Leeds Festival: Young women 'charged £300' for Uber from Brahmam Park to city centre
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Local councillor Lisa Martin suggested the young women involved were charged nearly ten times as much as they should have been for the 11-mile trip. The case was raised amid concerns about young festival-goers being “fleeced” and forced to pay extortionate prices when they leave Bramham Park after the August bank holiday event.
The chair of Leeds City Council’s licensing committee said the issue was a “serious safeguarding problem”. Organisers Festival Republic have said they will publish a list of “expected” fares this year, although the company director insisted they’d received “no complaints” about taxi and private hire overcharging.
Speaking at a licensing committee meeting on Tuesday, where arrangements for this year’s Leeds Festival were discussed, Councillor Martin said: “I’ve personally had reports of people being charged up to £100 to go into Leeds city centre by Uber. £35 I think is the standard fare (from the festival site).
“But yesterday I heard of some young women being charged £300, collectively, to go back into Leeds by Uber, because of their dynamic pricing. I’m not suggesting that’s illegal, but it feels really unfair.”
Referencing long-standing issues with traffic congestion when the festival finishes, Councillor Martin, who represents the Roundhay ward, added: “It’s no wonder people ring up their parents to ask them to collect them, if that’s what they’re going to be charged.”
The city council itself has confirmed it has received complaints about private hire vehicles overcharging, touting and plying for hire – illegally picking up passengers without a pre-arranged booking – at the festival. Grumbles about the poor phone signal in the pick-up area, making it difficult to make bookings, have also been raised.
Committee chair, Councillor James Gibson said: “This is a major safeguarding issue. I’m worried about this.
“If taxi and private hire operators aren’t able to get a phone signal and they’re touting and overcharging, especially when there’s a younger demographic, this is a serious safeguarding problem and we need to do something about it.”
Festival Republic director, Melvyn Benn told the committee he would try to install wi-fi in the taxi pick-up area this year.
“That won’t help improve telephone signal, but it does help WhatsApp and the use of phone and booking apps,” he said.
Councillor Ed Carlisle asked organisers if a list of standard private hire fares could be published. Referencing the £300 journey claim, Councillor Carlisle said this would “stop starry-eyed people being fleeced”.
Mr Benn replied: “Nobody’s written into us telling us they’ve been charged that amount of money. But I think your suggestion is a very good one. Publishing our expected prices is something I think we can do and would be happy to do.”
The committee was told extra lighting will be installed in the taxi pick-up area this year too, following claims by council licensing officers that there were a number of “near misses” last year, with vehicles almost hitting festival-goers.