Several business leaders have written an open letter to London mayor Sadiq Khan asking him to rethink new Transport for London (TfL) rules that would require private car hire firms like Uber to notify the transport body of any operational changes in advance.
The bosses and entrepreneurs have raised concerns that the “worrying” move will damage the capital’s £36bn digital economy.
Published in the Financial Times, the letter has been signed by Simon Walker, the director general at the Institute of Directors, Sharing Economy UK’s director Ellie Gummer, TechUK boss Julian David and Ali Clabburn, the chief executive of LiftShare, among others.
“London has a thriving digital economy, contributing £36bn to our city and employing more than 320,000 people. After the EU referendum we support mayor Sadiq Khan’s London is Open campaign, but if that worthy aim is to be achieved, it must also remain open to and supportive of innovation,” read the note.
“That’s why it’s worrying to see Transport for London introduce new rules that require private car hire companies to notify them of any changes to their operating model in advance. 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.”
The letter ended by saying: “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 plea comes just a week after Uber challenged the English writing tests that will be required of drivers under the new rules, and is the latest saga in the ongoing spat between Uber, TfL and black cab drivers over regulation in the city.
A spokesperson for the mayor told CityAM: “Working with Transport for London, the mayor is determined to create a vibrant taxi and private hire market, with space for all providers to flourish, while driving up standards by introducing a comprehensive package of measures that will improve safety and the quality of service offered to all Londoners.
"The Mayor has pledged to be the most business-friendly Mayor of London ever. Sadiq has been clear that, following the vote to leave the European Union, London is open for business, open to entrepreneurship, open to innovative new businesses."