TOUGH new rules will ensure people convicted of serious sexual or violent offences are prevented from driving taxis.

Basildon Council’s Licensing Committee will consider stricter guidelines surrounding who should be denied a taxi licence tomorrow.

These will make sure drivers with a conviction for rape, sex assaults, or sexual offences involving children, are barred.

Applications will also not be considered for at least three years after convictions for lesser sexual offences, including indecent exposure and kerb-crawling.

The aim is to protect passengers in the district and it has been welcomed by cab drivers around the town. Steve Foster, who owns Basildon company A & B Taxis, said: “People should be stopped from driving taxis if they’ve committed a serious enough offence.

“I’m sure my daughter wouldn’t want a convicted murderer driving her around in the middle of the night.”

The new rules are more specific than previous regulations.

Licences will be denied to drivers with convictions for murder, manslaughter, or terrorism offences.

Applicants will be barred for three years after conviction for possession of a dangerous weapon.

However, the rules appear to have been relaxed over drink-driving offences.

Long-term Basildon cabbie Ralph Morgan, 67, added: “I actually think they should be harder on people convicted of drink-driving.

“These new rules are all very sensible, so long as they are properly enforced. The council hasn’t been very good at doing that in the past, because it’s licensing department is too short-staffed.”

Under the new regulations drivers can still apply to drive taxis after a first conviction for drink-driving.

However, it states: “More than one conviction for these offences raises significant doubts as to the applicant’s fitness to drive the public. At least three years after the restoration of the driving licence following a second drink-drive conviction should elapse before an application will be considered.”

Under the previous rules, drivers had to wait at least three years after their first drink-driving conviction before applying.