TAXI drivers who face being struck off in Worcester have been handed an olive branch - after the city council decided to make the process less of an ordeal.

Up until now, every time a cabbie has their licence temporarily suspended, taxpayers must fork out for the driver to appear before a panel of three councillors within 14 days to explain themselves.

But the council normally suspends a licence if a taxi driver is facing a court appearance, and in that case the panels always adjourn until the case is over.

The current process has cost taxpayers thousands of pounds in wasted money, and is now being changed.

The city council's licensing committee has now agreed to forego the automatic first panel hearing, saying it will save time and money.

A new report on the change says the council now considers it an "unnecessary and unhelpful step" in the process following national changes in case law.

Initial decisions to suspend licences are made by Worcestershire Regulatory Services, and after any legal action is over a panel of councillors is then convened to make a final decision on what to do.

Councillor Lucy Hodgson said: "For a driver to have their licence revoked it has to be a serious matter.

"It is not something any of us take lightly. When it comes to a sub-committee in that first 14 days we can only listen, not pass judgement because we don't know the outcome (of a court case or police investigation).

"Once we know that outcome then yes, they will come before the sub-committee but until we reach that point there's little we can do."

Councillor Paul Denham said: "The accused will go through a procedure where they have to come to this committee within 14 days, usually with a solicitor, and yet at the end of the day no process can usually be made because the full facts are not available at that time."

The licensing committee agreed to back the change, making the process simpler by scrapping that initial panel hearing.

It will need to be voted through by full council in July before coming into force.