Uber’s license in Brighton will not be renewed, making Brighton the third city in the United Kingdom to revoke the minicab’s operating license after London and York, which revoked the license in September and December respectively. As with the case in London, operators are free to continue while the ban is under appeal. One can only speculate that this is why Uber chose to appeal, in order to extend its operating term indefinitely in the city. Uber did lodge an appeal in York but withdrew it, and is not operating in the area any more. Its London contract is too lucrative to lose and will be subject to a hearing in June.
There are many concerns about Uber. One is that concerning safety. It is easy for drivers to offer their services to Uber as long as they have a clean driving record, but that is no different from hopping into a cab driven by a stranger. The only part Uber claims to play is in matchmaking those who need a cab with those who can provide a cab driving service at a particular point in time, and hence if there is a complaint oof some sort, the matter is – conveniently as Uber claims – directly against the driver, and hence out of its hands.
I suspect that the decision to revoke Uber’s licenses in various cities is more a protest against how it operates. Uber does not have employees, or so it claims. The drivers provide its services but are not employed by that. Because of this, they do not have any employee benefits. Uber has also cleverly exploited loopholes in the law to avoid paying corporation text, so despite making millions in turnover, the drivers make very littie and the company pays very little tax.
Uber’s dancing around the law is perhaps more emblematic of society as a whole. Uber claims it is not a taxi company. It does not own vehicles. It is only a hiring service. In a way it is like saying musicians do not produce music; they only find a way for record companies, who wish to sell products (records and digital downloads), to match their products to particular buyers (fans). According to the website piano teacher finsbury park blog, musicians have always needed to be creative, but this dancing around the law that Uber is doing perhaps was a step too far, a tango too much for those taken along for the ride.
Will Brighton survive Uber? Surely there are many other licensed cab companies around already?
It would be interesting to see how Uber employees (in the loose sense of the word) rate against other employees like Deliveroo or Just Eat employees. One suspects the latter companies all operate under the same dubious guidelines.