UBER is taking work away from taxi drivers in Bracknell, councillors heard at a meeting last week.
One councillor described the issue as “torturous” for the taxi drivers after learning that Uber drivers are free to pick up people in the area.
Haseeb Hanif, a representative of private hire company Taylor Hanson, told the council’s licensing and safety committee: “Uber is really taking away private hire work from us. Work from London has decreased over the last five years.
“I just want to know if anything can be done to protect us.
“It is really having an affect on our work and if it increases it will no longer be sustainable for us to be private hire drivers.”
Councillors decided to send a letter to Bracknell MP Phillip Lee and Windsor MP Adam Afriyie, Transport for London, the relevant minister of state, and the Local Government Association asking them to look into how Uber can be restricted in Bracknell.
Licensing officer Charlie Fletcher told the committee that Wokingham was experiencing a similar problem with Uber and Chairman Nick Allen said he would be speaking with Wokingham Borough Council about the issue in November.
Councillor Allen also told the committee’s members that Uber drivers can live and operate in Bracknell but don’t need to be licensed by the council, as long as they are licensed by Transport for London.
Preet Gill, the MP for Edgbaston, wrote to the relevant Secretary of State about a similar problem and Cllr Malcolm Tullett asked what would be achieved by writing to more members of parliament.
Charlie Fletcher replied: “It is an awareness raising issue and the more it is raised the more likely it is to be in their agendas.”
Councillor Ian Leake gave his thoughts on the issue too, saying: “I’m getting the impression this issue is as torturous as planning.
“I do think in general terms the situation is unsatisfactory. I think it should get to the MPs and I think they should be persuaded to raise the matter in parliament and raise it higher.”
Cllr Dr Gareth Barnard added: “This is very important as it does have an impact on the livelihood of people here.”
The issue was brought to the committee after more than 100 private hire drivers signed a petition demanding the council take action against Uber.
However, because many Uber drivers are licensed by Transport for London, the council is limited in what it can do in order to restrict the motorists.
According to the letter sent to the council in June, Bracknell drivers are forced to shell out a minimum of £519 every year to run a taxi in the borough.
The petition, signed by 108 drivers, read: “The number of Uber drivers plying for trade in Bracknell has risen over the months.
“We pay a lot for our badges whereas Uber doesn’t pay a penny to Bracknell Council.
“This has had an effect on our earnings – we the licensed drivers find this unfair and undermining.
Later in the meeting the council approved changes to its hackney carriage licensing policy, deciding to introduce new regulations taxi drivers must cooperate with.
The changes included giving officers greater power to force private hire vehicles to undergo garage inspections after an accident, allowing replacement vehicles to be licensed for three months rather than two months, and rules to promote better disability awareness for both drivers and operators.