CIVIC chiefs are looking at a raft of changes to the way taxi services are regulated in Winchester after a woman was attacked and orally raped by a driver operating in the city.
Cllr Jan Warwick, portfolio holder for environment and chairman of the council’s traffic and parking committee, revealed the plans after 29-year-old driver Ferham Khan, of Derby Road, Southampton, was jailed last month.
As previously reported, Khan was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment at Southampton Crown Court for sexually assaulting and orally raping a passenger he had picked up from The Broadway in September 2017.
It was later revealed by the Chronicle that Khan had been licensed by City of Wolverhampton Council, an issue that has been raised previously in Winchester.
Cllr Warwick said: “This sad case is a reminder of the importance of the licensing process in terms of public safety and minimising the risk to the customers of our district.
“This incident has also caused shock within the Winchester taxi trade and they are keen to work with us to ensure that they maintain public confidence in their service.
“We took the decision last year to review and revamp our taxi licensing policy to raise the bar of the district’s taxi offer.
“This will cover a variety of matters from public safety to the appearance and type of vehicles in the taxi fleet.”
Cllr Warwick hinted that this could mean a specifically coloured livery for Winchester-licensed taxis in a scheme similar to that of Southampton City Council.
The authority says all licensed Hackney Carriages in Southampton must be painted white, while all other licensed taxis in the city, such as private hire – which have to be pre-booked – must not be white.
The changes by Winchester City Council also include mandatory classroom-based safeguarding training for all drivers licensed by the City Council.
Leader Cllr Caroline Horrill also said she was lobbying Wolverhampton council and the government to stop a legal loophole allowing drivers to be licensed by local authority, but work in another part of the county.