know why the Royal Parks Agency considers advertising on taxis and tour buses to be permissible under the regulations, but not on privately owned horse-drawn vehicles?"

I would also ask you to acknowledge that your response to my original request of 13/9/07 was not appropriate nor applicable to the circumstances of our request:

"The position has not changed and park regulations restrict advertising in the Royal Parks.   We are therefore unable to agree to your proposals.  I should add that there are other practical challenges to do with traffic management and the short notice road closures which also cause difficulties."

I await to hear your response.

Yours faithfully,

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum

Dear Mr Aidiniantz                                                     Friday, November 02, 2007

Thank you for your email.  You want to carry out a commercial activity in the Royal Parks.  You have sought permission and this has been refused.  The Royal Parks are unique and special places and this organisation seeks to limit the number of commercial activities it permits.

Under the Regulations, taxis have long been permitted in the Parks.   As you note, some do carry advertising and specific permission has been granted by Ministers for this.  We also issue a limited number of individual licenses for coaches who bring people to visit the parks.

David McLaren

To The Royal Parks Agency
Mr David McLaren - Head of Policy

Dear Mr McLaren,                                                    2nd November 2007

Thank you for your reply dealing with the matters raised in my emails of 1/10/07 and 4/10/07 which carries no explanation for the one month delay in receiving your response.

We have not suggested that we wish to carry out any commercial activity in the Royal Parks, just as we have not suggested any need for short notice road closures.

I appreciate that the Royal Parks are intended to provide a respite from the surrounding urban landscape and that commercial activities (aside of course from the usual pop concerts, fun fairs, and other money-making activities licensed throughout the year by the Royal Parks Agency) are therefore generally not permitted in the Royal Parks.

We merely wish however to travel along the Park Roads with our horse-drawn hansom cab without let or hindrance, for the purpose of traversing across the Royal Parks, as other taxis and coaches are allowed to do. We do not wish to engage in commercial activity in any of the Royal parks, although we may be invited from time to time to attend social or charitable events that are held within the parks. We do not know if our hansom cab falls within the definition of a 'commercial vehicle' in the sense referred to in the regulations, but it certainly falls within the definition of a hackney carriage, in so far as it consists of a hackney horse and carriage of the type specifically used in late Victorian times for licensed hackney carriages; and we use it not merely for commercial purposes, but sometimes as indicated for charitable events.

You have indicated that the Secretary of State for Media Culture and Sport has provided permission for motorised hackney carriages (taxi's) carrying advertising to pass along the Park Roads, and therefore I would be grateful if you would respond in a timely manner with more information about when this permission was granted and under what Act of Parliament.

I believe we would have strong grounds for claiming that it must be held unreasonable and somewhat perverse to allow motorised hackney carriages carrying advertising to pass along the park roads, but not if a hackney carriage is pulled by a horse.

In any event, I would like to learn more about the ministerial permission to which you are referring.

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum

Dear Mr Aidiniantz                                               Monday, November 05, 2007

Under the Regulations, taxis are vehicles licensed under the Metropolitan Carriage Act 1869.  If you want to apply to be licensed as taxi you will need to apply  to the Public Carriage Office.  The Royal Parks Regulations are on our website.  This sets out the position on taxis and the Secretary of State's powers.

David McLaren David McLaren
Head of Policy
Royal Parks Agency

To The Royal Parks Agency
Mr David McLaren - Head of Policy

Dear Mr McLaren,                                                     5th November 2007

Thank you for your prompt response.

We do not wish to carry out any commercial activity in the Royal Parks and do not wish to licence our hansom cab for use as a taxi, and I apologise if we have even mentioned the thought.

What we wish to do is to simply drive the hansom cab along the Park Roads in order to get from one side of a park to another. We have no wish to stop to engage in any commercial activity.

We cannot be expected to make a lengthy detour should we wish for example to get from Hyde Park Corner to Parliament Square, and vice versa. This is not fair on the horse and not fair on us.

I appreciate that your hands may be tied because under the regulations one cannot drive along the park roads with a hansom cab if the following applies:

Acts in a Park for which written permission is required
    
4.  (8)  exhibit any notice or advertisement or any other written or pictorial matter;

    (27) drive or ride any vehicle which is constructed, adapted or in use for the purpose of a trade or business except as specified in Part I of Schedule 2 to these Regulations.

 

I was hoping however that you could act in a fair way, having regard for the fact that the Royal Parks Agency seems to licence every other type of activity under the sun - from rock concerts to the recent London-Brighton run (all of the vehicles of which carried heavy sponsorship signs from the Daily Mail).

 

I will therefore forward this correspondence to the Secretary of State for the National Heritage in the hope that common sense might prevail to allow a traditional horse-drawn hansom cab, which is a British icon, to once again pass along the Park Roads as they were permitted to do in Victorian Times.

 

 

Yours faithfully,

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum

The Secretary of State for National Heritage
Mr James Purnell MP
House of Commons
London SW1                                                                                             7th November 2007

Dear Mr Purnell,

As you can see from the enclosed correspondence, we have been unsuccessful in seeking permission from the Royal Parks Agency to drive a Victorian horse-drawn hansom cab along the Park Roads in the various Royal Parks.

We recently had the embarrassment of having to explain to a distinguished overseas visitor Mt Vasily Livanov OBE the reason why we would not be able to drive past the gates of Buckingham Palace, even though he had previously obtained his honour from the Queen!

Here is a picture of his recent trip to London being driven in our hansom cab:
http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk/pr/livanov/

I think you will agree that it does not convey the right impression to our overseas visitors if we have to stop at the park gates to tell them to get out and walk, because we cannot enter the park, while other taxis and coaches can enter without hindrance.

This is neither fair nor reasonable.

We therefore seek your permission to drive along the Park Roads with our horse-drawn hansom cab during normal park opening hours, so as not to contravene the following clauses under the park regulations:

The Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997

Acts in a Park for which written permission is required
   
4         (8)  exhibit any notice or advertisement or any other written or pictorial matter;

         (27) drive or ride any vehicle which is constructed, adapted or in use for the purpose of a trade or business except as specified in Part I of Schedule 2 to these Regulations (ie., Taxis).


