ADCU slams racist presentation at West Northamptonshire Council committee hearing but welcomes decision to defer vote on flawed regulatory proposals

ADCU slams racist presentation at West Northamptonshire Council committee hearing but welcomes decision to defer vote on flawed regulatory proposals

ADCU welcomes West Northamptonshire Council decision to delay vote flawed regulations but utterly condemn racist presentation of licensing staff before the Council.

  • Council defer decision on racist and regressive new regulations due to failure to properly engage with the trade.
  • Council staff resorted to offensive racist tropes in inappropriate attempt to manipulate the democratic decision making process.


The ADCU welcomes the decision of the licensing committee of the West Northamptonshire Council to delay any vote on the proposed regulations that are regressive, racist and unworkable.

The union is gratified that in just 40 minutes, the elected representatives took on board the serious concerns raised by the ADCU and other trade representatives. It is unfortunate that the licensing directorate chose not to properly engage with and listen to the trade who have raised these issues in vain for nearly a year now.  

However, the ADCU utterly condemns the behaviour of Nicolas Sutcliffe,Licensing and Environmental Support Services Manager at West Northamtonshire Council who was responsible for the development of the flawed regulatory proposal.

Mr. Sutcliffe resorted to the use of racist tropes in answer to a question raised by a Councillor about how the Council plans to consider in licensing decisions what they consider to be ‘criminal behaviour’ of applicants even in cases where the applicant has not been charged, convicted or where there has not even been any police involvement.  In explaining the policy, Mr. Sutcliffe summoned up the hypothetical scenario of where an alleged rape victim might be ‘spirited away to Pakistan’ so that she might be prevented from giving evidence against a hypothetical license applicant.  

It is telling, that when this power grab by the Council authorities comes under the pressure of democratic scrutiny, the Council authorities choose to resort to racist tropes of sexual violence undertaken by Pakistani men in order to frighten and intimidate the Council into delegating powers they are proving themselves unfit to administer. Such tropes serve to demonise and stigmatise an already marginalised community who work in the trade despite not a scintilla of evidence that such offences or risk of offending has ever taken place. This racist repression is also designed to disempower and disenfranchise workers in the taxi and private hire trade in the political decision making relating to proper regulation.

The ADCU call on the Council to investigate this matter and undertake all appropriate disciplinary action.


Amongst the concerns the ADCU raised regarding the proposed regulations:

  • Demands by the Council that licensed drivers must secure a ‘certificate of good conduct’ from every country they may have lived for more than 90 days since the age of 18. Even the Home Office statutory guidance is that such measures are unnecessary for private hire drivers.  The imposition of this rule is arbitrary and racist.
  • An arbitrary penalty points system that turns risk and compliance management into a numbers game but does nothing to raise standards. Despite the council themselves claiming a sole regulatory purpose of public safety, the Council introducing a penalty points system where drivers can lose their license due to penalty points for poor personal hygiene, poor dress style or for not offering to load luggage. In short, the Council has colluded with area operators to make workplace performance management a regulatory standard.The Council overstep their authority so that bad bosses can continue to avoid their obligations under employment law.  
  • A harsh convictions policy. Drivers convicted for holding a mobile phone, a DVLA 6-point offense, can now lose their private hire license for five years.            
  • A failure by the Council to crack down on rogue employers and protect the worker rights of drivers despite a Supreme Court ruling confirming the rights of drivers. Separately, the High Court has ruled that operators must change their business model, so the y contract directly with passengers rather than have their drivers do so, yet the Council has remained completely silent despite the profound safety implications for passengers.
  • The Council also seeks to inappropriately snoop into the private life of licensed private hire drivers. The Council warns they will monitor the activity of licensed drivers on social media in their private time and consider this in licensing decisions. This is an Article 8 human rights violation in that licensees are guaranteed the right to a private life.
  • The Council is demanding higher standards from private hire drivers than the elected Councillors demand of themselves in their own code of conduct. Many of the Councillors on the licensing committee have failed to publish their required declaration of interests yet demand licensed drivers maintain even higher standards of conduct than the lawmakers even when off the job and in their private lives.    
  • The Council has failed to conduct a proper equalities impact assessment as required by law. The Council should have delivered this before consultation and now after the consultation they have only considered one factor – the certificate of good conduct – despite the intense impact this profoundly racist regulatory framework has on a minority workforce.


Shafqat Shah, Chair of ADCU Northampton said:

I am grateful for the common sense exercised by the licensing committee in their decision to defer any vote on the regulations until those of us working in the trade have been properly listened to and until an equalities impact assessment has been properly carried out. It is regrettable that so much time and money has been wasted by the Council of the development of unworkable regulations when problems could have been avoided if they had been willing to properly engage with the trade.


Abdurzak Hadi, ADCU BAME Officer said:

We are deeply concerned about the use of racist language and tropes by Council staff in their presentation before the licensing committee last night. Racism has no place in modern society and certainly not in public life. Council staff resorted to the use of harmful tropes, deeply hurtful to the local Pakistani driver community, to marginalise and demonise a minority workforce whilst manipulating the democratic process by invoking images of racism linked with sexual violence. This matter should be investigated as a matter of urgency by the Council and all appropriate disciplinary action should be undertaken.