From taking people to the airport early in the morning, or bringing people safely home late at night, taxis and minicabs provide a vital service for people in Liverpool. That’s why I am worried that the Tory-led Government is rushing through reforms which will damage the taxi and minicab trade, and put passengers at risk.
Taxis and minicabs aren’t just for the well-off. They are an essential means of transport for people who can’t afford to drive. Sometimes they are the only way to get around for elderly and disabled people.
At the moment minicabs in Liverpool can only be driven by someone who has undergone criminal, medical and background checks with Liverpool City Council. But out of touch Ministers are now threatening to remove these vital safeguards.
Under the Government’s plans, people who don’t hold a minicab license will be able to drive one when it is “off duty”, drivers will not have their licenced checked annually, and minicab operators will be able to transfer a booking to a firm in another area. This will mean people in Liverpool who get into a minicab won’t be sure whether it has come from the company they booked with, can’t know if vehicle and driver have been safety checked in the local area, and won’t be certain that the person driving it is licensed to do.
Tony Lloyd, the British Police and Crime Commissioner for Greater Manchester, has declared these reforms to be a “backwards step.” There are major problems with enforcing safety and standards in this industry already. Local councils just don’t have powers they need to enforce these changes. Charities such as the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which campaigns on women’s safety, has said that the Government’s proposal to let anyone behind the wheel of a minicab will provide greater opportunities for rogue minicab drivers, putting vulnerable passengers in Liverpool – particularly women – at risk.
The Government’s changes are set to make things worse and threaten the safety of the travelling public. That’s why I’m pleased Labour will be voting against these rushed and risky reforms. I’ll be standing up for the taxi and private hire industry, and people in Liverpool who rely on this vital service.