Edinburgh taxi drivers call for Uber probe after London ban

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CAPITAL taxi drivers have called for a review into the operating licence of private hire firm Uber in Edinburgh after transport bosses in London announced the firm will not have its permission to work in the city renewed.

Transport for London (TfL) said the minicab app company was “not fit and proper” to operate in the city due to concerns which have “public safety and security implications”.

The ruling means Uber drivers will be banned from working London after September 30, pending an appeal.

The decision has sparked calls for a probe into Uber’s working practices from black cab drivers across Edinburgh.

However, council bosses say there are no plans to review the operating licence for the private hire firm before its licence expires in March 2019.

Edinburgh Taxi Association member Ali MacPherson said the decision by TfL “set a precedent” for other cities to hold their own probe into Uber’s working practices.

He said: “There absolutely should be a review to establish some kind of accountability for who is responsible for making sure Uber stick by the rules and regulations of the area they operate in.

“At the moment, that doesn’t exist. Uber drivers aren’t subject to anything like the level of rules we as taxi drivers are.

“That means they can effectively operate outside any of the regulations we have to stick to.

“That has to change to make the roads fair for everyone.”

TfL cited a number of incidents as their reasons for denying the licence, including its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and how it carries out background checks on its drivers.

The firm was given just a four-month temporary licence to operate in London in May following concerns by the Metropolitan Police over a lack of driver regulation.

Mark Greenhalgh, Chairman of the Edinburgh Private Hire Drivers Association, accused TfL of “heavy-handedness.”

But he said Uber was unlikely to fall foul of the rules in Scotland.

He added: “I think they have effectively used a sledgehammer to crack a nut by banning Uber in London, it’s like they are trying to make an example of Uber.

“In Scotland, I think it’s different because there’s an understanding of the rules and Uber are compliant with them, but in London, it seems to be there was no kind of regulation in place, so it seems a little harsh to suddenly come down with a blanket ban.

“Obviously passenger safety should be taken extremely seriously, but I also feel sorry for the drivers, some of whom will have just been told they will be out of a job in just over a week”.

Tony Kenmuir, chairman of Central Taxis, agreed the ruling would have little impact north of the border, adding: “We have 1100 drivers on our books and we’ve never been busier, so for us this isn’t much more than a storm in a teacup.

“Personally I can’t see there being a review any time soon, but we will certainly be keeping an eye on how things progress.”

Glasgow City Council also said no review would be held, while Aberdeen City Council was unable to comment.