Scrapping taxi licence rule blocked amid fear of 'rapists, drug dealers and violent men'

"Licensing is here to protect the public including children"
"Licensing is here to protect the public including children" -Credit:Getty Images

Scrapping a taxi rule which stops refused applicants re-applying for a licence could have seen rapists, drug dealers and violent men repeatedly trying to gain a licence, councillors have ben told.

Emotions ran high when when two Pendle councillors called for a rule to be removed, which currently stops rejected taxi applicants from submitting a fresh bid in 12 months of a refusal.

The bid was rejected but prompted wide debate. Taxi safety and vehicle checks have been raised regularly at Pendle Council meetings. Councillors Faraz Ahmed and Sajjad Ahmed put forward a motion calling for the 12 month rule on failed applicants to be removed at the latest full council.

Coun Ahmed, who has been a taxi committee chairman, said: "It's very important that a change should take place. Not being able to reapply within 12 months is unfair. We need to work with taxi drivers and the industry."

But Lib-Dem Coun Tom Whipp said: "I assume there is a process to review and appeal decisions, if there's a feeling that the protocol has not been followed? It's right that people should not come back-and-back to overturn a properly made decision. Twelve months seems reasonable."

Pendle True Independent Coun Yasser Iqbal said: "Taxi applicants face a system where council officers are often the judge, jury and executioner. Officers are not perfect and sometimes decisions can be wrong.


"I had a constituent who could not work for four or five months. He had four mouths to feed. It was serious. He appealed to a magistrates' court but there are delays. Also I am the son of a taxi driver. My dad could not work for some time when I was younger. It was a genuine struggle. There are human stories behind these cases."

But Conservative Con Kieran McGladdery,  also with taxi committee experience,  said: " I think this is one of the most dangerous motions ever. There could be speeding motorists, drug crimes, sexual offences, assault and battery - any kind of crime with some applicants. We've had applicants who've kicked ten bells out of people. Who have drugs convictions. Or who had run someone over in a taxi.

Taxi stock image
Taxi safety and vehicle checks have been raised regularly at Pendle Council meetings -Credit:FHMFHM/Getty Images

"There is an allowance that says if someone did something wrong in the past and it has lapsed, it can be dealt with. But removing this section would allow the rapist, the drug dealer, people who were refused for good reason, to re-apply. Taxi licensing officers would be swamped with the worst-of-the-worst reapplying."

Conservative Coun Neil Butterworth said: "Licensing is here to protect the public including children. We get reports on applicants' histories from officers and I totally believe what officers tell us. If we removed this policy, we'd have failed applicants coming back every two weeks. The system is already overloaded. I am totally against this."

Independent Coun Mohammed Iqbal said: "Coun McGladdery speaks with such rhetoric you'd think Nigel Farage was here. I served on the taxi committee for years. We never gave a licence to a rapist, a drug dealer or someone who batters their wife. It's a slur on councillors and officers.

"Also Coun Butterworth says he relies purely on officers. But that suggests there is no point in being a councillor? If so, he should give up."

Coun Iqbal said the current system relied too much on written statements. Many applicants were better at talking about their situations. He added: "The taxi driver is a member of the public too. He lives in Pendle. He is to be listened to too."

Instead of scrapping the taxi policy, councillors asked the taxi committee and the executive for their views.