GOVERNMENT plans to cut ‘red tape’ for taxi operators in Bolton could put the public at risk, an MP has warned.

Julie Hilling, who represents Bolton West, has spoken out against the Deregulation Bill which is going through Parliament.

If made law, the changes would mean private hire firms could ‘sub contract’ bookings to operators licensed in a different area.

Opponents to the system say customers would be less able to choose a company that they feel is safer and more reliable.

In addition, anyone with an ordinary drivers’ licence would be allowed to drive a private hire car when it is ‘off duty’.

Ms Hilling said there was already too little regulation of the industry, and that further deregulation would not help protect the public.

She said: “We do not have national standards. When the system as a whole is fractured, there are all sorts of ways through it.”

At a meeting in April, Ms Hilling, along with MPs David Crausby and Yasmin Qureshi, joined forces with the Police Crime Commissioner, union GMB and the National Private Hire Association to denounce the plans.

Asif Bali, chairman of the Bolton Private Hire Operators Association, said his organisation currently has an arrangement whereby a call for a cab can be passed on to another company. But he added proposals to run ‘off duty’ private hire cars for personal use could put the public in danger.