GMB welcome decision not to renew Uber's licence in Brighton and Hove

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GMB welcome decision by Brighton and Hove council not to renew Uber’s licence to operate in the city. “We have no doubt that Uber will appeal the decision and we hope that Brighton & Hove City Council will be robust with any defence”, says GMB Southern

GMB, the union for taxi and private hire drivers in Brighton, have welcomed the decision by Brighton and Hove City Council licensing panel not to renew Uber’s licence to operate in the city.

An article in The Argus claims the unanimous decision from the councillors was based on a 2016 data breach by American hackers. In a statement the council said that Uber Britannia Limited were not a ‘fit and proper person’ to hold an operator’s licence under the terms of Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 and the council’s licensing objectives.

Andy Peters, Secretary for the GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section said: "GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section is very pleased that following the six-hour public hearing of the 2018 Brighton & Hove Uber Operators Licence renewal application the council has refused to grant a renewal.

"At the time of writing this we do not have the full details of reasons for refusal but we imagine that all the concerns raised by the trade were taken into full consideration.

"However, it is a shame that Uber, the multi-billion-dollar disruptive technology company could not act in a responsible way to work in the city alongside the existing companies in a fair and competitive manner without encouraging taxi and private hire drivers from hundreds of miles away to predominantly work in the city, away from their respective Enforcement Officers which is an important requirement for public safety.

"The only contribution Uber ever made to the trade was an attempt to remove the local ‘Knowledge Test’ which failed despite being presented by the Uber solicitors that ‘Satellite Navigation is better’.

"Uber also gave instructions to drivers to remove licence plates and council livery making these cars completely unidentifiable to the public which was a step back to pre-1976 before the ‘Local Government Miscellaneous Act 1976’ was put in place.

"Our own council ‘Enforcement Officers’ have worked tirelessly having to deal with a considerable amount of complaints made by the local trade of infringements caused by these uncontrollable ‘out-of-town’ drivers who think nothing of illegally sitting on Brighton & Hove taxi ranks and sleeping in their vehicles night-in and night-out on the seafront and driving in the wrong direction in one way systems, all under the watch of Uber.

"The trade has had to act as the ‘eyes and ears’ to protect the public and we would like to thank our Enforcement Officers for their time and patience in dealing with this.

"However, Uber threatened at the public hearing that even if it lost its Operators Licence it will continue to operate in the city.

"This means that Brighton & Hove will still be flooded with taxi and private hire drivers from Lewes, Portsmouth, Southampton, Chichester, Reigate & Banstead, Wolverhampton, Sefton, New Forest and many other areas who do not comply with the strict licensing conditions as laid down in the ‘Brighton & Hove City Council Blue Book - Conditions of Licensing for Taxi & Private Hire Drivers, Vehicles and Operators’ which is there for the protection of the public.

"One of these conditions of licensing is compulsory CCTV which is much scorned on by Uber.

"Additionally, there is the responsibility for the provision of ‘Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles’ (WAV’S) that despite Uber having access to the hundreds of ‘out-of-town’ taxi and private hire vehicles that it encourages to predominantly work in the city, not one of them is WAV compliant, nor is there any facility on its App to book one.

"We have no doubt that Uber will appeal the decision and we hope that Brighton & Hove City Council will be robust with any defence.

"GMB would like to express our thanks to the cross party ‘Licensing Panel’ members; Councillor Jackie O’Quinn, Councillor Lizzie Deane and Councillor Lynda Hyde and all the council officers who were involved in making the decision.

"We believe that the trade was absolutely correct in calling for the renewal to be held at a public hearing and not behind closed doors, where the trade could make direct presentations and all parties could be thoroughly questioned by the council. We strongly believe that without the call for the public hearing, the outcome would have been very different.

"We would like to thank all the local councillors who supported this and with special thanks to Councillor Lee Wares who wrote to the council specifically expressing his own support for a public hearing.

"We would also like to thank Caroline Lucas MP for her continuous support for the local trade along with Peter Kyle MP and Lloyd Russel-Moyle MP.

"GMB would also like to thank fellow trade reps for their continuous hard work and contribution to the public hearing on Monday April 23 2018 which has shown that by working together great achievements can be made.

"We now hope that other licensing authorities that either already license Uber as an Operator, or who may receive such an application, will look to Brighton & Hove City Council for guidance and take appropriate similar action as the local trades in those areas are having to deal with exactly the same issues as in Brighton & Hove.

"The next major issue is to change legislation that brought chaos to the trade across the UK with uncontrollable ‘Cross-Border Hiring’ following the disastrous ‘Deregulation Act 2015’ and the work on this continues.

"The Disrupter has been disrupted."

Contact: Andy Peters 07903 8344 378 or GMB Southern Press Office 07970 114 762


Notes to Editors

1] Copies of all documents and the audio of the public hearing

2] The Argus article - Uber's licence to operate in Brighton and Hove has been revoked (1 May 2018)