At the end of 2018 private hire drivers in Milton Keynes went on strike and the Milton Keynes Private Hire Independent Association (MKPIA) tabled a 249-name petition with the Regulatory Committee alleging that private hire operators were acting unethically, unlawfully and in a bullying manner towards them.
Those claims from the self employed drivers have now been found to be ‘unsubstantiated’ by Milton Keynes Council.
Amongst those claims against the private hire operators were: Bullying drivers to collect a 20p hidden charge; not advising customers of additional charges; conducting unethical practices by dismissing a driver; collecting charges that were abolished by government; and being discriminatory and part of monopoly practices.
As reported by the Milton Keynes Citizen, Jason Agar, the taxi licensing manager, said he believed that the petition reflected the “frustration” of private hire drivers with how tough the trade is since ‘deregulation’ of the industry in 2015.
Mr Agar said, that as much as 3,000 private hire drivers in Aylesbury Vale head to MK to try to make a living.
Because of this he believes that it has allowed the operators to keep prices ‘low’.
He added that he did have ’empathy’ for the drivers.
He said that because the operators had not been able to charge 50p for credit card bookings, they instead they introduced a 20p charge that every customer has to pay.
Mr Agar said there had been a delay in some companies updating their websites even though the new charging rules were being correctly followed.
Mr Agar’s report concluded:“There is no evidence to suggest that these operators have acted unethically; unlawfully; or bullied/discriminated against their drivers.
“If evidence of this behaviour had been uncovered then the operator’s licence would be reviewed in accordance with council policy.”
He also made a point in confirming that the council had no powers to set private hire customer fare charges and to regulate financial contractual arrangements between operators and their drivers.
Image credit: Milton Keynes Council
Author: Steven Haslington