Uber ban could be a threat to London's pubs

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Who's going to take you home tonight? The potential loss of Uber could affect London pubs
Who's going to take you home tonight? The potential loss of Uber could affect London pubs

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Millions of people who use Uber in the UK's capital after a night down the pub could find their ride home missing, after Transport for London (TfL) informed the company it would not be issued with a private hire operator license after its current licence expires on 30 September.

TfL concluded on Friday (22 September) that Uber was not “fit and proper” to hold a private hire operator licence.

According to a report in Metro​, Uber losing its licence could cost the capital’s night-time economy “millions of pounds a year”.

The newspaper said businesses have claimed that the ban on the app would hit restaurants, clubs and bars because “customers will have fewer options to travel home late at night”.

Big concern for pubs

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser,​ Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association said Uber’s ban is “certainly a big concern” for pubs.

“Pubs operating in London’s vibrant night-time economy depend on a great transport system, as we always argued with the Night Tube – and the same applies when it comes to Uber and private hire.

“Transport for London needs to work urgently with Uber to resolve the situation, or the beer and pub industry in London, on which 90,000 jobs depend, will be damaged.”

Something will fill the gap

Fuller’s Inns managing director Jonathon Swaine, however, is optimistic something else would replace Uber if it lost its appeal.

“I don’t think the Uber ban will stop people coming out – although it is a service a number of our customers use.

“If they don’t come to an agreement, I’m sure there will be another digital service that fills the gap.

“You already have services like Kabbee and MyTaxi out there – although the price of Uber journeys and the fact that nearly a million people have signed a petition to keep Uber running shows the depth of feeling there is on the issue.”

Positive step

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) chief executive Kate Nicholls, who also has a seat on London’s Night Time Commission, said the chief concern is “ensuring guesting and team members can move around and get to and from venues quickly and get home at night easily and, above all, safely”.

“This decision is subject to an ongoing legal discussion and the key here is that both parties have indicated they want to address the issues of concern, which should be a positive step for customers,” she said.

“This issue highlights the importance of a convenient, reliable and safe public transport infrastructure."

The ALMR’s Future Shock​ report highlighted the economic importance of London’s Night Tube, in particular that 1,700 permanent jobs will be created and London’s weekend late-night economy boosted by £71m as a result of its adoption.

Nicholls added: “Convenient public transport options provide a great boost to businesses, not least of all late-night eating and drinking venues that take advantage of increased accessibility for customers, but the safety of guests and team members is a priority.”

Uber has vowed to appeal the decision, which means cars are likely to stay on London’s roads for more than a year during the process.

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