‘It is vital Milton Keynes moves on after taxi-gate’

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Milton Keynes cannot be known for having “concrete cows, roundabouts and a rapist taxi driver”, says the new licensing committee chairman.

Three months after the taxi-gate scandal broke, city politicians agreed with the findings of an internal investigation into how a convicted rapist was allowed to become a city cabbie.

Mayor Catriona  Morris unveils a plaque at Wolverton's new station building. ENGPNL00120120312152913

Mayor Catriona Morris unveils a plaque at Wolverton's new station building. ENGPNL00120120312152913

Councillors across all parties at Tuesday night’s audit committee agreed it is “vital the city moves on” and looked forward to the 
“extremely positive” changes being made to ensure history does not repeat itself.

Licensing chairman Councillor Catriona Morris said: “In this new world we now live in we will do everything we can to restore the reputation of the council and help the taxi service of Milton Keynes.

“Taxi drivers are often the first people that visitors meet – they need to feel happy and safe.It is vital for the future of the city that people don’t talk about concrete cows, roundabouts and a rapist taxi driver. It is vital we move on.”

The council’s report details changes that are being implemented by February next year.

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Taxi drivers’ names, badge numbers and their licence details will also be published on MK Council’s website, while a newly-formed committee will adopt the new taxi licensing policy introduced after the scandal broke.

Milton Keynes Council leader Pete Marland said the last three months “have been a tragedy for this city”.

He added that the audit report was “good” because it makes clear what happened, but said: “We should not take for granted that what happened won’t happen again.”

But his predecessor, Councillor Andrew Geary, felt the report was not enough; he believes the city’s reputation cannot be restored until all those involved resign.

Mr Geary said: “Reputations take a long time to build and they can be destroyed at a stroke.

“The lack of action from the Lib Dems has destroyed the council’s reputation and for that reason I want to formally call for Douglas McCall to stand down as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

“He has shown he cares more about the number of seats in chamber and votes in wards than the reputation of Milton Keynes.”

Last week, Mr McCall’s Lib Dem colleague and disgraced ex-mayor Subhan Shafiq publicly apologised for his part in helping a convicted rapist become a city cabbie.

He resigned as a councillor last Monday after the report was published.

Fellow Lib Dem Stuart Burke, who was chairman of MK Council’s licensing committee which renewed the rapist’s licence, attended the meeting by watching on from the sidelines.

He formally apologised for his actions last week, but Mr Geary called for him to step down from his seat, saying: “I do this out of regret because Mr Burke is a person I like as an individual.

“However, someone who demonstrates they need an audit report to apologise for a serious error in judgement is not fit as a person to represent the MK electorate at any level.”

Both Mr McCall and Mr Burke were unavailable for comment.