A CONCERNED cabbie has warned taxi firms could cease to exist.

Jeremy Gray said they were being starved of business as Uber drivers moved into Brighton and Hove from other nearby towns.

The 65-year-old has been a private hire driver since 2005 but said it was a struggle to contend with rivals such as Uber.

He said: “Unfortunately the way that business is going it is inevitable that sooner or later there will no longer be any independent taxi firms in Brighton.

“Uber’s marketing is so powerful that it will not be possible to compete, although the cabs in Brighton generally offer a better service at more competitive prices.”

Brighton and Hove City Council said their licensing requirements for private hire drivers are high - a deterrent for Uber drivers in the city.

But Mr Gray said this “doesn’t really matter” as drivers for the company are being licensed by other nearby councils with less strict licensing requirements, such as Lewes, then travelling to work in Brighton and Hove “as and when they like”.

He also said taxi drivers in the city are currently facing several disadvantages.

Mr Gray said: “Really there is no longer any point in having ‘the knowledge’ as out of town drivers simply use their Sat Nav systems.

“We are also compelled to have a CCTV system installed, costing £500, which is not a requirement of all councils.”

He said this set-up was a major cause for concern.

Mr Gray said: “Drivers are coming into Brighton, earning money and then spending it elsewhere.

“So, they are benefitting from our residents without having to pay for local services, high rents and just being in a generally more expensive area to live in.

“These drivers are draining money out of our local economy rather than recycling it as Brighton drivers do.”

To promote local drivers, he proposed that only Brighton and Hove licensed cars were allowed to use the bus and taxi lanes.

In May last year Brighton and Hove City Council ruled that Uber was not a “fit and proper entity” to hold a licence.

It was concerned the tech-giant was not using Brighton and Hove licensed drivers - something they had previously agreed to.

Concerns were also raised about a 2016 data breach which put user’s information at risk.

But Uber then won an appeal in December.

In response to Mr Gray’s concerns a Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “Many of these issues have been dealt with through the court’s process as to whether or not to grant Uber a license to operate in the city.

“It’s very clear in law that provided a vehicle, its driver and operator, called the triple lock, are all registered in the same area, they have the ability to have pre-booked work in other local authority areas. The city council has raised its concerns with the Government as we now have a two tier system of standards in the city – high and rigorous for city licensed drivers, but lower for drivers licensed in other areas.”