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Uber licence renewal in Birmingham set for delay as all eyes turn to London appeal

Updated: Jan 23, 2020

Ride-hailing firm Uber will not receive a new operator's licence in Birmingham until they find out the outcome of their London licensing appeal say sources.

According to senior Birmingham sources talking to The Times, the council are keeping a close eye on the London market, after they lost their licence to operate in the capital in November 2019.

Uber are set to appeal the decision made by the capital’s regulator Transport for London (TfL), who rejected the ride-hailing firm's application for renewal on the grounds of safety.

TfL identified a pattern of failures by the company, including several breaches which placed passengers and their safety at risk.

Despite Uber addressing some of these issues in London, TfL stated that they ‘do not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time’.

The operator’s licence in Birmingham is due to expire at the end of this month. Uber are expected to apply for a five-year extension to its West Midland’s licence.

A key safety issue identified by the London regulators was that a change to Uber’s systems allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts. This allowed them to pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which occurred in at least 14,000 trips - putting passenger safety and security at risk.

This means all the journeys were uninsured and some passenger journeys took place with unlicensed drivers, one of which had previously had their licence revoked by TfL. 

Another failure allowed dismissed or suspended drivers to create an Uber account and carry passengers, again compromising passenger safety and security.

Birmingham remains one of Uber’s biggest UK markets and any delay in relicensing the US company could potentially send signals of concern to other cities. Uber’s licence in Manchester is due to expire next year.


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