Sunday, October 25, 2015

Uber driving cabbies out of London', says Broxbourne MP

Private hire company Uber is trying to drive black-cab drivers out of London, according to a prominent Tory.

Charles Walker, MP for Broxbourne, made the claim after the High Court ruled last week that Uber drivers' smart phones are not taxi meters, making its operation in London legal.

The case was brought by Transport for London and Uber to seek clarification on the point, as London cabbies claimed Uber drivers were operating with illegal meters.

Mr Walker said: "The bigger issue is if you want a licensed black-cab trade in London.

"Black cabs are heavily regulated, and that means they have a high cost of doing business.

"But it's whether you want to invest in that licensed taxi trade, and that investment is four or five years doing The Knowledge."

The Knowledge is an intensive test of more than 6,000 roads, taken by London cab drivers.

Uber drivers are not held to the same regulations, but they must take a "private hire test".

Many black-cab drivers live in Broxbourne, and some have voiced concern that Uber could soon be looking to expand into the borough.

Cab driver Tony Siracusa, who is also chairman of the regulatory committee at Broxbourne Borough Council, said: "As far as I'm concerned and the industry is concerned, it is a meter.

"They should only be able to give a set price, the reason a taxi can have a meter is the driver will have The Knowledge."

He added: "If they applied for a taxi licence in Broxbourne, I don't think it would be passed."

Fellow cab driver Steve O'Hara, a boxing coach at Cheshunt ABC, said drivers were looking to challenge the decision at the Supreme Court.

He added he was concerned that as many as 600 private hire licences are being issued in London each week and this could have an impact on roads.

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