In regard to 4. (8) it would be impractical for us to remove any discreet advertising panels on our hansom cab (assuming that this clause applies to advertising panels on vehicles) and therefore should that regulation need to be considered, we request to be treated in the same way as licensed taxis and coaches that are not required to remove their advertising panels while driving along the park roads. I should add that we have no intention to 'ply for hire' as we do not operate as a taxi, but rather as a private hire vehicle.

We would be grateful to receive the permission requested once you have had an opportunity to consider the matter.

If I can assist further, please let me know.

Yours faithfully,

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk
Tel: 0207-935-4430

CC David McLaren
Head of Policy - Royal Parks Agency

Dear Mr Aidiniantz,                                                             10th December 2007

Thank you for your e-mail requesting permission for your horse drawn hansom cab to be driven through the Royal Parks.

Previous requests for permission have been refused by The Royal Parks and I have obtained, from their Head of Policy, David McLaren, a copy of the previous e-mail correspondence.

I was wondering if you could perhaps supply some more detail about the exact nature of your hansom cab operation. Apart from being used for special or charitable occasions, can anybody go for a ride in it, and how much do they pay ?

Is there any sort of timetable element, or a set route for ‘normal’ customers ? Would a set route go through any of the Royal Parks if it could, or are you just looking for permission from the Parks so you can drive through them if you need to ?

Grateful for any additional information you can supply.

Thanks,

Chris Green
Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch
Department for Culture Media & Sport

To Mr Chris Green
Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch
Department of Culture Media and Sport.

Dear Mr Green                                                                                  10th December 2007

Hansom Cab - Permission to drive along Park Roads

Thank you for your email received today.

We are seeking a general permission to be able to drive along the park roads with our hansom cab. We do have any any set time or route in mind, because much will depend on the purpose of the journey and the park itself.

We will not be plying for hire because we are not a licensed taxi and have no wish to pick up passengers on an ad hoc basis. Pedestrian cannot therefore book a ride in our hansom by hailing it, and therefore there are no setting-down or pick-up locations to consider.

Individuals or organisations would pre-book the hansom cab for a particular occasion, and depending on the nature of the booking, we may need to traverse one of the Royal Parks in Central London, such as Regent's Park, Hyde Park, or St James's Park.

The minimum fee for hiring the hansom cab would be in the region of 400 - so it would be reserved for special occasions such as Wedding Anniversaries or charity functions, whereby a ride in the hansom cab might be given as a prize in a raffle.

We are not proposing to operate tours with the hansom cab, because the cost of a tour would be prohibitive, but as I have already mentioned, special journeys for VIPs could be booked, and these journeys may involve the necessity to enter one of the Royal Parks.

In most cases however, the hansom cab may not need to enter any of the Royal Parks and would remain on the public roads. The operation requires about 100,000 per year to run, and as we have explained in our correspondence with the royal Parks Agency, part of this funding would be achieved via sponsorship, with the placing of discreet advertising on the hansom cab. If we had lottery money we would not need to display any sponsorship material.

I do not share any of the concerns expressed by Mr McClaren in his email to us of 27th September 2007 in regard to the possible need to consider short notice road closures:

"You have been in touch with this organisation before about driving your hansom carriage through The Royal Parks. The position has not changed and park regulations restrict advertising in the Royal Parks. We are therefore unable to agree to your proposals. I should add that there are other practical challenges to do with traffic management and the short notice road closures which also cause difficulties."

The question of road closures in our view simply does not apply. The hansom cab is a single vehicle pulled by a single horse and although it cannot travel as fast as motor vehicles, there is certainly no reason to close off any roads.

We hope that you will be able to grant permission in due course to enable us to pass along the park roads, but in the meantime we would be pleased to assist you in furnishing any information you might require.

Many people including Westminster City Council have expressed an interest in seeing more horse-drawn traffic in Central London, but this needs the cooperation of the Royal Parks Agency because it is impractical to expect horse-drawn traffic to circumnavigate the Royal Parks while travelling in and around Central London.

Yours faithfully,

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk
Tel: 0207-935-4430

Dear Mr Aidiniantz,                                       Monday, January 14, 2008

Thank you for your e-mail of 10 December, providing me with more detail about your Hansom cab operation.

By charging a fee for hiring the cab, the Museum is clearly engaging in a commercial activity.  David McLaren’s e-mail to you dated 2 November states that your application was refused as The Royal Parks need to limit the number of commercial activities they permit. However, in their correspondence with you, The Royal Parks have offered a solution which would enable your hansom cab to be driven through the parks.

Unfortunately, the Department is unable to overrule the final decision of the Royal Parks, which was made in accordance with their regulations.  

Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying.

Yours sincerely

Chris Green
Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch
Department for Culture, Media & Sport

To Mr Chris Green
Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch
Department of Culture Media and Sport.

Hello Mr Green                                                           14th January 2008

Thank you for your reply to our request for permission to drive a hansom cab along the roads of the Royal Parks.

You state that in their correspondence with us, The Royal Parks Agency have offered a solution which would enable us to drive our hansom cab along the park roads.

I assume that the solution you are alluding to is for us to remove any advertising that the hansom cab displays, which unfortunately cannot and will not be done. It would be like asking taxis to cover up their advertising while they drive through the Royal Parks, which frankly would be a stupid and impractical request to make. Yet the same request as I understand is being asked of us by the Royal Parks Agency and now it seems also by the Secretary of State.

Can you suggest any sensible or fair reason why Taxis should be allowed to pass along the park roads carrying advertising, while our hansom cab should be obliged to remove its sponsor's advertisements?

I believe that The Royal Parks Agency have a responsibility not to act like a despotic landowner by depriving  the public and tourists coming to London of the opportunity of seeing a working example of one of London's historic icons on the roads of the capital.

If we need to push for a Private Member's Bill to get our hansom cab into the Royal Parks, then this is an option we will consider, aside from the legal question of unreasonableness.

In my capacity as a director of a popular heritage museum in Central London, I have to say that the lack of support from your department is really quite lamentable, as it displays a noticeable lack of interest in London's heritage.

