Taxi abuse fears lead to call for red tape rethink

Skipton MP Julian Smith
Skipton MP Julian Smith
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FEARS of sexual abuse by Yorkshire taxi drivers should halt Government plans to cut red tape in the industry, an MP has said.

Julian Smith has urged the Government to halt legislation which would make it easier for unchecked drivers to pick up fares amid concerns the abuse seen in Rotherham maybe more widespread than initially thought.

Mr Smith told MPs: “I urge the Government to look one more time at the provisions in the Deregulation Bill, which is currently before the Lords. In northern towns such as Skipton, taxis have been a key part of the problem of child sexual exploitation.”

Concerns were raised by the Skipton and Ripon MP after he carried out his won research into abuse in Yorkshire following the jay report. Mr Smith said he did not uncover any specific allegations but came across many generalised abuse issues, including licensing concerns regarding the taxi industry.

“I do not want to cause alarm, but it is a consideration we have to bear in mind,” Mr Smith later added.

Labour has seized on the comment as evidence that a shake up in how taxis are licensed runs the risk of making some services less safe.

Mary Creagh, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, speaking ahead of a crucial House of Lords vote on taxi deregulation as part of the Deregulation Bill, said:

“The Government’s disastrous proposals to deregulate taxis risk putting women in danger.

“Despite months of warnings from Labour and safety campaigners Ministers are pressing ahead with their risky plans to loosen taxi licensing and allow cabs to work out of area.

“Ministers need urgently to review these measures and we repeat our offer to work with them to get the rogues off the road.”

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said: “It is up to licensing authorities to carry out all the necessary checks.”