Rotherham Council is planning to make its taxi standards ‘the most stringent in the country’ in light of the borough’s child sex abuse cases.
Under the proposals, drivers applying for a licence will have to complete training that covers everything from safeguarding to disability awareness.
There will be a tougher communication and knowledge tests and applicants from abroad ‘will face more rigorous tests to prove their previous good character’.
The same rigour will be applied to drivers with criminal convictions, said the council. It added: ‘Anyone who is believed to have committed the most serious violent or sexual offences will be prevented from working as a taxi driver.’
Dave Richmond, director of housing and neighbourhood services, said the Jay Report on sexual exploitation of children in the borough ‘had impacted on taxi trade and the authority could not sit back and do nothing’.
He added: ‘Rotherham's taxi and private hire trade has an important role to play in helping to people to get around the borough. The report has had a significant impact on public confidence in the taxi trade and we want to do everything we can to restore public confidence and ensure that Rotherham has a respected, professional and thriving taxi service.
‘Rotherham’s current policy is compliant with the law and our standards exceed those of some areas, but in light of the Jay Report and its impact on public confidence, we feel that we should do all that we can to make sure we have some of the highest standards nationally and a top quality service. We hope the industry will work in partnership with the authority on this.
‘It is all about customer service and we need to work together to ensure that anyone using taxis across the borough has a safe, reliable and pleasant experience.’