Friday, April 20, 2018

Uber To Hand Over London Customer Data To TfL In Peace Offering

Nobody likes to think their data is being harvested by a third party company, but now in the wake of Cambridge Analytica's expose with Facebook, we find that Uber have been collating data from its users for many years. 

In a bid to curry favour with the licensing authority after the rejection of their licence application to continue in London....Uber are offering to grant TfL access to the wealth of data it holds on the capital’s transport networks.

This is the latest conciliatory step the $80bn (£57bn) app has taken since it was stripped of its London licence six months ago following a string of alleged illegal activities and safety failings, including failing to report drivers to police after complaints of rape and sexual assault, allowing the predator drivers to strike again and again.

Uber said the data, which covers 50,000 drivers in the capital, could be used to help urban planning as London groans under the weight of the growing congestion blamed on internet shopping delivery vans, ride share apps and segregated bicycle lanes.

Since being stripped of its licence back in September last year and ousting its founder Travis Kalanick in the summer, Uber purports to have launched a series of bids to clean up its act, including capping drivers’ working hours and cracking down on drivers using the app in cities where they are not licensed.

Unfortunately the geofencing they say they've imposed, isn't strictly based on the boundaries of the Greater Metropolitan area of their licence. Corridors have been added which extend to places such as Gatwick, Luton, Stanstread and Southend Airports.

Uber Britannia Limited's app tracks millions of journeys via smartphone GPS sensors, which the company says gives it a unique perspective on driving patterns in cities. It's also been alleged that Uber have carried on tracking celebrity customers after the journey's completion. 

Uber's peace offering say's their data will show regulators how journey times change at different times and days, as well as seeing how one-off events such as bridge closures have affected travel times.

The company's replacement for Jo Bertram, Fred Jones said: “Under Uber’s new leadership we want to be a better partner to city planners and regulators.” Well they would say that, they want their licence renewed. Uber have always had the policy, 'it's easier to seek forgiveness than permission'.
A TfL spokesman said: “We welcome any move that has the potential to provide a greater insight into how people move around London.”

Uber will continue to operate in the capital while it challenges the ban. The appeal is due to be heard in June and may be dragged out for years if the company continues to fight through the courts. 

Even though TfL are in possession of evidence that would see Uber closed down completely, their legal team don't appear to have the appetite to take on the £57bn company, with latest discretions swept under the carpet and kept out of the media.

Uber have said they would prefer to reach an agreement with Tfl instead of fighting through the courts, and last year they flew their new chief executive (Dara Khosrowshahi) to London for cosy talks with TfL commissioner Mike Brown.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

News From Unite Union Cab Section... Uber Illegally Granted A Booking Office Licence In Glasgow.

Yesterday at the Burgh Court, Uber Scot Ltd was illegally granted a Booking Office Licence, in breach of the The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Booking Offices) Order 2009. 

In an assault on the democratic process, the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, advised by Licensing Solicitor, Mairi Millar, refused to hear three objections from Unite the Union Cab Section, Glasgow Taxis Ltd, and Greater Glasgow Private Hire Association. Objections were late as the statutory notice was only viewable on the door of 69 Buchanan St for 21 days. The notice was not in the print media, not on the GCC website, in fact it had no online presence anywhere. It was preposterous to expect anyone to notice an A4 sheet on the door of an inconspicuous office building on a pedestrianised shopping thoroughfare.

Despite objections being late, Glasgow City Council Licensing & Regulatory Committee has at its discretion the power to hear late submissions. All three objectors were only allowed to give the reasons why the objections were late, but forbidden from mentioning reasons for objecting. Glasgow Taxis Ltd Solicitor, Tom McIntaggart, put up an extremely convincing argument for hearing the objections, citing examples where GCC Licensing had accepted late objections in the past. 

Councillors who voted against hearing our objections and denied us the right to be heard were as follows:

Baillie John Kane, Scottish Labour Party, Govan (5)

Baillie Hanif Raja, Scottish Labour Party, Pollokshields (6)

Cllr Aileen McKenzie, Scottish Labour Party, Springburn/Robroyston (17)

Cllr Robert Connelly, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, Calton.

Those councillors that believed in the democratic process and wanted to hear our objections were as follows:

Cllr Rhiannon Spear, Scottish National Party, Greater Pollok (3).

Cllr Graham Campbell, Scottish National Party, Springburn/Robroyston (17).

Gary Gray, Scottish Labour Party, Canal (16).

Special mention to Cllr Rhiannon Spear who made clear her concerns over aspects of Uber’s operation and was clearly unhappy with what transpired.

