THE future of taxi-hailing app Uber in Brighton and Hove is to be decided in a closed-door meeting tomorrow, The Argus can reveal.

Cab companies have fiercely criticised the secrecy surrounding the relicencing decision, in the wake of Transport for London’s move last month not to renew Uber’s licence to operate in the capital.

The Argus understands the decision will be taken by council officers in conjunction with the three councillors who are their party leads for licensing.

A vote between councillors Jackie O’Quinn, Labour, Linda Hyde, Conservative and Lizzie Deane, Green, resulted in the decision to hold the meeting behind closed doors.

Cllr Hyde has consistently and publicly said she was in favour of an open meeting.

An announcement on the future of Uber in Brighton and Hove will be made after the meeting concludes.

Cllr Hyde said: “All I wanted to be clear about was that there should be a public meeting.

“That doesn’t mean I have already made up my mind one way or the other.”

Officers are due to present evidence on the fitness or otherwise of Uber to hold the licence to provide taxi services in the city.

In a letter to council officers, Streamline Taxis’ vice-chairman John Streeter said: “The licensed trade here in Brighton and Hove are bitterly disappointed that council officers and councillors have apparently decided not to hold a public enquiry into Uber’s application to renew their current licence here in our city.”

A previous letter from the city’s three largest taxi firms, Streamline, Radio Cabs, and City Cabs, alleged: “Uber Britannia Ltd is not and cannot be a fit and proper person to hold such a licence.”

The firms said Uber had broken its promised to use only locally-licenced drivers. The letter added: “We remain also very concerned that such an operator attempts to dilute, if not ignore altogether, the very high standards prescribed by the council’s Blue Book.”

In September, a petition with more than 1,000 signatures was presented to the council, asking them to re-examine the licence.

Rob Lawrie, a Brighton taxi driver, said: “Originally, Uber told us they would only use Brighton and Hove vehicles. Since then, Uber has paid drivers to come in from out of town and promised them at least the minimum wage.

“Every weekend we have 200 to 250 out-of-town drivers coming in, which is reducing the income of all Brighton drivers by 25 per cent.”

Uber launched in the city on October 28 last year, after being given a licence in October 2015 after four days of deliberations by the council. The licence will expire on November 4.

The company was granted its licence on the condition it abides by all the conditions in the Blue Book – a set of guidelines for the local cab trade.

Uber’s Fred Jones said: “More choice and competition is good for consumers as it raises service levels across the board. Uber has been embraced in Brighton with over 125,000 people using the app this year alone. Uber does not set shifts so is also empowering Brighton’s private hire drivers. We hope to continue to provide the app Brightoners have come to rely on.”