Uber chief executive Kalanick resigns

Uber boss Travis Kalanick has resigned as chief executive after pressure from shareholders.

Mr Kalanick will remain on the board of the firm, however.

His resignation comes after a review of practices at the firm and scandals including complaints of sexual harassment.

Last week he said he was taking an indefinite leave of absence following the sudden death of his mother in a boating accident.

‘Bold decision’

Five major Uber investors demanded Mr Kalanick’s immediate resignation in a letter on Tuesday, the New York Times said.

Mr. Kalanick reportedly said: “I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”

Uber’s board said in a statement: “Travis has always put Uber first. This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber.

“By stepping away, he’s taking the time to heal from his personal tragedy while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history. We look forward to continuing to serve with him on the board.”

‘Uphill climb’

Dan Primack, business editor of the Axios news service, was one of the first to report the investor demands for Mr Kalanick to go.

Mr Primack said a group of investors, but particularly Bill Gurley of venture capitalist firm Benchmark, had put pressure on Mr Kalanick to resign.

“It’s important to note: Travis controlled the board in terms of votes, so really, it was a vey big uphill climb for [Mr] Gurley and the other investors to get this done,” Mr Primack said.

Uber’s future prospects were now “pretty bright”, Mr Primack added.

The firm has been searching for a chief operating officer, but now can seek out Fortune 500 chief executives to take over the top spot, he said.

Scandals

The ride-hailing company has had a series of recent controversies, including the departure of other high-level executives.

Eric Alexander, the former head of Uber’s Asia-Pacific business, left after a report that he had obtained the medical records of a woman who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014.

Mr Alexander reportedly shared them with Mr Kalanick, senior vice-president Emil Michael and others.

Mr Alexander was fired earlier this month, and Mr Michael later left Uber.

Board member David Bonderman made a sexist remark at a meeting about workplace practice recommendations last week and then resigned as a director.

This month Uber said it had fired more than 20 staff and had taken action against others following a review of more than 200 HR complaints that included harassment and bullying.

There has also been a lawsuit from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, over alleged theft of trade secrets related to driverless cars.

In February Uber said it was investigating “abhorrent” sexual harassment claims made by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40351859

Cambridge City Council is ignoring government advice on wheelchair-accessible taxis

Cambridge City Council is leaving wheelchair users taking taxis open to higher charges, no assistance getting on and off and even being refused a trip, it is claimed.

The authority does not have a list of accessible taxis under section 167 of the Equality Act 2010, despite it being strongly recommended by the government in preventing discrimination against disabled people.

The Department for Transport’s statutory guidance states that: “Whilst local authorities are under no specific legal obligation to maintain a list under section 167, the Government recommends strongly that they do so.

“Without such a list the requirements of section 165 of the Act do not apply, and drivers may continue to refuse the carriage of wheelchair users, fail to provide them with assistance, or to charge them extra.”

Doug Paulley, who discovered in a freedom of information request to Cambridge City Council that they did not keep a list, says the lack of one is “utterly astonishing”.

He said: “Cambridge City Council put in their newsletter to all their taxi drivers that drivers would be subject to the new anti-discrimination law preventing them from refusing wheelchair users, charging wheelchair users extra and the like.”

Despite not following government advice, the council says it has it own in-house measures to prevent discrimination.

Councillor Gerri Bird, chair of licensing at the city council, who is also the disability lead and a wheelchair user, said: “Wheelchair users should never face an additional charge for calling a taxi.

“I am sorry that our response to Mr Paulley’s Freedom of Information request, whilst it correctly dealt with the questions asked regarding the Equality Act, did not also explain why the City Council does not currently keep a list of wheelchair accessible vehicles under the legislation.

“In fact our own Hackney Carriage and Licensing Hire Policy already requires that no additional charge can be made and that all new hackney carriages must be wheelchair accessible.

“Currently around two-thirds of the taxi fleet is wheelchair accessible. Provisions on our policy also allow for enforcement action to be taken if a driver refuses to transport a wheelchair user, fails to provide them with appropriate assistance or charges them more than a non-wheelchair user.”

Councillor Bird said the city council has taken the view that their own strong policies provided sufficient safeguards, but she said they would be reviewing the Accessibility Policy later this year.

She continued: “As part of that we will be considering not only if we should further strengthen the safeguards for wheelchair users by including a list of designated wheelchair accessible taxis, but also how to meet the needs of those with other mobility impairments, for whom lower, saloon type vehicles may be preferable.

“In the meantime, I’d like to assure Mr Paulley and any wheelchair user that we will be ensuring all taxi drivers are fully aware of their responsibilities under our policy in the July newsletter and that they can travel with confidence in taxis in Cambridge.”

source: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/cambridge-city-council-taxi-licensing-13206504

Taxi reforms on the cards in Wales

THE system licensing taxis and private hire vehicles in Wales is to be reformed, it has been announced.

