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Minicab drivers will still be 'routinely' checked

Minicab drivers will still be "routinely" checked to make sure they are safe behind the wheel, despite a deregulation of licensing laws, the Government has said.

A Department for Transport spokesman said:

The deregulation bill will not put taxi passengers at risk, and drivers will still have their backgrounds routinely checked.

These measures are tried and tested in London and have made life easier for passengers as well as drivers and their families.

– A Department for Transport spokesman

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LGA: Relaxed minicab license laws 'undermine progress'

Plans to relax the laws around minicab licensing are "irresponsible" and "undermine progress", according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

The LGA's licensing spokesman Tony Page said:

Councils fought hard for the reinstatement of enhanced criminal records checks for taxi and private hire drivers and these irresponsible plans threaten to undermine that progress and remove this vital protection for passengers.

The consequences for someone entering a vehicle marked for hire where the driver has not been properly licensed and vetted by the council can be severe. We should not increase the chances of that happening.

– Tony Page

Councils warn against relaxing minicab rules

Easing the laws around minicab licensing would put the public at risk, according to local councils.

Councils have warned the relaxed laws would let more dangerous drivers on the roads for longer. Credit: PA

Legislation travelling through Parliament would make it "impossible" for councils to properly check if cab drivers would be safe behind the wheel, said the Local Government Association (LGA).

Their concerns centre on clauses in the Deregulation Bill which the association says would permit anyone to drive a licensed vehicle.

The LGA also warned dangerous minicab drivers could more easily challenge reviews of their licenses after they had committed a traffic offence.

New laws mean it would be much easier for them to claim another driver was responsible.

Facebook and Twitter 'ignoring Neknominate dangers'

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents almost 400 councils in England and Wales, said social media operators such as Twitter and Facebook have a "responsibility" to display warnings over drinking craze Neknominate.

This is an utterly reckless and totally irresponsible craze which has tragically claimed lives. More should be done to highlight the dangers and persuade people not to participate.

We believe social media operators have a responsibility to provide health warnings to user groups and individuals.

The LGA is looking for these corporations to show leadership - and not ignore what is happening on their sites.

We are urging Facebook and Twitter executives to sit down with us and discuss a way forward which tackles this issue head-on.

– Katie Hall, chair of the LGA's community wellbeing board

Call for Facebook and Twitter to act over Neknominate

Twitter and Facebook should introduce warnings over the drinking game Neknominate, which has been linked to several deaths, councils across England and Wales have said.

Twitter and Facebook should introduce warnings over the drinking game Neknominate, councils have said. Credit: Reuters

The Local Government Association said prominent messages were needed on the websites about the dangers of the craze, which involves people filming themselves downing alcohol, nominating someone to continue the game, and posting the video on social media sites.

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Flooding has left 'daunting trail of destruction'

The Local Government Association said that with an existing £10.5 billion repair backlog for highways, the Government's Bellwin Scheme is not adequate funding to cover repairs caused by the severe weather, and local councils have been left with a "daunting trail of destruction."

The severe weather has left behind a daunting trail of destruction for councils to clear-up and fix.

...While we are pleased the Bellwin Scheme will be activated, the fact remains that Bellwin is severely limited as it does not cover most capital costs.

An emergency highways maintenance fund would provide essential support to those councils who now face hefty and unexpected repair bills as a result of the flooding.

These bills are likely to place significant financial pressures on already stretched council finances and it is vital that local communities are not left to suffer as a result.

– Mike Jones, the LGA's environment and housing board chairman

Flood Recovery Minister Brandon Lewis said "the Government is now fully focused on helping those affected get back on their feet", adding that it was "providing over £3.4 billion in this Parliament and over £5.8 billion in the next for local highways maintenance."

Councils welcome fracking tax boost plans

The Local Government Association said the Prime Minister's proposals to allow councils to keep all of the cash brought in by business rates from fracking schemes was "a step in the right direction".

A spokesman for the councils' group said:

Councils have been clear that the people and communities whose areas host fracking sites must feel the benefit.

Today's announcement from the Prime Minister is a step in the right direction, which will mean that business rates paid by shale gas firms will help councils to maintain and improve local services for residents.

While it is encouraging that government is listening, local areas will be keen to hear more details on how the community benefits package will be strengthened to fairly renumerate those who will be most affected.

– A Local Government Association spokesman

Council staff and emergency homes on standby

Local authorities are preparing for the worst this evening and will divert staff from their normal duties to help with emergency relief efforts if required, the Local Government Association said.

Emergency accommodation has been allocated for any families that may need to be evacuated from their homes, and highways teams are on standby to rescue stranded motorists and clean debris from roads.

Councils are preparing for the worst while hoping for the best.

Local authorities up and down the country are preparing to divert staff from their normal duties and have placed additional employees on standby to work with fire crews and other emergency services to get people help if they need it.

– Councillor Mike Jones, chairman of the LGA's environment board

LGA: Councils in danger of 'losing some services'

We are in danger of losing entirely some services, with significant reductions right across the board.

This is a false economy which threatens to shunt additional costs onto the reactive parts of the public sector, particularly our hospitals, prisons and welfare system. There are large hidden costs associated with these cuts which will ultimately leave the taxpayer out of pocket ...

It is unfair to our residents to raise the expectation that trimming 43% from council funding will have no impact on the services they receive.

– Sir Merrick Cockell, LGA chairman
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