usiness leaders have urged Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to “get on with it” after the Government announced it would introduce legislation to crack down on rogue pedicab and rickshaw operators in the West End.
Ministers announced in the Queen’s Speech that they would enable the licensing of London pedicabs as part of a Transport Bill to be introduced over the course of the next Parliament.
Nickie Aiken, the Conservative MP who has long campaigned for tighter regulation of rickshaws, is due to hold talks with Mr Shapps this week about the new licensing system.
But Ms Aiken, the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, acknowledged that any new regulations are unlikely to be in effect until next year.
“I hope it will be in place for next summer,” she said. “It can take a year for these things to be up and running. I will obviously discuss with Grant if there’s any other way of bringing it forward.”
Ros Morgan, chief executive of the Heart of London business group, said: “Now it’s in there we are delighted but we would like to see it sooner rather than later. We need to get on with it … the decision has been made, let’s get it through Parliament.”
Simon Thomas, chief executive of the Hippodrome in Leicester Square, added: “It’s fantastic news and well overdue. I hope it will be through as soon as possible.”
Pedicab operators have been facing calls for tighter regulation for years amid concerns over vehicle safety and claims that they rip off tourists.Boris Johnson agreed to include a new licensing system in the Transport Bill, with Mr Shapps telling MPs last month that a law would be introduced to control what he described as “the Wild West of any capsule rickshaws”.
Ms Aiken said the new licensing regime, which could be similar to those used to regulate black cab and Uber drivers, could include background and ID checks for operators.
Mr Thomas said tourists were still being overcharged, highlighting a case last week where a driver was caught allegedly charging someone £150 for a £15 ride.
“Pedicabs have preyed on vulnerable people in London for too long,” he said.