The spectre of cross-border hiring has reared its head once more as confusion reigns in regard as to where Uber can operate.The latest area to cause controversy is Chelmsford.
In response to mounting criticism from a myriad of quarters Uber have recently announced that they will adopt their own geo fencing system so as to try and combat the problems surrounding cross border hiring, which is currently without any form of legislation.
Uber's geo-fencing system has now created issues within certain areas where they have traditionally operated under another authorities licence. Consequently it is feared that they could leave some areas without a service, it is feared by some that Chelmsford maybe one of those areas.
Uber in a reworked map of London have excluded Chelmsford from their London sector. Chelmsford is approximately 20 miles from the edge of Metropolitan London, and therefore 20 miles outside of Transport for London's jurisdiction.
In a possible bid to retain their licence in London, which has currently has not been renewed by TfL, a decision which is currently under appeal, Uber are trying address some of their ongoing controversies, as a result they have shifted Chelmsford into their Cambridge and East Anglia sector.
The change means that Uber drivers will only be able to accept jobs from either within their current geo-fences area, or jobs coming into their geo-fenced area.
Cross-border hiring has been extremely controversial and is considered a blight within the taxi and private hire industry because of the safety and security issues it creates.
It also means a driver licensed in one area then goes to a completely different area to operate and generally applies to private hire and not the taxi industry.
This then creates the problem of a driver being refused a licence for instance in Southend because of a given issue subsequently receiving a licence in, for example, London and then going back to Southend to work, despite that given authority deeming that person not fit and proper to hold a licence.
Those who are fully informed in relation to how dangerous cross-border hiring can be for passengers will be very happy with Uber's decision to at least look at the problem, although there are some Uber users who are clearly not.
Chelmsford MP, Vicky Ford has said via her Twitter account:
Vicky Ford's comments have received little support on twitter with one Twitter user stating:
Why would you want a private hire vehicle service who aren’t licensed in your area to work there? Apart from in the galaxies and safety issues you would not be able to police them. Can you answer please.
Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group into taxis and private hire said in a recent interview with TaxiPoint regarding some Conservative MPs stance on Uber.
I think it's very interesting that some Tories literally "parrot" the Uber press releases, they are mouthpieces for Uber, although this is not all Tories.
Although Uber have voluntarily adopted to change how they geo-fence their drivers vehicles, this bears no relation as to how licensing authorities control vehicles within their given area, therefore vehicles licensed in for example Southend, will only be able to work within the licensing authority area and that being Southend.
This may become a moot point as draft proposals have now been drawn up to tackle the menace of cross-border hiring and are being scrutinised in parliament.