Taxi drivers are celebrating a victory over Uber after the firm was barred from launching in Oxford.
Uber applied to operate in the city after 50,000 people tried to access the service there in a year, despite it not being available.
But licensed drivers and private hire firms rallied together to try and block the firm, which allows users to request a car through its mobile phone app.
Two of the city’s biggest private hire firms, 001 Taxis and Royal Cars, merged and launched their own app earlier this year to combat the potential threat.
They also raised concerns about the safety of Uber, questioning whether its drivers would abide by Oxford City Council’s regulations.
A year after announcing its intention to move to the city, Uber’s bid has been rejected as the company ‘didn’t get around to’ submitting vital details in time.
Local cabbies are delighted at the decision.
Niaz Mohammed, managing director of Royal Cars, said: ‘It’s great news for us and our customers.
‘We were very concerned about the safety of Uber and whether its drivers would abide by Oxford City Council’s regulations.
‘Their goal is to close down all the other companies and they would have disrupted the system that has been in place for many years.’
City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association secretary Sajad Khan added: ‘I’m very pleased and I’m sure all the city’s drivers are.
‘It would have been devastating for our trade and they would have wrecked the current system.
‘They charge awkward fares and there is also the question of safety. Our drivers go through very stringent checks but you hear some worrying stories about Uber drivers.’
A spokesman for Uber said it would not rule out reapplying in the future.
This comes as plans to ban Oxford’s black cabs from a new road to the city’s shopping centre were put on hold.
Oxford City Council said it did not decide to ban Uber from the city’s streets, but their application lapsed.
A spokesman said: ‘Uber’s application was made a year ago and they did not complete meeting all required criteria for a Private Hire Operator within the permitted 12 month period.
‘As such, they will need to reapply as a new applicant.’
Uber said: ‘We applied for a licence and you have a year to complete that process.
‘We put it in a year ago and that licence expired because we didn’t get around to finishing the application.
‘It is something we are going to do at some stage.’
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Uber taxis pulls plug on plans to extend to other parts of the North East
The taxi app firm decides not to press ahead with plans to extend operations, having already set up camp in Newcastle and Sunderland
The march to global domination of taxi app firm Uber has halted in parts of the North East at least.
We can reveal after submitting applications to operate in Gateshead and North Tyneside several months ago, they have now been withdrawn.
A Gateshead Council spokeswoman said: “Uber Britannia Ltd applied to the council to be licensed to operate taxis in Gateshead. In June this year, after a number of months of discussion, the company informed us it was withdrawing its application.”
Meanwhile North Tyneside Council said the application was first submitted on October 25, 2015 and it was withdrawn on June 1, 2016.
Neither council would say if the company gave any reason for its withdrawal.
A North Tyneside spokesperson said: “Unfortunately, due to commercial sensitivity, we aren’t able to provide any further detail.”
In April last year, Newcastle became one of 400 cities around the world to give permission to the ride-hailing platform to operate since it was launched in 2010.
This April, Sunderland joined its ranks while we understand an application is also being considered by Northumberland.
Chris Chandler, spokesman for the National Taxi Association in the North East, suggested the applications might have been withdrawn as Uber wasn’t able to meet the criteria laid down for taxi firms operating in those areas.
Mr Chandler, a long term critic of Uber whose operation he describes as “spreading like germs”, said many of its drivers had no local knowledge and would fail any ‘locality tests’ on knowing the patch they are in, known as ‘the knowledge’. Its drivers rely heavily on sat navs.
Newcastle City Council was criticised last year by long established operators after it scrapped the stringent test which demanded cabbies had in depth knowledge of the area they cover, opening the door for Uber to start up there.
Bosses at the city council say the decision to make the changes related to pending Government legislation, and the increased use of satellite navigation systems and app based systems.
To use Uber, passengers download its app on their smartphone which then uses GPS enabled maps to locate them, and they can request a nearby taxi with the press of a button.
The app then provides the taxi driver’s photo, name and car registration and users can watch the taxi approaching via a moving symbol on the map.
Uber spokesman in the North East, Harry Porter, said: “There’s been a lot of noise from a couple of local operators. The simple fact is the applications were withdrawn because we didn’t need the expense.
“We submitted applications in North Tyneside and Gateshead back in 2015. Since then, Uber has grown rapidly and we’ve been really pleased with how popular the service has become throughout the North East.
“We spent many months waiting for our applications to be progressed but our growth was not hampered in the meantime, so we decided there was no need to pursue these any further and instead focus on getting on with serving the region.”