A SPOKESPERSON for Uber has responded to allegations that it could be operating “illegally” in Thurrock.
The question of Uber’s presence in Thurrock was a matter for debate at a recent Thurrock Council meeting (news item below).
A spokesperson for Uber has contacted YT. They said: “We want to be clear that there is nothing illegal about picking up or dropping off pre-booked trips so long as the driver, vehicle and operator licence are all from the same council.
You’ll find some background below:
Uber abides by all the same rules and regulations as all other private hire operators
Driving in another jurisdiction is not illegal – as per the Law Commission (copied below) which states that drivers licensed in one jurisdiction to carry out trips in other jurisdictions as long as they are pre-booked and dispatched from the operator’s license they are registered to.
This is not only common industry practice but also valuable for consumers who need to travel beyond council jurisdictions (airports for example)
Uber has proactively made the decision to limit drivers to regions where they are licensed – you can find more details here: https://www.uber.com/en-GB/newsroom/update-cross-border-driving/
The Law Commission Report here states: “It is important to recognise that the cross-border issue is different as between taxis and private hire vehicles: in the case of taxis, the licensing area determines where they can ply for hire, whilst private hire vehicles can pursue their trade (always limited to pre-booked journeys) without any geographical restriction.
Any change to the law on how cross-border services may be booked does not therefore change the fundamental feature that operators are, and will continue to be, allowed to offer their services to customers being picked up and dropped off outside the operator’s licensing area.”
THE popular taxi service Uber could be operating illegally in Thurrock, councillors have heard.
Uber has failed to apply for an operator’s licence from Thurrock Council and tells its drivers that the borough is part of Greater London allowing it to avoid following the same rules as competing firms.
A representative of the Thurrock Taxi Driver Association told a full council meeting on Wednesday that this is “unlawful”.
Councillor John Kent, leader of Thurrock Labour, said: “Uber drivers and Uber cars are not regulated in any way by this council.
“A driver licenced by Thurrock Council can’t simply get in their cab on morning and go and rank up in Upminster. A resident in Basildon can call a cab from a Thurrock operator but the car sent out must by dispatched from Thurrock. I can for instance book a Thurrock taxi firm to take me to an airport or to pick me up but let’s be clear, if they drop me at that airport they are not allowed to pick up a fare once they drop me off.
“Too often it appears the Uber do not abide by these rules, taxi drivers regularly report that Uber cars are parked up in Thurrock waiting for a job to appear on their app and some report Uber drivers accept fares when approached. That is just not reasonable.
“Part of the problem is the geo-fence, a virtual fence around a physical area. That geo-fence allows Uber app to be active within the car of the driver when they are in the geofence, so the driver can then accept a fare. The issue is that the Uber Greater London geofence includes Thurrock. That allows their vehicles and drivers, who are not licenced by Thurrock, to in effect operate from here as though they were in Greater London.
“This is wrong and we need to take steps to encourage Uber to redraw their geofence to create a level playing field in Thurrock.”
He went on to propose a motion that calls on Uber to revise the geofence. While this was narrowly voted through, Conservative councillors did attempt to change the motion so that it was less specific and suggested the licencing committee reviews all aspects of Uber’s operation.
Conservative Councillor James Halden, who voted for the amendment, said: “If there is a concern about illegality then we should investigate the illegality. It doesn’t matter if the geofence boundary is Thurrock or the entire nation. If there is an allegation of illegality, we should investigate that fully.”