Black cab drivers can take a three-month finance payment holiday, LEVC can reveal, designed to ease the burden on the trade due to the current Coronavirus crisis.
TX drivers on any existing finance contract can apply for a three-month suspension of repayments by simply completing their details at www.levc.com/payment-holiday. The initiative has been agreed by LEVC and Black Horse – and is available nationwide.
Joerg Hofmann, LEVC CEO, said:
“This is an extremely critical time and the payment holiday will hopefully play a role in softening the impact that Coronavirus has on taxi drivers. We recognise and celebrate the efforts they make daily to keep working and Britain moving. The taxi trade has endured many tough times over its long and proud history in London and other UK cities – and it will endure this one too. But this three-month bridge will hopefully ease the burden drivers face.”
Transport for London have today announced that they will not be renewing Uber’s Private Hire operators license. After initially being granted a 15 month probationary license by Westminster Magistrates Court and then a further 2 month temporary license by TfL, the regulator are still not satisfied that Uber are fit and proper to hold an operators license in the Capital.
Uber now have 21 days to appeal TfL’s decision during which they can continue to operate, if they do appeal then they will be free to continue until the appeal has been heard.
Surely now it is time for TfL to revoke Uber’s license and prevent them from operating to protect the travelling public from the issues raised for the refusal.
TfL’s email can be found below.
Transport for London (TfL) has concluded that it will not grant Uber London Limited (Uber) a new private hire operator’s licence in response to its latest application.
As the regulator of taxi and private hire services in London, TfL is required to make a decision on Uber’s fitness and propriety before its current licence expires. Safety is TfL’s number one priority.
Uber has made a number of positive changes and improvements to its culture, leadership and systems in the period since the Chief Magistrate granted it a licence in June 2018. This includes interacting with TfL in a transparent and productive manner. However, TfL has identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk.
Despite addressing some of these issues, TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time.
In September Uber was granted a two-month licence as further information was required on these issues, some of which emerged late in the process of its reapplication.
A key issue identified was that a change to Uber’s systems allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts. This allowed them to pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which occurred in at least 14,000 trips – putting passenger safety and security at risk.
This means all the journeys were uninsured and some passenger journeys took place with unlicensed drivers, one of which had previously had their licence revoked by TfL.
Another failure allowed dismissed or suspended drivers to create an Uber account and carry passengers, again compromising passenger safety and security.
TfL recognises the steps that Uber has put in place to prevent this type of activity. However, it is a concern that Uber’s systems seem to have been comparatively easily manipulated.
Other serious breaches have also occurred, including several insurance-related issues. Some of these led TfL to prosecute Uber earlier this year for causing and permitting the use of vehicles without the correct hire or reward insurance in place.
While Uber has worked to address these issues, they highlight the potential safety risk to passengers of weak systems and processes.
This pattern of regulatory breaches led TfL to commission an independent assessment of Uber’s ability to prevent incidents of this nature happening again. This work has led TfL to conclude that it currently does not have confidence that Uber has a robust system for protecting passenger safety, while managing changes to its app.
Legislation means that Uber now has 21 days to appeal, during which it can continue to operate pending any appeal and throughout any potential appeals process. Uber may seek to implement changes to demonstrate to a magistrate that it is fit and proper by the time of the appeal.
While Uber continues to operate, TfL will continue to closely scrutinise the private hire operator, which includes the need for Uber to meet the 20 conditions set by TfL in September 2019, and particular attention will be paid to ensuring that the management have robust controls in place to manage changes to the Uber app so that passenger safety is not put at risk.
Helen Chapman, Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging at TfL, said: “As the regulator of private hire services in London we are required to make a decision today on whether Uber is fit and proper to hold a licence. Safety is our absolute top priority. While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.
“It is clearly concerning that these issues arose, but it is also concerning that we cannot be confident that similar issues won’t happen again in future. If they choose to appeal, Uber will have the opportunity to publicly demonstrate to a magistrate whether it has put in place sufficient measures to ensure potential safety risks to passengers are eliminated. If they do appeal, Uber can continue to operate and we will closely scrutinise the company to ensure the management has robust controls in place to ensure safety is not compromised during any changes to the app.”
Interim General Manager of Taxi and Private Hire
Reading Borough Council have proposed a new emissions policy for black cabs which will remove older polluting vehicles from Reading’s roads as soon as 2024 and incentivise owners to replace them with newer taxis which are less harmful to the public’s health.
The council declared a Climate Emergency earlier this year and is proposing the changes as part of its commitment to a carbon neutral town by 2030, and improvements are outlined in a report which is set to be heard by the Council’s Licensing Committee on Wednesday 23 October.
