An association for cabbies is welcoming plans to slash red tape for taxi licensing.

Keighley and Bradford Taxi Drivers’ Association is supporting a government plan to get rid of many of the checks and restrictions drivers and operators currently face, despite critics saying this could put passengers in danger.

Association chairman, Shabir Ahmed, said: “There has been an unjust and unnecessary level of bureaucracy implemented by the local authority at the expense of the taxi driver, be that in private hire or Hackney Carriage, for a very long period of time.”

He said he hoped the cost of licensing fees will be the first thing to be cut, as drivers are having to pay hundreds of pounds a year just to be in the job.

Changes to the Deregulation Bill will allow non-licence holders – perhaps a family member – to drive a private hire vehicle when they are ‘off duty’, introduce three-year licences for taxis and private hire drivers scrapping annual checks in many areas, and allow minicab operators to ‘sub-contract’ bookings to other operators in a different district.

The shake-up is designed to save an estimated £9 million a year.

But it has drawn fierce criticism from some MPs, who fear it will be easier for people to pose as licensed drivers.

Mr Ahmed, a Hackney Carriage driver who also works for First Choice Private Hire in Keighley, dismissed this claim as “nonsense”.