Basildon Council may ask Uber to ‘withdraw’ from borough

BASILDON Council will decide next week whether to write to online taxi firm Uber and ask it to either ‘withdraw from Basildon’ or apply for a specific licence to operate in the borough.

A council report said an influx of London-licensed Uber drivers was damaging the earnings of local drivers – and added that the London drivers were not subjected to the same checks as local drivers.

The document, to be considered by Basildon’s Licensing Committee next week, said it was ‘not unlawful’ for London Uber drivers to operate in Basildon.

However, it added that the council was powerless to take action against Uber drivers who behaved improperly, because it is not responsible for their licences.

It said: “Drivers are not under the same level of scrutiny when operating away from their licensing area…This may result in private hire vehicles flooding the market and Basildon Council being unable to undertake enforcement and compliance checks to secure the safety of the travelling public.”

The committee will also decide next week whether to write letters of concern to Government and to Transport for London (TfL), which is responsible for Uber licences.

The report said Basildon had ‘witnessed an increase in private hire vehicles licensed by other local authorities working within the borough boundary over the past two to three years’. Most of them were Uber drivers licensed by TfL.

It stated: “The feedback from local licensed Hackney Carriage and private hire trade is that this operation is significantly impacting their business activities and therefore their income.

“There are concerns, raised not only by the local trade but also by (council) officers, that the fact that out of town vehicles and drivers are not subject to the same standards creates an unlevel playing field.

“The drivers licensed by TfL do not have to undergo all of the same checks and training as those licensed by Basildon Council.

“TfL do not require their private hire drivers to undertake a knowledge test, driving standards assessment or passenger assistance training, for example.”

The Licencing Committee will meet in public at the Bas Centre next Wednesday, September 18, at 7pm.

Charles Thomson

Chief Reporter Email: basildon@yellowad.co.uk