15/08/2006

New laws to improve NI taxis

The Environment Minister David Cairns has today announced a consultation on new laws to regulate taxis in Northern Ireland.

The proposed legislation will give police and Driver and Vehicle Testing Agency Enforcement Officers more and stronger enforcement powers to tackle illegal taxiing, which will include powers to stop and seize unlicensed taxis, inspect premises where it is suspected taxi services are being provided without an operator's licence - the maximum fine for which will be £2,500.

Commenting on the proposal, David Cairns said: "Taxi users will get a much better deal as a result of changes that this new legislation will allow us to bring in. It will be easier for them to find out what fare they should be charged and how it has been worked out. There will be a lot less confusion about different types of taxis and when they are allowed to pick passengers. As well as that, taxi operators and drivers will be expected to raise their game by getting relevant training and becoming much more focussed on meeting customer needs.”

He continued: "We have a busy and growing taxi sector in which many people work very hard, often at unsociable hours, to provide high quality services to their customers. I want to demonstrate my commitment to support the taxi industry to drive those standards even higher. I also want to continue to tackle the menace of illegal activity that I know holds back the taxi industry and damages its image. That's why I'm determined to apply tougher enforcement and other measures to make sure that every taxi on our roads is safe, driven by an insured, licensed driver and operated through a reputable taxi business."

David Cairns said that the consumer rights of taxi users must be protected and that taxi services should be made as accessible as possible to everyone who wants to use them, including people with disabilities.

The Environment Minister added: "These proposals have the potential to deliver the most significant reform of taxi regulation for many years and bring major benefits to the trade and to everyone who uses its services. Everyone is welcome to contribute to the consultation and we look forward to knowing what thoughts people have about regulating taxi services."

Mr Cairns encouraged everyone who uses or provides taxi services to comment on the proposals,with a series of public meetings due to be held in September.

(EF)

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