The ProDriver Congress took place in Heathrow on Tuesday 12th June. At this occasion, Steve Wright, Chairman of the LPHCA, provided an update on the battle against TfL’s proposed operator fees change.
Even though the LPHCA were unsuccessful in the latest judicial review, the battle is far from over as the operators fees remain unfit for purpose: an additional £54,000 for one car (when going up from 99 to 100) is simply ridiculous. What’s more, a lot of people are unaware of the fact that, if an operator goes up one tier, they must reapply for their licence!
Here is a summary of the LPHCA’s latest update.
What happened in Court?
The Court ruled against the LPHCA, and in favour of TfL, on the grounds that their proposed new fee structure isn’t unlawful. It is important to highlight that this decision is purely based on legal matters. It doesn’t mean that the new fee structure is fair or reasonable, but simply that it is not illegal.
From Steve Wright’s point of view, this isn’t a defeat, “We have been unsuccesful, we haven’t lost.” The proceedings have brought a lot of positives, namely by establishing a dialogue, raising the profile of the association – and by that, the operators’ voice.
Despite a large amount of evidence brought to the case, including letters from operators, only two grounds were sustained in the end:
- the fact that TfL failed to consult properly
- the unproper purpose (unanswered subject access request, so no response regarding what the money would be used for)
The Next Steps
“The review was based on legal matters, not fairness matters. That’s where we are now going. The figures don’t make sense, there is no rationale.”
The LPHCA are now taking the matters away from the Courts, and with the Competition Authorities.
A Freedom of Information request was sent to TfL, querying the amount of money spent by TfL on temporary staff.
Steve Wright pursues, explaining that a judge can’t comment on fairness or rationales, so hopefully the Small Businesses Ombudsman and the Competition Authority will realise how unfair the fees are. This will then enable the LPHCA to go back to TfL and the government authorities on the grounds that it isn’t fit for purpose.
The fight must continue and the LPHCA will carry on in the search of answers. As the proposal stands, the new fee structure would mainly benefit the two largest players (Uber and Addison Lee) and a small proportion of smaller firms, while being detrimental to most operators and, ultimately, to the taxi trade as a whole.