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Taxi boss will no longer offer white drivers on demand

The owner of a taxi firm in Rochdale has made a dramatic U-turn on his policy of offering customers a white driver if they requested it.

Stephen Campbell, boss of Car 2000 in Heywood, changed his mind after dozens of his Asian drivers staged a protest in the town centre calling the service ‘racist’ and ‘discriminatory’.

Mr Campbell employs 80 drivers at Car 2000, 55 of whom are Asian. All 55 were on strike today over the row.

Report: Controversy over the taxi firm that's offering white drivers to customers who ask for them

There's controversy over a taxi firm in Heywood that's offering white drivers to customers when they ask for them.

It says all it's providing a service to people who want it.

Rochdale council is now looking into the firm's policy.

This report from our correspondent Elaine Willcox.

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Taxi firm says it's 'catering to demand'

The story in today's Guardian.

Nine men from Pakistan and Afghanistan were jailed for a total of 77 years in May 2012 for plying young, vulnerable girls with drink and drugs so they could "pass them around" for sex.

A serious case review highlighted a catalogue of "shocking" failures and found that social workers and police adopted a "colour blind" approach that was "potentially dangerous".

Mr Campbell's firm, Car 2000, took over Eagle Taxis, a firm which formerly employed two drivers at the heart of the scandal, in May 2011.

But he said he only discovered that two former employees were part of grooming ring when they were on the news for being in court the following year.

He said at least two other taxi firms in the borough of Rochdale only employed white drivers, but 60% of the cabbies on his books were Asian.

Danczuk: "It's a worrying sign"

"This story is not unique to Rochdale, but it is a worrying sign of some of the tensions that still exist in the wake of the grooming scandal.

"There is clearly a lot of work to be done in terms of rebuilding community relations. The whole town wants to move on from this scandal and politicians have a duty to talk openly about these issues."

– Simon Danczuk, MP for Rochdale

"Any private-hire business must satisfy a 'fit and proper' test before they are licensed by the council and able to operate within the borough.

"While we have not had any complaints regarding Car 2000 up to this point, we are now taking legal advice as to whether their policy to offer white drivers contravenes the 'fit and proper' test, and will act accordingly depending on the outcome of that advice."

– Mark Widdup, Rochdale Borough Council

Taxi firm provides "white drivers on demand"

A Rochdale taxi firm is providing white drivers to customers on request, the Guardian newspaper has claimed.

The report says that the firm, Car 2000, told them customers are asking for white drivers as a result of the grooming scandal.

Two of the defendants in the case were taxi drivers and were jailed for their part in the rape and trafficking of young white girls.

They worked for Eagle Taxis, which was later taken over by Car 2000.

We have had quite a lot of customers requesting what they call a ‘local’ driver. A bit insane if you consider that most of the [Asian] lads were born in Rochdale.

– Stephen Campbell, manager of Car 2000, speaking to the Guardian

Threats made with wood and rocks in cricket club robbery

Three men armed with rocks and pieces of wood rounded up and threatened four people at Heywood cricket club.

The incident happened around 10.15pm on Sunday night. Four people, two women aged 65 and 45, and two men of 61 and 65, were inside at the time.

A Greater Manchester Police statement said:

The armed gang made demands for cash before trying to smash CCTV camera.

They then left with an amount of cash.

All three were white, about 6ft tall and of medium build. One was wearing a hooded top and had a stripy scarf covering his face, a second was aged between 20 and 25 and was wearing dark clothing and a hockey mask and a third was also aged between 20 and 25 and was wearing dark clothing.

Detective Constable Mark Green, said: “These three men have threatened and intimidated four innocent people, caused damage to the property and have stolen cash and we are working hard to establish who they are.

“If anyone has any information about the robbery or those responsible I would urge them to get in touch.”

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0161 856 8701, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

– Greater Manchester Police statement

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UKIP confirm candidate for Heywood and Middleton by-election

John Bickley hopes to become MP for Heywood and Middleton.

The UK Independence Party has announced that their candidate to contest the forthcoming parliamentary by-election in Heywood and Middleton is John Bickley.

The election was called following the death of MP Jim Dobbin at the weekend.

Mr Bickley, 61, said, “I’m honoured to have been asked to represent the party.

“It is a Labour stronghold where by pure co-incidence I actually lived for a while as a small boy.

“I am looking forward to getting out and about and talking to voters and explaining why UKIP is the only party that really represents their interests now.”

This will be second by-election Mr Bickley has contested this year as he was UKIP’s candidate in the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election, where he came second.

He began his working career with a Manchester based company as a laboratory technician. After five years John joined EMI Records representing them in the North West before moving to London in the early ‘80’s and working for a number of music and video film companies at a senior level.

Mr Bickley returned to the North West in 1992 to take up a senior position with a Liverpool based computer and video games company. He now runs his own software company and has diverse experience of international markets in music, film, video games and technology software.

He is a father-of-two and his wife works as a part-time carer at a special needs school.

The party said Mr Bickley joined UKIP three years ago and has been an active member of the party's Cheshire West branch. His interests apart from politics include walking.

Labour indicate Heywood by-election date

The by-election sparked by the death of Labour MP Jim Dobbin will be held on October 9, the party indicated.

The by-election was triggered by the death of Jim Dobbin Credit: Labour Party/PA Images

A writ setting the date for the contest in Heywood and Middleton is to be moved by the party in the Commons today, a source said.

It is the same day as voters go to the polls in Clacton, Essex following Douglas Carswell's defection to Ukip from the Conservatives.

Mr Dobbin, who had represented the seat since 1997, died at the weekend while on a Parliamentary trip to Poland at the age of 73.

At the 2010 general election, Labour won the Greater Manchester seat with a majority of 5,971.

Motorist dies in M62 crash at Heywood

A motorist has died in a crash on the M62.

The incident happened at about 3.25am today and emergency services were called to the westbound carriageway at junction 19 at Heywood and Middleton.

A Ford Mondeo had collided with an HGV. The driver of the Mondeo suffered multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

No-one else was injured in the collision.

The westbound carriageway was fully closed while emergency services dealt with the scene but has now been re-opened.

Anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to call the Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 0161 856 4741.

Carer burgled as she tends to elderly mother

Millbank Court in Heywood Credit: Google Street View

Burglars ransacked the home of a carer from Heywood as she tended to her elderly mother.

The woman had gone out early in the morning, to visit her mum's house nearby.

She came home to find the property at Millbank Court had been broken into, and cash was missing.

It happened sometime between 6am and 12.45pm on 25 June.

Detective Constable Nick Price said: "This was a sickening break-in at the home of a woman who was out looking after her elderly mother. I hope... they are ashamed of themselves."

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