Included in the proposals will be:
Vehicle Age Limit of 20 years for 100% electric vehicles
Vehicle Age limit12-15 years for other vehicles.
Staged reduction in the most polluting Hackney Carriage vehicles (Euro standard 3,4 and 5a), leaving only Euro 5b and 6b or cleaner vehicles in Reading by 2024.
A free ‘first year’ vehicle licence fee for drivers with Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV) or 100% electric vehicles, with reduced fees in subsequent years.
All replacement vehicles to be ULEV by 2025 and Euro 5b and Euro 6b vehicles removed altogether by 2028.
All replacement vehicles to be a minimum of Euro 5b with immediate effect (23 October 2019).
The Council currently charges a reduced fee of £145 per year to licence a 100% electric vehicle, compared to £346 for a 100% petrol/diesel vehicle.
There are no Ultra Low Emission Vehicles on the Reading Hackney Carriage fleet, including LPG, electric or hybrid vehicles, which means there has been no take up of this offer to date.
New incentives now being proposed include:
A 25% reduction in the vehicle fee for all ULEV (emitting a maximum of 50g/km of CO2) from April 2020 and a 50% reduction for electric vehicles.
A free vehicle licence fee for October 2021 to October 2022 for ULEV or 100% electric vehicles which have never been on the Reading fleet before.
The Licensing Committee will be asked to agree that the new emissions policy will complement the Council’s new Local Transport Plan, with acknowledgement that more electric charging points are required for Reading to become a net carbon zero town by 2030.
The right of Brighton and Hove to decide its own taxi regulations is being “undermined” by Uber ….. Brighton & Hove News
“Right To Roam” Philip Kolvin QC
“The right of Brighton and Hove to decide its own taxi regulations is being “undermined” by Uber and its use of out of area cars, the city council argued as it defended its decision to suspend the controversial ride hailing app’s licence.
Brighton and Hove City Council appealed to district judge Tessa Szagun’s sympathy for localism over the so-called “right to roam” which allows cars licensed in other areas to operate within the city.
But Uber fought back, saying there was not a “scrap of evidence” that out of area taxi drivers had been “rampaging into Brighton” and causing harm to passengers, and pointing out the only complaints had been made by local taxi companies.
Leo Charalambides, appearing for the council at Uber’s appeal, told Brighton Magistrates Court the implications of cross border hiring as used by mobile apps such as Uber had not been tested in the higher courts.
He said: “There were concerns from the outset that the impact of this novel operation needed to be assessed and considered.
“If you look at the example of CCTV in Brighton and Hove, that’s a local policy which is rooted in genuine local concerns.
“There are 97 Uber drivers in Brighton who have CCTV but 117 registered in Lewes operating in the area which may not have.
(AP Comment: No mention of all the other areas that have flooded this city…just concentrated on Lewes.. nothing about all those cars from Chichester.. Southampton.. Portsmouth… Fareham …Havant.. and more?? )
“My case is an appeal for your sympathy for loyalism.
“Our local councillors are concerned that that the right to roam is having an adverse impact on the application of our local policy.
“Can the right to roam be of such importance that the power of local people to decide what their own public interest requires can be so outweighed by that particular legal consideration?”
(AP Comment: Philip Kolvin QC was very vigorous with using the phrase “Right to Roam!” many times throughout the hearing…. possibly a clever subconscious ploy that these clever people use…..And quoting Knowsley… But didnt that just apply to the driver licence and not actually the vehicles licence? However… Uber has created those ‘Uber Mythical Regions” which ironically “Restricts the right to roam” )
“The council’s head of safer communities Joanne Player, said that should Uber “geofence” its app to prevent anyone hailing a non-Brighton licensed taxi within the city, the council would be happy to reinstate its licence.””
(AP Comment: There was no mention that Uber had geofenced London from allowing any other PHV from accepting work within the city.. probably because of the outcry that it would cause in London and affect the Uber London licence…… So Uber uses ‘Right to Roam’ when it suits….)
“However, she also acknowledged that should Uber lose its licence, it could still offer rides in the city but the council would have no power of enforcement over it or any of its drivers. She said: “There probably is a degree of absurdity.
Philip Kolvin QC, appearing for Uber, said it was not the court’s job to apply an unlawful condition, such as geofencing, for the higher courts to then decide on.
He said: “The chief magistrate has said the question of cross border hiring is irrelevant to the fit and proper assessment.
“This is a perfect example of using licensing law for an ulterior motive.
“Are these Uber drivers rampaging in Brighton and causing harm? In fact there’s not a scrap of evidence that speaks of actual harm.”
