Sheffield MP raises taxi safety fears over Bill

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Plans to change the regulation of taxi operators could put the safety of passengers at risk, Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield has warned.

He challenged transport minister Robert Goodwill in the House of Commons over the Deregulation Bill, which will allow private hire operators to subcontract a booking to another firm which could be based in a different licensing district.

Taxi drivers in Sheffield have raised fears over the plans, ministers were told.

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Blomfield said: “I’ve had serious concerns raised with me by drivers in Sheffield, that these rushed changes, which will let minicab operators subcontract bookings to other operators from a different district, could see vehicles and drivers working literally hundreds of miles away from their ‘home’ licensing authority, with our licensing authority in Sheffield unable to conduct any effective enforcement against them.”

The bill, which is at the report stage of the legislation process, aims to ‘reduce burdens resulting from legislation for businesses or other organisations’.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said he did not share the concerns about safety.

He said it would give the public a ‘better service’ if one operator was busy or did not have disabled access vehicles available because they could call in another firm from across the border.

Mr Goodwill said: “It gives people the safety they want and I don’t feel safety is compromised at all.”

Speaking after the debate, Mr Blomfield said: “The response from the minister made it clear he felt deregulation was more important than the concerns raised with me over safety.

“The rules exist for a purpose.”