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Blackpool's Battle with Cross-Border: Local MP calls for action as PHV drivers rank up and undercut cabbies

In a recent debate in the House of Commons, Chris Webb, Labour MP for Blackpool South, highlighted a significant issue plaguing his seaside constituency: the proliferation of out-of-town Uber and private hire vehicles (PHV).

Webb suggested that companies like Uber are operating without proper licences in Blackpool, posing serious public safety risks. According to Webb, these vehicles are also illegally occupying taxi ranks and undercutting local drivers who comply with regulations.

PHV drivers are not able to pick passengers up from the street or ranks and are not insured to do so.

Webb’s concerns are focused on the impact of these ‘unlicensed taxis’ on local, law-abiding taxi drivers and the broader implications for public safety. He questioned the Government's strategy to address these operations and requested a meeting with the Minister to discuss solutions specific to Blackpool.

Chris Webb MP said: “Blackpool is experiencing the scourge of unlicensed taxis in our treasured seaside resort. Uber and similar companies, which have no operating licence in Blackpool, are allowing passengers to use their unlicensed taxis uninsured, creating a real public safety risk. These unlicensed taxis are parking in local ranks illegally, taking fares from our hard-working, rule-abiding Blackpool taxi drivers. What is the Minister doing to tackle these unlicensed drivers, and will he meet me to discuss this issue in my constituency?”

In response, Guy Opperman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Transport, acknowledged Webb's concerns. Opperman referenced the Government's updated taxi and private hire vehicle best practice guidance, designed to help local authorities regulate the sector more effectively. He promised to provide Webb with detailed information and to consider a future meeting to discuss the issue further.

The core of the problem lies in the controversial cross-border hiring rules. These rules allow licensed private hire vehicles to operate outside the area where they were licensed, as long as the booking is made within the licensing authority's jurisdiction. This regulatory loophole often leads to scenarios where drivers seen to be licensed in more lenient jurisdictions operate in stricter ones, like Blackpool, without adhering to the local standards. This not only creates an uneven playing field for local drivers but also raises significant safety concerns due to the varying standards of vehicle checks and driver vetting across different regions.

The situation in Blackpool is a microcosm of a national issue, calling for a unified approach to taxi and private hire regulation.


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