Uber refused license in York, banned in third UK city

Updated: The license suspension follows similar moves in London and Sheffield.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer
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Uber's operating license has been revoked in York, which has now become the third city in the United Kingdom to ban the ride-hailing service.

According to local media, the gambling, licensing & regulatory committee of the City of York Council voted to deny Uber a renewal of its license to operate in the city.

Uber has been operating in York for 16 months and according to Saf Din, chair of the York Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, only a handful of drivers are licensed to work in the popular tourist hotspot and university town.

However, drivers licensed by other authorities and from as far as London have clogged up the roads in recent months, much to the chagrin of local taxi firms.

"Whilst York only has a handful of drivers licensed, Uber is doing what they are very good at -- and that is systematically abusing the local laws and explicitly looking for loopholes by the use of out-of-town vehicles," Din said at the meeting. "Many have no knowledge of our city, lack of respect for our roads, illegally plying for hire on taxi ranks and breaking our traffic laws repeatedly."

The news was reportedly met with cheers from local cabbies.

There has been a number of complaints levied against Uber in York, including inflated fees and out-of-town drivers who do not know the area.

However, Uber said 28,000 people had used the service in York in the last three months alone, and tourists, in particular, take advantage of the company's offerings.

The decision to deny Uber its license means that York is now the third city in the UK to fall out of love with the company and follows similar moves in London and Sheffield.

In September, the UK Transport for London (TFL) authority said Uber's license would not be renewed as the company is not "fit and proper" to hold a private hire operator license.

The licensing group said Uber's approach to reporting serious criminal offenses, to how medical certificates are obtained, and how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are performed are lacking.

Uber is set to appeal the decision and a hearing date is expected in April 2018. Preliminary hearings will be heard next week.

In Sheffield this month, regulators suspended the firm's license, claiming Uber "failed to respond to requests, made by our licensing team, about the management of Uber." Uber, in turn, blamed the revoked license on "administrative errors," and claiming the council sent its requests to the wrong postal address.

York authority also expressed concern over Uber's data breach, of which private information belonging to 57 million Uber users and drivers was stolen.

The ride-hailing service reportedly attempted to hush it up by paying the hacker responsible $100,000 to keep quiet and delete the data.

Update 10.44GMT:

On Wednesday, Sheffield lifted the ban. The city's council said Uber had provided "satisfactory replies to the questions asked by Sheffield City Council about the management of Uber."

An Uber spokesperson told ZDNet:

"We look forward to continuing to serve tens of thousands of riders and drivers in Sheffield."

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