Uber closes London licence loophole

Posted On 22 Feb 2018 at 10:09 am

Minicab drivers licensed in London will no longer be able to drive for Uber in Brighton after the US company makes changes to its app next month.

The multinational company announced last week that it was splitting the UK into different regions, and that drivers would only be able to use the app within the region their licensing authority was located from March 14.

Brighton is part of the south coast region, which means drivers from immediately neighbouring authorities, such as Lewes and Adur, will be able to drive in the city – but those licensed with TfL won’t. The latest available figures from TfL indicate that 78 drivers are licensed in London but have Brighton and Hove addresses.

But local union bosses say the changes have been made to pre-empt changes in the law preventing any cross-border hiring – which they are still pushing for.

Andy Peters, secretary of GMB’s Brighton and Hove taxi branch, said:  “Although we will no longer see cars from Wolverhampton or Sefton working in Brighton,  at the moment there is no specific detail on how big this region is.

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“All the TfL ph drivers who live in Brighton and predominantly work in the city because they either failed the high standards that the city requires or who just could not be bothered to even attempt to go for a Brighton licence will only be able to work in London.

The question is why has Uber suddenly taken this change in direction? Is there something that Uber knows will be happening in the future with regard to cross border hiring?

“Uber has not done this as a favour. This is not how Uber works. Is this a case of Uber becoming scared of what the Local Government Association has been pushing for and trying to act quickly before there is a change in legislation?

“However this does not go far enough  because it doesn’t matter whether a private hire is working predominantly in Brighton and Hove from over 250 miles away or just 50. The fact is that Uber is still encouraging private hire vehicles to predominantly work in areas that they are not licensed in.

“This announcement should not make people think it is all over as it certainly is not. Do not be fooled by Uber. The fight goes on to fully change legislation.”

In its announcement, Uber said: “While cross-border driving is something the law allows for and is common in private hire journeys across England and Wales, we’ve heard from local licensing authorities that the way our app works can make it hard for them to oversee what some drivers are doing in their jurisdiction.

“That’s why next month we are making a significant change which will mean drivers will only be able to use our app within the region where they are licensed as a private hire driver.

“While we will of course keep everything under review we believe this change strikes the right balance for the drivers, riders and cities we serve.

“It will help local licensing authorities tackle the challenge they currently face in regulating drivers in their area when they are licensed in another part of the country; passengers will still be able to take affordable long distance trips (such as to and from airports, hospitals or back home after a night out in the city centre); and drivers will be able to carry out those longer trips without being forced to drive back without a fare paying passenger.”

According to the latest figures from TfL, there are a total of 78 private hire drivers licensed to drive in London whose registered address has a BN1, BN2 or BN3 postcode. Under the new Uber rules, these drivers will no longer be able to use the Uber app in Brighton and Hove.

A further 14 are licensed taxi drivers, but these will be black cab drivers who work in the capital.

  1. Mr Christopher Dare Reply

    let’s get the cross boarder license sorted asap I do not know what’s holding this up a simple paragraph is all that is needed licensed in Brighton you work in Brighton etc I would like to see a national minimum fare for all fare charging rides like the national minimum wage

  2. Seyed Reply

    I am a taxi Driver in Hatfield AL10 is this means uber pco driver wont be able to work in this area or not?
    At the moment we left with no business and we see uber taking all the jobs and also we are unable to work for uber in here despite having right license for Welwyn Hatfield licence so unfair.

  3. Simon Reply

    What are you talking about?

    People who drive for uber need to undergo the same DBS checks as people who drive hackney carriage or private hire license cars no matter which authority they are licensed.

    The cars must be checked as legallly road worthy by the the same standards whichever authority licenses them, whether they are private hire or hackney carriage.

    Sat Nav systems provide the most up to date traffic information than possible for any individual person driving any car private hire, hackney carriage hgv cyclist etc and have been proven to be more accurate than speed cameras.

    So what’s your point.

    And, since John Worboys was actively raping people, what changes have been made to the licensing and monitoring of hackney carriage drivers ?

    ANSWER -None.

    If, as a passenger you, get into any private hire or hackney carriage, irrespective of where it is licensed, you are immediately putting yourself in someone’s control. If safety is your concern, ahead of price for instance or the ability to raise a grievance, then you should choose an option where you have the greatest control visibility and ability to inform track and evidence, at present that would be uber, Addison Lee and lyft.

    This whole debate is nonsense, driven by unions and interest groups of people who have been abusing passengers for decades. Uber Lyft and others service and drivers are much safer and cheaper and importantly more accountable by far than any other mode of public transport in the U.K.
    it’s simply a FACT.

  4. Dave the cab. Reply

    What are _you_ talking about, Simon?

    There are huge differences in the Licencing requirements between different councils in the UK, some only need a private hire car to have a normal MOT once a year, some require a much more stringent test up to three times a year. Some areas have strict age and emissions limits, some will licence pretty much anything with four wheels. Some require cars to be fitted with CCTV systems of various standards, some do not.

    Also, while all drivers have to be DBS checked to the same standards, there are different requirements in different areas for drivers who have not lived in the UK for long enough for their DBS record to be relevant. Some just require a reference letter from someone who knows them, others require much stricter standards.

    Brighton and Hove have some of the strictest licencing requirements in the UK. All drivers have to pass a DVLA ‘taxi’ driving test, which is judged to higher standards than the normal driving test. Other areas are fine with drivers who have exchanged their home country licence for a UK one and have never passed a UK driving test at all. All drivers (both hackney and private hire) have to have passed a local area knowledge test (many other councils require no knowledge tests for private hire).

    A sat-nav is fine for finding your way around an area you’re not familiar with on an occasional basis. It does not replace local knowledge. Will your sat-nav tell you that the next junction has poor visibility for people pulling out in front of you, so you need to pay extra attention to it? Does it know that there is usually a supermarket delivery lorry parked on the opposite side of the road at 7 in the morning as you round the next corner, so to watch out for oncoming cars on the wrong side of the road? This sort of thing is what makes experienced local drivers safer than someone who has never visited the city before and is relying on a sat-nav to find their way around.

    The debate is not nonsense. the debate is how we decide whether to let taxi licencing decline into a free-for-all regime with lower standards, but potentially slightly cheaper prices, or whether we keep to our standards or even raise them at the expense of paying a little more.

    The only time a debate is nonsense, is when all parties have already made up their minds and are unwilling to change their views. We need the debate, to help form the opinions of those who are undecided. You might have already made your mind up, but many others would appreciate knowing a bit more about the subject.

  5. Daniel Reply

    If a UBER DRIVER works in a city or a area. They should b and have the knowledge test for THAT area and not just come into the area but times have changed now as a fairly new rule has came in which all use and that comes into play. It is called cross boarder booking is the term that is used. So there for no system is perfect. It is a choice

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