GMB Brighton & Hove Section October 3 2017

Uber Brighton & Hove Operators Licence Renewal 2017 - Full PDF document available here

Click on links

Part 1: Issues raised & Objection to the renewal of the 2017 Uber Brighton & Hove Operators Licence

Part 2: Questions for Brighton & Hove Council

Part 3: Questions to be submitted to Uber


Part 4: Uber Hailing App (two documents)
Simon Court
Legal Services
Brighton & Hove City Council

Uber Brighton & Hove Operators Licence Renewal 2017
Part 1: Issues raised & Objection to the renewal of the 2017 Uber Brighton & Hove Operators Licence
Part 2: Questions for Brighton & Hove Council
Part 3: Questions to be submitted to Uber
Part 4: Uber Hailing App (two documents)

                                                                                                                                             October 3 2017

Part 1: Objection to the renewal of the Brighton & Hove Uber Operators Licence & Issues Raised

Dear Mr Court

The trade has asked for the 2017 renewal of the Uber Brighton & Hove Operators to be held in public. At the date of submitting this document the council has refused this request. However with TfL having now refused to re-licence Uber in London we consider this request has now moved to a higher level of importance:

1: The Brighton & Hove Taxi and Private Hire Trade call for the 2017 renewal of the Uber Operators Licence to be held in Public and not behind closed doors.  We understand that this request has also been sought by at least three Councillors. On October 2 2017 the Brighton & Hove Taxi and Private Hire trade handed over a Petition headed by the GMB that was made available online via Change.org which to date attracted over 1071 supporters. This Petition will remain ongoing and will cease at a time as yet to be determined based on council procedure.

The initial application made by Uber for a Brighton & Hove Operators Licence in 2015 was held at a Panel Meeting in public where the trade, legal representatives and the media were present and were involved in the process of debate and questioning. Consequently Uber were only given a one year licence instead of the standard five.

The renewal in 2016 was carried out behind closed doors but although Uber had held a licence for 12 months it didn’t launch until a few weeks before the end the expiry of that licence. Therefore there was no reason for the council not to renew the licence as they had little activity in the city. Again Uber was only given a one year licence.

Since then the situation has changed dramatically with private hire cars from all over the county predominantly working in the city. This working predominance factor was not the intention of the 2015 Deregulation Act and as such the GMB are calling for dramatic changes to national taxi/private hire Legislation. We have photographic and video evidence of Uber TfL minicabs bedded down and sleeping in their cars along with using Brighton & Hove taxi ranks and driving the wrong way in one way streets with no local knowledge and illegally using bus lanes. All of which is unacceptable and local Enforcement is rendered redundant.

TfL minicabs are not permitted to use bus lanes as these cars are licensed under the London Private Hire Act 1998 and not the Local Government Miscellaneous Act 1976 as local hackney carriage and private hire cars are.

Uber has held an Operator’s Licence for 24 months and has been fully operational in the city for 12 months.. thus a track record has now been established.

This document contains a list of questions which are also provided in a separate document for clarity for Brighton & Hove City Council to provide a full response. These are listed under:

Part 2: List of questions for Brighton & Hove Council

Additionally there is a further document of questions for Uber which the GMB require the council to submit to Uber for a full response. These are listed under:

Part 3: Questions to be submitted to Uber

The GMB is very specific as to how the council must process these documents and details of which are shown.  If Uber refuses to answer in full to any of the questions then we expect the council to refuse to renew its Operators licence and deem not ‘Fit and proper’. These questions have been adapted from the Gateshead and North Tyneside questions that were put to Uber. Uber does not hold an Operatorating Licence in these areas.


Question 1 to the Council:

We have been given reason for not having the Uber Operators Licence 2017 renewal held at a ‘Public Hearing’ along the lines that “No other Operators renewal is treated the same way”. However it could be stated that no other Operator acts in the same way as Uber.

The constitution of the council allows council officers Delegated Powers to grant licences. These powers were in existence in 2015.

1: Given that exactly the same Delegated Powers were in existence in 2015... what decision was reached and by whom and when to refer the matter to a ‘Panel Hearing’ that was held in public for the Uber initial application in 2015?

1a:  What is different today that existed in 2015 that doesn’t make it of great pubic interest to hold it in public now?



2: We raise objections to the renewal of the 2017 Uber Britannia Limited Brighton & Hove Operators licence on the following points as listed within this document:

Background

Uber was granted a Brighton & Hove Operators Licence in 2015 following a ‘Panel Hearing’ which was held in public.

