Passengers will be at risk and may lead to incidents of assault if the law governing taxi licensing and private hire taxi cabs changes, according to a Birmingham MP.
Northfield Labour member Richard Burden accused ministers of drawing up “a set of piecemeal proposals so poorly thought through they threaten public safety and are set to increase bureaucracy and litigation for the trade.”
Labour Shadow Transport Minister, Mr. Burden (Lab Northfield) states that changing licensing terms will make it even harder to monitor and take action against non-compliant drivers of taxis and private hire vehicles. Coventry MP Jim Cunningham supports Mr. Burden and warned that the new clauses affect health and safety in a number of ways. For example, women being attacked in unlicensed taxis. Mr. Burden claims the Government’s proposals would increase uncertainty and the potential danger to passengers.
Transport Minister Stephen Hammond argues the changes were designed to help the industry while protecting passengers. That the Government wanted to work with private hire operators to help businesses to flourish and grow whilst making it easier for passengers to book cabs, whilst ensuring that safety is at the forefront of all that is being done.
The changes made to the existing regulations governing taxis are:
- Private hire vehicles, also known as minicabs 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. It means family members and others who do not hold a private hire vehicle licence could potentially drive cabs when they are not being used as a private hire vehicle.
- According to the new rule councils are currently free to renew licenses annually if they wish. Earlier councils use to review licences every three years for taxi and private hire vehicle driver licences and five years for private vehicle operator licences.
- Private hire operators are allowed to subcontract to operators licensed in a different district.