These are difficult times for driver and rider matching service Uber: their appeal against the refusal by Transport for London to grant them a licence renewal has not been helped by a series of revelations here on Zelo Street about how their London operation was illegal, and known to be so (see HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE), and now comes news that one of their favourite UK locations has also refused their advances.
Last week, the Brighton and Hove independent told its readers “Taxi app Uber will learn whether its licence to operate in Brighton and Hove has been granted later this week. Anger over the fact Uber drivers licensed in other areas were able to operate in the city were expressed at Hove Town Hall today (April 23)”. There was more.
“Brighton and Hove City Council’s licensing panel met to discuss the company’s operators licence in the city, after it renewed it for just six months in October last year. This comes after the company was refused a licence to operate in London, which will go to appeal in June. The company launched in Brighton and Hove in October 2016, but has come in for criticism after drivers licensed with Transport for London were operating in the city through the app”. It wasn’t just drivers from London, though.
Vehicles registered in areas as far away as Manchester and Liverpool were arriving in Brighton, and clearly not just for a day by the seaside. This was important: vehicles licensed in Brighton and Hove must comply with the “Blue book”, which, for instance, mandates sealed unit CCTV for all taxis and private hire vehicles.
Uber has recently said it will stop vehicles from London having days out in Brighton, but has not prevented their drivers licensed in nearby areas from doing jobs there. So the problem of having vehicles out there which do not comply with the Blue Book has not been solved - Uber is getting good PR, while still sneaking around the law.
No wonder, then, that last year Uber secured a license renewal for just six months. And now has come much worse news: Uber has been refused a renewal altogether.
This from the Brighton and Hove City Council press release: “Following the hearing on Monday 23 April, Brighton & Hove City Council’s licensing panel has decided against renewing Uber Britannia Ltd’s Private Hire Operator Licence in the city. The unanimous decision was taken as the members of the panel were not satisfied that UBL are 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”.
There was more: “the panel did have significant concerns about the company’s data breach and UBL’s lack of commitment to use only Brighton & Hove licensed drivers in the city. These formed the basis of the decision to not renew the licence”. Uber must notify any decision to appeal within 21 days of receiving the council’s notification.
Other local authorities will have been looking on. So will TfL. The powers that be are gradually seeing through the fog of soundbites and lobbying.
The time of Uber on the south coast was for a time, but not for all time.