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Warning over ‘dangerous’ unlicensed taxis operating in part of Derbyshire

Taxi rank, Chesterfield
Taxi rank, Chesterfield

Council chiefs have launched a hard-hitting campaign that raises awareness of the dangers of using illegal vehicles – after reports of unlicensed ‘taxis’ operating in and around Ripley.

Amber Valley Borough Council’s licensing department has produced a series of posters that encourage taxi-users to check whether a vehicle is genuine, to be displayed at late night venues around the area.

One of the posters shows a shocking image of a woman hugging her knees, with her face hidden behind her hair, with text that reads, ‘if you want to know the true cost of a cheap ride home, ask a rape victim’.

Andy Rodgers, from A R Taxis, based in Ripley, said: “It is really dangerous. If they get into an accident, they won’t be insured and with everything in the news about grooming, it is not worth the risk. Just don’t do it.

“They are just normal cars, you don’t know what you are coming across.

“People think that taxis are ripping them off but we aren’t. I work hard and have to pay a lot of money to get the right qualifications, that these people [unlicensed drivers] don’t have. It isn’t easy.

“It is really frustrating. It is only a matter of time before something happens.”

All licensed vehicles display a plate at the rear of the cab that gives a personal licence number and the driver will be wearing an ID badge showing their photograph, which confirms that the driver has had thorough background checks to confirm their suitability for transporting members of the public.

Another Amber Valley taxi driver, who asked not to be named, said: “It is putting people in danger and taking business away from us. It is absolutely disgusting.

“I have been doing this job for 20 years but my concern lies with the public. It needs to stop. I hope this campaign does work because you just never know what could happen.”

Another poster in the campaign includes a photograph of a man’s reflection in a vehicle’s rear view mirror, with a disturbing message that reads: “If your taxi is not licensed, it’s just a stranger’s car.”

Councillor Jane Orton, Amber Valley Borough Council’s community safety portfolio holder, said: “We are very concerned for the safety of young people who are using unlicensed taxis.

“We would also urge parents to check on how their sons and daughters are getting home and to help us pass on the safety-first message.

“Young people can be particularly vulnerable after a night out and so it is very important they make the right choices when deciding how they will get home.”