AN historic cap on taxi numbers in Worcester has finally been agreed - after years of gripes around congestion and pollution.

Worcester City Council has voted through a new rule which means no more cabbies will be allowed a licence until numbers fall sharply.

The city currently has 263 hackney carriages, and the cap is set at 230, which means at least 34 must quit before any more are dished out.

The decision was finalised by the council's licensing committee last night, despite concerns it may take years for the numbers to fall, if ever.

Under current Government legislation taxi drivers can transfer plates to other people - effectively sell them on at a price - rather than voluntarily give them up.

The committee voted the cap through despite concerns it could crate a cartel for drivers.

Back in 2001 Worcester had just 100 hackney carriages, but since then the numbers have nearly tripled, sparking years of concern about harm to the environment and congestion.

The drivers themselves widely backed the cap, leading to the crunch vote taking place last night.

Prices for a licence have also been whacked up £27, taking it to £153 for renewals, to make it less appealing.

Councillor Jo Hodges said: "We've all been waiting for this moment to actually happen for a very long time.

"There was a lot of inpatience that we weren't able to do this before, the majority of people do recognise we've reached the point where we do have sufficient numbers of taxis in Worcester to meet demand."

The cap is being set at 230 because Worcester had that many taxis back in September, which is when an independent survey was done suggesting there is no need for any more.

Councillor Ken Carpenter said: "We've got more than enough taxis, that's been proved."

Some other politicians said they harboured doubts over whether it will make a difference.

Councillor Simon Cronin said: "As long as the plates remain transferable, we will never reach this figure.

"As long as there's a cap, the plates have value and nobody will willingly give them up - the best we can say is that this cap will stop the numbers getting higher."

Niall McMenamin, from the licensing team, said there is "no legal standing" to stop plates being transferred to new owners, but that caps have reduced taxi numbers in other parts of the country, like Chesterfield.

"In other parts of the country going down the 'capping route' has seen numbers fall," he said.

It was backed unanimously.