One can only question in these circumstances the role that the Secretary of State of Culture Media and Sport is serving in terms of promoting England's cultural treasures, and the point of your working in the department apart from drawing a salary? The same question of course needs to be put to Mr McLaren.

If I can assist further, please let me know.

Yours faithfully,


John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk
Tel: 0207-935-4430

To The Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport
Mr James Purnell MP

21st January 2008

Dear Mr Purnell,                                

Most cities in the world would be expected to do all they can to encourage the promotion of their cultural heritage, yet here in London we find a situation were the custodians of our cultural heritage - principally your department - wishes to exclude a horse-drawn hansom cab from entering the Royal Parks, with the result that it cannot get from one part of London to another without having to make needless trips around the perimeters, while the horse itself is deprived of the opportunity of obtaining some fresh air and peace that the parks can offer.

The hansom cab is a symbol of London, if not of England. Instead of putting up obstacles to its operation, you ought be giving every encouragement so that this remarkable vehicle can be seen by the public in operation, and not just in a static museum setting.

The pretext that the Royal Parks Agency and your department has used for denying us permission to enter the Royal Parks is the fact that the hansom cab carries a discreet advertisement from sponsorship advertising, yet no suggestion has been made that permission would be granted were we to remove the advertisement!

The question of the advertisement therefore is exposed for what it is: a red herring.

The Royal Parks Agency permits thousands of taxis displaying advertising panels to enter the Royal Parks every day. Mr McLaren of The Royal Parks Agency states that permission for this advertising has been specifically granted by your department, but there is no evidence that such permission has ever been granted. The Agency does not preclude sponsorship advertising when it grants a licence to commercial events organisers such as the London to Brighton rally. Every vehicle in that event carries the sponsor's advertisement from The Daily Mail. Numerous other events from Rock concerts to exhibitions all carry sponsor advertising.

What is the actual position of your department in relation to granting permission for the hansom cab to enter the Royal Parks?

(a) The department would grant permission if no advertisements were displayed while travelling along the park roads.

(b) Permission would not be granted, regardless as to whether any advertisements are displayed.

If (b) applies, let us not continue the pretence of the possibility of permission being granted. Simply state in an honest manner that permission to enter the Royal Parks is denied. 

In that case all parties will clearly know their position, and that it has nothing to do with section 4 (8) of the Royal Parks regulations relating to the display of advertisements.

If I can assist further please let me know.

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
Tel: 0207-935-1127
The Sherlock Holmes Museum

www.Sherlock-Holmes.co.uk

25th January 2008

Dear Mr Aidiniantz,

Thank you for copying me in to the above e-mail.

I have been advised that The Royal Parks are currently reviewing the form an operating licence would take, and that you will be contacted by them in due course.

Regards,

Chris Green
Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch
Department for Culture, Media & Sport
Christopher.green@culture.gsi.gov.uk
Tel: 0207-211-6200

To Mr Chris Green
Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch
Department of Culture Media and Sport.

29th May 2008

Hello Mr Green

Further to your email of 25th January 2008, do you have any information about the operating licence that we understand is being reviewed by the Royal Parks Agency?

We receive requests constantly from tourist and other organisations who would wish to see the hansom cab in action in order to help generate publicity for attracting overseas tourists to London. We enclose a typical email received today which has prompted us to write to you again.

Society and charitable events also take place  in the Royal Parks from time to time, for example at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park and in Regents Park, where next month the St Marylebone Society is having its annual gathering. We are unable to accept invitations to these events simply because the hansom cab is at present excluded from entering any of the Royal Parks.

We await to hear from you.

John Aidiniantz
The Sherlock Holmes Museum

To Mr Chris Green
Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch
Department of Culture Media and Sport.

19th June 2008

Dear Mr Green

I do not appear to have received a response to my previous email dated 29th May 2008.

If I can assist further, please let me know.

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk

From  Mr Chris Green
Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch

19th June 2008

Mr Aidiniantz,

I hadn't heard anything further about the review so I forwarded a copy of your e-mail to the Royal Parks, and am currently awaiting their reply.  I'll send them a reminder this morning.

Just to let you know, after today I'll be on leave until 30 June. 

Regards,

Chris Green

From  Mr Chris Green
Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch

19th June 2008

Mr Aidiniantz,

I've now heard from the Royal Parks, who say that at the moment the position is pretty much unchanged.

They are still looking into the possibility of creating an appropriate licence, but there is unlikely to be much progress during the current financial year.  It is one of a number of potential income generating schemes being considered throughout the Royal Parks, but, unfortunately, things are moving slowly because they have to consider how one scheme might impact upon another and also the implications for the whole Royal Parks estate.

The Parks say they'll get back to you as soon as they can, but feel it's unlikely to be very soon.

Sorry we haven't got anything more positive to report for now.

Regards,

Chris Green 
Christopher.Green@culture.gsi.gov.uk

To Mr Chris Green
Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch
Department of Culture Media and Sport.

Thursday 19th June 2008

Hello Mr Green

I don't see where the 'income generating scheme' comes into the picture. We don't propose to pay one penny for the 'privilege' of driving a hansom cab through the Royal Parks in order to get from part of London to another, and I trust I have not given an impression to anyone that we would be prepared to pay for a licence.

The 'financial year' end of the Royal Parks Agency has absolutely no relevance to the question of simply being allowed to drive a horse and carriage along the park roads.

If the thought of a traditional horse-drawn hackney carriage driving along the park roads causes the current officials at your department and the Royal Parks Agency such frightful consternation, and much wringing of hands, then I would humbly suggest that you move into less stressful areas of public administration so as to allow some other officials with hopefully a little more 'horse sense' to take over your positions.

I am really at a loss to explain the reason for such a perverse attitude which seeks to debar the only remaining horse-drawn hansom cab from being driven through London's Royal Parks.

 It would appear that we are obliged to seek a private Member's Bill simply in order to progress this matter, or else fight over the matter in court to decide whether the vehicle is a commercial vehicle and therefore comes within the excluded vehicles category. Should you 'win' or lose such a legal tussle, I am sure any legal action is going to bring credit to everyone concerned, as the public will no doubt think how 'intelligent' we have been to have resolved this matter in a court of law.

