Taxi drivers in Leeds staged a protest as news emerged controversial car hire app service Uber is planning to launch in the city.
The YEP understands the UK subsidiary of the Google-backed firm has filed an application with Leeds City Council to be a private hire operator in the city.
A group of Unite the Union members held a picket in Kirkstall outside what could be the company’s third base in the UK after London and Manchester.
Uber uses a smart phone application to connect passengers and drivers, cutting out the middlemen of taxi companies. Customers use the app to request a vehicle and the nearest driver is dispatched, with no cash changing hands as the charge is automatically processed through the passenger’s registered card details.
The on-demand service has been hugely successful with the five-year-old company operating in 200 cities around the world and doubling in size every six months.
But its phenomenal growth has led to multiple disputes with cab firms and regulators.
Taxi drivers brought parts of central London to a standstill in June this year in protest against what they saw as a lack of regulation.
Uber insists that it abides by local regulations.
Paul Landau, chairman of the Leeds cab section of Unite the Union claimed Uber is not operating a “legitimate service” as it is “simply an app downloaded”.
He stressed the union was not against technology but questioned how passengers could complain if they had poor service.
He added: “It’s not working within the parameters of what is acceptable within licensing guidelines.”
Uber declined to eloborate further on its plans but said all drivers have to go through DBS checks to get a private hire licence and will be licensed through Leeds City Council’s licensing department.
All vehicles will be licensed as well, added the company.
A spokesman for Leeds City Council council said: “The application by Uber to be a licensed private hire operator in Leeds will be dealt with as per our usual licensing policies and regulations.
“Any decision made will be on the basis of the relevant legislation, compliance to local conditions and the merits of the individual application. It would be inappropriate to make any further comment while a legal decision-making process is running.”