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Our statement on “Discount Taxis for Girls in Short Skirts”

August 15, 2013 4:16 PM
TOWIE's Amy Childs came under attack from Cllr Chris Hossack

TOWIE's Amy Childs came under attack from Cllr Chris Hossack

Brentwood Lib Dems distance themselves from Tory councillor's comments

Tory councillor Chris Hossack has caused a national media storm by describing Brentwood as a "meat market", says ITV's "The Only Way is Essex" is responsible for many of the town's problems and verbally maligned its star, Amy Childs, wants to start a taxi-fare discount scheme for "scantily clad young girls" and says Brentwood at night is a "cheap thrill" and that "girls….have too much on show" and could get attacked as a result.

Unfortunately, these careless comments have seen Brentwood made a laughing stock in the national press with stories in The Daily Mail, Mirror, Sun and Telegraph focusing on Cllr Hossack's comments about "Cheaper taxis if you wear a mini skirt".

Read the Brentwood Gazette's stories:

TOWIE puts women at risk of sexual assault

Comments slammed as sexist

Amy Childs hits back

Poll: Should women get cheaper taxis?

The Liberal Democrat Group on Brentwood Council wishes to completely distance itself from the comments made by Cllr Chris Hossack, which are now being quoted as the policy/potential policy of Brentwood Council. Last month, we actually tabled a motion for a strategy for our night time economy, which the Tories voted against and have instead tried to grab the headlines by this policy which, clearly, they thought would be popular. Although there is some credibility in a "safe area" similar to safety buses used in some city centres we are not aware of a wide spread problem of young people - of either gender - being attacked in our town. The issues with town centre behaviour - as borne out by those interviewed in this week's Brentwood Gazette - have been litter, noise, urinating in the street and later and later opening hours.

These comments show little understanding of the issues actually experienced by town centre residents and as a group, we are appalled by much of what he has said.

Cllr Hossack blames the "TOWIE" culture for the way girls are dressed and feels females who are scantily dressed should get discounted taxi fares to make sure they get safely home.

As Liberal Democrats we believe anyone, male or female, should be able to dress as they wish. The attitude that a girl will get attacked because of the way she is dressed is woefully out-of-date and belongs in the pages of history books and 1970s police dramas, not Brentwood in 2013. The chances of getting attacked apply equally to males and females and policies on taxi fares should also apply equally. We also feel many of our local taxi drivers would use or have used their discretion to help someone. Incidentally, the taxi trade has not been consulted on this issue.

This policy, if implemented, could work in reverse with preferences for fares going to men because they will pay the full amount. It could also mean that people dress "scantily" to get a lower fare. In short, this is a totally unworkable policy with even the Daily Mail calling it "bizarre".

We are also disappointed that this sort of attitude still prevails today in the Conservative Group and have asked the council leader, Louise McKinlay, whether she stands by Cllr Hossack's comments. At time of writing, we have had no response.

photo.JPGCllr Hossack also asserts that there is "money set aside" for this scheme and we have asked when, where and who approved this.

We have also asked officers in which capacity (council/individual/party) this statement was made by Cllr Hossack.

We also recognise that TOWIE, whatever your personal opinion of the show, has brought new business into the town and made Brentwood a destination for weekends away and are disturbed at the Tory councillor's verbal attack on Amy Childs and her well-intentioned ambition to be a role model for young people.

It should also be noted that many of the establishments allowed to open late have been approved by Tory councillors and opposed by Liberal Democrat councillors.

Cllr Hossack's lack of understanding of the main issues in Brentwood's night time culture is now of concern to a number of opposition councillors and we have to question whether he is the right person to lead the working party on the night time economy.

In our view it isn't the TOWIEs that are ruining our town but the TORIES.