Uber did not launch in the city until nearing the very end of the expiry of that licence being a matter of a few weeks.

On this basis the council had no quantifying reason not to renew the licence which was reviewed ‘in-camera’ away from the public.

Since that renewal in 2016 Uber has flooded the city with private hire cars from all over the UK to predominantly work here with the most prevalent cars being TfL minicabs... none of which can be checked by the council under Enforcement.  The council has sought concordat arrangements with other licensing authorities but this has failed to produce any effective reciprocal arrangements albeit with Adur DC. Neighbouring Lewes DC has refused.

Because there are so many TfL minicabs predominantly working in the city Enforcement has had to be carried out by TfL itself by coming down from London. This has been limited to times and dates and takes up valuable time of the HCO which is funded by the Brighton & Hove taxi/private hire trade through fees.

For many years the Brighton & Hove Taxi Trade has had an extremely good relationship with the council but due to the presence of Uber encouraging ph vehicles not licensed in the city to predominantly work here this relationship has unfortunately been strained with officers having to deal with complaints from the trade on a regular basis.

However there is certainly empathy for the officers and council departments who have had to deal with this situation over the last 12 months.

The local trade has worked tirelessly with the council to produce the high standards or licensing for the safety of the public which includes CCTV and the recent introduction to the Blue Book of ‘Safeguarding”

"3.1 The prevention of crime and disorder, safeguarding of children & the vulnerable and the protection of the public"

Blue Book Handbook 4th Revision for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire, Drivers, Vehicles and Operators

Whilst Uber does have some Brighton & Hove licensed drivers/vehicles this is overwhelmingly outweighed by the number of other ph vehicles/drivers from all over the UK working under Uber in the city.


3: On September 22 2017 TfL made the decision not to re-licence Uber on the following grounds:

“Transport for London (TfL) has today (Friday 22 September) informed Uber London Limited that it will not be issued with a private hire operator licence after expiry of its current licence on 30 September.

TfL's regulation of London's taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate. TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a licence.

TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.

TfL considers that Uber's approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications. These include:

• Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences.
• Its approach to how medical certificates are obtained.
• Its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained.
• Its approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London - software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.

The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 includes provision to appeal a licensing decision within 21 days of it being communicated to the applicant. Uber London Limited can continue to operate until any appeal processes have been exhausted.

No further comment will be made by TfL pending any appeal of this decision.”

4: Archive: Letter to Uber on October 23 2015 from Tim Nichols - Head of Regulatory Services Brighton & Hove City Council:

This contained (but not limited to other references)...to the following statements regarding Uber to be ‘Fit and Proper’ to be granted a Brighton & Hove Operators Licence. The same and other references to ‘Fit and Proper’ were stated in the councils Licensing Meeting Minutes of October 19 2015.

2015
“The legislation states as follows:
55. Licensing of operators of private hire vehicles.
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, a district council shall, on receipt of an application from any person for the grant to that person of a licence to operate private hire vehicles grant to that person an operator's licence:
Provided that a district council shall not grant a licence unless they are satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold an operator's licence.”


“The Decision
The Panel are satisfied that for the reasons given Uber meet the statutory test, being fit and proper to hold an operator's licence.”


5: Not deemed to be ‘Fit and Proper’ by Transport for London:

TfL have provided damning reasons as to why they consider Uber not to be ‘Fit and Proper’ to hold a London Private Hire Operators Licence. One reason being that it failed to report serious crimes. All Operators may have drivers who commit crimes as indeed in any professional organisations. However there is the responsibility to make sure that these crimes are recorded and reported which it appears that Uber has failed to do.

As Uber is one big entity then this finding by TfL of Uber not being ‘Fit and proper’ should reflect on all of its UK operations and not just confined to London. This is based on the fact that Uber uses TfL licensed minicabs to predominantly work all over the UK. In reality TfL has become the UK National Licensing Office for Private Hire Licensing which has allowed Uber to operate the way that is does... which is exclusive to Uber.

As Uber actively encourages TfL minicabs to predominantly work in Brighton & Hove the Council must take this decision by TfL very seriously when looking at the application by Uber to renew their Brighton & Hove Operators Licence which expires in November 2017.



Question 2 to the Council:

Using due diligence in 2015 the council had deemed Uber ‘Fit and proper’ to be granted an Operator’s Licence.

