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Controversial Reforms To Taxi Laws Sparks National Debate

New Taxi Law

You've had a great evening out with friends but when the last orders bell rings, you're tired and ready for home. A popular and trusted method to get there is of course the taxi, but new sweeping reforms to how they're controlled may make people – particularly women – think twice before hopping into the nearest black cab.

Community groups and MPs have led calls for a serious rethink and sparked widespread debate about passenger safety after the Government set out proposals to axe a number of regulations governing taxi drivers.

It has been claimed that potential changes to the law – which would allow minicab drivers to lend their private-hire vehicles to family and friends when they are off duty – will put passengers at risk and could lead to an increase in assaults.
Ministers have been accused of drawing up proposals that directly threaten public safety and are set to increase bureaucracy and litigation for the trade.

Campaigners – including Rachel Griffin, Director of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust – believe any changes to the law could be taken advantage of by sexual predators.

Ms. Lamplugh told Sky News: "We know that posing as a legitimate minicab driver is the preferred method of some quite dangerous sexual predators.

“We know that from the statistics in London where sexual assaults by bogus minicab drivers are worryingly high and this could continue to rise and put the public at risk.”

The changes apply to private hire vehicles, also known as minicabs, which must be booked in advance. They include allowing taxi firms to contract out bookings – so customers phoning one firm for a cab might find a car from a different firm turns up outside their door.

A ban preventing taxi owners from allowing other people to drive their vehicle will also be lifted, raising fears over a possible increase in fleet vehicle accidents when less experienced motorists are at the wheel.

New rules will mean councils review licences every three years for taxi and private hire vehicle driver licences and five years for private vehicle operator licences – while they are currently free to renew licenses annually if they wish.

A Labour Shadow Transport Minister, Richard Burden, said the changes would undermine the industry’s own efforts to alert people to the dangers of unlicensed and unauthorised taxis.

“Changing who is eligible to drive a private hire vehicle risks increasing the number of unlicensed drivers pretending to be legitimate,” he warned.

“Changing licensing terms will make it even harder to monitor and take action against non-compliant drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles.”

(image courtesy of Mantas Ruzveltas/ freedigitalphotos.net)

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