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Labour Conference Demo Over 'Wild West' Taxi Regulation

Monday, September 25, 2017

Union rally calls for end of unregulated out-of-town ‘cowboy’ operators after TfL refuses to renew Uber's licence in London.

GMB, the professional drivers’ union, and taxi and private hire drivers from Brighton and the south coast are hosting a rally outside Labour conference calling for urgent reform of regulation of taxi and private hire driving.

The union is calling for an end to the 'Wild West' situation brought about by deregulation of the taxi and private hire industry – which sees licenses given out like ‘sweeties’.

A government deregulation bill has created a chaotic situation in many towns and cities, where some licensing authorities issue licenses for taxis which then operate out of that jurisdiction – in places like Brighton.

On Friday, Transport for London made the historic decision not to renew Uber’s licence – which may start to alleviate the cross-border problem.

GMB's Brighton and Hove branch are now calling on the council to hold Uber's Brighton licence renewal in public - it is currently being held behind closed doors.

The Government deregulation bill is driving down quality and standards, and creating environmental problems.

There are more than 360,000 vehicles vying for the same cut of the cake, and this number increases on a daily basis.

A lack of national minimum standards and a data base for operators and drivers means that enforcement does not take place, putting safety and safeguarding at risk.

This is now a major worry to a growing number of MP’s and local authorities.

From 11am Monday 25 September 2017 Brighton GMB drivers and supporters will be driving up and down the seafront, showing their support, and handing out leaflets to those attending the Labour Conference at the Brighton Centre.

At 12noon, Monday 25 September 2017 GMB will rally taxi and private hire drivers outside the Brighton Centre, King's Rd, Brighton BN1 2GR.GMB has invited the Shadow Transport Minister Andy McDonald MP and a number of MPs, including Wes Streeting MP and Daniel Zeichner MP.

The rally marks a day of action up and down the country, including Leeds, London and the M25 area, York, Manchester, Trafford, Rochdale, and Cardiff among others.

Mick Rix, GMB National Officer for Taxi and Private Hire Drivers, said:

“Our taxi and private hire industry is descending into a ‘Wild West’ situation with unscrupulous operators exploiting governments’ failure to regulate properly.

"GMB demands reform for the UK taxi and private hire industry.

“In Brighton, as in many other towns and cities across the country, the local trade is under serious threat from out-of-town drivers that do not conform to local licensing conditions.

"The anything-goes approach due to the governments taxi de-regulation in 2015 is endangering the livelihoods of good - and safe, locally licensed – drivers.

“It has seen authorities dish out licenses like sweeties.

“TfL’s brave decision on Uber out of London could well help alleviate the problem.

"Passenger safety is being put at serious risk every day – and the public no longer has any confidence that cars and drivers are locally licensed, passing stringent tests and background checks.

“Multinational private equity funded operators are putting profits above all else – and are exploiting and encouraging drivers to ignore safe standards of working by working excessive hours, travelling hundreds of miles and sleeping in their cabs to find work in areas they are not licensed to try and earn a living.

“The public are being put at serious risk. These companies are also ripping off the fare-paying public by charging what they like, when they like, by ignoring locally agreed fares set by licensed authorities.

“We welcome the commitment of the Labour Manifesto pledge calling for reform and the work of Wes Streeting MP and Daniel Zeichner MP on pushing for badly needed legislative reform.”

ENDS

Contact: Mick Rix on 07971 268343 or GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at press.office@gmb.org.uk

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