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Taxi for Uber! Another blow for app as York is latest UK city to refuse licence

It follows decisions made in London and Sheffield.

York has followed London by refusing to grant ride-hailing app Uber a licence to operate in the city.

Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew Uber’s licence on the grounds of “public safety and security implications” in September and Sheffield suspended the company’s licence last week.

A committee at the City of York Council cited the number of complaints it had received about the service and a recent well-publicised data protection breach as reasons for the decision.

The 7-3 vote of the Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee was greeted by applause and cries of “thank you” from the public gallery on Tuesday night.

Saf Din, chairman of the York Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, told the meeting Uber was “systematically abusing” the local laws and “looking for loopholes” by using out-of-town vehicles.

He said: “The trade does not object to fair competition, but Uber are not a fair player in the public transport world in the UK.”

Uber’s licence was due to expire in York on Christmas Eve this year, having twice previously been granted clearance to operate – most recently on December 21 2016.

Last month it was revealed that Uber had been the subject of a massive data breach which affected 2.7 million UK users of its app.

Hackers obtained personal details of 57 million customers and drivers worldwide, including people’s names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers.

Neil McGonigle, head of cities for the north of England for Uber, told councillors there were 28,000 people who regularly use the app in the city.

He said: “Over the course of the last 12 months we have seen a steady increase in the number of people looking to use the service we provide.

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Visitors to York walk along the old City walls towards York Minster (PA)

“From our experience, the passengers love the ability to have the convenience of pressing a button to request a car, to take a trip without having to use cash at all and, from a safety point of view, being able to track every element of that journey.

“I believe that increased choice and competition is a good thing for both passengers and drivers in terms of increasing standards across the board.”

He added the company had been “open and cooperative” with the council in tackling issues, including where drivers have applied for hire illegally.

A report provided to the meeting at the City of York council offices said that in the previous 12 months, the authority had received 296 complaints about hackney carriage and private hire vehicles, of which more than half related to Uber drivers.

Details of the specific complaints were not made public.

The company has 21 days to make a decision on whether to appeal the committee’s decision and can continue to operate in York until its licence expires or the appeal is heard.

Uber’s appeal against TfL’s decision not to renew its licence will be heard in the spring.

Sheffield City suspended the company’s licence on December 7 after the firm failed to respond to requests for information about its management.

Uber is allowed to continue operating in the city until December 18, and if it chooses to appeal the suspension, it can function until that has been heard.

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