Uber cabs are still picking up fares in Southend illegally - and are mainly targeting the airport.
And it is feared some of the drivers are taking cash jobs.
This is despite measures being put in place by Uber bosses to stop them operating outside London.
Last month Uber changed its app to let passengers know Transport for London (TfL) had licensed their driver, alongside information such as their name, photo, private hire licence number and car registration. Previously the message would simply state a driver was being found.
This means passengers in Southend, and elsewhere outside London, can no longer request an Uber cab via the app as it is “geo-fenced” which prevents the driver operating outside a GPS area where they are not licensed.
The move came as Uber appealed a decision by Tfl to withdraw its operating licence over concerns about Uber drivers operating outside London.
Despite the restrictions, it appears Uber drivers are still picking up fares in Southend, particularly at the airport. Doing so is illegal and puts them outside the authority of local councils as hackney carriage licensing authorities and outside Uber’s meagre controls.
Tony Cox, councillor responsible for transport said: “I am aware of this problem and have met with taxi drivers. If anyone sees this sort of activity we want to know about it. We need the evidence and then we will act on it.
“With geo-fencing Uber can restrict where one can order a car from and also their drivers and where they can accept jobs. If they are doing cash jobs or doing jobs outside the Uber platform it is even worse than before.
“Uber drivers can’t take cash from a paying fare. It has to be pre-booked. A private hire vehicle acting as a taxi in this way is illegal. They have plunged the private hire business into the wild west.” Passengers in Southend have been left puzzled by the situation.
Simon Freeman, 25, from Westcliff said: “I was going to book one last week for the first time in two months, but strangely the app kept saying no cars available, which I hadn’t seen before in Southend.
“I have seen plenty of the Ubers driving around town and picking people up so they are still working in Southend. So it’s pretty odd, and frustrating that you cannot use the app, I thought using the app was the whole point of Uber?”
Taxi drivers in south Essex are irate about Uber drivers continuing to flout the rules.
Speaking to the Echo, Rochford taxi driver Paul Lawrence said: “I was at the airport yesterday and I saw four of them. They are still operating here. I see them every day. I thought they weren’t supposed to be at Southend Airport.
“We have to learn the local knowledge, to pay to be licensed and be CRB checked but there’s absolutely no precautionary checks with these people. They swan around and do what they like with no penalty.”
Mr Lawrence, 54, from Benfleet added: “The police won’t touch it because they say it’s a civil matter.”
Cliff Short has been Southend taxi driver for 30 years.
He said: “I see them on a daily basis. They are at the back of the Holiday Inn. They park up wherever they can.
“They also work at the nightclubs. We had a survey a couple of years ago to see if we needed any more taxi licensed in the area and we didn’t so with them out there as well it is harder for us.”
Mr Short, 62, from Leigh, added: “If anyone gets webcam footage of Uber drivers here they should send it to the council.”
TAXI LEAKS’ EXTRA BIT:
A spokesman for Uber, Mike Chisholm said:
As Southend Airport is a London Airport, we are allowed to work there....
You really couldn’t make this up !!!
Mind you, they also believe The Netherlands is part and parcel of the UK