Councillor criticises Birmingham council for Uber decision

Birmingham City Council’s decision to extend Uber’s license in the city was “inappropriate,” according to Birmingham councilor Des Flood.

The council’s licensing team temporarily extended Uber’s license to operate across the city for after its one-year license expired last month.

Uber has faced scrutiny since Transport for London revoked its licence in the capital last September. The decision – which is being appealed by Uber – was taken amid concerns about how the company reported criminal offences and carried out background checks on its drivers.

Cllr Flood was informed of the council’s renewal of Uber in Birmingham after he asked the council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee yesterday when the license would be renewed, unaware it already had been. He was told it had been extended “by officers under delegated powers”.

Cllr Flood says he was “astounded” to find out officers had delegated responsibility and made the decision to extend without informing the full committee.

“Public safety and safeguarding is paramount, and there’s a lot of press about Uber across the country at the moment. While every case is dealt with on its own merit, we need to ensure we protect the citizens of Birmingham, if indeed, there are any issues,” Flood says.

“People will be concerned about openness and transparency, because of the size of Uber’s operation, that the decision was made behind closed doors. It’s my responsibility if there are safeguarding issues or loopholes, we need to scrutinise them.”

Flood says residents have already contacted him since yesterday’s meeting, “because they’re concerned about cloak-and-dagger decisions”.

“We need to be open and transparent. The public want reassurances that Uber are fit and proper and that we do our duty as councilors to protest citizens,” he says.

“All companies should play to the rules. It leaves you wondering what’s going on if there isn’t openness and transparency. It leaves a lot of questions.”

An Uber spokesman described the situation as ‘not uncommon’ and said: “Our licence has been extended while they (Birmingham City Council) continue to process our renewal.”

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