Popular taxi service Uber could be operating illegally in Thurrock, it has been claimed.

At a recent council meeting it was alleged Uber has failed to apply for an operators licence from Thurrock Council and tells its drivers the borough is part of Greater London, allowing it to avoid following the same rules as competing firms.

A representative of the Thurrock Taxi Driver Association, making the claim, told a full council meeting that this is “unlawful”.

John Kent, leader of Thurrock Labour, called on Uber to revise it’s “geo-fence” system which sees the company operate in Thurrock.

While this was narrowly voted through, Conservative councillors did attempt to change the motion so that it was less specific and suggested the licensing committee reviews all aspects of Uber’s operation.

Tory councillor Ben Maney put forward a motion to explore different options including the council trying to deal with the issue.

Conservative Councillor James Halden, who voted for the amendment, said: “If there is a concern about illegality then we should investigate the illegality.

“It doesn’t matter if the geo-fence boundary is Thurrock or the entire nation. If there is an allegation of illegality, we should investigate that fully.”

Independent Councillor Luke Spillman questioned why the motion was needed as they were effectively just telling the council’s licensing committee to “do their job”.

Mr Spillman said: “I have used Uber but when you investigate the company it becomes difficult to justify using them.

“It is undercutting our taxi drivers in Thurrock and I think it needs regulating properly.”

Mr Kent, said: “Uber drivers and Uber cars are not regulated in any way by this council.

“Too often it appears Uber does not abide by these rules, taxi drivers regularly report that Uber cars are parked up in Thurrock waiting for a job to appear on their app and some report Uber drivers accept fares when approached.

“That is just not reasonable.

“Part of the problem is the geo-fence, a virtual fence around a physical area. That geo-fence allows the Uber app to be active within the car of the driver when they are in the area so the driver can then accept a fare. The issue is that the Uber Greater London geo-fence includes Thurrock. That allows their vehicles and drivers, who are not licensed by Thurrock, to in effect operate from here as though they were in Greater London.

“This is wrong and we need to take steps to encourage Uber to redraw this to create a level playing field in Thurrock.”

Uber did not respond to requests for a comment.

Cabbies want regulations 

THE Thurrock Taxi Drivers Association thanked the council for including the issue during the meeting.

The association said it is pleased the council recognise the Thurrock taxi industry is at an unfair advantage and that action will be taken.

In a statement on the association website, a spokesman said: “The TTDA will not stop here or rest on our laurels.

“We firmly believe with the research we have carried out and other taxi organisations we have worked with around the country, that Uber are unlawfully working in the Thurrock area.

“They additionally show no intention of obtaining a Thurrock operators license neither, meaning they cannot be held to account to the same high standards local taxi drivers and operators in Thurrock are.

“We are happy to work with the council’s licensing team in any way moving forward to achieve the best outcome for all. For the TTDA the work does not stop here.

“Thurrock needs to be a place in which everyone including the elderly, vulnerable, young and disabled can use a Thurrock taxi safely, knowing they are always completely safe.

“We would welcome higher regulations across the country, to safeguard everyone when they use a taxi regardless of whether they live in Thurrock or not.

“What this motion for us represents is the first step officially in getting our Thurrock borough back and protecting local taxi driver jobs and operator’s local businesses.

“If Uber are found to be operating illegally it will be the council’s duty to act on that, and we hope they do.”

The association said it also raised concerns to Jeremy Corbyn MP during his recent trip to Thurrock.