(AP Comment: Well how about all the photos and videos of out-of-town cars sleeping in the vehicles night in and night out.? How about all those PHV and hackneys that have been reported by the trade for breaking conditions of their own licensing rules such as removing council door signs….illegally working (not having to display licence or livery) under an ‘Exemption Policy’ which councils do not allow for everyday PHV work.. with the biggest culprits being Lewes DC & Chichester vehicles. I fear that Mr Charalambides was not briefed on this as none of this was mentioned in court to defend ‘Localism’.
Additionally I spoke with the local Uber rep at the Appeal and had an interesting conversation of localism and put to her the issue of all those out-town-vehicles sleeping in their cars on the seafront… including using the car park by the cafe near Roedene School….night in and night out…… there was no reply… no reaction….. just silence…. )
“Removing the right for Transport for London drivers to drive here has taken a lot of heat out of this situation. My client is now well on track to meet the 20 per cent wheelchair accessible vehicle requirement when it hits 100 cars.
“The heat which seemed to be there in April and May seems to have vanished. The direction of travel is a good one.”
“My client should be allowed to continue to be licensed here rather than operating outside the council’s jurisdiction.”
Fred Jones, Uber’s head of mobility who has been involved with Uber in Brighton since it launched in October 2016, told the court that a web page which unfavourably compared the cost and speed of getting a licence in Brighton with Lewes had now been taken down.””
(AP Comment: Yep you took it down because I pointed this out the council as proof that you were effectively encouraging drivers to get a quick and easy licence outside of Brighton & Hove to come and work here)
He explained the page had been put up after Uber created nine UK regions within which drivers had to be licensed if they wanted to drive there, which meant many London based drivers who worked in Brighton would need to be re-licensed.
He said: “They were facing a situation where they would be not able to drive. We didn’t provide pros and cons, we just provided information about what drivers are most interested in, which would include costs and the different steps.”
(AP Comment: No.. there are other Apps and companies in the city Mr Jones… in fact a lot of Brighton & Hove Uber drivers use more than one App.. so please don’t try the ‘heart strings’ ploy)
“He also said that Uber had given £1,000 to any driver who applied for a Brighton licence, with a further incentive of 250 commission-free trips once the licence was granted.”
“And he explained that Uber was strongly in favour of cross border hiring because it meant drivers weren’t having to travel back from other areas with no fares, thus driving up congestion and pollution as well as overall fares.”
(AP Comment: Very funny Mr Jones… so what about all those out-of-town drivers who actually drive up to hundreds of miles to come to Brighton & Hove to predominantly work in the city.. and then drive back again? You couldn’t make it up unless you are an Uber employee!)
“Uber originally lost its licence in May following a licensing panel hearing in April at Hove Town Hall after councillors decided it was not a “fit and proper person” to be an operator, citing cross border hiring and a data breach, for which Uber was today fined £385,000.”
“Today’s appeal hearing, which was originally scheduled for two days, finished this afternoon. Ms Szagun scheduled another hearing for 11 December at Brighton Magistrates Court where she will announce her judgement.”
AP Comment: I would like to thank Jo Player (Brighton Council) who was sworn in as a witness…. and was up against the Uber QC Philip Kolvin who robustly asked all the right question to which Jo had to answer with absolute honesty.
With the typical Surging of nearly 3X normal rate this week because it rained in the city…. this is what will be probably be the normal cost to the public in Brighton & Hove when it takes over Brighton & Hove… and to think the hackney trade is currently hesitating for a small fare review as fares have remained static for three years.
Perhaps the trade should ask for permission for the hackneys to have a ‘Rain Tariff’ … because at the moment Uber has the unfair advantage over the hackneys because the council controls what hackney drivers can earn…
Councillors have called on Uber to update its ride-hailing app after hearing claims that it could be operating “unlawfully” in one district.
Thurrock Council heard the app told Uber drivers the Essex borough was part of Greater London, where they were licensed to operate.
Councillors agreed to call on Uber to change its “geofence”, the virtual boundary used by the app.
Uber said it used “proactive” boundaries to help local authorities.
According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, John Kent, leader of Thurrock’s opposition Labour group, told a full council meeting: “A driver licensed by Thurrock Council can’t simply get in their cab on morning and go and rank up in Upminster [in the London Borough of Havering].
“The issue is that the Uber Greater London geofence includes Thurrock. That allows their vehicles and drivers, who are not licensed 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.”
A representative of the Thurrock Taxi Drivers Association told the meeting that Uber’s operation in Thurrock was “unlawful”.
Conservative councillor James Halden said: “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.”
In response, Uber confirmed that its Greater London region included Thurrock, as well as Luton and Gatwick airports and some towns and cities to the west of London.