Yours faithfully,

John Aidiniantz

Director -The Sherlock Holmes Museum
0207-935-4430

Friday 20th June 2008

The Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport,
Mr Andy Burnham MP

Dear Mr Burnham

Can you please read the following webpage and advise whether it is within your remit to apply some good old fashioned commonsense to the problem that we face.

http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk/news/hansom-cab.html  

We have been trying for more than 10 years to drive the world's only remaining Victorian horse-drawn hansom cab along the park roads of the Royal Parks, but have faced a continuous refusal on the part of the Royal Parks Agency to allow our horse into the parks.

This issue is not about 'copying and pasting' an image of a horse against the backdrop of a park, but actually driving a living horse into the parks so that it can rest from all the traffic noise and fumes that it experiences whenever we bring the carriage out onto the streets of London.

If there is any 'horse sense' remaining at the Department of Culture Media and Sport then we would be glad to hear from you and to receive the necessary permission in due course. We are not asking for much - we simply want to be able to drive a horse-drawn carriage around the streets of London for the delight of visitors and to remind people of London's heritage.

The Royal Parks in Central London cover a lot of area, and it is simply not fair on the horse to expect it to trot around the outside of the parks while the petty park officials sit on their backsides in their cosy offices waiting for their retirement pensions to arrive.

Nobody objects to the thundering music put out by the summer concerts held in the park, because the concerts are sanctioned by the Royal Parks Agency and are a good money-spinner, yet the park officials are quick to close the gates of the park when our horse wants to clip-clop gently along the park roads, or tuck into its nose-bag during a short break.

I can't see the sense in the park's policy of allowing juggernauts  to enter the park carrying stage equipment, and coaches to convey tourists, while refusing entry to a horse-drawn hansom cab because it is considered a "commercial" vehicle. I don't think that by allowing one horse-drawn hansom cab to enter the parks, the Royal Parks Agency is going to be inundated with requests from other horse-drawn carriage owners to do likewise. However, even if more horse-drawn traffic was thereby encouraged to make an appearance on London's streets and in our parks, would harm could there possibly be in that development?

Finally, we believe that our hansom cab falls within the definition of a 'taxi' and should therefore be included in the exemption for taxis included in the Royal Park regulations. The hansom cab is undoubtedly a hackney carriage, ie., a traditional form of taxicab. It matters little whether it is licensed by the Public Carriage Office, because the park regulations make no distinction between licensed or unlicensed taxis.

If I can assist further, please let me know.

Yours faithfully,

John Aidiniantz - Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk
Tel: 0207-935-4430

Ms Julia Frayne
The Royal Parks Agency

jfrayne@royalparks.gsi.gov.uk

28th June 2008

Dear Ms Frayne

Further to our telephone conversation, it would appear that you are now dealing with the issue of allowing horse-drawn traffic to enter the Royal Parks.

At the present time horse-drawn carriages are barred from entering any of the Royal Parks if they are being used for commercial purposes, which means that wedding companies, funeral companies or other companies involved in private hire cannot travel along the park roads.

The only commercial vehicles which are allowed to enter the Royal Parks under The Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997 Schedule 2 Part 1 are defined as follows:

1. A taxi.

2. A vehicle in use for the purpose of transacting business with any person either residing in a Palace or Park or using land therein under licence from the Secretary of State.

3. A vehicle in use for the purpose of the repair or removal of any other vehicle which is broken down in a Park.

Section 27) of the regulations prohibits the driving or riding of any vehicle which is constructed,
adapted or in use for the purpose of a trade or business except for those vehicles specified above.

It would therefore seem that a horse-drawn hansom cab, 'growler', landau, and indeed many other types of horse-drawn carriages - being adapted in some regards for private hire or as a fare-paying conveyance - would be precluded from entering the Royal Parks even if they were being used privately without any commercial intentions. A hansom cab for example has a small opening in the roof where fare-paying passengers would in the past have paid the driver the fare for a journey. The Royal Parks Agency would no doubt seize upon this small opening as evidence that the hansom cab has been "adapted" for the purpose of a trade, and would therefore fall foul of regulation 27.

I am not sure if it was the intention of parliament when drafting these regulations to exclude from the Royal Parks horse-drawn traffic, but that has been the sorry outcome as a result of putting too much control into the hands of bureaucrats and expecting them to make rational decisions. The Royal Parks Agency has been completely unreasonable in seeking to exclude horse-drawn vehicles from the parks whilst allowing huge juggernauts to jam-pack the whole of the North Carriage Driveway in Hyde Park in order to support the series of outdoor concerts that are held in the park.

All manner of funfairs and other commercial events requiring the use of heavy goods vehicles are allowed into the parks - but the humble horse-drawn carriage is not. Where is the sense or reasonableness in this policy?

At the present time, no horse-drawn carriages can be seen anywhere in London, probably because no carriage owner would wish to compel their horses to remain in busy London traffic without giving them an opportunity to enter the Royal Parks for some nourishing rest. If the Royal Parks Agency cannot be encouraged to adopt a more horse-friendly attitude, then the days of horse-drawn traffic in London must be well and truly over.

We will press for the Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations to be amended to bring horse-drawn carriages within the ambit of Schedule 1 Part 2, by including such a class of vehicles within the exemption provided for taxis. If we cannot secure an amendment to the regulations then our horse-drawn hansom cab, being the last such working carriage in London, would have to remain screwed to the ground, as are the other horse-drawn carriages on display in various museums across London.

It is always open to the Royal Parks Agency to show some signs of intelligence by permitting horse-drawn carriages to enter the Royal Parks. This may help to encourage more horse-drawn carriages to make their appearance on London's streets. At the present time only the Harrods carriage apart from our hansom cab makes an occasional appearance on London's roads.

The Royal Parks Agency currently licences commercial vehicles such as tourist coaches to enter the Royal Parks for the purpose of setting down passengers, and of course any number of commercial events such as rock concerts and fun fairs with the attendant fleet of juggernauts carrying the required equipment are permitted to enter the Royal Parks throughout the year.

