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GATWICK AIRPORT’S CROSS BORDER PROBLEM: 300 TfL licensed private hire drivers living in Crawley area

Crawley Borough Council is set to call on the Government to address the issue of Transport for London (TfL) licensed Uber drivers operating at Gatwick Airport. This move raises the question: how significant is the problem of cross-border hiring at Gatwick?

Recent data from the Department for Transport (DfT) reveals that Crawley Council licensed 590 private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers. In contrast, TfL reported an additional 300 PHV drivers living in Crawley’s RH10 and RH11 postcodes as of June 2023. Overall, 531 TfL PHV drivers resided in the RH postal area, which includes Gatwick Airport.

The council is investigating complaints that local PHV operators are losing business to Uber drivers licensed by TfL. Some local operators have told the council that Uber enjoys an unfair advantage due to differing licensing conditions.

In response to these concerns, Crawley Council's licensing committee voted unanimously to escalate the issue. Chairman Imran Ashraf announced plans to write to the DfT, TfL, and Gatwick Airport to address the influx of out-of-town Uber drivers. He emphasised the need for a review of the current licensing system.

Unite the Union has been vocal against Gatwick Airport’s support for Uber, particularly the creation of dedicated Uber bays. The union argues that Uber’s operations undermine local PHV services by bypassing local licensing rules.

Cross-border hire rules allow drivers licensed in one area to operate in another. This is controversial as it can lead to regulatory inconsistencies and perceived unfair competition. Local operators must adhere to often stricter local rules set with the resistants needs in mind, while out-of-town drivers might exploit more lenient regulations.

TaxiPoint has reached out to TfL requesting details on the frequency of checks on London-licensed vehicles in the Gatwick area and their stance on cross-border regulations. As of now, TfL has not responded.

A spokesperson for Crawley Council confirmed that investigations are ongoing, bolstered by new evidence. However, the council has withheld further details pending the investigation’s conclusion.

Unite the Union's Regional Officer, Dominic Rothwell, has called for stricter enforcement of local laws against Uber. He stressed the importance of the council completing its investigation and taking decisive action against Uber and Gatwick Airport for alleged regulatory breaches.

Rothwell stated: “The totally unfair practice of London-based Uber cars picking up fares booked while they are parked up in Crawley must end.”


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