An Uber driver has been caught on camera saying that the company has been urging out of town drivers to come to Brighton after a boycott by Brighton cabbies, which has reportedly resulted in just one local driver signing up.
The video, published by the GMB Brighton and Hove taxi section, shows the driver, Rashid, telling his passenger he’s really busy because the company doesn’t have enough drivers, and that Uber has asked him to come to Brighton.
The driver, who says it’s his first time in Brighton, seems to have difficulty knowing which way to go. He also says that he’s not licensed by Brighton and Hove City Council, which has much stricter regulations than London, where he is licensed. He lives in Eastbourne. At one point, it also appears the driver has gone through a red light.
When Uber was first granted its licence in October last year, it told the council it would only use Brighton licensed drivers so that they would be abiding by the same rules as the city’s existing minicab firms.
It held several recruitment sessions in the week before it launched – but it’s widely rumoured in the trade that only one local driver has signed up, as the city’s three big cab firms have all said any drivers using Uber will not be welcomed back.
GMB section secretary Andy Peters said: “We will always welcome any new operator into the city and we were very pleased in 2015 at the Uber council licensing meeting when Uber declared that they would only use Brighton and Hove licensed vehicles.
“But the public should be fully aware that Uber are now using London minicabs in Brighton and Hove and in our view that is an insult to the council.
“It appears that London has become the licensing centre to send London minicabs all over the UK rendering local councils redundant in taxi licensing.”
Mr Peters said that London cabs did not have CCTV or need to display licence numbers on the outside of the cab, and that unlicensed drivers were able to drive licensed cabs.
He added: “Very importantly the council has no powers to act on any complaint on any Uber London minicab working in Brighton and Hove. However, if a complaint is made against a Brighton and Hove licensed driver they are called straight in for an interview.”
However, a spokesman for Uber stressed the company was working within the law. He said: “Since launching in Brighton we have been blown away with the demand we’ve seen for Uber.
“We’re currently building the supply of Brighton and Hove drivers to meet this demand. However, it’s not illegal for drivers licensed in other jurisdictions to carry out trips in the city as long as they are pre-booked and dispatched from the operator’s licence they are registered to. The thing that riders love about Uber is no matter what city they use the service in they get the same assurances on partner-driver standards when they book through the app.”
Councillor Jackie O’Quinn, who chairs the council’s Licensing Committee, said: All Brighton and Hove private hire and hackney carriage drivers in the city operate under the same licences and the same guidelines contained in the Blue Book, whether they drive for Uber or any other company. Likewise all drivers undergo the same background checks.
“Under the law of the land, private hire vehicles from other areas, including Uber drivers from other areas, are allowed to pick up passengers in Brighton and Hove.
“Likewise any private hire driver based in Brighton and Hove can pick up in any other area. The law is the same for all companies everywhere and this is a matter entirely beyond any council’s control.
“We do indeed believe that standards are higher in Brighton and Hove than in many other areas and understand the concerns of the local trade about the possibly of inferior services operating in the city.
“We would advise anyone thinking of booking a private hire vehicle who is concerned, to choose a locally-based company.
“Brighton and Hove City Council has worked well over the years with the Brighton taxi trade and we’re proud of this partnership which has resulted in the excellent regulations in the Blue Book.”
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