Auto Express shows how easy it is for private hire to operate nationally using a ‘local’ licence.
From Auto Express…
“By the time we received back the paperwork, Uber had launched in Brighton, which gave us the chance to test the viability of working for Uber in a new market. Now, here’s the thing that ruffles the feathers of local taxi firms. Uber drivers are all registered from its London HQ. And because we obtained our PHV through Transport for London (TfL), we could collect fares in Brighton without flouting any local licensing rules. In fact, we could work anywhere in the UK that Uber has been issued with an operator’s licence.
Yes, it’s a slightly grey area, and no, we didn’t learn The Knowledge – as required by Brighton and Hove council – but as yet we haven’t had any animosity from other cabbies.”
Click here to read the full Auto Express Story.
From Sean Ridley
Uber continues to ‘operate’ locally in Brighton & Hove on a fairly precarious basis. The majority of the controversy surrounds their use of vehicles and drivers licensed many, many miles away. The City is saturated and littered with a flood of TfL ‘minicabs’ being ‘operated’ by Uber. This together with a “liquorice all-sorts” style mixture of Uber vehicles from all over the Country. The most distant being vehicles and drivers from South Cambridgeshire having been witnessed by the trade constantly working in Brighton & Hove.
This rather disturbingly at the same time of the breaking of a news story in the local ‘Cambridge News’ newspaper regarding the seizure of fake drivers’ badges and plates. By far the most worrying issue here is passenger safety, given the fact that Brighton & Hove City Council has no licensing or regulatory control over the majority of Uber’s fleet ‘operating’ locally!
All this despite an agreement with the local (Licensing) authority (Brighton & Hove City Council) through a clear understanding from Uber at a previous Council Licensing Panel Meeting on October 19th 2015 where Uber stated that they would only use Brighton & Hove licensed vehicles and drivers to service bookings in Brighton & Hove. In effect, a firm commitment from Uber to comply with the provisions of the Council’s ‘Blue Book’ bible of licensing conditions designed to protect the cab using public locally. Words that must seem now to ring rather hollow from Brighton & Hove City Council’s perspective.
Following a gap of almost a year between Uber being granted an operator’s licence and their launch. Within hours of their launch, Brighton & Hove was saturated with out of area private hire vehicles, predominantly licensed by Transport for London (TfL) and this situation has persisted and increased in number to date.
TfL have given Unite a commitment of ‘intent’ to enforce their ‘conditions of licence’ on their vehicles and drivers licensed in London but working locally in Brighton & Hove.
Especially given the recent practice of TfL licensed drivers removing the ‘Licence Roundels’ from their vehicles. We handed over tangible evidence (a handful of photos from our stock numbering the high hundreds these days) to TfL of licensing breaches by their vehicles including sitting on Taxi Ranks and perhaps the most shocking of all, incidence of an un-roadworthy TfL vehicle sporting a bald tyre on the streets of Brighton & Hove.
From a local perspective, both the trade and passengers will wait to see just how good TfL’s word is! Specifically given that almost all of the breaches by TfL vehicles and drivers impact directly upon passenger safety locally!
What we are seeing is a ’race to the bottom’ in Brighton & Hove with local safety based conditions and geographical knowledge being undermined by vehicles licensed where it is cheapest and easiest to do so. With TfL’s historic casual attitude to enforcement in Brighton, who can be sure exactly who is driving these vehicles and/or whether they are actually roadworthy and safe? Over to you, TfL..
The subject of Uber will re-emerge at the Unite National Taxi Conference in a couple of weeks, where we will be discussing and planning Unite’s ‘Fighting Back’ strategy, together with further action nationally and locally.
The two articles above clearly demonstrates why this 2015 Deregulation Act mess needs to be sorted out.
Councils are left powerless to enforce their own licensing regulations. Drivers and vehicles are going unchecked and unchallenged.
The taxi and private section of the 2015 Deregulation Act needs to be scrapped and replaced with robust regulations for private hire and taxis.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has started this process with the Taxi and Private Hire Action Plan. Which includes an English language requirement for private hire drivers and an advanced driving test (coming soon).
Unite Cab Section also supports the Mayor of London’s call for a change in the law that will require private hire journeys to either start or finish in the area they are licensed for.
The Government needs wake up to the disorder and confusion they have created in the private hire trade and get it sorted quickly. Public safety demands it!
Posted by Peter Rose @peterjrose1