LGA: TfL Uber decision shows need for ‘urgent reform’ of outdated taxi laws

Councils have this week declared that outdated taxi laws need to be urgently reformed following Transport for London’s (TfL’s) decision to revoke taxi giant Uber’s trading license in the capital.

TfL made the decision amidst concerns about the safety of cabs working for Uber, as well as questions over the ‘gig economy’ working practices of the company and how it treats its drivers.

In a statement, mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he “fully supported” TfL’s decision and added that Uber’s approach and conduct “demonstrates a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues that have potential public safety and security implications.”

Since the decision was announced, a petition calling on TfL to reverse the decision has garnered over 700,000 signatures – although a new statement from Khan firmly stated that the mayor would not be moved on the issue.

Councils have now said that other licensing authorities across England will be watching how the dispute between Uber and TfL unfolds, and have claimed that the case is further evidence that modern laws must be brought in to regulate private hire taxi companies.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, stated: “Councils have long argued that there is a need for the existing outdated taxi laws to be updated.

“The legislation governing aspects of taxis and private hire vehicles pre-dates the motor car and is simply not fit for purpose in an era when mobile phone technology is significantly changing the way people access private hire vehicles.”

The LGA board chair added that a number of child sexual exploitation cases have involved taxi and private hire vehicle holders abusing the trust that had been placed in them, so there are strong safeguarding reasons for strengthening current legislation.

“The onset of mobile phone booking apps for PHVs is causing concern about whether drivers are able to compete on a level playing field and has led to numerous and costly legal challenges which local licensing authorities are being forced to spend public money on,” Cllr Blackburn continued.

“Local licensing authorities are trying to work out how new models fit within a legislative framework drafted before mobile phones were even invented, when what is really needed is clarity on a new legislative framework that allows for a 21st century way of doing things fairly for passengers, councils and drivers.

“The need for reform is now urgent. Councils are doing what they can to strengthen licensing processes, such as commissioning an LGA national register, but we have always said that the best way to strengthen safeguarding is to update legislation, which only government can do.

“It’s encouraging that the government has recognised the need to look at this issue as a matter of urgency, following minister John Hayes’ announcement of a working group to look at this over autumn and report back to him.”

Top Image: Anthony Devlin PA Wire

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Cllr Siddharth Patel   26/09/2017 at 12:41

I have worked in the district licensing committee. We must have laws that guarantee the safety of the public. We are to operate in the modern era a moboie app should display all the available taxis irrespective of which company the drivers work for. This will enable the public to choose the correct ride for themselves. Having all taxis on one app gives the public the informed choice just like choosing the correct insurance,utilitiy company or financial company.

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