City leaders are about to decide whether Uber should have its licence renewed in York.

The current licence of the taxi-hailing app service runs out on December 23.

Members of City of York Council’s gambling, licensing & regulatory committee meet on Tuesday (December 12) to decide if Uber ‘is a fit and proper person to hold an operator’s licence’.

As councillors go in to this meeting they will be met by a demonstration by York taxi drivers.

They have raised many serious issues about Uber’s operations in the city. And the service has been a regular source of controversy since it arrived 16 months ago.

So are Uber ‘fit and proper’ to operate in York? Here are some of the major concerns…

Drivers from outside the city

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A report to councillors reveals there have been 296 complaints relating to hackney carriage and private hire vehicles since Uber’s operator licence was renewed a year ago.

Of these complaints 155 relate to Uber drivers or vehicles.

And the vast majority of these complaints – 129 – are about drivers or vehicles licensed by authorities outside York.

This means York council “is limited to the action it can take depending upon the nature of the complaint”.

No proper presence in the city

Tower Court, Clifton Moor. Photograph © Google Street View

To be a licensed operator, Uber must have an office in the city.

But according to Mike Palmer, secretary of the York Private Hire Association, there is little evidence of anyone working in their registered office at Tower Court, Clifton Moor.

In a letter to committee members he wrote:

My best information says that it isn’t possible to pin down any employee of Uber Britannia and say they are responsible for the actions of their drivers; that the corporation runs from an empty office in York and employs (according to a recent judicial ruling) a handful of drivers in our city.

Road safety

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Because many of the drivers aren’t from York, they are not familiar with the road restrictions in the city.

On more than one occasion they have been filmed going the wrong way down a one way street. And they are said to widely flout the rule against them picking up fares that weren’t pre-booked.

“We’ve caught many vehicles picking up illegally,” said Richard Newby, a taxi driver in York for 18 years.

“Every weekend they’re on taxi ranks. Every week we see them going down the one-way streets the wrong way.

“Yet Uber take no responsibility for their drivers. And the majority of the time they don’t know who is coming into this city from where.”

Passenger safety

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Uber say that all their registered drivers have passed DBS checks.

But York taxi drivers say there is a risk of having unknown Uber drivers from elsewhere picking up fares in York.

In London, where Uber has lost its licence, the Metropolitan Police investigated 32 drivers for rape or sexual assault of a passenger between May 2015 and May 2016.

Fairness to York drivers

An Uber car and a York taxi pass each other in the city centre. Photograph: Richard McDougall

Because out-of-town Uber drivers don’t have to abide by the same rules as York private hire and hackney carriage drivers, they don’t have the same expenses.

And they don’t turn up on a wet Tuesday afternoon – but tend to pile into town en masse at busy times, like a race day or Saturday night.

“York drivers aren’t afraid of competition – they’re just asking for a level playing field,” Alan Rowley, a taxi driver in York for 20 years, told YorkMix.

“All the drivers that are licensed by this council are also known by this council and have gone through the same strict licensing processes that are put in place to protect the public.”

6 thoughts on “Five major concerns York councillors must address before renewing Uber’s licence

  1. I’m an uber driver that’s registered in Leeds who regularly choose work in York. Let me bust a few myths about uber.
    1. We all have enhanced DBS background checks done and pay a license fee to our local councils at about £250 per year.
    2. We all have passed the DSA taxi tests
    3. The roads in York are not unique, meaning that anyone with a driver’s license can drive on them. It doesn’t require any special skills to become a taxi driver. Although I’m very familiar with the roads, I can say that the roads are poorly designed with poor signage. This is due to the incompetence of York council. If a road doesn’t have a sign saying no entry or one way, it’s not the driver’s fault ( this isn’t limited to taxi drivers).
    4. I earn on average about £15-20 per hour in York so I have no reason to work excessive hours. It can peak at around £40/hour on busy days.
    5. All Uber cars are newer than 90% of the taxis registered in York. I’ve seen V reg Honda’s used as taxis in York while Uber has 67 plate top of the range Mercedes. Which car do you feel safer in? A £500 scrap car or a £40,000 luxury car?
    6. All Leeds drivers have done the safeguarding courses unlike York drivers. York drivers are protesting so they don’t have to do this which shows how much they care about the community.
    7. We care about our customers because we get rated therefore provide an exception service. We are happy to do a 0.5mile trip or a 100mile trip. We don’t complain like York taxis.
    8. Surge is used to ensure the reliability of Uber. Customers can see how much a trip is going to cost before booking so there are no surprises. If York taxi rates are fixed but you can’t get a taxi for hours, what use is that? It’s like having an amazing sale but saying that the item is always out of stock.
    9. I pay £3000 per year for my taxi insurance, which is valid anywhere in the UK.
    York needs to keep up with the times. I can assure you that 99% of customers are happy with Uber and The only people complaining are the competitors. If Uber was so bad customers wouldn’t use it. You know what you’re getting with Uber unlike York taxis.

    1. You truely Are deluded all york cars have six monthly inspections , in addition to this we have yearl mot , as for insurance 3 k your an out and out liar !!! People with your mentality slagging York city council off , is brilliant such a good joke just like you . I look forward to the day that the government close the loop hole that you are using . Let’s get this straight you will be pushed back to your own licensing area you break every rule in the book , and you try to muddy the waters with lies and false information , your parasites who work knowingly for a company that doesn’t care about laws , local rules or people or it’s own low intelligence drivers such as you the uber driver who wrote the pack of lies , yes my grammar may be wrong but the message is loud and clear uber are on the ropes , and the knock out blow is going to sweep the nation , and put your so called driver on the dole , I make this prediction within 18 month you won’t have a job with uber because they are a bad predatory company who is only intrested in the bottom line , every york ph and hc driver are watching everything you do wrong . We shall as always to catch you out and rid our beautiful city of uber once and for all .

  2. Attempted to report serious concern – Uber driver coming from Gillygate sped across lights on the wrong side of bollards as a result of not knowing York streets. Still awaiting call back from licensing office (I have no connection with taxi business, just a concerned citizen).

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