London council threatens restaurant crackdown on food delivery app drivers
A London council is threatening to crack down on restaurants using delivery apps like Uber Eats and Deliveroo in order to prevent the city from being "swarmed" with moped drivers.
The new policy by Westminster City Council will require restaurants that use apps for the bulk of their deliveries to apply for planning permission and prove that they are minimising potential disruption to local neighbourhoods.
The council warned that businesses could face "formal enforcement action" if they "flout" new rules that are set to come into force in spring 2018.
Daniel Astaire, cabinet member for planning and public realm, said: "We have nearly 3,000 restaurants in Westminster and the council needs policies to keep up with new technology, ensuring that areas can cope with the increased demand for food deliveries."
He noted that while the food delivery apps provide a "fantastic service", they will create "traffic chaos" if left unchecked.
"It is a popular, much-needed service but we can't allow the city to be swarmed with delivery drivers."
Westminster has already taken action against a Nando's branch in Westbourne Grove after receiving more than 25 complaints from residents who said they were repeatedly disturbed by large groups of moped delivery drivers who were waiting for orders.
Officers then reported seeing drivers parking inappropriately, making noise and causing congestion.
It eventually ordered the Nando's branch to stop offering deliveries in a move that Westminster City Council said "set a new precedent".
Mr Astaire said: "We already make effective use of our planning powers.
"Having a policy will strengthen our hand in managing the flow of deliveries in the city, tackling noise disturbances and anti-social behaviour."
It is just the latest controversy surrounding popular food delivery apps, with companies like Deliveroo and Uber coming under fire for their participation in the so-called gig economy, which classes workers as self-employed and pays according to the number of deliveries or trips they complete.
Those companies have been urged to do more to protect workers' rights.
Deliveroo recently said it would start offering staff the first sickness and accident insurance available to on-demand food delivery riders in the UK, allowing riders to claim 75% of their average weekly income for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work due to illness or as a result of an injury while working.
It comes after the delivery firm claimed victory over the status of its riders, who it said want the flexibility of being self-employed rather than being classes as "workers".
The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) rejected an application by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain to represent drivers in parts of north London, according to Deliveroo.