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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.
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.
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.
"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."
"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."
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.
Rochdale's Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who led the campaign for an inquiry into historic child sex abuse , said Fiona Woolf should step down from here role as chairman after she revealed her social social relationship with former home secretary Lord Brittan.
The Lord Mayor of the City of London confirmed that she had attended dinner parties at Lord Britan's house and hosted the Tory peer and his wife on three occasions, but insisted she did not have a "close association" with the former cabinet minister.
Mr Danczuk said Mrs Woolf and Lord Brittan were "clearly good friends" and she should stand down as chairwoman.
Background: Fiona Woolf to chair abuse inquiry.
Rochdale's MP Simon Danczuk will give evidence to MPs today about the progress of investigations into historical sex abuse in his constituency and beyond.
It follows demands to discover how the late Cyril Smith was able to getaway with exploiting youngsters for so long.
Two years ago a paedophile gang was jailed for grooming youngsters for sex in the town