Following the hearing on Monday 23 April, Brighton & Hove City Council’s licensing panel has decided against renewing Uber Britannia Ltd’s Private Hire Operator Licence in the city.
The unanimous decision was taken as the members of the panel were not satisfied that UBL are a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold an operator’s licence under the terms of Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and the council’s licensing objectives.
The panel considered all circumstances relating to the application and the factors operating in Brighton & Hove. This included a number of issues raised by those objecting to the application, which they found to carry very little or no evidential weight.
However, the panel did have significant concerns about the company’s data breach and UBL’s lack of commitment to use only Brighton & Hove licensed drivers in the city. These formed the basis of the decision to not renew the licence.
Chair of the licensing panel, Councillor Jackie O’Quinn, said:
“When making Hackney Carriage and Private Hire operator licensing decisions, our priority is the safety of residents and visitors and, due to the data breach and the lack of commitment to using drivers licensed here, we were not satisfied that UBL are a fit and proper person to hold an operator’s licence in the city.
“All Brighton & Hove private hire and Hackney Carriage drivers in the city operate under the same licences and guidelines contained in the Blue Book and undergo the same background checks, whichever company they drive for. In the original application in 2015, UBL gave a firm commitment to adhere to the standards set out in the Blue Book and only to use Brighton & Hove licensed drivers. We do not feel the spirit of this commitment has been kept to. In the panel’s view, large numbers of taxis operating in the city that do not meet our Blue Book standards puts the safety of residents and visitors at potential risk.
“We recognise there are strong feelings on this issue and would like to thank all those who took the time to make submissions to the hearing.”
The hearing was held in public to make the process as open and transparent as possible. As well as representatives from Uber, the panel heard views for and against renewing the licence from interested parties, including residents and the local taxi trade.
If Uber decide to appeal against the decision, their drivers licensed with Brighton & Hove can continue to operate in the city while the appeal is heard. Any appeal must be made to the Magistrates Court in Edward Street, Brighton within 21 days of notification of this decision.
Commenting for CTN, Sean Ridley, Secretary of Unite the Union’s South-East Region (Cab Section) said:
“This represents extremely good news and is a triumph for Public Safety locally. Unite played a valuable part as the whole of the Brighton & Hove Taxi trade came together to fight Uber’s devil-may-care attitude to licensing regulation(s) and local licensing control.
We drew the Brighton & Hove Licensing Panel’s attention to the Uber data breach, where it took Uber about a year to report or declare it to regulators or anyone else for that matter – some of their customers have still not been informed!
We questioned how Uber’s saturation of the City of Brighton & Hove with out-of-town vehicles and drivers working locally, fitted into the stated ‘licensing objectives’ of Brighton & Hove City Council upon which local licensing control rests.
These two areas were cited in the Council’s official refusal letter as reasons for refusal. Finally, we invited and implored the Council to refuse to renew the Operator’s licence on the basis that Uber are not a ‘Fit & Proper Person’ – that’s exactly what they have done and we applaud Brighton & Hove City Council for this.
Special Thanks also go to Ian Woodland, Unite’s South-East Region Political Organiser for his important assistance in this victory”.