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Louise Haigh: Who is the new Labour Transport Secretary and what is their take on the taxi industry?

Image credit: Lauren Hurley / No 10 Downing Street (Flickr ) CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Louise Haigh, a prominent figure within the Labour Party, has been handed the role of Secretary of State for Transport. This appointment marks a new chapter in her political career, which began with her election as the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley in 2015.

Haigh's ascent to the top of the transport sector comes with significant experience and a proven track record having held the position of Shadow Transport Secretary. Since her first election in 2015, she has been a vocal representative for her constituents, championing progressive causes and pushing back against policies she believes are detrimental to the public.

As the new Secretary of State for Transport, Haigh is expected to bring a renewed focus on sustainable transport solutions, infrastructure development, and tackling the UK's pressing transport challenges. Her leadership is seen as vital, especially as the country grapples with the effects of climate change and the urgent need for efficient, green transport systems. Haigh's approach will likely emphasise environmental sustainability while ensuring the transport sector supports economic growth and public well-being.

What is Haigh’s stance on the taxi industry?

One of the key issues Haigh is poised to address is the safety standards within the taxi industry. Her previous tenure as Shadow Transport Secretary saw her criticise the Conservative Government for undermining safety measures established in Rotherham following a high-profile child sexual exploitation scandal. She highlighted that the deregulation of taxi standards by the Government compromised these safeguards, putting the safety of women and girls at risk.

During a Commons debate, Haigh remarked: “I have worked alongside victims and survivors of the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal.

“And following that scandal, Rotherham council set very high standards for its taxi drivers, including CCTV in its cabs, and requiring NVQ (National Vocational Qualifications) level three on child safeguarding.

“But those standards are being undercut by the Government’s deregulation of taxi standards, and nothing that the minister has set out this morning has stopped that.

“Doesn’t he (former Transport Minister) agree that the position is putting women and girls’ safety at risk? And isn’t it time for robust legislation and national minimum standards to protect them?”

Haigh's call for "robust legislation" and "national minimum standards" highlighted her commitment to passenger safety. She is expected to push for consistent and high standards across the taxi industry to prevent discrepancies that could endanger passengers, particularly women and girls.

Addressing Cross-Border Hire

There are strong indications that the new Labour Government will review and tackle issues surrounding cross-border hire. This practice, where taxi drivers licensed in one area operate in another, often leads to disparities in safety standards and regulatory oversight. Haigh's stance on this issue reflects her broader commitment to ensuring uniform safety measures across the industry, thereby protecting passengers and maintaining high standards.

Impact of Automation on Jobs

Haigh has also been vocal about the potential impact of automation on jobs within the transport sector. In discussions about the introduction of self-driving cars, she warned against repeating the mistakes of deindustrialisation that devastated many towns and cities across the North. As a South Yorkshire MP, Haigh is acutely aware of the economic and social impacts that come from lost livelihoods and disrupted communities.

Haigh's concerns about automation extend to ensuring that the transition to new technologies creates jobs rather than destroys them, particularly in regions where low-paid work is dominant. She pressed for clear strategies to ensure that technologies like self-driving cars do not exacerbate existing economic disparities but rather contribute positively to job creation and economic stability.


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