These commercial events may be 'one-offs' and the attendant heavy goods vehicles may as you say be a 'necessary evil' but cumulatively they represent a considerable volume of commercial activity in the Royal Parks. Horse-drawn carriages by comparison are quiet and innocuous, and when used fo example to convey newly-weds, they provide a delightful impression and experience both for the participants and onlookers.

There is no reason in my view why the Royal Parks Agency has adopted such an unwelcoming and hostile attitude towards horse-drawn carriages, which deprives Londoners and visitors an opportunity of witnessing part of London's transport heritage in action.

Record of Correspondence:
http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk/news/andy-burnham.html

Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1997/19971639.htm

If I can assist further, please let me know.

Yours faithfully,

John Aidiniantz - Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk
Tel: 0207-935-4430 
 

8th July 2008

Dear Mr Aidiniantz,

Thank you for your email of 28th June, and for copying me into those you also sent to the office of Mark Field MP. This email replies to yours, and confirms our recent telephone conversations.

As you know, the rules governing what you may do in the Royal Parks are set out in The Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997. Those rules set out that the written permission of the Secretary of State must first be obtained by anyone who wishes to conduct a business in the Parks, display advertising material in the Parks, or use the Parks as a thoroughfare if they are driving a commercial vehicle that is not a registered taxi. In practice, such written permission means a licence or permit granted by The Royal Parks.

The Regulations are framed as they are for a reason. We receive numerous applications each year from people who see the Royal Parks as a good place to run a business, and if they were all allowed to do so without permission or restriction then the Parks would cease to be the havens from city life that they are at present, and lose the qualities that had attracted those businesses (and their potential customers) in the first place. The rules provide a safeguard against commercial exploitation of the Parks, but are sufficiently flexible to allow us to judge individual business applications on their merits, and license those activities that we consider will enhance the Parks or improve the facilities for our visitors. All the commercial activities that take place in the Royal Parks, including the events and coach trips that you mention in your email, are carried out under licence or permit.

Horse drawn vehicles are not prevented from coming into the Royal Parks. The issue here is that your hansom cab is a commercial vehicle, but not a registered taxi, and, as I understand from what you have said to me and my colleagues and stated on your website, you use it to carry fare paying passengers around London and to advertise your museum. So, when you drive it through the Royal Parks without permission you are in breach of three parts of the Regulations. We have agreed to consider exploring the possibility of granting you a licence or permit to use the Royal Parks, but you object to this on principle because the terms would include payment of a fee. You argue instead that your business should simply be exempt from the general rules because you use a horse-drawn vehicle rather than a motorised one.

You rightly point out that exempting all horse-drawn vehicles from the general prohibition on commercial vehicles would involve an amendment to the Regulations. We consider, for the reasons I have outlined, that making this amendment is unecessary and could undermine the safeguards that are in place to protect the Parks.

I am copying this letter to to Chris Green at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Yours sincerely,

Julia Frayne
The Royal Parks
Hyde Park
London
W2 2UH

T: 020 7298 2008
Jfrayne@royalparks.gsi.gov.uk  

To Ms Julia Frayne
The Royal Parks Agency
8th July 2008

Dear Ms Frayne,

Thank you for your email dated 8th July 2008.

It was indeed one of our intentions to provide rides to people around London in a horse-drawn carriage, but this cannot now be done because your agency has refused to grant a licence for us to enter the Royal Parks. For practical reasons - not least involving a consideration of the horse's need to breathe in some fresh air - it is not fair or desirable to oblige a horse to remain in London's traffic and breathe in car pollution for lengthy periods, and to make long detours around the Royal Parks (as you are expecting us to do) in order to get from one part of London to another.

The option of simply using the hansom cab simply as a publicity vehicle for sponsors' advertisements, while serving as a means for promoting London's heritage (without carrying passengers) is also impossible to achieve without being able to travel along the park roads, as other cars and taxis are permitted to do.

It seems that the Royal Parks Agency can only look upon its licensing powers as a means of earning revenue for the Royal Parks; and if there is no revenue to be gained from granting a particular licence, then it seems the agency isn't interested in lifting a finger.

We can live without the hansom cab on the streets of London - it makes no economic difference to us as a museum whether it is seen out on the streets or whether it is hidden away from public view in a garage, and therefore as a 'commercial venture' it is something we can do without, particularly as it is not such a 'money-spinner' as you may think.

The Royal Parks Agency can also live without seeing horse-drawn traffic passing along the park roads, so where does that leave the situation?

Having regard for the wider issue of social responsibility, we have wanted to put something back into the London community which we serve as a museum, and to help foster cultural relations with overseas visitors by promoting a part of London's heritage. 

We cannot do this without the minimal support requested of your Agency, which is to issue a licence so that we can pass along the park roads and give the horse a break.

If the Royal Parks Agency has no interest in acceding to our request for a licence, then the regulations ought to be amended to embrace horse-drawn traffic as well as taxis.

You clearly do not see the irony in hosting sizeable rock concerts in Hyde Park, while excluding the only remaining working horse-drawn hansom cab from entering. You give the excuse that it is a 'commercial vehicle', but so what? It is unique. Even if wedding companies wanted to drive newly-weds along the park roads in horse drawn carriages, what is so terrible about encouraging such events from becoming a tradition?

If I can assist further, please let me know.

Yours faithfully,

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk
Tel: 0207-935-4430

31st August 2009

Dear Ms Frayne

In reviewing the correspondence published on our website I notice a comment made in your email of 8th July 2008 wherein you state that:

"We have agreed to consider exploring the possibility of granting you a licence or permit to use the Royal Parks, but you object to this on principle because the terms would include payment of a fee."

I wish to dispel any confusion over your assertion as we have not objected as far as I recall to paying a fee for a licence to enter the Royal Parks. Our discussions over the last 17 years have in fact not yet reached the negotiating stage but are still bogged down over whether we can enter the Royal Parks as a matter of policy.

If we have overcome your objections on policy grounds then it is a hollow victory because we have certainly reached a dead-end on operational grounds. If you pardon the pun, it is a non-starter to be told as you have stipulated that we can enter the Royal Parks provided we do not stop, while at the same time ensuring that any horse "mess" is scooped up from the roads.

There is no pleasure in driving through the Royal Parks on such a basis.