2: The council deemed Uber as ‘Fit & Proper’ in 2015: Given the damning reasons that TfL have now deemed Uber not to be ‘Fit and proper’ will the council take this into consideration under due diligence with the Uber Operator Licence renewal for 2017?


6: Metropolitan Police Inspector Neil Billany


Uber has been accused by Met Police Inspector Neil Billany of allowing a driver who sexually assaulted a passenger to strike again by not reporting the attack, along with other serious crimes.

*In a strongly worded letter, Insp Neil Billany of the Metropolitan police’s taxi and private hire team suggested the company was putting concerns for its reputation over public safety.

He cited the case of a man who worked for Uber being allowed to stay on the books despite an allegation of sexual assault, leading to another, “more serious” attack on a woman in his car.

“Had Uber notified police after the first offence, it would be right to assume that the second would have been prevented,” the inspector wrote in his letter to Helen Chapman, head of taxis and private hire at Transport for London (TfL).

*13/8/2017 stated in many media outlets



Question 3 to the Council:

3: Given the damning reasons that Met Police Inspector Neil Billany has raised concerns  will the council take this into consideration under due diligence with the Uber Operator Licence renewal for 2017? 




7: The failure of Uber to adhere to the undertaking to only use Brighton & Hove licensed vehicles within the city:


Uber has blatantly encouraged private hire cars from TfL... Leeds... New Forrest.. Wolverhampton.. Birmingham.. Reigate & Barnstead.... Sefton... Southampton.. Portsmouth... Havant   and many more areas to predominantly work within the city.

Such is that state that we even have some of these actually bedded down and sleeping in their cars which is unprecedented in the city.   Photographic and video evidence has already been provided but can be produced upon request.


The initial ‘Panel Hearing’ in 2015 resulted in a letter to Uber dated October 23 2017 and included the following statement:

“Issues were raised in relation to the approach of Uber to assuring that their drivers are meeting all regulatory requirements. We were reassured by Uber’s explanation that measures would be undertaken to ensure that prior to engagement to their “platform” all prospective drivers have submitted relevant and up to date documentation, and that all information received would be processed in the city of Brighton and Hove. Further we were told that Uber would only use drivers already licenced by Brighton and Hove, or those that will in due course be licenced by this authority. “


The issue is that there was a very good reason as to why the council verbally asked Uber the question in the first place at the 2015 ‘Panel Hearing’.

This was because the trade fully informed the council with documented evidence prior to the ‘Panel Hearing’ and verbally during it emphasising  how Uber operates by enticing private hire vehicles from outside of a licensing authority to predominantly work areas that they are not licensed in.

Such evidence was produced in a document provided by Martin Walker of Sheffield Taxis Ltd with further verbal evidence given by Mr Walker at the ‘Panel Hearing’.

We since have evidence from Havant Council where one of their private hire vehicles stated that Uber offered ‘incentives’ to work in Brighton & Hove. This evidence can be provided is needed.

The trade pre-warned the council and consequently the council questioned Uber on this and Uber representatives undertook to only use Brighton & Hove Licensed private hire vehicles.

However it is unashamedly obvious that the council has been ignored by this ‘Disruptive’ company as it immediately broke the undertaking and flooded the city with cars not licensed by the council.

The consequences of the council granting that licence in 2015 and then granting another licence in 2016 has seen a multitude of private hire vehicles descending on the city and predominantly working here and even  bedded down in their vehicles.



Question 4 to the Council:

4a: Given that it was Uber Britannia Ltd and not Uber Brighton & Hove that had promised to only use Brighton & Hove licensed vehicles... was this a factor in giving Uber a Brighton & Hove Operators Licence?

4b: If the Council had asked Uber if they would be encouraging the use of private hire vehicles from all over the UK to predominantly work within the city.. and the reply from Uber was “Yes” then would the Council have granted the licence in 2015 in the first place?



8: Enforcement

Those hundreds of private hire cars from all over the UK that predominantly work in the city are out of reach of local Enforcement and the council has failed to obtain any concordat arrangements between other licensing authorities apart from Adur.

Even Lewes DC.. an adjoining licensing authority... has actually refused to agree to any such concordat arrangement.

The council managed to arrange for TfL Enforcement to be in the city over a period of time and at the date of the document being submitted we wait for the full report on this.


Question 5 to the Council:

5a: What extra cost has been caused for arranging TfL Enforcement to be brought into the city?

