A CONTROVERSIAL taxi firm has been given the green light to set up in Portsmouth, The News can reveal.
Portsmouth City Council has given Uber, which uses passengers’ smartphones to connect them directly to drivers – approval to operate from 1000 Lakeside in North Harbour despite being banned in several countries.
In respect of this particular firm, it has obviously passed the council’s very stringent licensing requirements in order to be given an operator’s licence.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
Taxi drivers have raised fears the Silicon Valley company, which operates in 54 nations, will undercut their business and put the public at risk as they believe it does not do strict enough background checks on its drivers.
But Councillor Donna Jones, Tory leader of the council, said the firm would have had to pass ‘stringent’ licensing tests and assured a close eye will be kept on its practises.
‘I welcome any new taxi firm wanting to operate from the city of Portsmouth,’ Cllr Jones said.
‘In respect of this particular firm, it has obviously passed the council’s very stringent licensing requirements in order to be given an operator’s licence.
‘We will be keeping an eye on it, like any other operator, to make sure it is compliant with our rules and regulations.’
Glenn Madden, co-founder of City Wide Taxis, says he doesn’t think Uber will be detrimental to his business.
‘It won’t affect us,’ he said.
‘Portsmouth is too small, the fares are too cheap and traffic is horrendous.
‘It is more suited to the bigger cities like Manchester and Leeds.’
Uber has been granted a licence to operate until January 31, 2016 – and it is now seeking to recruit staff before officially launching to the public.
Harry Porter, Uber spokesman, said: ‘We have got the licence, but we now need a team of people on the ground to run the business and we want to hire people from the local area.
‘We are currently looking for people and as soon as that’s in place then we will be in a position to launch.’