Just to recap, all traditional taxi and private hire companies in Glasgow are registered at their respective licensed premises in Glasgow for the booking, dispatch and payment of fares. This means that they are within the jurisdiction of Scottish law enforcement and the Scottish legal system. It also means that they are subject to UK tax and VAT.

Uber is the exception. Glasgow work is dispatched from Uber BV in the Netherlands, trip data is recorded by Uber BV in the Netherlands, payment is taken by Uber BV in the Netherlands, and a receipt is issued by Uber BV in the Netherlands. Glasgow City Council yesterday licensed a sham booking office that attempts to legitimise dispatch of work from an unlicensed foreign company, Uber BV. 

Yesterday Uber’s Solicitor pointed to 4 million trips taken in Glasgow since it started. Some crude arithmetic based on an average of £5 per trip:

4M x £5 = £20M
Uber’s cut (25%) after drs are paid =£5M

UK Corporation tax @21% on £5M ~£1M+

UK VAT @20% on £20M = £4M

So, with what we admit are very crude workings, Uber has avoided UK tax and VAT in the region of £5M in Glasgow alone, in the 30 months it has been operating. That is starving the public purse of much needed revenue for schools, hospitals, housing etc. Glasgow City Council Licensing not only had solid legal grounds to reject Uber’s application, it also had a strong moral case to reject it. 

Don’t take our word for Uber’s illegal operation in Glasgow. At the November, 2017, Joint Taxi and Private Hire Trade Meeting, GCC Licensing Solicitor, Mairi Millar, stated that Uber Britannia Ltd did not satisfy the criteria to hold a Booking Office licence. Well the Licensing Solicitor can now make that two illegal booking offices ‘operational’ in Glasgow now.

To be honest, this hasn't come as a huge surprise, but what we actually find surprising, is the fact that our Unions, Taxi associations and representative groups seem to sit back and just accept these illegal Uber licenses !!!


Wonder if the City of London or TfL would care to comment on this 

ComfortDelGro acquires London taxi circuit operator Dial-a-Cab for £1.2 million

Com Cab owners ComfortDelGro, have acquired London taxi circuit operator Dial-a-Cab's business and assets for £1.2 million, the company announced on Thursday (Apr 19). 

The deal was undertaken by ComfortDelGro's wholly owned subsidiary in the UK CityFleet Networks. 

ComfortDelGro's managing director and group CEO Yang Ban Seng said the acquisition will "enable the Group to grow and strengthen its position as the leading taxi circuit operator in London through an expansion of the customer and driver base".

Radio taxi circuits are operators of a door-to-door transportation service that uses London's black cabs.

Currently, ComfortDelGro is the largest taxi circuit operator in London with around 1,900 London taxis. The acquisition will add about 1,100 black cabs to bring the total fleet to 3,000.

Mr Yang also added that London Councils and Transport for London recently awarded CityFleet the Taxicard and Dial-A-Ride contract for another three years, with an option for a fourth. 

Taxicard is the largest public sector day-to-day transport service in London for passengers with serious mobility impairments or who are severely sight impaired. 

CityFleet has held this contract over several decades through its taxi subsidiary Computer Cab. 


In Singapore, Taxi giant ComfortDelGro told its cabbies to delete the Uber app on their phones, following the American ride-hailing firm's sale of its South-east Asian business to rival Grab on March 26.

Publicly listed ComfortDelGro, in a text message to its estimated 23,000 hirer-drivers, said: "Dear cabbies, UberFlash will cease on April 8 2018. You may delete the Uber driver app any time now since it will no longer be in use. ComfortDelGro will continue to provide you jobs... We thank you for your continued support.


So, ComCab will be adding another 1,100 vehicles to their fleet. Dial a Cab have ceased trading as their work has allegedly dried up. 

I wonder how ComCab drivers feel about having their existing work spread over a 30% expansion of its work force. 


As electric vehicles rise in popularity, so does the price to run one - and motorists are being hit with extra charges

DRIVING an electric car might seem like a cheaper option, but drivers are being hit with hidden costs as the motors become more popular.

The number of electric vehicles on British roads has risen by 33 per cent in the last year, but that’s been matched by a hike in charging costs

The majority of public charging points no longer offer free electricity, with plug-in drivers now forced to fork out for monthly subscriptions to power up their motors.

In some cases, drivers can expect to pay as much as £17 per month subscription in addition to charging fees.

According to a study by What Car?, the cost to charge a Renault Zoe ZE40 to 80 per cent varied largely depending on location.

