I wish to discuss and highlight the information that I received from Caroline Steven who is the Licensing Team Leader for Wycombe.
Caroline replied to an email that I sent out nationally informing me of the following;
Dear Mr Ward,
Thank you for your e-mail below and the accompanying letter.
I can confirm that it is the opinion of this authority that bookings are taken by Uber and that the contract lies between Uber and the customer. This was the basis on which an operator licence was issued to Uber by this authority.
I would add that in Wycombe district we have far more significant issues with local operators and drivers obtaining licences from authorities with less robust requirements and operating within this area. We also consider that the policies and procedures put in place by Uber are considerably more comprehensive and effective than the majority of private hire operators.
Licensing Team Leader
Wycombe District Council
While I fully accept that companies are not working within the intention of the Law, I fail to see how Caroline’s defense of Uber is sufficient to accept.
It states in the Wycombe web site for Private Hire licensing that;
A licensed private hire driver cannot accept any bookings unless he/she either holds or works for a licensed private hire operator. An operator may pass a booking to another licensed private hire vehicle operator provided that the operator is also licensed by us.
However, it is stated twice in Canadian Courts and once in a UK Tribunal that Uber do not accept the booking, but the driver does. It is also stated within the Uber terms and conditions that;
Uber is a technology company with a proprietary technology application (the “App”) that provides on-demand lead generation and related services. The App connects independent providers of transportation services with requests from riders requesting transportation services.
Again, it is the customer and the driver who make the contract, Uber simply back fill the acceptance of the request to the appropriate Operators License that the driver is registered to.
I wish this information to highlight that Uber, in their own words both under oath and within their web site, admit that it is the driver who accepts the booking and not Uber themselves.
There may be discussions regarding the law and how technology has advanced, but the crux of the matter is that the law is what we have as it currently stands and must be adhered to.
It was written with the intention of protecting the public, advances in technology does not detract from that intention, indeed, many if not all other systems that use modern technology in fact were written to work within the current law, its intentions and most importantly the safety of the public.
This email is due to the flippant disregard of Uber and how it operates by Caroline Steven and will now be circulated through the trade’s online and printed press releases.
It is not for one council to sit back and accept that an operator is legal because other councils have licensed them, it is the duty of each individual authority to ensure that the person or company licensed is operating within the intention of the law as it stands now, not how it may stand in the future.
My charge to Wycombe Council is this;
You investigate the working practices of Uber to protect the public of Wycombe.
I look forward to your response, which I assure you will also be shared with the trade as I have explained that this email will be.
I thank you for your time in reading this email.