MP for Barnsley East, Michael Dugher, has opposed changes to taxi and private hire vehicle law because of concerns they could put passengers in Barnsley at risk.
The reforms were included in the Government’s Deregulation Bill which was voted on by MPs on June 23.
The Government’s proposed reforms to the taxi and minicab trade will enable people without a minicab license drive one when it is “off duty”, end annual checks on drivers’ licences, and allow minicab operators to subcontract bookings to firms in other areas.
There has been widespread criticism of the Government’s last minute decision to insert these reforms into the Deregulation Bill at a late stage in the Parliamentary process. Campaigners, industry bodies and unions are also warning that these changes will have severe safety implications, as local councils don’t have the powers to enforce the changes safely.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which campaigns for better personal safety, has raised concerns that enabling anyone to drive a licensed minicab will provide “greater opportunity for those intent on preying on women”.
The reforms have come under criticism from the Local Government Association, who said that “it is imperative that the Government withdraws these plans” to ensure passenger safety.
Michael voted against the Government’s changes to taxi and private hire law in the Deregulation Bill on 23rd June. Unfortunately, the bid to block the changes was defeated by 79 votes.
Commenting, Michael Dugher said: “At present minicabs in Barnsley are driven by people who have undergone criminal, medical and background checks with the local council but the Government reforms threaten to remove these safeguards, and let anyone drive an off duty minicab.
“I know many people in Barnsley, particularly women and those with impaired mobility, rely on taxis and minicabs to get home safely. I’m worried that Minister’s plans will increase the number of rogue drivers on Barnsley’s roads. I’m calling on the Government to abandon these proposals and put passenger safety first.”