5b: If there has been any extra cost for arranging TfL Enforcement to be brought into the city or for extra working hours for the HCO where will this be recouped?


9: It is totally unacceptable to have private hire drivers from any area sleeping in their vehicles

We have photographic and video evidence of TfL minicab encouraged by Uber to work predominantly in the city drivers bedded down for the night in their vehicles. This is totally unacceptable behaviour and Uber has been made aware of this but it continues to occur in the city. Any responsible Operator would take direct action to stop this.

A taxi/private hire driver has a duty of care to the public to be well rested between shifts. For a driver to actually sleep in his car is unacceptable. Since the arrival of Uber in the city it has set unprecedented lower standards for the public. Such bedded down sleeping arrangements in cars has never been known by the trade before.

Even at a Trade Forum Meeting  this year we were given a demonstration on how drivers should look after themselves to keep fit and healthy whilst carrying out their duties in their cabs and we were asked to distribute leaflets, But now we have Uber drivers actually sleeping in their cars between shifts!


Question 6 to the Council:

6. With the unprecedented situation of (mainly) Uber TfL minicabs bedded down and sleeping in their cars does the council consider that Uber as a Brighton & Hove licensed Operator has not taken responsibility for the health and safety of those drivers but also for the safety and protection of the passengers being transported by those drivers who could not be considered as being properly rested?



10: Bus Lanes

We were recently informed that TfL minicabs are not allowed to use Bus Lanes in Brighton. This is based on the principle that TfL minicabs are licensed under the London Private Hire Act 1998 and not the Local Government Miscellaneous Act 1976.

However these TfL minicabs which are known to work under Uber flout this regulation and use the bus lanes without any conscience adding to the congestion and restricting the flow of traffic.

North Street has a very bad history of pedestrian accidents and with Uber TfL minicabs using North Street this adds greatly to the risks of such accidents

All TfL minicabs are prohibited from using bus lanes in London and the same applies all over the UK outside of London

On this basis we put the council on notice that should any TfL minicab be involved in any accident with a pedestrian then we will hold the council as being fully responsible unless it can show that action has been taken to prevent this.


Question 7 to the Council:

7a: What action or notification has the council taken or given to Uber to prevent Uber TfL minicabs under their control and direction from using the bus lanes in the city with special emphasis on North Street thus avoiding restrictions of the flow of traffic and lessening the risks of accidents?

7b: If no action or notification by the council has been taken or given to Uber to prevent Uber TfL minicabs under their control and direction from using the bus lanes in the city with special emphasis on North Street thus avoiding restrictions of the flow of traffic to lessen the risks’ of accidents what action will now be taken?




11: Uber cars on Taxi Ranks

The issue of Uber cars on taxi ranks has blighted the city with mainly... but not limited to Uber TfL minicabs either sitting on ranks or entering the area of East Street rank. We have photographic evidence for this.

In fact no TfL minicab should even be in East Street as there this is accessed via North Street which prohibits any TfL minicab from entering it.

An Uber TfL minicab driver was actually sitting on the Old Ship rank on 16/092017 who decided this was a good place to have a sleep. We have video evidence for this.

On 25/09/2017 during an interview with Sky News an Uber TfL minicab was actually caught sitting on the rank in West Street at a time when no taxis were around. This was filmed and broadcast.  www.bhtaxinews.cab/sky-news-uber

There is no excuse for doing this even if there was a booking being undertaken as it is illegal for any vehicle to be on a Brighton & Hove taxi rank other than a Brighton & Hove licensed hackney carriage taxi.



Question 8 to the Council:

8: Whilst the council has been informed by Uber that it has apparently ‘geo-fenced’ the taxi ranks in the city and given that Uber TfL minicabs are still using the ranks for whatever purpose in the course of working under the Uber platform... does the council consider that Uber has actually no control whatsoever on the hundreds of out of town private hire cars and even out of town hackney carriages that is has flooded the city with?





