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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

Rochdale MP calls for chairwoman of historic child sex abuse inquiry to stand down

Fiona Woolf has come under increasing pressures to step down as chairman of the inquiry into historical child sex abuse Credit: PA

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.

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Progress report on Rochdale sex abuse investigation

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

Rochdale paedophile loses appeal against conviction

Shabir Ahmed Credit: Greater Manchester Police

The ringleader of a gang convicted of grooming vunerable girls for sex in Rochdale has lost his appeal against his conviction today.

Shabir Ahmed was jailed for 19 years in May 2012 for his part in the paedophile ring.

The case was heard before the Court of Appeal in London.

Rochdale sex grooming ringleader appeals conviction

Shabir Ahmed was convicted in May 2012 Credit: Greater Manchester Police

The ringleader of a gang convicted of grooming vunerable girls for sex in Rochdale is appealing against his conviction today.

Shabir Ahmed was jailed for 19 years in May 2012 for his part in the paedophile ring.

The case is being heard before the Court of Appeal in London.

Concerns over 'missing person' overhaul

Childcare experts have raised concerns over plans to stop police being called out to around a third of missing persons cases after the Rochdale sex ring case.

The NSPCC warned changes could put children at risk of being exploited as there is often a link between the two.

The changes are being made following cases such as the Rochdale child sex ring, where nine men were jailed for grooming and abusing vulnerable teenage girls.

We are very concerned that the new definition of 'missing persons' will put vulnerable children at risk of being groomed and sexually exploited.

The length of time a child goes missing is irrelevant because they can fall into the clutches of abusers very quickly.

Children go missing for a variety of reasons - they may be bullied, abused or are generally unhappy. But whatever the reason, this problem must be taken seriously.

We expect all professionals including the police to invest the right amount of time and take the necessary action to protect all children as soon as they go missing."

– David Tucker, head of policy at the NSPCC

A report by the Rochdale Borough Safeguarding Children Board painted a picture of girls as young as 10 being targeted for sexual abuse having been written off by those in authority who said they believed the children were "making their own choices" and "engaging in consensual sexual activity".

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