COVENTRY council granting a licence to an app-based taxi service is a welcome change of direction after leaders’ long campaign against Uber, opposition councillors claim.
The council’s licensing and regulatory committee yesterday granted a private hire licence to eCars – which can be booked on apps on people’s mobile phones.
Committee member Councillor Tim Mayer (Conservative) said it was a departure from the Labour-run council “blocking progress in the taxi industry”.
Labour councillors have campaigned against the out-of-town licensing of app-based Uber taxis seen on Coventry streets – mainly by Wolverhampton council – which they accuse of undercutting Coventry council-licensed black cabs.
Uber has long contested claims it cuts corners on passenger safety, training, driver checks and other regulation, and it has proved a popular cheaper service with customers across the country.
The campaign was until recently spearheaded by former city services cabinet member, Councilllor Jayne Innes.
Coun Tim Mayer said: “This has opened the door to more companies like Uber and Ola being allowed to apply for a private hire operator’s licence in the city.
“I am really pleased that the ruling group have finally performed this welcome but embarrassing u-turn on their previously confused position.
“This is a good move that may encourage more people to leave their cars at home.”
The chair of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, Labour councillor Christine Thomas, said the council changed its licensing policies earlier this year to enable it to embrace new technology.
She added: “We were delighted to approve the application from eCars. They had applied for a licence earlier this year which we could not approve until we had updated our policy to allow approval of app-based private hire companies.
“We were very impressed by eCars who already operate out of Birmingham Airport.
“As a committee we all wish to see new technology embraced, and that’s why the licensing policies were updated.”
Under new changes, passengers can also pay fares using contactless and card payments.