A Havering cab firm boss says he is looking to protect the community as he battles ride-hailing giant Uber.

Arjan Plaku, owner of Amber Cars in Harold Wood, told the Recorder he pays money out of his own pocket weekly and has invested all his family savings to stay afloat.

He started with three drivers, but the number has risen to 17 to match the area's demand and compete with Uber.

The likes of Uber and Bolt have historically provided lower fares but have shut out local businesses, he claimed.

Arjan, known as ‘Arnie’, said Amber Harold Wood was forced to close for three months and its night service down for seven months.

“It started when Uber came along,” he said. “All the pain that I felt when I was working before, I don’t want my employees to feel that.”

Arjan, with more than 18 years in the business, said smaller companies such his must employ 12 to 15 drivers to run, but many felt the need to work two jobs to cope with living costs.

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Private hire drivers earn 50 to 65 per cent less than black cabs, said the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU), resulting in drivers working double time.

James Farrar, ADCU general secretary, said Romford is experiencing a private hire shortage because of rampant inflation and depressed driver earnings, the latter he claimed being caused by companies such as Uber and Bolt.

Arjan, a father-of-four, said he has put his heart and soul into the business, as well as his wallet.

“I have put my family finances in jeopardy, but we need to build something to protect the local community - to achieve that we can’t see the profit motive,” he said.

Uber did not respond to a request for comment.