Uber loses London licence – what does this mean for Brighton?

Posted On 22 Sep 2017 at 12:03 pm

Uber’s licence to operate in London has not been renewed – just weeks before its renewal in Brighton and Hove is due to be decided.

Brighton and Hove taxi drivers have urged the city council not to renew the lift-sharing company’s licence, partly on the basis it is breaking a verbal assurance made at the original licence hearing to only use drivers licensed in the city.

Since starting operation last autumn, people using the Uber app have been given rides by drivers licensed out of the city, particularly with TfL.

Today’s decision will make no difference to Uber’s ability to use London-licensed drivers down here for the time being as it is still allowed to operate pending appeal – but Brighton drivers hope it will set a precedent Brighton and Hove City Council can follow.

And if Uber loses its TfL licence permanently, no London drivers will be able to use the app – in the capital or anywhere else.

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas has also expressed a hope today that the city council will follow suit and refuse to renew Uber’s licence.

TfL refused to renew the licence on the basis that Uber had displayed “a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications”.

These include:

  • its approach to reporting serious criminal offences
  • its approach to how medical certificates are obtained
  • its approach to how Enhanced DBS checks are obtained
  • its approach to explaining how Greyball, software which prevents officials from booking Uber rides in order to check it is following regulations

The GMB union’s Brighton and Hove taxi branch has launched a petition to have Uber’s Brighton licence renewal decided in public after the city council said it would be decided behind closed doors.

Its objections centre mainly around Uber’s use of out of area drivers, who do not have to adhere to as high standards as Brighton drivers, and who the city council is powerless to regulate.

As well as drivers from London, GMB says Uber has been using drivers from New Forest, Cambridge and even Liverpool. Very few Brighton drivers use the Uber app.

The petition, which has been signed by 656 people to date, says: “Uber Britannia Ltd promised when applying and ultimately being granted their licence in Brighton and Hove only to use Brighton and Hove licensed cabs and drivers, but blatantly broke that promise from day one even openly encouraging out of city mini cabs to work within the city’s boundaries.

“It is now time for Brighton & Hove City Council to review the Uber Britannia Ltd Operators licence and insist they conform and strictly adhere to their undertaking to only use Brighton and Hove City Council licensed vehicles or have their licence suspended until they do.”

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