Cabbies’ protest causes West End gridlock

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A MAJOR protest by taxi drivers against a cab-hire phone app brought central London to a standstill yesterday.

Hundreds of cabbies clogged the streets around Trafalgar Square in protest about the Uber booking app, which helps people book private journeys in and around the capital.

Taxi drivers and unions say the app, which has been approved by Transport for London (TfL), is leading to unlicensed drivers being contacted, with no checks on whether or not they are legitimate.

Scotland Yard said the protest passed off peacefully, with no arrests, after it imposed restrictions on the time and size of the event.

Uber criticised the protest, with general manager Jo Bertram accusing the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) of being “intent on holding London to ransom”.

The Rail and Maritime Transport (RMT) union’s Ian Beetlestone said he hoped the demonstration would send a message that Uber is “operating in a grey area”.

He said: “We are not objecting to competition. We have had competition for years from minicabs but we haven’t caused gridlock over it.

“We have to jump through hoops to be regulated and we don’t feel people involved in these new apps are being subjected to the same regulations.”

Motorists were advised to avoid central London during the protest.

Roads around Trafalgar Square were closed to non-taxis and traffic lined nearby streets around the area during the hour-long demonstration. Many motorists chose to sit on the pavements as they waited for the protest to end.

Protesters in Trafalgar Square chanted “Boris, Boris, Boris, out, out, out”, while taxi drivers beeped their horns as demonstrators held placards aloft.

The RMT, LTDA and London Cab Drivers Club were all represented at the protest.