For example, he regaled me with regulations being inflicted on cabbies in the environmental cause. Boris Johnson is apparently soon to implement the policy, mooted by Ken Livingstone before his being kicked out (no surprise that Tory=Labour there), of banning the use of taxis which are over 10 years old.
Now, one reason that the iconic 'jelly-mould' black cab has changed little in sixty-odd years is because they were originally built to last as long as possible. That is, to do the job intended for them, for a long, long time. As a result of cabbies driving the same taxi for decades, which was cost-effective, it wasn't as lucrative for new models to be produced for taxi drivers as it was for the domestic market. Such was a unique London sight created.
Taxis are designed to run for hundreds of thousands of miles, and their reliability and profitability reflected in the £35,000 price tag for a new one. By placing a time limit on their use, a raising of overheads will be created for cabbies, and thousands of vehicles will be rendered obsolete overnight.
In pursuit of a cleaner engine, waste is being encouraged and producers incentivised to skimp on reliability, thereby leading to more manufacturing (err, bad for the environment?) and, no doubt, higher fares to further dissuade leaving one's car at home.
Talking of which, the person I was speaking to has stated that he isn't going to bother anymore once the new rules come in. He's 63 and it's simply not worth his while to shell out for a new vehicle to replace his 12 year old one which is in perfect health.
Especially not since the congestion charge came in. That was when a quite incredibly stupid Livingstone decided that so many people would be dissuaded from driving into London that an extra 4,000 taxi licences (on top of the 21,000 previously licensed) were required to take the extra traffic. Quite how he believed a £5 charge would 'nudge' people into paying, err, about the same or more for a London cab is anyone's guess.
Of course, more supply equates to lesser demand and ultimately fewer taxi drivers, but with costs higher due to state interference, no reduction in fares is likely. Those left in the trade lose income or are forced out, but there is still no extra incentive to take a taxi instead of the car.
The 10 year policy is laughable enough without taking into account that the Public Carriage Office has strict guidelines on emissions already, so the new restrictions (forced on us by the EU, natch) will make little difference in pollution levels.
Great job, Mr Mayor.
On disability access, it appears that although all cabs must now be comprehensively wheelchair accessible, the result has been pricier vehicles but the extra time it takes for loading - along with the damage that regularly occurs when poorly-driven motorised chairs damage an expensive cab - means that most cabbies just 'look the other way' when someone in a wheelchair tries to hail them.
Even smoking regulations are half-arsed. It's illegal to allow anyone to smoke in a black cab, yet the cab itself will be failed on inspection if it doesn't have two ashtrays in the passenger area. I'm not kidding! Presumably they are required to deter littering, despite customers either jamming them up so much that they break, or just leaving their waste on the floor.
And, lastly, parking regulations. In the effort to
All this without mentioning the Olympics, the road plans for which put such burdens on black cabs that a huge number are talking of not bothering to work for the duration. Large expanses of London will consist of routinely busy roads having their capacity restricted by 50% to facilitate overwhelmingly empty 'VIP lanes'. Imagine, for example, the Limehouse Link - a car park at the best of times - being turned into a one lane highway with £200 fines for straying into the unused part of the road we pay our taxes for.
In the words of my new cabbie friend, "I could earn £50-£60 to go from Southwark to Docklands, but I wouldn't be happy doing that". Nor, I suspect, will the tourists who visit London for the event in 2012.
Remember, this is just one tiny area of state jurisdiction we're talking about here, but a perfect example of how legislation royally cocks things up - in thousands of different areas - whenever the public sector puts pen to incompetent decree.
The very best law that our government could enact would be one which requires lobotomisation of MPs and councillors to restrict their thinking, thereby stemming the resultant tide of absurd ideologically-led ideas.