A SUDDEN freeze in taxi driver numbers across Worcester can today be revealed - with NO more cabbies being handed licences in the city.
After years of concern about pollution and congestion due to spiralling cabbie numbers, Worcester City Council has revealed plans for an historic cap.
Under the plans, no more licences will be dished out until more than 30 current drivers have quit.
At the moment Worcester has 261 hackney carriage drivers, a record high, but the council wants to set the city's first ever cap at 231.
Once it falls to 230 or lower, it will start handing out hackney carriage licences again, saying it will launch a lottery process if demand is high.
It is also planning to discourage potential hackney drivers by whacking the fee up by £27, on top of the current price of £399.
The city council has just finished a two-month public consultation over it, revealing:
- 84 per cent of people believe Worcester has too many taxis
- 87 per cent say should the council should not hand out any more licences
- 86 per cent agreed with a cap, and a freeze until the current tally falls below that level
Back in 2001 Worcester had just over 100 taxis, but the overall numbers since then have tripled when you include private hire vehicles.
It has led to years of concern, especially around Foregate Street and The Cross about damage to the environment and congestion.
Worcester Taxi Drivers Association has also consistently argued for a cap, but it has never happened, partly due to concerns over legal challenges.
A vote will take place during a licensing committee next Wednesday and if agreed, it will come into force immediately.
It follows an independent survey carried out last year, which was paid for by the trade, and suggested Worcester doesn't need any more cabs.
Councillor Jabba Riaz, who sits on the licensing committee, said: "I have always been up for a cap, in terms of what's been happening in Worcester we all know there's far too many."
Taxi driver Asif Mahmood, 41, said: "Drivers have been saying they can't make a decent living and it's been that way for too long.
"Worcester has taxis all over the place, the plates should have stopped a long time ago."
The council does not have powers to strip taxi drivers of their licences in order to reach the level of 231, but is hoping natural wastage will gradually bring it down.