Control over the licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles will be devolved to the Welsh Government early next year.

And, yesterday, Wales’ economy and infrastructure secretary Ken Skates announced plans to revamp the system.

Speaking in the Senedd Mr Skates said the reform would form part of a wider revamp of public transport in Wales, including the South Wales Metro.

“When these planned improvements to rail and bus services are implemented, there will remain communities within our society for which public transport is simply not available or a viable alternative to use of a private motor vehicle,” he said.

“Taxi and private hire services are, therefore, an essential aspect of the transport network here in Wales.

“Taxis and private hire vehicles provide a vital public service, connecting people to places when alternative public transport services are not available or viable.

“The contribution that the sector makes to the night-time and tourism economy in many of our communities should not be underestimated.”

But he said the legal framework governing taxis has not been significantly reformed for more than 200 years, while the most recent legislation relating to private hire vehicles outside of London dates back to 1976 and this, along with more recent developments such as mobile phone-based booking apps such as Uber, had resulted in “a complex and fragmented licensing system”.

Mr Skates announced a consultation into the planned changes, due to begin shortly after next month’s General Election.

He said he hoped the new rules would protect licensed drivers from exploitation by rogue firms, as well as ensure customers had the best service possible. He added he also hoped he would be able to make it easier for drivers to work across local authority borders.

“Above all, we have a duty to ensure that the licensing arrangement in Wales safeguards the public and prevents the exploitation of the professional drivers that are delivering these very important services across our communities,” he said.

There are around 9,200 licensed taxi and private hire drivers in Wales.

Details of the reforms are yet to be confirmed.

 

source: http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/gwentnews/15305277.Taxi_reforms_on_the_cards_in_Wales/

Law change provides equal treatment for disabled taxi users

Law change makes it illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users.

Jun 21

Uber chief executive Kalanick resigns

Uber boss Travis Kalanick has resigned as chief executive after pressure from shareholders.

Mr Kalanick will remain on the board of the firm, however.

His resignation comes after a review of practices at the firm and scandals including complaints of sexual harassment.

Last week he said he was taking an indefinite leave of absence following the sudden death of his mother in a boating accident.

‘Bold decision’

Five major Uber investors demanded Mr Kalanick’s immediate resignation in a letter on Tuesday, the New York Times said.

Mr. Kalanick reportedly said: “I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight.”

Uber’s board said in a statement: “Travis has always put Uber first. This is a bold decision and a sign of his devotion and love for Uber.

“By stepping away, he’s taking the time to heal from his personal tragedy while giving the company room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber’s history. We look forward to continuing to serve with him on the board.”

‘Uphill climb’

Dan Primack, business editor of the Axios news service, was one of the first to report the investor demands for Mr Kalanick to go.

Mr Primack said a group of investors, but particularly Bill Gurley of venture capitalist firm Benchmark, had put pressure on Mr Kalanick to resign.

“It’s important to note: Travis controlled the board in terms of votes, so really, it was a vey big uphill climb for [Mr] Gurley and the other investors to get this done,” Mr Primack said.

Uber’s future prospects were now “pretty bright”, Mr Primack added.

The firm has been searching for a chief operating officer, but now can seek out Fortune 500 chief executives to take over the top spot, he said.

Scandals

The ride-hailing company has had a series of recent controversies, including the departure of other high-level executives.

Eric Alexander, the former head of Uber’s Asia-Pacific business, left after a report that he had obtained the medical records of a woman who was raped by an Uber driver in 2014.

Mr Alexander reportedly shared them with Mr Kalanick, senior vice-president Emil Michael and others.

Mr Alexander was fired earlier this month, and Mr Michael later left Uber.

Board member David Bonderman made a sexist remark at a meeting about workplace practice recommendations last week and then resigned as a director.

This month Uber said it had fired more than 20 staff and had taken action against others following a review of more than 200 HR complaints that included harassment and bullying.

There has also been a lawsuit from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, over alleged theft of trade secrets related to driverless cars.

In February Uber said it was investigating “abhorrent” sexual harassment claims made by former Uber engineer Susan Fowler.

source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-40351859

Jun 21

Cambridge City Council is ignoring government advice on wheelchair-accessible taxis

Cambridge City Council is leaving wheelchair users taking taxis open to higher charges, no assistance getting on and off and even being refused a trip, it is claimed.

The authority does not have a list of accessible taxis under section 167 of the Equality Act 2010, despite it being strongly recommended by the government in preventing discrimination against disabled people.

The Department for Transport’s statutory guidance states that: “Whilst local authorities are under no specific legal obligation to maintain a list under section 167, the Government recommends strongly that they do so.

“Without such a list the requirements of section 165 of the Act do not apply, and drivers may continue to refuse the carriage of wheelchair users, fail to provide them with assistance, or to charge them extra.”

