Brighton & Hove City Council
Uber Brighton & Hove Operators Licence Renewal 2017
Part 1: Issues raised & Objection to the renewal of the 2017 Uber Brighton & Hove Operators Licence
Part 2: Questions for Brighton & Hove Council
Part 3: Questions to be submitted to Uber
Part 4: Uber Hailing App (two documents)
October 3 2017
Part 3: GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section - Questions for the Council to put to Uber for response.
The Council needs to answer the following when considering any decision it makes and this must be clearly documented in our objections/representations.
We wish to ensure the Council is aware that they are under (our) legal scrutiny and that furthermore, it will be held to account after any decision of Uber's Licence renewal.
(1) Did the Council exercise its right to ask UBER questions contained within this document during the "Renewal" process?
(2) If the answer to question (1) is ‘yes’, please advise specifically what questions were asked.
In the course of determining such an application, a council is entitled, pursuant to section 57 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, to ask for such information as it may reasonably require to enable it to determine the application.
For the avoidance of any doubt, We appreciate that the answers to such questions may be regarded as being commercially sensitive, so consequently we do not ask for the answers given by UBER to any questions that may have been asked by the Council.
We also do not ask for copies of any correspondence passing between the Council and UBER (but reserve the right to request the same in future under FOI or as a "Request For Evidence". In the circumstances, all we ask for is a comprehensive list of all the questions that were asked of Uber (during the "Renewal Process"). We are not concerned as to whether such questions were asked all at once or whether further questions initially asked resulted as a result of Uber's replies.
If however, it is more suitable to the Council to provide a suitably redacted copy of the correspondence as a result of the questions and answers, then we would be happy to receive the requested information in that format. But again, we reserve the right to both scrutinise and hold the Council to account for such correspondence and possibly mount a request for full disclosure.
We appreciate that such questions may have been asked wholly or in part as a result of legal advice received by the Council, but in precisely the same way that such questions would have ceased to be subject to legal professional privilege when they were asked of UBER. However, we do not consider that such questions could be exempt from disclosure under the legal professional privilege exemption. It would be useful to see a copy of any legal advice that may have been received by the Council in relation to any questions that may have been asked of UBER by the Council.
Questions for Uber
1. Can UBER confirm and provide evidence that the booking is recorded prior to the commencement of the journey?
2. Can UBER provide details of their ‘zonal’ system.
3. Does the UBER App differentiate between vehicles licensed by different Licensing authorities?
4. Do customers using the UBER App to book a vehicle have a choice of which Licensing Authority that vehicle is licensed with?
5. Can UBER explain how these bookings are allocated and recorded specifically in order?
6. Are these bookings recorded with each individual private hire operator?
7. Is there a maximum range that an operator in a particular Licensing Authority can despatch a booking to?
8. It is understood that the Uber system accepts a booking from a passenger via the smartphone application which is then routed via Uber operator’s servers to the nearest available driver based upon the location of the passenger. Can you confirm that the booking is first received within the premises stated on the same application address?
9. Will there be a server or other device located permanently in the premises specified in the application capable of receiving, recording and despatching a booking of the same application address.
10. A search of the Data Protection Public Register reveals that Uber London Ltd is registered but there does not appear to be any registration for Uber Britannia Ltd. Can this be explained please?
11. The Equality Act 2010 requires that a private hire operator must not discriminate against a person requiring a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) by not providing such a vehicle. As well as being prohibited from discriminating by not providing the service, a service provider has a duty to make reasonable adjustments and it could be argued that a large private hire operator ought to be able to provide WAV’s. Uber undertook to address this in the original application at the Panel Hearing in October 2015. Could you advise whether or not Uber can offer this service in full ?
12: The Uber Terms of Service specifically excludes anyone under the age of 18 from using Uber.. Can you explain exactly why Uber discriminates to such people under the age of 18 when also considering that such people may also be wheelchair users?
13. Under the Deregulation Act 2015 bookings can be sub-contracted between operators in different licensed districts. In such cases the booking must be recorded by each operator prior to despatch to the driver. Can you confirm this is the case with the Uber App?
14. What provision does Uber propose to make in the licensed area of Brighton & Hove for the invitation or acceptance of bookings for a private hire vehicle?
15. It would appear the latest iteration of Uber’s terms and conditions (16 March 2017, https://www.uber.com/legal/gbr/terms) (“the Terms and Conditions”) Part 1 -Section 3 that UBL has no role in the provision of the Uber Rider App to potential passengers. This appears to be a service provided by Uber BV (“UBV”) in accordance with Part 2, paragraph 2. Is this correct?
16. Is the Uber system checking to see which partner-driver is nearest to the passenger and is available to conduct a trip a task which is undertaken automatically and without intervention from UBL.?
17. What input, if any, does UBL have in this process? How, does the relevant operator “accept the booking on behalf of the partner-driver”?
18. What input does UBL have in the process if the nearest driver accepts the request via the smart phone app’?
19. In what sense is there a “dispatch” of a vehicle “from” UBL, given that UBL is the agent of the driver for the booking services and asserts it does not provide transportation services (Part 1, Section 3 of the Terms of Conditions)?
20. Please particularise the equipment proposed to be contained in the Operating Base.
21. Can it be assumed that, in general, the process of inviting and accepting bookings will be conducted entirely automatically by the Uber system?
22. Can it be assumed that the software tools permitting the monitoring of vehicles (location, status and journey details), communication with drivers and amendment of allocation criteria are tools that UBL may choose to access from time to time, but do not have to be actively operated for any given booking to be invited and accepted?
23. If UBL makes provision for the invitation or acceptance of bookings for private hire vehicles merely as agent for each proprietor/driver, then in what sense are those proprietor/driver principals themselves not making provision?
24. Please clarify whether it is UBL’s position that, if licensed as an operator by Brighton & Hove City Council and functioning as such, it does not propose to accept any contractual liability to passengers in respect of bookings for the hire of a private hire vehicle with a driver, where both the vehicle and the driver are licensed by this Brighton & Hove City Council?
25. Please Confirm whether or not “out of town” hackney carriages are now operating on the Uber platform, and, if so, when this practice commenced.
26. What contractual provisions prevail for customers whose journeys are provided by “out of town” hackney carriages?
27. Do “out of town” hackney carriages operate surge pricing when on the platform? If so, what if any steps have been taken to ensure that the fares so charged do not contravene the provisions of s.67 of the 1976 Act?
28. If Uber has no involvement in the contract between the customer and the driver of the vehicle, who accepts the booking?
29. If Uber accepts the booking, how does it have no involvement in the contract between the customer and the driver?
30. If Uber considers that the driver accepts the booking, does it accept that the driver must also hold a Private Hire Operator licence to accept bookings? If this is the case, what steps will Uber take the ensure that all bookings are only given to licensed operators?
31: Does the Uber app allow to pre-book a job/journey on the Uber servers as a legal serviceable contract without the requirement for the customers mobile phone to be active prior to the time of that ‘Scheduling’?
32: Does the process of ‘Scheduling’ require the customer mobile phone to active at all time prior to the time set by the customer to be connect with a driver?
33. TfL has recently refused to licence Uber to operate in London with one reason being the use of ‘Greyball’. Can you explain what Greyball is?
If Uber cannot provide the full answers required then the assumption will be that it is unwilling to cooperate and then the term ‘Fit and proper’ can indeed be examined.
The council is requested to provide evidence to the GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section that these questions were provided to Uber and that all questions were answered.
GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section
Part 3: GMB Brighton & Hove Taxi Section - Questions for the Council to put to Uber for response.