It is also a non-starter to be told after compiling a route of our proposed trips that we cannot in fact travel along any of the park roads which we need to travel along, but must instead confine ourselves to some obscure part of Regent's Park and only then following further debate with the Parks Manager.

I must therefore make our position clear that we are indeed not prepared to pay a licence fee for the dubious privilege which you are intending to convey and would not accept a licence on such terms even if it were offered to us for nil consideration.

It is up to the Royal Parks Agency to make a decision in this matter and so far your decision has been a resounding "no" to our request to enter the Royal Parks in a dignified and unimpeded manner. The failure to resolve this matter has nothing to do with our refusal to pay for a licence to enter the Royal Parks and therefore you misconstrue or misunderstand our position.

We are quite prepared to pay for a licence to enter the Royal Parks provided the terms are reasonable and non-discriminatory, but we are not prepared to pay for a licence which obliges us to act like fools, either because we are restricted to small sections of Regent's Park or because the driver of the hansom cab has to cover advertising signs with one hand while scooping up horse mess with the other - without stopping.

We have made our complaint known to Mr McClaren and this matter will proceed to the Local Government Ombudsman in due course for adjudication.

If I can assist further please let me know.

Yours faithfully

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
Tel: 0207-935-4430
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
www.Sherlock-Holmes.co.uk

To Mr Dennis Clarke
Senior Parks Manager
The Royal Parks

Friday 19th March 2010

Dear Mr Clarke,

Hansom Cab Exclusion from the Royal Parks

Further to your letter of 23rd December 2009 with enclosures from Julia Frayne dated 8th Jul 2008, we understand that the Royal Parks Agency has now moved away from the argument that the hansom cab is not a hackney carriage (expressed by George Hipwell in 1993) and also now accepts that the "road closures" excuse presented by Mr McClaren for denying entry to the Royal Parks is pure bunkum, as no roads would need to be closed were the hansom cab to travel along the park roads.

Ms Julia Frayne has not advanced any objection to horse drawn traffic in general, but says simply that as the hansom cab is a commercial vehicle, it cannot be permitted to travel along any of the Royal Parks as it is not a taxi. The exemption allowing commercial vehicles to enter the Royal Parks only applies to taxis.

We have asked our local MP Mr Mark Field to propose an amendment to the Royal Parks and Other Gardens Regulations so as to permit horse drawn traffic to enter the Royal Parks without hindrance from the Royal Park Agency's "Tin-pot Hitlers". Such an amendment may serve to encourage horse drawn traffic in London such as wedding vehicles. We see no reason why newly wedded couples should be barred from entering the Royal Parks in an open-topped carriage if that is what they want to do, even though that may upset the Agency's officials as they look on at the spectacle from their stuffy offices.

I am pleased you have considered a compromise of sorts which is that we could conceivably enter an obscure part of Regent's Park, but not any of the other Royal Parks. Whilst we cannot envisage wanting to confine ourselves to one section of a road for no practical purpose, on further discussions with yourself it would appear that we would also be obliged to scoop up any horse "mess" deposited on the road.

We did agree that we could do this, but unfortunately your colleague Ms Frayne has also stipulated that we must not stop on any of the park roads at any time. This would make it practically impossible to clean up any horse excretion en route.

So that is the current state of our discussions and correspondence which has been on-going since 1993. In all of that time I note that the Royal Parks Agency has not made any offer to issue a licence to enter the Royal Parks but has simply concocted a succession of lame excuses for not granting a licence which it has the power to do.

Most people would consider the hansom cab to be a cultural asset which is worthy of bringing to the public's attention in a real setting by driving it along the roads of London. The monopolistic power of the Royal Parks Agency has been successful so far in excluding any horse-drawn traffic from entering the Royal Parks apart from vehicles belonging to the Royal Household, but I do not believe for one moment that her Majesty would have any wish to support such an absurd situation which is being maintained without her knowledge by park officials and which runs contrary to the Royal Family's love of horses.

If we can get our local MP Mark field to lift his finger (which is unlikely as MPs currently have their fingers in so many different pies) then we will persist in trying to get permission for horse-drawn traffic to enter the Royal Parks by amending Schedule 2 Part 1 of the Royal Parks and Other Open Spaces Regulations 1997 http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si1997/19971639.htm to include horse-drawn carriages along with taxis as being exempt from restrictions on commercial vehicles.

Regulation 4(27)

Vehicles constructed, adapted or in use for the purpose of a trade or business which may be driven or ridden on a Park road

     1. A taxi.

     2. A vehicle in use for the purpose of transacting business with any person either residing in a Palace or Park or using land therein under licence from the Secretary of State.

     3. A vehicle in use for the purpose of the repair or removal of any other vehicle which is broken down in a Park.

    4. A horse-drawn carriage.


If I can assist further please let me know.
 

Yours sincerely
 
John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
Tel: 0207-224-3688
The Sherlock Holmes Museum

28th February 2011

Dear Mr Aidiniantz,

Thank you for copying your email to The Royal Parks. 

I have reviewed the record of correspondence between The Royal Parks and your museum, and I do not consider that we have  misrepresented your case.  As discussed over some years, the issue with your hansom cab is that it is a commercial vehicle, but not a registered taxi, and it carries fare-paying passengers and bears commercial advertising.  This means that driving it through the Royal Parks without permission – ie. without a licence from TRP – potentially breaches three parts of the Park Regulations.    

TRP’s position for several years has been that we are content to explore the possibility of entering into a licence agreement that would allow you to use the Park roads, but that such a licence would involve conditions and payment of a fee.  Your original position was that such a licence was entirely unnecessary, and that TRP should instead simply amend the Park Regulations to exempt horse-drawn vehicles from the rules.   

We understand that you no longer hold this position, and that the principle of accepting licence conditions and paying a licence fee is no longer at issue.  What is at issue is that the proposal you put forward in late 2008 for driving your hansom cab through the Parks presents significant operational difficulties, not least your intention to stop on busy roads, which we consider make it impractical.   We have made clear that we are content to discuss the proposal further.  You have said, however, that further discussion will be fruitless.    

