Licensing warning after Uber is spotted in Tunbridge Wells

Uber, the app-based taxi operator that lets you book taxis on your mobile phone, is not licensed to operate in the town, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC] has warned.

The council say they have received reports of Ubers operating illegally in the area, and want to make clear the taxi-app company is not licensed to operate in the town.

Councillor Bob Backhouse, chair of the licensing committee added: “Uber is not licensed in the borough and has not made an application to the council’s licensing service.

“There is a clear safety message here and that is that taxi and private hire users should make sure they only use licensed vehicles.”

Uber was founded in 2009 and arrived in the UK in 2012 but not without controversy.

The company has fought off allegations of sexual harassment which led to the ride-hailing app being stripped of its operating licence in London in 2017. This ban was, however, overturned last year.

It currently operates in around 40 towns and cities across the UK, but Tunbridge Wells is not one of them.
Licensed taxi drivers in Tunbridge Wells said if Uber were allowed to operate in the borough, it could lead to a number of licensed taxi drivers going out of business.

Chairman of Tunbridge Wells Hackney Carriages, Shujaullah Baraki said: “Nobody should get in a taxi that is unlicensed, and if Uber were allowed to operate here they would not be good for the taxi business.

“I am against Uber coming to Tunbridge Wells, as are a lot of taxi drivers as it will lose us our jobs.”

He said taxi operators in the borough have to pay around £360 a year for a taxi licence and £370 for a badge, along with other required payments such as DVLA and criminal record checks, a MOT every six months, and medical examinations.

Uber said they have recently taken measures that should prevent drivers from operating across boundaries.

A spokesperson for the Sanf Francisco app company said: “We recognise there have been concerns about private hire journeys crossing jurisdictional boundaries.

“Last year we introduced changes that means drivers are only able to use our app within the region where they are licensed as a private hire driver.

“We continue to work closely with local councils on this issue.”

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