Concern over taxi regulation plans
Relaxing rules about who can drive licensed minicabs would place the public at risk, councils are warning.
Legislation going through Parliament will make it "impossible" for councils to ensure cab drivers have been through the proper checks, said the Local Government Association (LGA).
The LGA is also warning that dangerous minicab drivers could more easily challenge reviews of their licences following traffic offences. This is because they could more easily claim another driver was responsible.
The LGA's concerns centre on clauses in the Deregulation Bill which the association says would permit anyone to drive a licensed vehicle.
The LGA's licensing spokesman Tony Page said: "Taxi and private hire vehicles are an essential means of transport for many, especially older or disabled people.
"Anyone using one should be able to do so safe in the knowledge that its driver has had their background fully checked and meets certain safety standards.
"Councils fought hard for the reinstatement of enhanced criminal records checks for taxi and private hire drivers and these irresponsible plans threaten to undermine that progress and remove this vital protection for passengers."
He went on: "The consequences for someone entering a vehicle marked for hire where the driver has not been properly licensed and vetted by the council can be severe. We should not increase the chances of that happening.
"Keeping residents safe is a priority for councils and it is imperative the Government withdraws these plans so that we can continue ensuring passengers are safe when taking taxis and private hire vehicles."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "The deregulation bill will not put taxi passengers at risk, and drivers will still have their backgrounds routinely checked.
"These measures are tried and tested in London and have made life easier for passengers as well as drivers and their families."