The North remembers: York scraps Uber's licence over data breach

But taxi biz can restart work in Sheffield

Still from HBO fantasy miniseries "Game of Thrones". Copyright HBO
Copyright: HBO

The northern city of York has voted against renewing Uber's licence as the backlash against the ride-hailing firm's business practices continues.

Uber's licence to run its private hire taxi operations in the city is due to expire at midnight on December 23.

But the city council has rejected its application for renewal because of concerns about the data breach that affected 57 million users worldwide and widespread complaints about the service.

According to local news site York Mix, the decision – made with seven votes to deny and three to renew – was met with a "huge cheer" from assembled cabbies at the meeting.

One councillor, Dave Taylor, said that there had been "a large number of complaints" with more than half relating to Uber drivers.

"I'm concerned that drivers may be unfamiliar with our roads and make mistakes that put passengers at risk," he is quoted as saying.

Neil McGonigle, general manager for Uber in York, said it was a "disappointing vote" for riders and drivers.

"We will review the details of the decision once we receive the formal notice from the council," he said in an emailed statement.

Uber has 21 days to decide whether to appeal the decision, but the council meeting was told that it can get around the ban as drivers licensed in other local authorities could still operate in York.

"Whilst York only has a handful of drivers licensed, Uber are doing what they are very good at – and that is systematically abusing the local laws and explicitly looking for loopholes by the use of out-of-town vehicles," said Saf Din, chair of the York Hackney Carriage Drivers Association.

Meanwhile, Sheffield has done an about-face on its November decision to suspend Uber's licence to operate in the city.

It stopped the biz from working in the city after it failed to respond to queries about the management of the firm, but today announced the ban was lifted after Uber "provided satisfactory replies".

Although an indication of smaller cities' willingness to stand up to Uber after the breach and widespread concerns about its employment practices, these licensing decisions are, ultimately, small fry for the biz.

Its bigger concern is regaining its licence to operate in London – where it has 3.5 million users – which Transport for London refused to renew back in October.

In a preliminary hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday, a judge said that the firm's appeal case should begin on April 30 – but might be pushed back until June.

The biz can continue operating while the appeals process takes place, even though its licence expired on September 30. ®

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