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York refuses to renew Uber licence

York has refused to grant Uber a licence to operate in the city Credit: Press Association

York has refused to grant ride-hailing app Uber a licence to continue operating in the city.

A committee at the City of York Council cited the number of complaints it had received about the service and a recent well-publicised data protection breach as reasons for the decision.

The company has 21 days to make a decision on whether to appeal the committee's decision and can continue to operate in York until its licence expires or the appeal is heard.

The 7-3 vote of the Gambling, Licensing and Regulatory Committee was greeted by applause and cries of "thank you" from the public gallery on Tuesday night.

Uber can continue to operate until its licence expires or the appeal is heard Credit: Press Association

It comes after Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew Uber's licence on the grounds of "public safety and security implications" in September.

Sheffield City Council had also suspended the company's licence last month, but announced today the suspension has been lifted "following productive discussions between Uber and Sheffield City Council."

"Uber provided satisfactory replies to the questions asked by Sheffield City Council about the management of Uber.

The new application, made by Uber in October, to operate private hire cars in Sheffield is being considered and a decision will be made in early 2018."

– Sheffield City Council

Saf Din, chairman of the York Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, told the City of York Council meeting that Uber was "systematically abusing" the local laws and "looking for loopholes" by using out-of-town vehicles.

The trade does not object to fair competition, but Uber are not a fair player in the public transport world in the UK.

– Saf Din, York Hackney Carriage Drivers Association

Uber's licence was due to expire in York on Christmas Eve this year. The firm had twice previously been granted clearance to operate - most recently on December 21 2016.

Last month it was revealed that Uber had been the subject of a massive data breach which affected 2.7 million UK users of its app.

Hackers obtained personal details of 57 million customers and drivers worldwide, including people's names, email addresses and mobile phone numbers.

Uber initially tried to cover up details of the hack, and did not inform customers of the breach.

The hacking attack and the company's response was also cited by councilors in their refusal to grant a new licence.

Cab firms welcomed the decision to strip Uber of its licence. Credit: PA

Neil McGonigle, head of cities for the north of England for Uber, told councillors there were 28,000 people who regularly use the app in the city.

28,000
Number of people who regularly use Uber in York.

He said they had seen a "steady increase" in the number of users over the last year in his evidence to the council.

From our experience, the passengers love the ability to have the convenience of pressing a button to request a car, to take a trip without having to use cash at all and, from a safety point of view, being able to track every element of that journey.

I believe that increased choice and competition is a good thing for both passengers and drivers in terms of increasing standards across the board.

– Neil McGonigle, Uber representative

He added the company had been "open and cooperative" with the council in tackling issues, including where drivers have applied for hire illegally.

Uber said that residents welcomed a range of choice of cab firms. Credit: PA

A report provided to the meeting at the City of York council offices said that in the previous 12 months, the authority had received 296 complaints about hackney carriage and private hire vehicles, of which more than half related to Uber drivers.

Details of the specific complaints were not made public.

Sheffield City suspended the company's licence on December 7 after the firm failed to respond to requests for information about its management.

Uber is allowed to continue operating in the city until December 18, and if it chooses to appeal the suspension, it can function until that has been heard.