Controversial ride-hailing app Uber have been granted a new 3-year licence for its new offices in Glasgow much to the dismay of local unions and taxi drivers.
According to Unite Cab Section Glasgow, “Uber Scot Ltd was illegally granted a Booking Office Licence, in breach of the The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Booking Offices) Order 2009.” A spokesperson for the union released a statement on Facebook saying: In an assault on the democratic process, the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, advised by Licensing Solicitor, Mairi Millar, refused to hear three objections from Unite the Union Cab Section, Glasgow Taxis Ltd, and Greater Glasgow Private Hire Association. Objections were late as the statutory notice was only viewable on the door of 69 Buchanan St for 21 days. The notice was not in the print media, not on the GCC website, in fact it had no online presence anywhere. It was preposterous to expect anyone to notice an A4 sheet on the door of an inconspicuous office building on a pedestrianised shopping thoroughfare. Despite objections being late, Glasgow City Council Licensing & Regulatory Committee has at its discretion the power to hear late submissions. All three objectors were only allowed to give the reasons why the objections were late, but forbidden from mentioning reasons for objecting. Glasgow Taxis Ltd Solicitor, Tom McIntaggart, put up an extremely convincing argument for hearing the objections, citing examples where GCC Licensing had accepted late objections in the past. Councillors who voted against hearing our objections and denied us the right to be heard were as follows: Baillie John Kane, Scottish Labour Party, Govan (5) Baillie Hanif Raja, Scottish Labour Party, Pollokshields (6) Cllr Aileen McKenzie, Scottish Labour Party, Springburn/Robroyston (17) Cllr Robert Connelly, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Calton. Those councillors that believed in the democratic process and wanted to hear our objections were as follows: Cllr Rhiannon Spear, Scottish National Party, Greater Pollok (3). Cllr Graham Campbell, Scottish National Party, Springburn/Robroyston (17). Gary Gray, Scottish Labour Party, Canal (16). Special mention to Cllr Rhiannon Spear who made clear her concerns over aspects of Uber’s operation and was clearly unhappy with what transpired. Just to recap, all traditional taxi and private hire companies in Glasgow are registered at their respective licensed premises in Glasgow for the booking, dispatch and payment of fares. This means that they are within the jurisdiction of Scottish law enforcement and the Scottish legal system. It also means that they are subject to UK tax and VAT. “Uber is the exception. Glasgow work is dispatched from Uber BV in the Netherlands, trip data is recorded by Uber BV in the Netherlands, payment is taken by Uber BV in the Netherlands, and a receipt is issued by Uber BV in the Netherlands. Glasgow City Council yesterday licensed a sham booking office that attempts to legitimise dispatch of work from an unlicensed foreign company, Uber BV. Yesterday Uber’s Solicitor pointed to 4 million trips taken in Glasgow since it started. Some crude arithmetic based on an average of £5 per trip: 4M x £5 = £20M Uber’s cut (25%) after drs are paid =£5M UK Corporation tax @21% on £5M ~£1M+ UK VAT @20% on £20M = £4M
So, with what we admit are very crude workings, Uber has avoided UK tax and VAT in the region of £5M in Glasgow alone, in the 30 months it has been operating. That is starving the public purse of much needed revenue for schools, hospitals, housing etc. Glasgow City Council Licensing not only had solid legal grounds to reject Uber’s application, it also had a strong moral case to reject it.
Don’t take our word for Uber’s illegal operation in Glasgow. At the November, 2017, Joint Taxi and Private Hire Trade Meeting, GCC Licensing Solicitor, Mairi Millar, stated that Uber Britannia Ltd did not satisfy the criteria to hold a Booking Office licence. Well the Licensing Solicitor can now make that two illegal booking offices ‘operational’ in Glasgow now.“