Saturday, June 03, 2017

Provincial Taxi Drivers Hit Back At TfL Registered Uber Minicab Invasion

Licensed Leicester cab drivers say they are facing 'unfair competition' from TfL registered Uber drivers coming up from London and operating in the city.

The Private Hire Operators Association (PHOA), to which they belong, is fighting to prove their case.

Currently, Taxis and Private Hire in Leicester are licensed by the local authority, Leicester City Council - who regulates them in terms of safety.

What are the issues that divide Leicester's carriers?

Licensed by local authority for specific geographical area
Operates under Uber app with no geographical limitations
Bookings taken through switchboard, which are relayed to drivers
Bookings made through free app direct to TfL registered drivers
Totally illegal
Drivers employed as staff by council regulated firmsFreelance drivers do not qualify for holiday pay, sick pay or employee breaks
Large overheads of a structured businessLow-cost operation with minimal overheads

A driver based in Leicester also has to be licensed and the company has to have an operator's licence in the area where the driver works.

Uber drivers are being allowed to work everywhere under one licence, which the PHOA fear is not only unsafe, but illegal.

A spokesman for PHOA said: "The situation with Uber is causing chaos and harming the businesses of local drivers in Leicester and elsewhere in UK."

The association is working to prove that Uber should not be picking up fares 'across borders'.

They are currently gathering evidence from case law and other sources to prove it.

Meanwhile, Leicester City Council appear to have been got at. They maintain Uber drivers are operating legally here. It's alleged the councillors have no idea of the law regarding PH operation. 

Uber claim they are insured, as their drivers are all licensed. This has proved not to be the case in many instances when a Uber drivers have been checked by Cab enforcement officers, many just have fully comp insurance and not the more expensive Hire and Reward. Uber drivers have also been sharing with family and friends who are not registered PH drivers. In some cases, when stopped drivers have been working without a current British driving licence.

A Leicester City Council spokesperson said: "Changes to the law around taxi licensing, brought in by the Deregulation Act 2015, mean that drivers with a private-hire licence from a local authority can use it to operate anywhere in England and Wales.

"Drivers who use the Uber app are no different to other licensed drivers – who are all subject to the same enhanced DBS background checks which must be carried out by the licensing authority.

This is not the case

He added: "We are aware of the concerns of local private hire operators and will be monitoring the situation in Leicester."

One frequent user from Leicester is refusing to use Uber cabs here.

She said: "When a London vehicle is driving here, the council enforcement people are unable to send it for a vehicle check or MOT check, like they can with a local plate."

Uber is one of many companies in the relatively new "platform industry" where firms offer a way of connecting self-employed workers with potential customers.

The company provides a smartphone app that serves as the middleman between freelance cabbies and people looking for a lift home.

Uber's vast pool of workers that provides its core services do not get employment rights such as holiday pay, sick pay, or breaks like a contracted member of staff would.

This is one of several factors that has made the firm's operations controversial

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