Monday, July 13, 2015

Introduction of Rotherham taxi rule changes delayed after protests

Rotherham taxi drivers protested outside Rotherham Town Hall last week as council approves plans for tougher licensing laws.

Rotherham taxi drivers protested outside Rotherham Town Hall last week as council approves plans for tougher licensing laws.

The introduction of tougher licensing measures for Rotherham taxi drivers - including CCTV in all cabs - in the wake of the child sexual exploitation scandal has been delayed.

Commissioner Mary Ney has said while the policy changes have now been agreed, the implementation plan is still to be confirmed.

It had originally been announced the policy changes would come into place from the start of this week, with drivers being required to fit CCTV into their vehicles within three months.

But following an angry reaction from many drivers, including around 100 taking part in a protest outside the Town Hall and dozens participating in ‘go-slow’ drives around town, a further meeting was held on Monday with officials from the Rotherham Private Hire Drivers Association.

The new licensing policy also includes measures such as requiring drivers to pass a ‘fit and proper’ persons test and a requirement to have a BTEC qualification.

Vehicles will have to be less than five years old when applying for a new licence and less than 10 years old for renewed licenses.

In addition, every driver will also be given training on how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation and how to get help if they are concerned.
Drivers have said they are concerned about the potential costs of the changes and feel they are being made ‘scapegoats’ for the grooming scandal.
Commissioner Ney said: “Public confidence and safety is at the heart of our new policy.
“We need to enforce robust and high standards to make sure people feel safe using local taxis, and to ultimately re-build trust and confidence in this important service.
“Although the policy is approved and is now in place, I have not as yet agreed the implementation plan. This will cover a number of issues including the arrangements and timing of the introduction of taxi cameras and issues of vehicle age.
“It is my intention that we have further meetings with Rotherham’s representatives of the taxi trade to discuss the detail of the policy and arrangements for implementation.”
Progress on the introduction of the policy is to be discussed at a full council meeting this afternoon.
The shake-up is being made in direct response to concerns being raised about the role of taxi drivers in the town’s grooming scandal.
The Jay report revealed the ‘prominent role’ of Rotherham taxi drivers in the abuse of children, while the follow-up Casey inquiry said Rotherham Council needed to ‘get their house in order and regulate taxis effectively’ due to the ‘well-publicised link between taxis and child sexual exploitation in Rotherham that has cast a long shadow over the vast majority of law-abiding drivers’

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