12:  Uber does not provide Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles: Archive Letter to Uber on October 23 2015 from Tim Nichols - Head of Regulatory Services Brighton & Hove  City Council

“Following the Deregulation Act 2015 the usual expectation in relation to our established operators will be 5 year licences. These operators have a clear and established relationship of trust. They have worked with the licensing department and advanced issues in relation to disability, vulnerable people and child sexual exploitation. Uber may well attain the same levels of excellence, but at the moment this is untested. The Panel considered that the uncertainty identified in relation to the experience of the applicants in managing a fast expanding number of new operations in the UK; their inexperience in operating to the ‘Blue Book’ standards required in Brighton and Hove; and the issues around wheelchair accessible vehicles -which will only be resolved once they are operating- was relevant to the length of the licence period.” (cont)



13: Two years of operating:  Uber has held a Brighton & Hove Operators Licence for nearly two years and has failed to provide Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles despite undertaking to address this at the Panel Hearing in 2015. A recording of this undertaking is available.


(cont.)
“2. Disability issues: The Panel had concerns in relation to the provision of wheel chair accessible vehicles (WAV) but was also re-assured by the fact that the applicants detailed the arrangements in place for passengers who were blind or deaf, and their willingness to meet all of the conditions required of other operators as set out in the ‘Blue Book’. The lack of clarity around WAV is important in terms of ‘the level playing ground’ principal, which was deemed important by all parties and has had some impact on our decision ( please see below). It is important to contextualise this. Brighton and Hove is proud of the strides it has made to support its public sector equalities duties. This could not have been achieved without the strong commitment of the established large operators. The Panel noted that the small operators do not (or more correctly can not) provide the same high level of WAV’s that the other operators do. It would be inconsistent to expect Uber to match the established operators at the outset, but as they grow we would expect that this becomes a greater responsibility. The Panel considered that this issue related to working practice and the Blue Book, and to that extent was a relevant consideration.


“8. Inexperience of Uber as an operator: This was raised in some representations. This was not developed greatly, but notwithstanding the information provided the Panel have reservations regarding the Applicant’s level of experience. The Panel considered that within the district of Brighton and Hove our operators operate to high standards, beyond the standards of many other areas. Uber have not operated in this city before. The Panel noted the increasing pace of licences being granted to Uber nationally. On the basis of the information received it seems that Uber have had approximately 20 new licences since March 2015. This means that they have a lot of new areas to manage and it appears many more are pending. It concerns us that for understandable reasons (specifically that without an operating licence there will at this stage inevitably be a degree of uncertainty) there is currently no available level of detail about how things will be developed - the number of drivers; where they will be obtained; how many Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles will be available in the fleet and so on. Whilst the Panel did not consider that these concerns were sufficient to refuse grant of a licence, the Panel were of the view that these considerations are relevant to the length of the licence granted. This is considered further below. “


14: Uber has flooded the city with private hire vehicles using the often quoted ‘Triple Licensing Factor’ and  has resources of thousands of private hire vehicles from all over the country and encouraged hundreds of these to predominantly work in the city...yet does not think fit to provide vehicles that are WAV compliant.


15: UberASSIST: Uber has added ‘Uber Assist’ to the Uber customer app. However lengthily test over many hours over many days over many weeks the app has show “Assist Unavailable’. Nonetheless what exactly is ‘Uber Assist’?

The following is taken from the Uber website that describes what UberASSIST is:

uberASSIST

Accessibility options in the UK

uberASSIST is an uberX option that is designed to provide additional assistance to seniors and people with disabilities. Partner-drivers are specifically trained by a third party organization to assist riders into vehicles.

Frequently asked questions
uberASSIST FAQs


Where is uberASSIST currently available?

uberASSIST is currently available in 5 UK cities. However, you may find the vehicle option in different places on the app.

In London, Uber users can locate the vehicle option by sliding to the right.

In Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, and Sheffield Uber users can locate the vehicle option after entering the promo code: ASSISTUK in their app.

What is the pricing?

The pricing for uberASSIST matches uberX.

Will I still receive uberX trip confirmations?

Yes, you will be cross-dispatched to receive your regular uberX trip confirmations along with uberASSIST trip confirmations.

Do I have to allow service animals in the car?

Yes, regardless of whether it is an uberASSIST or uberX trip allowing service animals in your vehicle is a legal requirement.

Do I have to be an uberASSIST partner or can I opt-out?

If you no longer wish to receive uberASSIST trips, you can easily opt-out by reaching out to Uber Support through the Uber app.

If a rider is injured getting in or out of the car, is there insurance to cover them?

Likely yes. uberASSIST riders are generally protected by Uber's commercial liability insurance while entering and exiting vehicles at their requested pickup and drop off locations.

What if my car isn't big enough?