They found motorists could pay as much as £17.46 to use a Source London Flexi – fast (7.4 kW) charging station, or as little as £7.70 for a Polar Instant – fast (7.2 kW) charger

The price to charge an electric car also varied depending on whether or not there was a registration fee, and whether the cost was charged by monthly subscription, by the hour or by kWh unit cost.

Research found that public charging could cost drivers twice as much as if they were to power up their vehicle at home

But a lack of public parking means many motorists are forced to pay public charging rates.

Steve Huntingford, Editor at What Car? said: “Plug-in electrics are still relatively new to consumers and so they might not be as clued up as they would be with a petrol or diesel equivalent.

“Plug-ins should remain an extremely worthwhile and affordable investment for many, but it’s essential that prospective owners are doing their research and making sure they’ve got the right car for their needs and lifestyle.”

Media Article Confirms Uber Are Operating Illegally Though Dutch Company

Again, we're told Uber jobs are being dispatched by Dutch based company UberBL, and not as TfL want us to believe Uber London Ltd (the actual company licensed by TfL) and again TfL do nothing about it.

Below is a post from the Brighton and Hove News, which explains that Uber’s licence to operate in Brighton and Hove is up for renewal next week. The article states that the company applying for the operating licence in Brighton and Hove, is in fact UberBL. But speaking to local Taxi drivers, many Uber drivers licensed by TfL, are flooding down the M23 to work the area.

Most interesting is the highlighted sentence in the article below that states out of city drivers are able access the same work as Brighton drivers, via the Uber London app !

TfL know this is going on, and yet they’ve said and done nothing about it. 

Again more proof (as if any were needed) that TfL are instrumental in the devastation and destruction of the Licensed Taxi trade in London. 

Again we ask the question, why haven’t our United Trade Leaders demanded Mike Brown’s immediately issue of a cease and desist order on Uber London Limited, who do not dispatch Uber’s Jobs in London (given the evidence available from a plethora of FOI requested emails)

It’s scandalous that TfLTPH were informed in 2014 yet said nothing and swept it unber the carpet.


Brighton And Hove News Article

Uber’s bid to renew its licence is to be heard in public next week following a campaign by taxi drivers. 

Hundreds of taxi drivers have also written in to object to the controversial app being allowed to continue trading in the city, with a total of 274 representations opposing the renewal received. 

Seven taxi drivers and 26 residents or businesses wrote to support the application, which has been made by the standalone company Uber Brighton and Hove (UBL). 

UBL was first granted a year-long operators licence in November 2015, but did not launch in Brighton and Hove until the following October. The licence was renewed for another year, but by the time it applied for another renewal in 2017, its licence had been suspended in London.

Town hall officers decided to renew it for six months with four new conditions relating to the concerns raised by Transport for London attached – not to block officials from using the app, to report serious complaints to the council, to ensure that rides booked by UBL are provided by Brighton drivers and to ensure all UBL drivers have disability equality training. 

However, taxi drivers are calling on the council to reject its licence with a lengthy list of challenges, including challenging Uber’s status as an operator, the ongoing TfL appeal, Uber’s failure to report sexual attacks in London and Uber data being hacked.

Drivers also continue to criticise the widespread appearance of Uber drivers licensed outside the city – drivers who are not required to adhere to the strict rules laid down in the city council’s “blue book” of rules, including CCTV and wheelchair accessibility. 

In his report to councillors on the licensing panel, head of regulatory services Jim Whitelegg said some of these concerns did not relate to UBL, which only uses Brighton drivers (although out of city drivers are able to use the app via Uber London and other Uber subsidiaries).

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


On Tuesday 17th April I went along with our Appeals Officer, Colin Greaves, to officially present little Hope aged 5 with a Tricycle, cost £945, to help and enable her to walk again as she suffers from a very rare metabolic condition called GA1 (Glutaric Aciduria 1), which unfortunately also caused her to suffer brain damage.  Her condition affects muscle tone, strength and motor control throughout her body which has made her very weak and her mobility extremely difficult.  The Tricycle has been specially adapted for her and will great benefit her physically, socially and emotionally.

Hope lives with her grandparents who said since she has received the Tricycle she cannot wait to get back on it after school and it is obvious that she has already started to get a tremendous sense of enjoyment and achievement from it, accompanied by lots of fun.

Every month Colin looks into the numerous Appeals that the LTFUC receive and the Committee were very pleased on this occasion to grant this appeal for such a worthy cause.

Raymond Levy (PR)