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Cabbie advice on sex not on.

Byline: By Sarah Knapton

Council bosses have put the brakes on a controversial scheme which would allow taxi drivers to hand out free condoms.

Trojan Condoms was hoping to team up with taxi firms in North Tyneside to offer sex advice and free contraceptives.

The Safe Ride Home scheme is already running in Brighton and Edinburgh and organisers were hoping to extend it to the North East.

But North Tyneside Council blocked the plan, fearing it could encourage under-age sex.

The proposal went before its regulation and review committee where it was thrown out.

A council spokesman said: "The members of the committee had a wide-ranging discussion on this particular item before making their decision.

"Members expressed their concern about the possibility of condoms being distributed to under-16s and that some taxi drivers might be put in a difficult situation.

"They felt the scheme was more appropriate to pubs and clubs, rather than taxis."

Trojan says it created the Safe Ride Home Scheme to "put condoms in people's hands when they are most likely to need them".

The company added: "After a night out having fun with friends in clubs and bars is the most likely time when people could thrown caution to the wind and risk unsafe sex."

In the past nine months since it was piloted in Brighton, the scheme has won backing from the Brook Advisory Clinic, The Family Planning Association in Scotland and the Sexplained Foundation.

The condoms were to be handed out in discrete black envelopes which included sexual health information.

But the scheme stirred up opposition from taxi associations who were worried drivers could get into trouble for inadvertently handing out contraception to under-16s.

Alan Fidler, of the North Tyneside Taxi Association, said: "There would be, almost inevitably, a situation where young persons under the age of consent might request and be supplied with contraceptives by a taxi or private-hire driver.

"The social, moral and ethical issues this proposal poses are not ones which should be visited upon taxi drivers.

"I, for one, would not wish to be involved in a confrontational situation with passengers of questionable age requesting, or demanding, that I provide products which should only be supplied after proper assessment.

"I don't believe the motives of the supplier are anything but commercial. These products are freely accessible in lavatories in public houses, clubs and restaurants."

Trojan said it was disappointed the scheme had been vetoed.

Spokeswoman Christian Wright said: "We would have liked to roll out the scheme in the North East but it's important to us that we have community approval.

"In other areas the councils and healthcare trusts have been happy to come on board and we like to work alongside them.

"We will now be looking at other initiatives to get our message across in the North East."
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 20, 2006
Words:470
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