by Graham Pierrepoint
It’s been a bit of a controversial year for taxi-hailing app Uber. The firm has come under fire for allegations of inappropriate conduct behind the scenes as well as having been at the center of a number of legal storms. The country of Italy in its entirety banned the service ▶ in the interest of fair competition earlier this year – and following in their footsteps was London, UK, who advised that they would not be renewing Uber’s licence to operate in the capital ▶ as a result of problems relating to the firm’s corporate responsibility. It was a decision that was met by strong feelings on both sides of the debate – London axing Uber has put many jobs at risk ▶ and has cut convenience for thousands of travellers and businesspeople – but at the same time, it is a firm which has been battling against several allegations simultaneously.
In light of the Uber removal, London’s digital officer Theo Blackwell has taken to the press to advise that the city will still remain a leader in technological innovation and growth. His statement comes as some still remain sceptical over London’s position as a tech enabler having cut Uber out of the game – though Blackwell as all too keen to dispel such talk, and has outright advised that the city will remain a hub for growth in a number of different domains.
“I want to work with boroughs and other public institutions to trial new technology and do them in a way that’s right for London,” Blackwell states. “You’ve got to plan for future growth and needs. There are technologies that are being trialled in other parts of the world and we have to leave our door open to how they could be deployed appropriately here.”
The spokesman’s words echo what many are feeling despite the Uber ban – that London remains a hotbed for technological growth and a city with a very young audience – and Blackwell has also denied that the Uber ban was enacted in order to quash such innovation in future. “London has 50 tech clusters, life sciences, fintech, loads of start-ups. Tell them that London is not open for innovation.”
Uber’s ban in London is the latest in a series of very public mishaps and problems to have befallen the still-popular service – and with the initial CEO having resigned in recent history, it remains to be said that the firm may yet turn itself around – while London remains to grow as a technological investor and home for innovation.