Yours sincerely,

Julia Frayne | Policy/Chief Executive’s Office | 0300 061 2008 | Fax: 0207 298 2005 | JFrayne@royalparks.gsi.gov.uk
www.royalparks.org.uk | The Old Police House | Hyde Park | London | W2 2UH

Monday 28th February 2011

Dear Ms Frayne

I see you have time on your hands for sending out more meaningless correspondence which does not advance matters between ourselves one iota.

If the Agency's objection to allowing the hansom cab to enter the Royal Parks is based upon "operational reasons", then please say so without fudging the issue or misrepresenting our position in the matter, which your agency has done in presenting misleading statements to the Minister for Tourism.

You are still clearly and deliberately misrepresenting our position in your email of today's date which would signify that you are simply unable to comprehend the meaning of even a relatively simple undertaking.

You state that:  Your original position was that such a licence was entirely unnecessary, and that TRP should instead simply amend the Park Regulations to exempt horse-drawn vehicles from the rules.  

I have never said that we do not need a licence because there should rather be a change in the legislation! If you have time to kill do please read the correspondence on file and let me know where I have made such an assertion. If you cannot indicate where I am supposed to have made such an assertion perhaps you will be kind enough to acknowledge that you are simply attempting once again to distort the facts.

You state further: We have made clear that we are content to discuss the proposal further.  You have said, however, that further discussion will be fruitless.     

You are again indulging yourself in misrepresenting the true position. If you contact the Parks Manager he himself has confirmed that there is nothing further to discuss because the Royal Parks Agency will not change it's position! In that case, we have agreed with him that it would be fruitless to further discuss the matter. If you are going to quote our stated position, please at least put it in the context of the point in hand without any "spin".

The Agency has made it plain that due to "operational reasons" the Royal Parks Agency cannot allow horse-drawn traffic into the Royal Parks. We ourselves could not in any event comply with your demands because in entering the parks we may occasionally have to stop for any number of operational reasons - even if it is to scoop up any "horse mess" deposited on the road. That would apply whether the hansom cab is considered a private or commercial vehicle.

I have asked you not to make deliberately misleading statements in an attempt to justify the Agency's intransigence and "tin-pot Hitler" mentality, but clearly my plea has gone in one of your ears and out the other without the slightest hindrance.

There may come a time when horse-drawn carriages (apart from those of the Royal Household) will once again be seen driving through the Royal Parks, but such a spectacle will not happen unless there is a significant change in "mind-set" by officials working at the Royal Parks Agency.

If I can assist further please let me know.
 

Yours faithfully
 
John Aidiniantz

To Ms Julia Frayne
The Royal Parks Agency

21st April 2011

Dear Ms Frayne,

Horse-drawn Hansom Cab Licence

I note that you have not replied to the points raised in my earlier email of 28th February 2011 and that you have therefore failed to support your contention that our "original position was that such a licence was entirely unnecessary". You have thus had ample opportunity to defend your position.

The whole purpose in corresponding with the Royal Parks Agency since 1992 (19 years) has in fact been to seek a licence to drive our horse and carriage freely along the park roads whenever they are open to normal vehicular traffic. There has never been any other purpose to our correspondence.

If our original view was that such a licence was "unnecessary", as you contend, I cannot think why we should have spent so much time and effort applying for a licence in writing initially to Mrs Adams (the Acting Bailiff of the Royal Parks) or Mr George Hipwell (Policy Officer).

In view of the fact that you have not been able to substantiate your contention, can you now accept that the Royal Parks Agency  has deliberately attempted to mislead Mr John Penrose MP, Minister for Tourism and Heritage, by falsely stating our position?

You have also notified the Minister that the Royal Parks Agency "is content to discuss our proposal further", but can we now accept that this too is a misleading statement, in view of Mr Dennis Clark's confirmation that "the Royal Parks position will not change"?

The false impression which has been conveyed to the Minister is that "the Royal Parks Agency is content to diccuss the matter further, but it is the Museum which has declined to agree to meet".

We have declined to meet Mr Clarke, the Senior Parks Manager for the Royal Parks Agency, because he has made it abundantly clear that the Royal Parks Agency will not grant a licence to the museum to allow us to drive the hansom cab along the park roads.

In those circumstances it would be a charade and a waste of time to attend a meeting where the outcome has already been decided.

We believe companies should have the right to drive a horse-drawn vehicle along the park roads without any kerfuffle, but as this is an activity which has to be sanctioned because it seems there is no exemption in the park regulations for such vehicles if they can be regarded as "commercial vehicles", then we believe the Royal Parks Agency ought to be quick to encourage horse-drawn traffic by granting the necessary licence.

The hansom cab is an attractive spectacle but if the Government wishes to encourage this endeavour in London then it needs to take the required steps to lift the red-tape preventing it.

If I can assist further please let me know.
 

Yours faithfully
 
John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
Tel: 0207-224-3688
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
www.Sherlock-Holmes.co.uk

On 26 April 2011 16:30, David McLaren <DMcLaren@royalparks.gsi.gov.uk> wrote:

Dear Mr Aidiniantz

Thank you for your email to Julia Frayne. Julia is on leave and I am responding on behalf of The Royal Parks (TRP).

We have explained in previous emails and letters to you that anyone wishing to operate a commercial vehicle in the Royal Parks needs to be licensed by this Agency. Licences normally set out any restrictions placed on the activity and the terms and conditions. In earlier exchanges TRP colleagues set out operational concerns about your proposal and have suggested a meeting to see whether there is a way to resolve the impasse. For that reason, Dennis Clarke, Deputy Director of Parks has agreed to meet you and discuss the issues in detail.

I would suggest that you reconsider the offer of a meeting.

David McLaren
26th April 2011

Thank you Mr McLaren - but can you think of any reason why Mr Clarke and myself should spend our time meeting, when Mr Clarke himself has already said that there will be no change in the Royal Park's refusal to grant a licence?

Mr Clarke has my telephone number and if there is any change in the Royal Park Agency's position, I am sure he has the ability to pick up the telephone unaided to apprise me of that fact.

The operational concerns to which you refer do not extend to the need to close off roads to allow the admission of the hansom cab into the Royal Parks, so there is clearly no merit in this argument which you prevously raised in your correspondence.

