Taxi and mini cab drivers in Oxford are infuriated with Uber’s new pilot relationship with taxi company 001 Oxford.

Uber's 'Local Cab' feature allows passengers to book a trip with a local taxi company through the Uber app. Many local taxi drivers who do not work for 001 are concerned that this pilot will put the livelihoods of many local drivers at stake.

Today , taxi drivers and supporting councillors protested outside Oxford Town Hall to oppose the Uber pilot. Protest organisers said Uber has managed to 'slip through the back door' and is now available in Oxford, even though the app has never been granted an operating license.

Oxford Mail: Oxford taxi and mini cab drivers say no to Uber Local in Oxford. Picture: Rebecca Whittaker

Azmat Sherwani, protest organiser and head of Say No to Uber said: "Oxford council have not approved Uber for a licence, they have not been able to get into the area because they have had their licence rejected many times. What Uber have now done is bought a software provider that supplies software nationally to the taxi industry which gives them a back door into certain areas. They are now coming into Oxford and it is going to be catastrophic to all these drivers that are here today because they will be potentially losing their businesses."

Bashir Ahmed, chairman of City of Oxford Licensed Taxi Cab Association believes with Uber in the city it is not 'a level playing field' for taxi drivers.

He added: "We are expected to meet the high criteria of Oxford City Council in terms of vetting the drivers and meeting the demand. Uber do not have that, there is no one vetting their system."

Independent councillor for Temple Cowley Hall Saj Malik is a driver for Royal Cars. He says he is disappointed in Oxford City Council for letting Uber into the city and is concerned for the safety of Oxford passengers.

Oxford Mail: Oxford taxi and mini cab drivers say no to Uber Local in Oxford. Picture: Rebecca Whittaker

Oxford councillor Tom Hayes said: “It is our duty, as the licensing authority, to ensure that the taxi trade in Oxford operates according to the law, the legal guidance issued by the government, and our local policy that puts the safety of passengers first. We take this responsibility seriously and are investigating whether or not the relationship between Uber and 001 meets these requirements.

“Neither Uber nor 001 contacted Oxford City Council about this pilot. We are in the process of speaking to councils in the same situation and have contacted both Uber and 001 to understand the legal issues and the impact on taxi licensing in Oxford. We have concerns around safeguarding passengers and ensuring driver and vehicle standards reach the high levels we expect as a licensing authority and are eager to understand what this means for the rights of staff and a possible proliferation of out-of-town vehicles that we do not license."

Uber believes that it is working within Oxford regulations because it is working with a local licensed cab company. An Uber spokeswoman said: "We are proud of Local Cab, which connects riders who use the Uber app to local operators in towns and cities that we do not currently operate in, including Oxford.”

001 Taxis said: "As a locally licensed operator and Oxford - based business we provide earning opportunities to many drivers who live in the area. By partnering with Uber we are able to provide more opportunities for drivers and more choice to the customers who book their trip with us through the Uber app. This model is the same as a local cab operator having a relationship with a local hotel who request a trip for their own guest.

"In these difficult times over the last year and a half, where we like most service companies have suffered and this was a means of providing a little extra work for all drivers who engage with 001 taxis who are local drivers who have all had a tough time recently."

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