Taxi drivers in slow convoy protest through town centre

Council makes appeal to disabled customers
Council makes appeal to disabled customers

Taxi drivers are due to stage a protest drive in the heart of Lewes on Monday (March 5).

It will consist of a slow moving convoy through the streets in protest at the number of private hire licences being issued by Lewes District Council.

Taxi drivers believe recipients will ultimately be working for Uber Lewes. The council licensed Uber as a Private Hire Operator last year.

Starting at 12.30pm, the convoy will make its way along Lewes High Street to the council offices before going to the railway station area and completing a circular route via Southover Road, Station Road and Garden Street.

The Deregulation Act 2015 now allows the sub-contracting of fares between different authority boundaries. This means that a customer booking with the operator of their choice may end up with a driver from a different operator registered in a totally different location.

It also means that Brighton Uber can sub-contract fares to Lewes Uber and vice versa. In reality this has meant that drivers in London with a licence with Transport for London (TFL) have been working in Brighton.

Uber has listened to the concerns of many local authorities regarding long distance cross-border driving and has therefore introduced its own regional restrictions. This has meant that TFL (London) drivers can now no longer work in Brighton and have to obtain a licence locally if they wish to work in Sussex.

As a result of these changes the district council has had an influx of new drivers applying for licences in Lewes District. Inevitably they may work in Brighton but this it is perfectly legal for them to do so following the Deregulation Act 2015.

If the district council receives an application for a Private Hire Licence it has a duty to process the application and grant a licence if they are a fit and proper person. It is not able to refuse a licence on the basis that they may operate outside the council’s geographical area.

The council has said it understands the frustration this causes the taxi trade in Brighton but the local authority is working within the legislative framework.