Monday, January 08, 2018

Uber’s Pre Licensing Consultation In Aberdeen Branded 'Farcical'

The consultation held ahead of the granting of a licence allowing taxi firm Uber to operate in Aberdeen has been branded "farcical" by a MSP.

It was announced last week the ride-hailing firm had been granted permission to operate in the city.

Council officials were able to approve the licence rather than it going before a committee.

BBC Scotland has learned a notice detailing the application was posted in the window of offices rented by Uber.

It was the only public notification of the application.

Aberdeen Central SNP MSP Kevin Stewart said it had not given anyone a realistic opportunity to object.

The delegated powers that were used for the licence can only be used if there are no objections following a period of consultation.

The application was sent to the normal statutory consultees which in this case was only Police Scotland, and no objection was raised.

Uber was required to place a statutory notice of display.

The firm has rented a registered office on Berry Street in Aberdeen.

Although the period of consultation has ended, the notice is still displayed at the bottom of a window at the main entrance.

'No consultation whatsoever'

Nothing was posted on Uber or Aberdeen City Council's websites and no notice was placed in the local press.

MSP Kevin Stewart told BBC Scotland: "I think that the consultation itself has been farcical.

"I have had a lot of correspondence already from taxi drivers and constituents about the fact that there has been no consultation whatsoever.

Uber has rented offices in Aberdeen
"The fact the the council only talked to the statutory consultee, which in this case is Police Scotland, and no-one else is quite outrageous.

"It's ridiculous that officers of the council have taken the decision to allow Uber to operate using delegated powers."

He has written to council chief executive Angela Scott to express concerns.

An Aberdeen City Council spokesperson said: "Police Scotland is the statutory consultee for an application for a booking office. No other persons are directly consulted with for such applications.

"The applicant is, however, required to display a notice at the proposed booking office for 21 days which must be viewable by the public. The applicant complied with this requirement.

"As there were no objections, the matter was not referred to the Licensing Committee. This is usual practice."

'Reliable ride'

Last week Uber confirmed that a licence had been granted but said there was not currently a launch date set for the service.

Uber is a cashless service where users book taxis through a smartphone app.

An Uber spokesman said the firm would benefit drivers, customers and improve competition in the city.

He said: "We're really pleased about being granted a licence in Aberdeen.

"Passengers tell us they love being able to book a reliable ride at the touch of a button.

"Furthermore, tens of thousands of licensed private hire drivers across the country have partnered with us because with Uber they can choose if, when and where they drive."

The controversial taxi firm was deemed unfit to operate by Transport for London and is appealing against a decision to remove its licence with similar action being taken in York. 

It also currently operates in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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