York’s licensing committee will again consider the vexed question of UBER private hire vehicles operating in York when they meet next week.
A decision on what, if any, action should be taken is due to be taken by the Councils Executive on 26th September.
The Council has now published a formal legal opinion on whether UBER vehicles, registered with other local authorities can legally accept bookings in York. The council’s position is that, provided the three licences required in relation to a private hire vehicle (operator, driver and vehicle) have all been issued by the same authority, then the private hire vehicle can undertake journeys anywhere in England and Wales. This opinion can be read by clicking here
An alternative opinion was provided via the local trade association
The meeting report reveals that national legislation is planned which will aim to clear up the confusion about what private hire vehicles can and can’t do and where.
In the meantime, officials are recommending that there is no change to the Councils existing policies.
We have sympathy for both sides in this argument. The local trade may be partly motivated by protectionism. But passenger safety is of paramount importance and standards do appear to vary across the region.
This seems to us like a suitable case on which the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (which includes York) could take a lead.
On the other hand, in a modern world, being able to summon a private hire vehicle using a smartphone app seems like a “no brainer”. If the App tells you what the vehicle will be, when it will arrive, who will be driving it and how much the journey will cost, then all to the good.
The York licencing department does need to crack down on unlawful pick-ups and prevent private hire vehicles (from all companies) from “lurking” near taxi ranks and in busy areas.
That would be the best use of resources and Council officials time.