Councillors have approved Uber’s bid to officially return to York despite opposition from local taxi drivers.

City of York Council’s licensing and regulatory committee granted Uber’s private licence application on Tuesday evening (June 11) with conditions to try to stop pick ups at taxi ranks.

Uber head of cities Matthew Freckleton said the company looked forward to recruiting York-based drivers and having an official working relationship with the council.

But York Taxi Association chair Arfan Asif said Uber drivers had disregarded industry rules while operating in the city while several other drivers called on councillors to refuse the application.

The decision means Uber will be able to establish a base in York and recruit local drivers for the first time since councillors refused to renew its licence in December 2017.

Drivers from York Taxi Association gathered ahead of the meeting to protest against the licence being granted. Picture: Harry BoothDrivers from York Taxi Association gathered ahead of the meeting to protest against the licence being granted. Picture: Harry Booth

Its licence renewal bid was refused following a significant data breach and 155 complaints lodged against its drivers in the year leading up to the decision.

Uber drivers licensed elsewhere have still been legally able to travel into York to take jobs.

Several York taxi workers spoke against Uber’s application, claiming out-of-town Uber drivers had plied for trade at ranks and competed against them despite the company not being licensed in York.

York Taxi Association president Mr Asif said councillors should stand by their previous decision to refuse a licence.

The president said: “By denying this licence you would affirm your commitment to a just and fair business environment in the city.”

Darren Avy, of Station Taxis, said Uber drivers had been known to flood into York during busy periods, including estimates of up to 500 on race days.

Mr Avy, who represents local taxi firm owners, said: “Uber’s business model is unethical, their effect on the economy, employment and their environmental degradation are all compelling reasons to say no.”

An Uber taxiAn Uber taxi

Uber’s Mr Freckleton said its ‘geofencing’ technology stopped jobs being sent to drivers waiting at ranks and the company would take action against complaints including claims of plying for trade.

He said: “We don’t use unlicensed drivers or vehicles and our drivers can’t refuse trips to people with guide dogs or wheelchair users.”

Uber driver operations head Neil McGonigle said the company reported all issues with data to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), in response to questions about historic breaches.

Mr McGonigle said: “We work to ensure we have enough drivers and we have a partnership with York Racecourse and we help our drivers navigate the law, it’s something we take seriously.”