The Agency's concerns remain confined to "horse mess" which could be deposited on the road surfaces and the right to stop anywhere on the park roads should we wish to do so for any reason. The Agency has stated through Ms Frayne that we would not be allowed to stop on the park roads, which is a conditon not acceptable to us, primarily because we are dealing with a live animal (a horse) and not an automaton.

We have offered to scoop up any horse mess left on the road but in order to do that we would need to stop the carriage because unless we employ a circus acrobat to drive the carriage any "scooping up" cannot be done while the carriage is in motion,

I hope this clearly summarises the Agency's position but if it is not the case then Mr Clarke has my number.

The onus is on the Royal Parks Agency to show a willingness to negotiate instead of hiding behind the charade that some type of acceptable offer is on the table.

Yours sincerely,

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
The Sherlock Holmes Museum
6th May 2011

Dear Mr McLaren

Further to my earlier email dated 26th April 2011, I note that you have not responded to the points raised and since I have not heard from Mr Clarke, the Senior Parks Manager, with any comments to contradict the position of the Royal Parks Agency as I have already described, I would be grateful if the Royal Parks Agency would now contact the Minister for Tourism confirming the correct position which describes the basis of the Royal Parks Agency's refusal to grant a licence to permit the hansom cab to enter the royal parks.

If I can assist further please let me know.

Yours sincerely

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator
9th May 2011

Dear Mr Aidiniantz

I had thought that my earlier responses and those of my colleagues had addressed all of the issues you have raised.

Those who want to run businesses in the Royal Parks need to get permission and a licence from this Agency. Licences set out certain conditions. These conditions may vary according to the nature and location of the business in question. I can understand how frustrating it must be for you to engage in an endless ping pong with TRP colleagues over the years about this matter. That is why we have suggested a meeting to discuss the proposal and to see if there a satisfactory solution can be found. Dennis Clarke would be delighted to meet you to discuss your proposal.

David McLaren

9th May 2011

Dear Mr McLaren

Mr Clarke The Senior Parks Manager has my telephone number and I would be delighted to visit him to hear his proposal for providing a satisfactory solution if it differs in any way from what has so far been expounded by the Royal Parks Agency.

He has stated in a telephone conversation however that the Royal Parks Agency will maintain its objection to allowing the hansom cab to enter the parks on the grounds of "horse mess" possibly being left on the road and the fact that we require the right to stop the hansom cab on the park roads, but if this view has now changed then we would be delighted to discuss a possible way forward with him or with any official representing the Royal Parks Agency.

You will appreciate that we have no wish to engage in the charade of discussing our proposal face-to-face if the Royal Parks Agency wishes to maintain its objection on the above grounds, because that would be a rather idiotic waste of time. So if your position is any different from that described above and you are able to remove the condition which would prevent us from stopping in the park, do please pick up the phone and we would be delighted to visit you to begin negotiations.

If we do not hear from you we can only assume that the position of the Royal Parks Agency remains in accordance with the above facts. Simply sitting down with Mr Clarke over a cup of tea to be told that there is no change in the Agency's position when he has already said as much over the telephone would as I have said be rather pointless.

I am glad however that you are no longer mentioning the scenario of having to "close off roads" in order to allow the hansom cab to drive though the parks, so I am glad that we have made progress in debunking that rather absurd notion.

We look forwarded to hearing from you if you genuinely feel that some progress can be made, but if the Royal Parks Agency cannot modify the conditions it wishes to impose in regard to stopping then we have no interest in speaking with any official at the Royal Parks Agency.

This is because as a matter of safety if nothing else, we must be permitted to pass along the roads with the ability to stop as and when needed. The carriage is pulled by a live animal and not a plastic model of a horse and in addition our passengers or the horse itself may wish to stop to enjoy the scenery. There would be no fun in galloping through the parks like idiots with a fear of stopping in case we infringe a condition of our licence.

I have already said that a way forward would simply be to exempt horse-drawn traffic from the restriction in the regulations, because there is hardly likely to be a stampede of horses and carriages if such a general exemption was granted.

If I can assist further please let me know.


Yours faithfully

John Aidiniantz
Assistant Curator

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Legal Notes:

"A private hire vehicle is a motor vehicle constructed or adapted to seat fewer than nine passengers, other than a hackney carriage, public service vehicle or a London cab, which is provided for hire with the services of a driver for the purpose of carrying passengers." (Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976)

Hackney Carriage: Every wheeled carriage, whatever may be its form or construction, used in standing or plying for hire in any street within the prescribed distance, and every carriage standing upon any street within the prescribed distance, having thereon any numbered plate required by this or the special Act to be fixed upon a hackney carriage, or having thereon any plate resembling or intended to resemble any such plate as aforesaid, shall be deemed to be a hackney carriage within the meaning of this Act; and in all proceedings at law or otherwise the term 'hackney carriage' shall be sufficient to describe any such carriage: provided always that no stage coach used for the purpose of standing or plying for passengers to be carried for hire at separate fares, and duly licensed for that purpose, and having thereon the proper numbered plates required by law to be placed on such stage coaches, shall be deemed to be a hackney carriage within the meaning of this Act." (Section 38 Town Police Clauses Act 1847.) 

A hackney carriage is a taxi with a meter which is licensed to collect passengers from a taxi rank and is available to be hailed in the street. Taxi services are typically provided by automobiles, but various human powered vehicles (such as the rickshaw) and animal powered vehicles (such as the Hansom cab) or even boats (such as water taxis or gondolas) have also been used historically.

Contacts

Chief Executive of the Royal Parks Agency Mr Mark Camley 0207 - 298 2125 chiefexecutive@royalparks.gsi.gov.uk  

Mr Andy Burnham MP the current Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Secretaryofstate@culture.gsi.gov.uk   

Mr Chris Green Royal Estates & Ceremonial Branch Department for Culture, Media & Sport christopher.green@culture.gsi.gov.uk Tel: 0207-211-6200

Mr Mick Elliott - Policy Advisor to the Royal Parks Agency 0207-211-2382 mick.elliott@culture.gsi.gov.uk