A taxi business has pulled out of Brighton and Hove before it even took its first booking.
Ola – a “ride-hailing app” considered a rival to Uber – was granted an operator’s licence for one year in May last year by Brighton and Hove City Council.
But the Indian firm, which already operates in Merseyside, Reading, South Wales, the South West and the West Midlands, has told the council that it now has no plans to operate in Brighton.
Ola UK Private director Karl Lutzow, 41, made the case for the newcomer at a council licensing panel hearing.
And the company even took an office in Queen’s Road, Brighton.
But Labour councillor Jackie O’Quinn, who chairs the council’s Licensing Committee, said: “The market is too full.”
She said that Brighton and Hove was “overwhelmed” with drivers from Lewes which has had the highest increase in applications in the whole country.
Councillor O’Quinn added: “They are all Ubers because it’s easier to get a Lewes licence.”
In Brighton and Hove all licensed drivers must follow the council’s stringent regulations – known as the Blue Book – when operating as a taxi or private hire driver.
One of the conditions that Councillor O’Quinn pushed for was to ensure that all Ola drivers were licensed in Brighton and Hove.
She also insisted on tight restriction to prevent Ola drivers from outside Brighton and Hove picking up fares and competing unfairly with local drivers.
Ola was approached for comment.
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