News: Open letter to Financial Times warns of risk to London’s £36bn digital economy.
Julian David, techUK CEO, was one of a number of signatories to an open letter urging London Mayor Sadiq Khan to rethink new rules being imposed by Transport for London.
In a letter published in the Financial Times, 17 British executives warned that the red tape being enforced on private minicab companies would put not only London’s £36bn digital economy at risk, but also undermine Mayor Khan’s post-Brexit ‘London is Open’ campaign.
The new Transport for London (TfL) rules in question concern the requirement for private minicab companies to notify TfL of any changes to their operating model in advance. The rules, due to come into force in October, would also force all London minicab operators to run a call-centre in their London operating unit. This would preclude Uber’s new €4m customer service facility in Limerick.
Describing the risk to innovation, the letter said: “Rather than encouraging companies to experiment, this could tie them in red tape every time they want to change their app, launch a new product, or update their pricing. These regulations are a backwards step, set a troubling precedent across government, and risk slowing down future innovations that ultimately benefit Londoners across the city.
“As any entrepreneur will confirm, the ability to experiment and quickly test out ideas is key for success. Politicians and regulators should do everything they can to encourage this.”
The open letter to the Financial Times, which in addition to Julian David was signed by Simon Walker, Director General at the Institute of Directors and Ellie Gummer, Director at Sharing Economy UK, and others, follows a public call to arms by Uber, who urged users to email Mr Khan about TfL’s plans.
“If we wanted to add Apple Pay to our app, we have to tell the regulator before we do so, which many agree goes way beyond what’s necessary,” said Uber city manager Tom Elvidge. “Uber has already invested £100m in London – and we plan to invest more. It’s why we support the new Mayor’s Keep London Open campaign.
“But bureaucratic new rules from Transport for London send the opposite message and threaten the livelihood of thousands of drivers.”
In the same email to users, Elvidge also slammed TfL’s plans for English language tests, saying that the written English exam would "threaten the livelihood of thousands of drivers".