Uber app banned in Germany and gives fresh hope to angry British cabbies

Taxi drivers argue the app breaks the law

A decision to ban popular taxi app Uber in Germany has prompted calls for it to be banned in Britain, with campaigners planning a major protest in London later this month.

The firm lacks the necessary legal permits to operate, according to a German court ruling, while it has emerged that the company was warned last week that its UberPop service could no longer take passengers.

The temporary injunction, by a court in Frankfurt, means company bosses face a fine of €250,000 or six months in prison if they fail to comply. Launched in Germany earlier this year, Uberpop allows drivers to use their own cars to transport passengers. In a statement, an Uber spokesperson said: “We will continue to operate in Germany and will appeal the recent lawsuit filed by Taxi Deutschland in Frankfurt.”

They added: “You cannot put the brakes on progress.”

Uber allows passengers to order cars using their phones and calculates the fare en route. Launched in 2009, it now operates in more than 200 cities worldwide, including London, and the company, whose investors include the likes of Google and Goldman Sachs, is worth billions.

But it has united traditional foes - private cabbies and black cab drivers - since being granted a license to operate in Britain in 2012. They argue that Uber escapes the regulatory burden they have to operate under. And earlier this year central London was brought to a standstill as thousands of taxi drivers staged a protest. The app works out the cost of journeys – something cab drivers claim is the same as using a taxi meter, which only black cabs are legally entitled to use.

The Uber app locates nearby taxis The Uber app locates nearby taxis (Susannah Ireland) Steve Wright, chair, Licensed Private Hire Car Association, said: “The banning of Uber in Germany today strengthens our case for the reform of Transport for London’s Taxi and Private Hire Directorate.” He accused TfL of having “badly let down” taxi and minicab companies “by failing to deal with Uber to the same standards that is expected of the wider industry”.

The controversial app was the focus of heated debate at a session of the London Assembly Transport Committee today. In a statement ahead of the meeting, a London Assembly spokesperson admitted: “Tensions between the taxi and private hire trades and Transport for London are running very high”.

“Uber is just the latest issue on which the taxi trade feels TfL isn't giving it fair representation.”

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, who spoke during the meeting, told The Independent: “They [Uber] shouldn’t be allowed to operate.”

He accused Uber of being a company “deliberately set up in order to avoid paying tax in the UK” and which “rides a horse and cart through existing legislation.” TfL is “a failed regulator” and taxi drivers will stage a protest in London later this month at its failure to take action against Uber, he added.

Taxi drivers gather in Berlin to protest against Uber Taxi drivers gather in Berlin to protest against Uber (Getty)
In response to a request for comment, TfL issued a statement given by Leon Daniels, managing director, surface transport, to its board earlier this year. He stated that TfL’s position “supported by legal advice” is that “there are no grounds to take action” against Uber. However, on the issue of taxi meters, he said that “given that the legislation predates the advent of smartphones” TfL will seek “a definitive, and binding, declaration from the High court.”

Responding to the criticisms from campaigners, the company said: “TfL has been placed under enormous pressure by the taxi and private hire lobby to pursue any kind of technical flaw it can find.”

It added: “We’ll continue to serve our Londoners. Uber on, London!”

READ MORE: Road-testing the taxis: Uber was cheaper and quicker than a black cab
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Sport
footballManager attacks Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp after criticism of Diego Costa's apparent stamping
Life and Style
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Manager - OTE £40,000

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This web-based lead generation ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Intervention Teacher Required To Start ASAP.

£125 - £150 per day + Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: A 'wonderful primary ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Maths Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Our client is an 11-16 mixed commun...

Recruitment Genius: PHP / Drupal / SaaS Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly developing company in...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore