Fears in plan for cabbies

CONCERN: Mark Selly
CONCERN: Mark Selly
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Taxi drivers in Preston have threatened to take industrial over controversial plans to amend rules regarding taxi drivers set out in a new bill before Parliament.

GMB, the union for professional drivers, say the introduction of unregulated taxi drivers - ending criminal records checks, vehicle checks and local licencing - will be a hammer blow to the taxi and private hire industry.

The union says that it cannot rule out direct action by members over changes to laws on taxis government included in the Deregulation Bill 2014.

On Tuesday the Government had a committee vote to push the bill through to the next stage - which the GMB says fast tracked the controversial plans.

Mick Rix GMB National Officer said: “One of the amendments related to operators granting licences that could be used in other areas - someone in Newcastle could grant a licence to someone who may then work in Preston.

“That means checks can’t effectively be enforced in another area. They wont be checking vehicles or drivers. Its a transport safety nightmare.”

Mick Rooney, cabbie for M Line on Chatsworth Street, said: “At the very least something should be set up for local driver checks to still be in place. We don’t want rapists driving taxis.”

Mark Selly, of Preston Hackney Carriage Association, added: “ CRB checks are the thin edge of the wedge. Preston has 187 Hackney licences - if they deregulate that restriction who knows how many there would be - its a threat to workload, takings and people just doing their job.”