World Uber wins new London licence after appeal
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Uber on Monday won a London court appeal, allowing the US ride-hailing giant to operate in the British capital for the next 18 months, after a judge ruled it was a "fit and proper" firm despite safety concerns.
The company, which has 3.5 million customers and 45,000 drivers in the British capital, has now overturned Transport for London's (TfL) refusal to renew its operating licence around the issue of unauthorised drivers.
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The San Francisco-based firm was permitted to continue operating in London during the appeal process.
Despite pointing to Uber's "historical failings", judge Tan Ikram on Monday said Uber was "a fit and proper person" to hold a private hire vehicle operator's licence in the capital.
He noted that Uber had sought to explain how breaches had taken place and how they would be remedied.
Jamie Heywood, Uber's general manager for northern and eastern Europe, said Monday's decision was a recognition of the company's "commitment to safety".
Heywood admitted that Uber's behaviour over the problem of unauthorised drivers had been wrong.
"It was not what we would do now. It was inadequate, we could have done better," he said.
- Safety is paramount -
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The last call echoed around pubs and bars in England and Wales earlier than usual Thursday night, as tighter rules to try to stop a coronavirus surge came into force. Some experts have questioned whether the new hospitality rules will have a meaningful impact while various people can still meet in pubs, bars and restaurants. © Tolga AKMEN Some experts have questioned whether the new hospitality rules will have a meaningful impact "Closing down restaurants and pubs earlier will do little to stave the spread for as long as multiple different households can interchangeably meet up," said David Strain, clinical lecturer at the University of E
TfL, which is chaired by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, acknowledged Monday that Uber had implemented a number of changes to improve passenger safety.
"Public safety is paramount, so TfL was absolutely right not to renew Uber's licence last November after identifying failures that directly put passengers in danger," said Khan in response to the news.
"I am pleased that Uber have admitted that their response to very real concerns about passenger safety was inadequate, and since then Uber has made improvements.
"I can assure Londoners that TfL will continue to closely monitor Uber and will not hesitate to take swift action should they fail to meet the strict standards required to protect passengers."
The transport authority had argued in November that some Uber trips across London had taken place with unlicensed, suspended or dismissed drivers.
And it contended that there was a "pattern of failures", including the use of unauthorised drivers on other Uber drivers' accounts, allowing them to pick up passengers.
Uber granted new London license following lengthy legal battle
The ride-hailing company lost its license to operate in London in 2017 due to safety issues, but is now fully back in business.In a ruling issued at Westminster Magistrates' Court, the judge agreed that Uber could be issued a license to operate in London for the next 18 months, after which time it will be reviewed.
In court, the judge said Uber had tightened up review processes over issues of document and insurance fraud.
- 'Not perfect but improving' -
"Uber does not have a perfect record but it has been an improving picture," Ikram added.
"The test as to whether Uber are a 'fit and proper person' does not require perfection.
"I am satisfied that they are doing what a reasonable business in their sector could be expected to do, perhaps even more," the judge said.
Uber's London operation has suffered previous licence suspensions in addition to protests from the capital's traditional black cab drivers.
Monday's decision was meanwhile slammed by an industry group representing those black cab drivers.
"The judge himself has recognised that Uber has more to do, noting that (Uber) is 'not perfect' but 'improving' and has 'reduced incidents'," the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association (LTDA) said in a statement.
"He is playing Russian roulette with the safety of Londoners and I fear it's only a matter of time until the next incident."
London Marathon virus testing finds runner, coach positive .
An Ethiopian runner had to pull out of the London Marathon after she and the coach of two other elite marathoners tested positive for the coronavirus, the race director said Tuesday. Degitu Azimeraw, who won the 2019 Amsterdam Marathon, and coach Haji Adilo tested positive in Ethiopia. "As a result (of the positive tests), they didn’t get on the plane," London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher said in a conference call ahead of Sunday's race.Degitu Azimeraw, who won the 2019 Amsterdam Marathon, and coach Haji Adilo tested positive in Ethiopia.