A taxi company in the child-sex scandal hit town Heywood is now offering customers the opportunity to choose white-only cab drivers, after two former ‘Asian’ drivers were imprisoned for sexual assault and sexual exploitation.
The owner of company Car 2000, Stephen Campbell defended himself from accusations of racism when speaking to the Guardian, reflecting that he was merely reacting to the demands of the market place. He said: “We have had quite a lot of customers requesting what they call a ‘local’ [White] driver. A bit insane if you consider that most of the [Asian] lads were born in Rochdale.
“But its a business and we have got a duty to do what the customer asks us to. I don’t think we can discriminate against the customer in the same way. It is a business at the end of the day. We have a large bank loan to pay back”.
Heywood, an area of Rochdale in Manchester was at the heart of the 2011 child sex-ring case, a scandal which brought nationwide attention to the phenomenon of predominantly Pakistani, Muslim men engaging in criminal abuse of young, white girls. During the proceedings of the court case against the men it was revealed on one occasion one under-age girl from Heywood was raped by twenty men in one night who ‘lined up’ outside her room, another was so drunk she threw up as she was raped by two men.
Further revelations in Rotherham this year have confirmed apparent patterns of Pakistani men using fast-food shops and taxi firms as a means to entrap girls, some of whom came forwards to police to complain of repeated gang-rapes in return for food and drugs.
The events have polarised politics in the Heywood and Middleton, which for the past fifty years has been a solidly Labour seat. The recent by-election was hotly contested by UKIP, who performed well thanks to local concerns about the behaviour of the area’s Pakistani community. Although Labour retained the seat on the 9 of October, its 6,000 majority from the last election was cut to just 617 votes, as UKIP made one of the most remarkable bounces by a political party in British by-election history.
Now these cases have become public knowledge, it is becoming apparent that parents are increasingly aware of hidden criminal practice that may place their children in danger, and are being accommodated by taxi firms as a result. This is in stark contrast to the situation in the last decade, when one BBC radio presenter was fired from the corporation after she requested an ‘English’ driver from a minicab firm. The taxi dispatch operator took offence at the request, which was for the presenter’s young daughter who would be travelling alone to her grandparents house, and passed a recording to the Sun newspaper.
Car 2000 now gets some sixty requests a week for white drivers, and although a local Labour MP has called it “extremely worrying”, the local council has raised no objections. A spokesman said: “This is first the council has heard of this company’s policy. However, this appears to be a decision made by the company and there is currently nothing in the conditions of their license which state that they cannot operate such a policy, just as some firms choose to offer customers only female drivers”. Despite their apparent blessing, owner Campbell shows no care for the opinions of local bureaucrats, saying: “They can’t tell us what we can do”.