Uber rival could launch in Brighton and Hove

Ola Taxi Image By App Innovation
Ola Taxi Image By App Innovation

Taxi app Ola hopes to start up in Brighton and Hove if it gets a licence.

Hailed as a rival to Uber, Ola wants a five-year licence to operate a private hire service, where taxis are pre-booked.

Read more: Taxi app Uber wins appeal against Brighton and Hove City Council

The company started out in India before branching out to Australia and recently launched in Birmingham.

It also operates in South Wales, Merseyside and Reading.

In its application Ola has committed to using Brighton and Hove licensed drivers and vehicles only.

Any out of town drivers who drop off in the city will only be permitted to complete a maximum of two pick-ups here within a 24 hours period.

The company has given its Brighton address as Queensbury House in Queen’s Road.

The GMB and Unite unions made a joint representation which was described as not an objection.

Secretary of GMB’s  Brighton and Hove Taxi section, Andrew Peters said competition is always welcome provided it is all on the same level.

But both unions are concerned that OLA does not consider that it is a “transport provider”.

Mr Peters said: “This is what Uber has always stated and yet it has applied for an operator licence to provide the means of transport to the public which is quite ironic.

“This is where the very experienced trade has concerns because there is a huge responsibility on all licensed operators for the protection of the public.

“This is especially relevant where there has been horrific news about vulnerable people being abused via a small core of taxi/private hire drivers in places like Rotherham and such like.”

Mr Peters pointed out the city’s taxi trade works with the council to maintain high standards to protect the public, and all companies now have their own app. 

He added: “International cab apps are now popping up all over the place which in one sense is very good for the public but local councils must ensure that these entities are ‘fit and proper’ and are aware of the full responsibilities.

“Unfortunately when they deny they are ‘transport providers’ that is where eyebrows are raised within the local trades.”

A three-councillor panel meets at Hove Town Hall to discuss the application from 10am on Monday, May 12.