Telford council welcomes proposals to close taxi loopholes
Changes to the way taxis are regulated will close loopholes in the system and ensure the safety of residents, it has been claimed.
Councillor Richard Overton, deputy leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said the plans to require more extensive checks of taxi drivers were long overdue.
His comments come after the Department for Transport launched a consultation on changes that would see taxi drivers needing to pass an enhanced criminal record check.
The government also said it would introduce national minimum standards for drivers and set up a national licensing database.
Councillor Overton said: “We have written to the government on a number of occasions over several years asking for these types of regulations to be introduced for the taxi industry. We have also met with senior officials from both the Home Office and the Department for Transport to reiterate the point that we have been making.
“So we absolutely welcome this news. It is long overdue and we intend to take the fullest part in the consultation. We are hoping that this marks a sea change in terms of the government starting to listen to those who are responsible for the delivery of frontline services.
“If these new regulations are introduced following the proposed consultation, it should close up loopholes in the system. We have been championing the need for better regulations of taxis and private hire vehicles because the safety of our residents has always been our top priority.”
Taxis minister Nusrat Ghani said: “While the vast majority of drivers are safe and act responsibly, we have seen too many cases where taxi and minicab drivers have used their job to prey on vulnerable people, women and children.
“These rules would make sure that drivers are fit to carry passengers, keeping people safe while stopping those with bad intentions from getting behind the wheel of a taxi or minicab.”
The consultation will run until April 22.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, who has raised concerns over loopholes in licensing after evidence emerged of taxis being used to transport children for sexual exploitation in the South Yorkshire town, welcomed the introduction of national standards.
“I hope that the Government will look at the example of Rotherham in drawing up new minimum standards,” said Ms Champion.
“Catastrophic mistakes were made in Rotherham, but the council has learned from them and licensing conditions are now amongst the most stringent in the country. This should be taken as a baseline.
“If national standards aren’t robust, we risk a race to the bottom.”