Doug Paulley, who discovered in a freedom of information request to Cambridge City Council that they did not keep a list, says the lack of one is “utterly astonishing”.

He said: “Cambridge City Council put in their newsletter to all their taxi drivers that drivers would be subject to the new anti-discrimination law preventing them from refusing wheelchair users, charging wheelchair users extra and the like.”

Despite not following government advice, the council says it has it own in-house measures to prevent discrimination.

Councillor Gerri Bird, chair of licensing at the city council, who is also the disability lead and a wheelchair user, said: “Wheelchair users should never face an additional charge for calling a taxi.

“I am sorry that our response to Mr Paulley’s Freedom of Information request, whilst it correctly dealt with the questions asked regarding the Equality Act, did not also explain why the City Council does not currently keep a list of wheelchair accessible vehicles under the legislation.

“In fact our own Hackney Carriage and Licensing Hire Policy already requires that no additional charge can be made and that all new hackney carriages must be wheelchair accessible.

“Currently around two-thirds of the taxi fleet is wheelchair accessible. Provisions on our policy also allow for enforcement action to be taken if a driver refuses to transport a wheelchair user, fails to provide them with appropriate assistance or charges them more than a non-wheelchair user.”

Councillor Bird said the city council has taken the view that their own strong policies provided sufficient safeguards, but she said they would be reviewing the Accessibility Policy later this year.

She continued: “As part of that we will be considering not only if we should further strengthen the safeguards for wheelchair users by including a list of designated wheelchair accessible taxis, but also how to meet the needs of those with other mobility impairments, for whom lower, saloon type vehicles may be preferable.

“In the meantime, I’d like to assure Mr Paulley and any wheelchair user that we will be ensuring all taxi drivers are fully aware of their responsibilities under our policy in the July newsletter and that they can travel with confidence in taxis in Cambridge.”

source: http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/news/cambridge-news/cambridge-city-council-taxi-licensing-13206504

May 25

Taxi reforms on the cards in Wales

THE system licensing taxis and private hire vehicles in Wales is to be reformed, it has been announced.

Control over the licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles will be devolved to the Welsh Government early next year.

And, yesterday, Wales’ economy and infrastructure secretary Ken Skates announced plans to revamp the system.

Speaking in the Senedd Mr Skates said the reform would form part of a wider revamp of public transport in Wales, including the South Wales Metro.

“When these planned improvements to rail and bus services are implemented, there will remain communities within our society for which public transport is simply not available or a viable alternative to use of a private motor vehicle,” he said.

“Taxi and private hire services are, therefore, an essential aspect of the transport network here in Wales.

“Taxis and private hire vehicles provide a vital public service, connecting people to places when alternative public transport services are not available or viable.

“The contribution that the sector makes to the night-time and tourism economy in many of our communities should not be underestimated.”

But he said the legal framework governing taxis has not been significantly reformed for more than 200 years, while the most recent legislation relating to private hire vehicles outside of London dates back to 1976 and this, along with more recent developments such as mobile phone-based booking apps such as Uber, had resulted in “a complex and fragmented licensing system”.

Mr Skates announced a consultation into the planned changes, due to begin shortly after next month’s General Election.

He said he hoped the new rules would protect licensed drivers from exploitation by rogue firms, as well as ensure customers had the best service possible. He added he also hoped he would be able to make it easier for drivers to work across local authority borders.

“Above all, we have a duty to ensure that the licensing arrangement in Wales safeguards the public and prevents the exploitation of the professional drivers that are delivering these very important services across our communities,” he said.

There are around 9,200 licensed taxi and private hire drivers in Wales.

Details of the reforms are yet to be confirmed.

 

source: http://www.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/gwentnews/15305277.Taxi_reforms_on_the_cards_in_Wales/

May 23

22nd May 2017

Apr 06

Law change provides equal treatment for disabled taxi users

Law change makes it illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against wheelchair users.

Mar 30

Commons Questions – Taxis: South Yorkshire

Taxis: South Yorkshire

Department for Transport written question – answered on 29th March 2017.

Louise Haigh Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Digital Economy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will make an assessment of the specific requirements of South Yorkshire in relation to taxi and private hire licensing; and if he will make a statement.

Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The legislation that provides for licensing of taxi and private hire vehicle (PHV) services is enabling in its nature, giving local licensing authorities the discretion to set standards that they deem to be appropriate. The Department does not therefore undertake assessments of the licensing requirements of individual authorities.

The Government will shortly consult on Statutory Guidance in relation to the protection of children and vulnerable adults when using taxi and PHV services. The adoption of these measures among licensing authorities will be assessed.

Mar 30

Commons Questions – Taxis: Assistance Dogs

Taxis: Assistance Dogs

Department for Transport written question – answered on 29th March 2017.

