Anger at council over rapist taxi driver allowed to work in Stevenage
HORRIFIED and disgusted is how Comet readers feel after the revelation that a rapist - who it now transpires did school runs - was allowed to continue working as a taxi driver while on bail. David Yates, of Blackdown Close in Stevenage, has been jailed fo
HORRIFIED and disgusted is how Comet readers feel after the revelation that a rapist - who it now transpires did school runs - was allowed to continue working as a taxi driver while on bail.
David Yates, of Blackdown Close in Stevenage, has been jailed for 10 years after being convicted for three counts of rape and 10 counts of indecent assault.
Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) allowed the 64-year-old sex fiend to keep his taxi licence and continue working for Stevenage Taxis while on bail.
After The Comet broke this story last week, a Facebook group raising awareness of the matter was set up and had attracted 1,197 members at the time of going to press.
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Taxi drivers and members of the public alike are outraged at the council's decision.
Ashfaq Ur Rehman, managing director of Ace Taxis in Stevenage, said: "We are disgusted."
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He said he knows of two drivers who had their licences suspended following sexual allegations. "We believe this was the best course of immediate action," he said. "It is unbelievable how SBC appears to have gone against normal practice."
SBC claims it added conditions to Yates' licence in light of the serious charges, but has refused to divulge what these conditions were. "There can be no reasonable conditions applicable to a man set bail on such allegations," fumed Mr Rehman.
A rape victim from Stevenage said: "I am disgusted, as I think a lot of people are.
"I saw his picture and I recognised him. I have been in his taxi, and it makes my skin crawl.
"I could now never get in a cab on my own with a male driver. I don't feel safe."
Stevenage resident Amanda Dilley added: "I am absolutely horrified that SBC failed to put the safety of the community first."
She said Yates was "clearly a danger to the public", adding: "I would like to know what conditions were placed on his licence that made SBC feel he would pose less of a risk to passengers.
"We are warned against using unlicensed taxis, yet it would seem using a licensed taxi is no safer if rapists are allowed to continue working." Mr Rehman said the council's decision has affected taxi trade across Stevenage. "People are just not using taxis - they are that scared," he said.
He added: "The public are being put at risk because licensing officers haven't got public safety as their primary concern.
"The Comet has highlighted a big issue, and it had to be addressed."
A council spokesman said Yates' licence was surrendered immediately the council knew of his arrest, and a hearing held where all available evidence was considered by a panel of councillors.
"Detailed evidence relating to the criminal prosecution could not be made available to us because this would have threatened those proceedings," he explained.
"At that hearing, the decision was made to attach conditions to the licence to ensure the travelling public remained safe."
The council spokesman said Yates was "frequently monitored" and his licence reviewed a second time, before it was revoked following his conviction two weeks ago.
The council has again refused to disclose the conditions attached to Yates' licence. "These cases are often of a highly sensitive nature and contain personal information which we cannot share," said the spokesman.
A spokesman for Herts County Council said as soon as the allegations against Yates were known, Stevenage Taxis was instructed not to assign him to any school runs.
* A 47-YEAR-OLD taxi driver, arrested on suspicion of raping a woman in the Ripon Road area of Stevenage on October 31, returned bail yesterday (Wednesday).
The Stevenage man has been re-bailed, pending further investigations, until April 7.
A spokesman for Stevenage Borough Council said: "We are not aware of any driver currently licensed who is on police bail on any charges.