All vehicles should be able to accommodate an assistive device, such as a folding wheelchair or scooter. If your vehicle cannot safely fit your rider’s assistive device, you can cancel the trip and reach out to us via the Uber app to let us know why and avoid a cancellation fee.

How much help will a rider need to get in or out of the car?

Many riders prefer that you always ask before physically assisting them. You might want to offer to provide your arm to guide or help the rider find their balance when walking or getting up from a chair into a car. For safety reasons, you should not physically lift anyone out of a wheelchair or a scooter.



16: It is very clear that UberASSIST has nothing at all to do with wheelchair accessibility and effectively covers what taxi/private hire driver are currently doing as standard which is simply offering assistance to those who require it and what is normally expected of every taxi and private hire driver licensed by the council a standard practise.

UberASSIST is nothing more than a sham system brought in by Uber to try and fool local authorities into regarding this as addressing full wheelchair needs. No council should be fooled by this.

Quite clearly Uber .. the multi-billion dollar company.. has failed completely to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles for Brighton & Hove despite its undertaking to do so at the 2015 ‘Panel Hearing’. Consequently it has neglected those who require such vehicles and has concentrated on the lesser costs of only providing saloon type vehicles despite having the resources of cars from all over the UK which are  unashamedly lured into the city

The council must question the commitment of Uber and its failure in its undertaking in 2015 to provide wheelchair accessible vehicles.

This is extremely important because when ‘Unmet Demand Surveys’ are conducted in the city the process involves consumer testing in the form of ‘Secret Shopping’ of the ability of companies to provide WAV’s on demand.

Uber has no facility to provide such WAV’s so the testing of the other companies ability to provided WAV’s is grossly unfair and does not present any level playing field at all.

If after 24 months of being granted an Operator Licence Uber cannot or will not provide WAV’s then the council should not renew its Operators licence.

Question 9 to the Council:

9a: Does the council consider that UberASSIST is adequate for the provision of wheelchair users who need to remain in their wheelchairs for the journey?

9b: Given that Uber undertook to address the provision of WAV’s in 2015 and that the council at the time considered that Uber needed more time given to facilitate WAV’s and that now two years later Uber has not addressed as per their undertaking does the council consider that Uber have failed to undertake the responsibility to provide equal access to wheelchair users?

9c: If the council is satisfied that Uber has no responsibility to provide equal access with the provision of  WAV’s for users confined to wheelchairs  then will the council remove all reference to WAV’s in the Blue Book Handbook for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire, Drivers, Vehicles and Operators?

9d: If the council is satisfied that Uber has no responsibility to provide equal access with the provision of  WAV’s for wheelchair users then will the council remove all references to any future ‘Unmet Demand Surveys’ where a separate survey is carried out via the ‘Secret Shopper’ method of calling local taxi companies for the availability to provide a WAV?

9e. If the council grants a further licence to Uber that shows discrimination to citizens who rely on wheelchair accessible vehicles would the council accept that it is supporting a multi-billion dollar company that discriminates against such wheelchair users?



17: If the council renews the Uber Brighton & Hove Operators licence when Uber cannot provide wheelchair accessible vehicles then the GMB will consider that the council has shown favouritism to Uber and thus supported an uneven playing field

18. Hailing or Booking App?

Please refer the two documents provided that were submitted to HCO Martin Seymour which were in response to questions from Martin regarding the Uber Hailing App.
Question 10 to the council

10a. Having being given all the information on the workings of the Uber app does the council consider that it is a legal ‘Booking App’ or an illegal ‘Hailing App’ for the use of Private Hire which contravenes the Local Government Miscellaneous Act 1976 where drivers are connected with the customer in the first instance and then the ‘booking’ is back filled in the second instance?

10b. If the council considers that the Uber App is legal for use in Brighton & Hove which experts were used to make this decision?


19:  Terms of Service - No one under 18 years of age is allowed to use Uber

Not only does Uber discriminate against wheelchair users by not providing an equal service there is also discrimination against people under 18 years of age who may also be wheelchair users.

The national Uber Terms of Service state:

“In order to use most aspects of the Services, you must register for and maintain an active personal user Services account (“Account”). You must be at least 18 years of age, or the age of legal majority in your jurisdiction (if different than 18), to obtain an Account. Account registration requires you to submit to Uber certain personal information, such as your name, address, mobile phone number and age,”

Not only does Uber discriminate against wheelchair users by not providing an equal service there is also discrimination against people under 18.


