A £233,000 scheme to improve safety in Bradford taxis will see screens installed in vehicles across the district.

The funding, from Bradford Council will also see taxis provided with facemasks and hand sanitiser to make journeys safer for drivers and passengers.

The equipment will be available from a private contractor and Bradford Council’s Licencing Service will contact the taxi operators to arrange collection of the hand sanitisers, facemasks and how best to order and supply screens for their vehicles.

While Hackney Carriage taxis are legally classed as public transport, private hire vehicles are not. However, Bradford Council recommends that all passengers in all vehicles wear face masks.

The PVC screens, which should be wiped clean between each journey, are installed using a strap and slide buckle system that attaches to either the handles above the doors or the door columns.

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They can provide up to 90 per cent coverage of the space between the driver and rear seat passenger. Drivers fitting them will need to reassure themselves that the screens comply with the conditions set by their insurance provider.

A recent national report into the impact of Covid-19 revealed that taxi drivers were among the professions worst hit by the pandemic, with risk to drivers much higher than many other professions.

Announcing the funding Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, said, “Bradford taxi drivers provide a brilliant service for the people of Bradford district and beyond.

“In spite of these challenging times they have continued to deliver a first class service and we want to thank them for that.

"What’s important now, as the economy starts to open up and more people start to use taxis, is that we want to make sure the public and drivers alike are safe which is why we are providing this protection for them at no cost to themselves.

“Council staff have worked hard to source suitable screens and the first supplies are coming in a week’s time.

“All taxi operators are being written to and asked to confirm the number of screens they will require for their drivers. We will then work to fulfil those orders as quickly as possible along with the hand sanitiser and the facemasks.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said: “We are trying to make sure that people in the district can get back to their normal lives without having to run increased risks to their health.

“Private hire drivers provide an essential service for the people of this district and they deserve as much protection as other workers in public transport.

“By helping to keep the drivers safe we are also helping to keep the public safe at the same time which is an absolute priority for the Council.”