CHANGES to licensing rules making it tougher to become a taxi driver have been delayed.

Members of the Licensing Committee at Basildon Council took the step of deferring a move which would have meant people who had been convicted of serious offences would be barred from ever becoming a cab driver.

Proposals had been drafted with crimes seperated into three categories, depending on the severity of the offence. But councillors were not happy about some offences being seperated from similar crimes which were racially aggrivated, as it was felt they were as bad as each other.

Convictions for common assault, criminal damage and public order offences were put in category C, meaning anyone applying to become a taxi driver would have to wait three years before they could be considered.

Racially-aggravated versions of the same offences were put in category B, meaning drivers convicted would have to wait seven years.

David Abrahall, chairman of the committee, was unhappy the offences had been split into two categories.

Mr Abrahall: “I know we are trying to tie in with taxi and Hackney Carriage advice from London, but I do not agree with this wording and the difference between common assualt and criminal damage, and racially-aggravated versions of the crimes.

“You cannot say because something is racially aggrivated that it is more important or worse than something that is not, because it is still a bad crime.”

It was agreed by the committee the proposals needed to be reworded so the offences of common assault, criminal damge and public order offences, whether racially aggrivated or not, are in the same category.

The committee deferred the decision until March 23.