The following is provided in the Blue Book Handbook for Hackney Carriage and Private Hire, Drivers, Vehicles and Operators:

3. Licensing objectives

The Council will adopt and carry out its Hackney Carriage and private hire licensing functions with a view to promoting the following licensing objectives.

• The prevention of crime and disorder, safeguarding of children & the vulnerable and the protection of the public.
• The safety and health of the public and drivers.
• Vehicle safety, comfort and access.
• Encouraging environmental sustainability.

3.1 The prevention of crime and disorder, safeguarding of children & the
       vulnerable and the protection of the public

• We cannot escape the consequences of child sexual exploitation. There have been too many cases of this having happened involving a small minority of drivers for it to be anything other than a primary responsibility of the licencing authority.
• Whether it is a standalone issue or as here under the wider protection of children and prevention of crime, the duty to protect children from child sexual exploitation is undeniable and of paramount consideration.


Question 11 to the Council:

Given that “children and the vulnerable” are specifically stated

11a. Is it acceptable to the council to licence an Operator that discriminates against citizens under 18 years of age that does not provide a service to a “child who may be in a vulnerable state’”  who may also be a wheelchair user who is in need of transport?

11b. Would it be acceptable if all the licensed Operators in the city adopted the Uber TOS and  refused to take citizens under 18 years of age who may be a “child who may be in a vulnerable state’”  who may also be a wheelchair user who is in need of transport?

11c. If the council grants a further licence to Uber that shows discrimination to citizens under 18 years of age would the council accept that it is supporting such discrimination to citizens under 18 years of age who may also be a wheelchair user who may be a “child who may be in a vulnerable state’” who is in need of transport?

11d. Under the Uber TOS a Brighton & Hove licensed private hire driver would have the right to refuse anyone under 18 years of age who may also be a wheelchair user. Is this acceptable practise to the council?

11e: Would the council support Brighton & Hove Busses if it refused to offer a service to people under the age of 18 who may also be a wheelchair user?

11f: If the council renews the Uber Brighton & Hove Operators licence then the GMB will consider that the council supports discrimination against members of the public who are under 18 years of age who may also be a wheelchair users?



20: Summary

The council as the Regulatory Authority has the responsibility to ensure that all aspects of the taxi and private hire services in the city are of the highest standards possible which covers hackney carriage, private hire drivers & vehicles as well as the Operators for the protection and safety of the public.

When such hackney carriage and private hire drivers apply for or renew their licences background checks are undertaken to ensure that such people meeting the required standards to be ‘Fit and proper’ which TfL has considered Uber not to be.

This also applies to applications or renewals to for an Operator’s Licence.

Within the application form of the Brighton & Hove Operator’s Licence it states:

“As the idea of what ‘Fit and proper’ means has not been defined. It will be at the officers discretion to decide what is relevant information and from what source can be obtained. To be relevant. Evidence has to be more than mere suspicion or innuendo. Public protection is an important function and as such all information that may mean that a person or persons are not fit and proper will be considered. “

Under Procedure for Licensing a Private Hire Operator it states:

1.3  Brighton & Hove city Council are subject to duties under the Equalities Act 2010 which includes the duties to eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation, and any other conduct that is prohibited under the Act.

In relation to the Hackney Carriage and Private Hire as the licensing authority we are wishing to ensure that the needs and the requirements of those with a disability are being acknowledged and met.


Broken Promises

Uber has broken its undertaking to only use Brighton & Hove licensed vehicles in the city as stated at the ‘Panel Hearing’ in 2015.

Uber has failed to undertake the provision of wheelchair accessible vehicles as stated at the ‘Panel Meeting’ in 2015 despite ironically flooding the city with vehicles from all over the UK.


Discrimination

Uber discriminates against people under the age of 18 as it will not supply any service of transportation.

Uber discriminates against wheelchair users as it does not have not any provision to supply such vehicles for people who are confined to wheelchairs unlike the other large private hire Operator’s in the city despite having access to thousands of cars from all over the UK

No Control

Uber has demonstrated that it has no control over the hundreds of Tfl minicabs and private hire cars from all over the UK that predominantly work in the city.

Taking in to account all the issues raised the GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section objects to the renewal of the 2017 Uber Brighton & Hove Operators Licence.



Response to:

Andrew Peters
Secretary
GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section
andy.peters@gmbtaxis.org.uk
Part 1: Objection to the renewal of the Brighton & Hove Uber Operators Licence & Issues Raised