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Protest Over 'Wild West' Private Hire Licenses

Monday, February 27, 2017

Uber operate with impunity while TfL ‘hand out licenses like sweeties’ according to union.

GMB taxi and private drivers members are staging a protest against ‘Wild West’ deregulation of the private hire licenses.


The union will linking up with other taxi trade representatives to hold demos in towns and cities across the UK. [1]

The government deregulation bill has created a Wild West situation in many towns and cities, where some licensing authorities such as TFL are issuing licenses for taxis which then operate out of London jurisdiction.

In some cases this is taking place in areas where licenses have already been refused to those drivers.

Cross border authority licensees plying for hire is taking place, with TFL licensed drivers taking fares in York, Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, Southend, Hatfield, Brighton, Cardiff and Reading to name just a few.

Recently in Southend, licenses were refused to some drivers who then went to TFL and obtained a license and are now operating in Southend - outside of TFL jurisdiction. [2]

Uber, who are not allowed a license to operate in places such as Reading, Hatfield and other areas, are taking bookings and plying for hire in those areas.

This is having a disastrous effect on enforcement and safety, and allows unregulated plying for hire, without national enforceable standards, and agreed rigorous safeguarding and licensing checks, whilst ensuring that vehicle and insurance standards are not properly in place as required for that area.

It is reported that over a thousand licenses a month are being issued by TFL, with virtually no regulation to ensure compliance as a number of these drivers are plying for hire outside TFL jurisdiction.

This is having a detrimental effect on local hackney and private hire drivers who are operating lawfully and have the local knowledge, are complaint with safeguarding, and who are charging the correct fare.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for Taxi and Professional Drivers, said:

"The law has become unworkable, because firms like Uber are operating with impunity and taking fares from areas where they are not licensed, and most local licensing authorities either feel powerless to do anything, or want a quiet life.

“Some, like TFL, make money and hand out licenses like sweeties to anyone and anybody.

“There is now a clear need for national, enforceable standards and regulations.

“People would not get on a bus, a plane, or a train without trusting that the people behind the controls were properly licensed, had the correct knowledge, and had proper safeguarding checks.

“The hackney and private hire trade was once the envy of many countries, with good safe standards, where people trusted the driver of the cab.

“When licensing authorities hand out licenses, with no proper checks, then they are as bad as the most unscrupulous operators such as UBER and others, who are only interested in turning a quick buck, and are not interested in the welfare of the customer.

“GMB hackney and Private Hire drivers are not prepared to see their lawful trade, livelihoods, considerable investment costs and their reputations be destroyed because of a few cowboys.

“Our members pride themselves in the knowledge that they are good, lawful and safe drivers.

“We warned the government that its deregulation would bring about a race to the bottom.

“That race to the bottom has arrived.

“That's why there will be protests in many places up and down the country by our members, and also a mass meeting of GMB Taxi and Professional drivers in London on the 28th February to plan further events and protests until the powers that be, sit up, take notice and bring about the required national changes that are required to protect the travelling public."


ENDS

Contact:

Rebecca Mitchel Birmingham region: 077145 39894

Bob McNeil Yorkshire Region: 07961 761806

Steve Garelick GMB Professional drivers London Region: 07565 456776

Jon Smith Vice Chair GMB Taxi and Professional Drivers National Committee: 07918 905615

Mick Rix National Officer: 07971 268343


Notes to editors:

[1] Protest are taking place in:

London
Southend
Reading
Sheffield

Cardiff
York
Oxford
Liverpool
Bristol

[2] Criminal Uber Driver Legal Challenge

Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Union slams ‘rogue tactics’ which sees former jailbirds dodge local authority ban.
Read more: http://www.gmb.org.uk/newsroom/criminal-uber-drivers

 

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