A campaign calling for Uber to be introduced in Reading has received a negative reaction from the public.

In May, new Reading resident Gemma Beetlestone started a petition on Change.org calling for Reading Borough Council to allow Uber to operate in the town.

The petition has so far received 207 signatures.

The issue has been recently debated on the public Facebook forum Earley Residents Discussion Board.

Group member Sukhi Dhanhoa shared the petition saying that it’s “about time” Uber was allowed to operate in Reading.

READ MORE: We want Uber! petition launched to get taxi company to come to Reading

However, most commenters were not very welcoming towards Uber.

Ken Clark, Vicky Bell and Sarah Seymour all said no to Uber coming to Reading.

Jane Brownhill and Liz Kerry highlighted documents leaked to The Guardian which accuse the company of unethical business practices throughout the world including elite lobbying and breaking laws between 2013 and 2017.

For its part, an Uber spokesperson said it would not be making excuses for past behaviour and that the actions taken do not reflect its current values.

Meanwhile, other residents argued Reading is well served by licensed and private hire taxis.

Steve Bendall said: “We don’t need Uber. Enough local companies to avoid that lot.”

Sunil Bharadwaj said: “We already have Ola which is better than Uber.”

Uber was refused permission to operate in Reading in 2016.

However, competitor Ola cabs was granted a licence in 2019 on the basis that it met the council’s conditions for a private hire taxi company.

READ MORE: Ola cab launches service for customers in Reading

Although Uber does not currently have a licence to operate in Reading, it is possible to book a Uber taxi using its app.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) was able to view a journey from the council offices to Cemetery Junction at a minimum fee of £5-7.

Therefore, there may be Uber drivers operating in Reading without permission.

Reading Chronicle: A bookable Uber journey between the council offices and Cemetery Junction in Reading. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting ServiceA bookable Uber journey between the council offices and Cemetery Junction in Reading. Credit: James Aldridge, Local Democracy Reporting Service

Saluma Mohiddin, a commenter on Facebook, also pointed out that she uses Uber to get about.

Uber also does not have permission to operate in Wokingham Borough either.

Councillor Lyndsay Ferris (Liberal Democrats, Twyford) confirmed that, but said that an Uber driver could travel from where they are authorised to operate to drop people off in areas they don’t have authorisation to operate, such as Reading and Wokingham.

Cllr Ferris added it was “unfair” that Uber drivers do not pay licence fees that licensed cab drivers in Wokingham and Reading have to.

He also expressed concerns that Uber could undercut the fares licensed taxi drivers have to charge, which are set by the local authority.

READ MORE: Anger as bid to freeze fees for Wokingham, Woodley and Earley taxi drivers is thrown out 

However, cllr Ferris did concede that Uber is popular among customers due to the ease of booking on the app.

The LDRS has asked Reading Borough Council whether Uber has submitted a fresh bid to operate, or whether Uber could be allowed to operate without the need to apply.

Furthermore, the council has been asked whether it will investigate and prosecute any Uber drivers operating in Reading without permission.