During a debate in parliament, Anne Main took the fight to the government on behalf of St Albans taxi and private hire drivers against Uber’s practices in the city. Anne shared the concerns and frustrations of local taxi drivers with the Minister of State for Transport.
Anne said, ‘In St Albans we have reliable and heavily regulated taxi licensing, but my local taxi drivers have [asked] what is the point of being licensed with St Albans if TFL can license drivers and they do not seem to have such high standards’.
Mrs Main also pointed out the unfairness in costs for registering as a private hire driver. TFL charge £350 to register a driver and St Albans District Council charge £720.
The St Albans MP continued, ‘It does not take a mathematician to work out that someone might as well hop down the road […] and get a TFL license if there is no way of stopping drivers coming from there to St Albans’.
‘It worries me enormously that when I talk to St Albans District Council, [Uber cars] are not simply dropping off in St Albans and heading back. They are stopping there. They come first thing in the morning and hover about until someone is looking to book’.
Anne continued, ‘What I am saying is not anti-Uber; it is anti-unfairness in the taxi trade.’
Turning to the Minister, Anne said ‘If those drivers do not behave and Transport for London will not do anything about it, the government need to do something. I ask the Minister to look at the matter as a serious issue of unfair business competition and health and safety.’
During the Minister’s response, Anne intervened to raise the practical concerns of St Albans council trying to police Uber’s practices in the city.
The Minister responded saying, ‘my hon. Friend makes a valid point about the scope and powers of those missioned with doing what I described. I am certainly prepared to consider those things in direct response to this debate.’
Speaking after the debate, Anne said ‘It was good to see the Minister listen intently to some of the important points raised during the debate. Cross border hiring, which is what affects St Albans drivers the most, featured heavily during the debate and it was good to hear the Minister take on board this growing problem.’
Anne added ‘I hope we will see some beneficial action being taken by the government to establish fairness in this industry and help local drivers to compete with Uber as it continues to operate in areas where it is not directly licensed to do so.’