Taxi wars hot up in York as cabbies and Uber clash

  • Hackney drivers demand level playing field
  • York council blames Government changes and less rigorous councils
  • Uber says its drivers are acting perfectly legally

TAXI operators have raised further concerns about drivers from outside the city operating in York.

They claim operators are travelling from Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield and elsewhere to pick up fares, mainly on weekends, in part due to a lack of enforcement but also due to a new company starting up in York.

Keith Hatfield, director of York Station Taxis, met the council last week and said changes to council policy meant it was easier for other companies to work in the city.

He said: “We’re not afraid of York competition that’s what we’re after, that’s fine. But as long as it’s a level playing field, that’s all we’re asking for.

“They can join Uber from York, we don’t have a problem with that, but these people haven’t gone through the local knowledge test, which takes quite a while. I know people who’ve been waiting to get through that for nine months, it’s a tough test, but makes you a better driver.”

Mr Hatfield said some Uber drivers had refused to move from Hackney ranks while waiting for a pickup, and “we have had to put rank marshals to move them”.

Dave McTernan, from Getaway Cars in York, said “dozens of out of town cars are patrolling the streets of York and working night and day”, and called it “a bad situation”.

He said: “It’s not being dramatic to say it’s out of control.

“It’s a free for all in York at the moment. We’re controlled by strict CYC regulations for everything, but getting all these cowboys coming into town and doing things illegally so it’s very aggravating.

“With Uber, the reason they are putting so much pressure on is because they know they’ve to have cars here and are paying drivers £14 an hour to come across here without bookings.”

A spokeswoman for Uber said there had been “interest from dozens of local drivers”, and all their drivers “must hold a valid private hire licence from their local city council and must maintain valid insurance and vehicle maintenance”, which also included going through an enhanced background check (DBS).

She said: “Regulations governing private hire are quite clear. Drivers licensed for private hires can pick up and drop off anywhere in England and Wales so long as their driving licence and vehicle licence match the operator licence that processes that booking.

“Uber holds operator’s licences in York, Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield among others and drivers across the UK can use the Uber app to collect fares in compliance with their local licence.”

Matt Boxall, acting head of public protection at City of York Council, said the authority’s standards for drivers was high, but “other local authorities apply their own level of checks prior to licensing drivers and their vehicles, and now government laws have made it easier for licensed drivers to work in different towns”.

The council’s enforcement team currently includes 12 officers to cover “taxi licensing, environmental health and trading standards”, and two more officers were due to be appointed this week.

Mr Boxall urged anyone with concerns about drivers or vehicles to phone 01904 551525 or email public.protection@york.gov.uk

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