App-driven ride-sharing and taxi service Uber has finally been granted a new licence to operate in London, nearly a year after TfL (Transport for London) rejected its licence on safety grounds.
An appeal hearing, which took place at Westminster Magistrates Court (28 September 2020), upheld TfL’s initial decision to reject the licence, but ruled that a new 18-month one could be issued, due to the fact that Uber had made moves to address the safety concerns of TfL.
One of TfL’s key concerns was that unauthorised people could upload their images to an existing Uber account, allowing them to pick up passengers immediately, without proper checks.
Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, said: “It was not what we would do now. It was inadequate, we could have done better.”
In summing up deputy chief magistrate Tanweer Ikram said, “Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV operator’s licence.”
The ruling ends a period of uncertainty for over 45,000 Uber users in the UK capital who had been using the service over the past 11 months as it was permitted to operate pending the appeal. The new licence comes with a number of conditions, allowing TfL to closely monitor Uber’s adherence to the regulations.
“This decision is a recognition of Uber’s commitment to safety and we will continue to work constructively with TfL,” said Heywood.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said TfL was “absolutely right” not to renew Uber licence last year but acknowledged the company had “made improvements”.
However, he added: “I can assure Londoners that TfL will continue to closely monitor Uber and will not hesitate to take swift action should they fail to meet the strict standards required to protect passengers.”