Shock: Brit capital strips Uber of its taxi licence

That could mean 40,000 drivers out of work

Uber's application for a new taxi licence in the UK capital has been rejected. In a shock move, Transport for London today said the app biz is not "fit and proper" to hold a licence.

"TfL's regulation of London's taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate. TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a licence," said the body in a statement.

It concluded "that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper" to hold a private hire operator licence.

The body said it considers that Uber's approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications. These include:

  • Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences.
  • How medical certificates are obtained.
  • How enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are carried out.

Uber also failed to explain the use of Greyball in London, software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.

The taxi firm said in a statement that it will challenge the decision in the courts. "3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision.

"By wanting to ban our app from the capital, Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice. If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.

"To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts… This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers."

Not surprisingly, Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, welcomed the move.

"Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers. We expect Uber will again embark on a spurious legal challenge against the Mayor and TfL, and we will urge the court to uphold this decision. This immoral company has no place on London's streets."

The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 includes a provision to appeal a licensing decision within 21 days of it being communicated to the applicant. Uber London Limited can continue to operate until any appeal processes have been exhausted. ®

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