Brighton and Hove Council have refused to renew Uber’s operating licence in the city.
The council refused to grant the renewal of Uber’s operating licence because, amongst other reasons, it had concerns over Uber’s commitment to use only Brighton and Hove licensed drivers in the city.
The chair of the licensing panel, Jackie O’Quinn, said: “In the original application in 2015, UBL (Uber Britannia Ltd) gave a firm commitment to adhere to the standards set out in the Blue Book and only to use Brighton and Hove licensed drivers.
“We do not feel the spirit of this commitment has been kept to.
“In the panel’s view, large numbers of taxis operating in the city that do not meet our Blue Book standards puts the safety of residents and visitors at potential risk.”
Uber said it was “a disappointing decision”, and it intended to appeal “so we can continue serving the city”.
An aspect of the appeal will almost certainly address the legalities around the council’s concerns about Uber’s use of vehicles and drivers not licensed by the council. The legal arguments around this particular issue will be particularly interesting given the recent case involving Delta Taxis & Uber v. Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
Although the specific circumstances are different, the more general affirmation that section 75(2) of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 gave a private hire driver the “right to roam” (provided the trinity of licences are intact), may be relevant to the outcome of this appeal.
This is an important issue for Uber because cross-border hiring is a fundamental part of its operating model. Brighton is part of Uber’s South East region which means that (in theory at least) a licensed driver from any licensing authority in their South East region can operate in Brighton. The other locations in the South East region are Southampton and Portsmouth.
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