TAXI drivers have vented their anger and told Uber cabs: You’re not welcome in Southend.
The taxi app, which allows anyone registered with them to book a taxi from their chosen location, hasn’t been officially launched in the borough, but cars can still be pre-booked through the app.
Michael Bernardson, 72, a taxi driver who lives in Westcliff, said: “The problem is that some people think they are a cab but they are not.
“It is just an app and there is not a great deal of legislation.
“Also, they don’t have a vetting process so any person that has a car can use the app to become a driver.
“It will be detrimental to Southend taxis if they come here officially. Hopefully Southend Council will act and ban them.
“Someone might get into an Uber and have a bad experience and they will think it was a taxi which makes us look bad - I have seen it in London.
“I don’t see the value of Uber coming to Southend, there is already a great service available.”
Gerard Rayment has been a taxi driver in Southend for 20 years isn’t happy either.
He said: “If they come to Southend officially, I wouldn’t be happy.
“They will do further damage to the trade.
“The problem is Uber themselves. The system is unfair – they have undercut prices which makes it difficult
“The system is making the owners rich, but not giving a fair deal to taxi drivers.”
Uber confirmed it had not officially launched in the town, but was keen to.
A spokesman said: “For now there maybe cars in the area that can be pre-booked through the Uber app.”
Currently they don’t officially operate in Southend, anyone can request a pick up from a driver, who might be nearby.
An Uber spokesman said: “Uber abides by the same rules and regulations that govern all other private hire operators.
“All drivers that use the Uber app are licensed private hire drivers which have passed an enhanced DSB background check, the same one black taxi drivers have to pass.”
Ann Holland, councillor responsible for tourism and the economy, vowed to investigate. She said: “I will look into this, but I am disappointed this may affect our taxi drivers.
”Taxi firms provide an important service to the economy of Southend and we’ve always had a good relationship with them.”