The election of a majority Conservative government on Thursday raises a number of concerns for the taxi trade in England and Wales and is likely to lead to more de-regulation and an open house for private hire and Uber. The last five years have seen a number of attacks on the taxi trade with the threat of de-regulation regularly raising its head. The last government asked the Law Commission to look into reforming Taxi and Private Hire legislation. This would have been welcomed had it not been asked for under the strict instructions that this was to be done under ‘a de-regulatory framework’. The Law Commission published their proposals in the form of a Parliamentary Bill on the 23rd May 2014.
The Bill would have been a complete disaster for the taxi trade and the Unite Cab Section’s campaign against the Bill was successful in stopping it’s implementation in the last parliament. But the Tories were not satisfied with this and added three de-regulatory clauses for the private hire trade into the De-Regulation Bill. Unite managed to defeat one of the clauses but two other clauses were passed by the last government. One of these clauses was to allow sub-contracting between private hire operators. We thought this would be an open door for the private hire trade to break the law but we totally underestimated the fact that Uber would exploit it to it’s fullest.
There are now private hire Uber vehicles licensed in one area regularly illegally picking up in another area. They get away with it because many local authorities now believe that the De-regulation Bill allows them to do it. It doesn’t and these councils need to take action. The problem now though is that following the general election everyone expects the Law Commission to be now implemented.
There are many organisations that have publicly stated that they want the new Conservative government to pass the Law Commission Bill as soon as possible. We cannot allow this to happen as it will lead to the decimation of the taxi trade throughout England an Wales. There will be national licensing of private hire, with minimal standards, which will not be set by local authorities, but by the Secretary of State. This will allow big private hire operators, and in particular Uber, to run riot. There will be no checks on them then, local authorities will be powerless to act and to enforce effectively. The election is highly likely to lead to more and more challenges for our trade we need to be organised and effective in our opposition.
Now is the time to start to organise and be ready, now is the time to join the Unite Cab Section and be part of the fightback.
Featured image from The Guardian