 

Roger Godsiff Labour, Birmingham, Hall Green

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps the Government is taking to ensure that assistance dog owners are able to access taxis and minicabs.

 

Andrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

Drivers of taxis and PHVs must by law carry assistance dogs and cannot charge extra for doing so. It is therefore unacceptable that some drivers continue to discriminate in this way.

We aim to consult later this year on revised best practice for licensing authorities which will include strengthened recommendations relating to authorities’ response to alleged instances of assistance dog refusal.

Mar 23

More problems on the horizon for Uber

Until now, it’s Uber’s corporation tax dodging that has come under public scrutiny. Its VAT liability -not so much. But all that’s about to change.

Uber’s VAT problem arises out of a basic tension in its business model. The Uber brand is all about selling to passengers. The very front page of its website invites passengers to “Ride with Uber.” But its contracts pretend – as the Employment Tribunal found last year – that it is selling not to passengers but instead to drivers. And facing in two directions at once is always going to cause you problems.

And the VAT problem it causes is this: Uber’s contracts says its drivers are supplying passengers with transport services. And the Employment Tribunal agreed that passengers were being supplied with transport services. But it said that the passengers were being supplied with those services not by the drivers but by Uber.

And all of this matters because the drivers are below the VAT threshold. They earn, by and large, less than £83,000 a year and so, if they are supplying transport services to passengers, they don’t have to charge VAT.

But if Uber is supplying transport services to passengers for VAT purposes, well, we know it earns more than £83,000 a year. And so it has to charge VAT. And then something has to give.

The drivers get paid less or fares go up or Uber’s commission falls.

And there’s also a pretty big hit to Uber’s balance sheet. It will owe HMRC very substantial back tax: all the VAT it hasn’t paid over the last four years. And it will very likely owe back taxes not just in the UK but all across Europe.

Now, it’s really HMRC that should be having this fight with Uber. But it’s got a feeble record of taking on the big US tech companies.

And at the Good Law Project – which is bringing this fight – we’re not confident that it’s up for this fight. And so we’re going to take Uber on.

Our director is a Queen’s Counsel, specialising in tax. And we’ve taken formal advice from another Queen’s Counsel, also specialising in tax. And they both reckon Uber should be charging VAT.

So next week we’re going to launch our challenge. Check it out over at http://www.GoodLawProject.org. The Queen’s Counsel and solicitors who will act in the challenge will do so at very discounted rates.

But Uber is a mighty beast – you don’t need us to tell you that. And so, if we’re going to have this fight, we’ll need all the financial help you can give us.

So please, come on over, sign up for email updates, have a look and if you can – when we launch the case – make a contribution to the costs.

 

Link to crowdfunding – https://www.crowdjustice.org/case/uber/

 

source and thanks to our friends at: : London Cab Drivers Club

 

 

Mar 22

London Attack

The thoughts and prayers of the National Taxi Association and our membership go out to the victims of todays cowardly attack in our nations capital.

We praise the work of our emergency services and the braveness they showed during this horrific event.

 

 

 

Mar 18

Taxi drivers face ‘total nightmare’ over £450 CCTV they were ‘forced’ to install

TAXI drivers say the CCTV systems they have been ‘forced’ to install in their cars are invalidating their insurance and running down the vehicles’ batteries.

Some cabbies even fear the wiring has made their cars unsafe.

Warrington Borough Council ordered every taxi driver in town to fit CCTV in their vehicle to protect drivers and passengers.

Three companies were selected by the council to do the work and each driver had to pay £450 for the equipment to be installed.

But one driver, who asked not to be named, said: “This is draining the batteries because the CCTV is still running after the engine has stopped. It’s a total nightmare.

“Some drivers are having insurance problems due to the fact the car has been modified, meaning they can only get third party insurance. And potentially we are now all driving cars with electrical problems.

“The council forced this on around 700 cars without due diligence.”

Cabbies also say the cameras can easily be blocked by lowering the sun visor and another taxi driver added: “Many drivers want CCTV however there have been failures in the implementation from the start.

“As a trade we are helpless to do anything. As a diligent driver with my passengers’ safety in mind I would disconnect the system and get it checked, however I would be suspended immediately if I was to do this. Our licence conditions say it must be working all the time.”

A council spokesman said the matter is currently under review but declined to comment further.

The Information Commissioners Office is also looking into claims the system breaches data protection.

A spokesman from the ICO said: “The Data Protection Act protects the public by setting out rules that personal data must be handled fairly and lawfully. We have ongoing discussions with Warrington Council about its use of CCTV in taxis.”

The council was one of the first in the country to introduce CCTV in taxis and the plans were launched in June 2016 following a public consultation.

It was hoped the system would prevent drivers from verbal abuse and assault as well as helping to provide evidence for any crimes that may take place inside taxis.

source: http://www.warringtonguardian.co.uk/

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