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Ipswich taxi driver hits back at council amid row over compulsory training

PUBLISHED: 20:22 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 20:22 06 December 2017

Chris Talbot with his taxi in Lloyds Avenue, Ipswich.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Chris Talbot with his taxi in Lloyds Avenue, Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

An Ipswich cabby has spoken about why he refused to complete mandatory training on protecting vulnerable passengers, after this newspaper revealed 180 licensed drivers have failed to enrol on the course.

Chris Talbot with his taxi in Lloyds Avenue, Ipswich.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNChris Talbot with his taxi in Lloyds Avenue, Ipswich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

In March, Ipswich Borough Council’s licensing and regulatory committee introduced the compulsory training on child sexual exploitation, dementia awareness and disability for all existing and new taxi and private hire vehicle drivers.

The deadline to complete the training was January 2018, but it has emerged that while 378 drivers have done it, 180 have failed to do so.

Last week, the Ipswich Star reported that the authority had extended the cut-off point to the end of the March – but the funding had elapsed so drivers would have to pay to take part.

Those who do not complete the training risk losing their license.

Chris Talbot, who picks up his customers from Lloyds Avenue, has refused to do the training, and said the council had dealt with the matter “aggressively”.

The 53-year-old said: “The first we heard about it was them saying you have to do this course by the end of December or you will be suspended – no consultation took place, they just made the threat.

“The problem with this is one, the council did not consider any other courses apart from Skills UK. Two, they did not at any time assess the quality of the course which is very, very poor. Thirdly, before making the threat of suspending us if we did not do the course, they didn’t check with the course provider that they could cope with the numbers. The reason so many drivers haven’t done the course is down to the fact the course provider could not provide enough places for all the drivers to do the course by the end of the year.”

However, Stephen Connelly, chairman of licensing at Ipswich Borough Council, said there was space on the course for every driver who registered on time.

He added: “We are a responsible licensing authority and are determined to ensure that our drivers can recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation when they see it. We believe that the safety of the travelling public is paramount and know that we are supported in this by taxi drivers across Ipswich. We have extended the deadline until the end of March to make sure all of our drivers are trained in this important area.”

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