TAXI drivers staged a protest in Brighton yesterday calling for better regulation of the sector, as the boss of transnational minicab fi rm Uber said it had made “mistakes.”
Last week Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew Uber’s operating licence, citing concerns about Uber not reporting serious crimes, poor driver vetting and manipulating its service to avoid regulators.
Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi said he was sorry for “the mistakes we’ve made” and said the firm had “got things wrong.”
However, there is substantial evidence that Uber has deliberately evaded regulations on minicab operators, rather than these being “mistakes.”
The Metropolitan Police wrote to TfL in March saying it appeared to be company policy not to report serious crimes, including sex attacks by drivers, to the police.
In Brighton, where Labour is holding its annual conference, taxi drivers staged a rally yesterday calling for greater regulation in their industry.
Taxi and private-hire drivers members of GMB’s Brighton and Hove branch called on the local council to hold Uber’s Brighton licence renewal hearing in public rather than behind closed doors.
GMB official Mick Rix said that since the government abolished regulations covering taxi operations in 2015, “our taxi and private-hire industry is descending into a wild west situation with unscrupulous operators exploiting the government ’s failure to regulate properly.
“The anything-goes approach is endangering the livelihoods of good, and safe, locally licensed drivers.
“It has seen authorities dish out licences like sweets. TfL’s brave decision on Uber in London could well help alleviate the problem.”
Back in London, the capital’s mayor Sadiq Khan accused Uber of “aggressive” behaviour following the loss of its licence.
Mr Khan said the company had an “army of PR experts” as a petition protesting over TfL’s decision gained hundreds of thousands of signatures.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “They have also made aggressive threats about taking us to court and all the rest of it.”
Uber has previously used its slick PR operation in the US to reverse decisions asking that it adhere to regulations.