An Uber driver from London who has been driving in Brighton for two years says drivers are coming down the M23 because London has been flooded with cars.
The driver, who wished to remain anonymous in case he was blacklisted by the app, said he was considering his options after Uber restricted the areas drivers could use its app in, banning Transport for London licensed drivers from working outside Greater London.
The move has resulted in a flood of applications at Lewes District Council, which has sent out 130 application packs since it was announced in mid-February. Many drivers will have been directed there by the Uber website, which favourably compares Lewes with Brighton on its website.
However, the driver said he would not be able to make a living in London because there are too many Uber drivers on the roads there already.
He said: “I have been driving in Brighton since about a year and a half ago. We are not breaking any laws. The legislation says that Transport for London drivers are allowed to work in any area.
“There’s nothing I can do about the Uber rules changing. I’m getting on with it and life goes on. I’m thinking about what to do next.
“Life’s not easy in London at the moment. That’s why you see drivers looking at work outside London. So many drivers are applying at the moment and TfL have no restrictions on how many licences they issue. For Uber, it makes complete sense, the more drivers they get on the road the more money they make.
“Brighton for me is not too far away. I’m in south west London and it takes 45 minutes to drive there and once I’m there I’ll spend the whole day there.
“When I first joined Uber there were so many promises and it all seemed so good and at the start it was fine.
“In order to join you need a £20,000 car, so every driver is basically financing their car. They’ve made us get all these cars and we can’t get the work to pay for them.
“I hate Uber for what they have done.”
Earlier this month, Transport for London called for new legislation to prevent any cross-border hiring, saying current laws are “not fit for purpose”.
A submission to its report from Southampton City Council pointed to one authority which has licensed 1,000 drivers living in its area, and 6,000 outside thanks to an online application process.
Southampton only found out when it contacted the authority about this issue that a driver licensed by it had been accused of rape and it was only by chance that its officers had been carrying out checks there and were able to get the driver to surrender his licence.
It said that as of January this year, it licensed 169 private hire drivers who gave addresses in Brighton and Hove, a big jump from the 78 living in BN1, BN2 and BN3 postcode areas recorded in June last year.
It also said it had carried out licensing operations here as one of the six areas identified as most likely to have TfL drivers working in it outside London based on complaints received.
The report said: “This is not a long-term solution to tackling cross border hiring and the challenges it presents. The costs of such operations are prohibitive and they take valuable enforcement resources away from London.
“Operators and drivers complying with the rules in London expect their license fees to be used to tackle unfair competition and poor behaviour in their local market, not to have this activity directed to other areas.”
In November last year, Uber lost an appeal against an employment tribunal ruling in favour of two of its drivers, James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, who argued they should be considered as employees and therefore eligible for benefits such as minimum wage, sickness and holiday pay. However, Uber says it will launch a further appeal against this ruling.