CABBIES are urging a council to maintain its limit on the number of taxis allowed in a town centre after claims any increase will further damage trade.
Newcastle Borough Council is carrying out a consultation ahead of proposals to scrap its current cap on the Hackney carriages.
The authority is considering the changes after a survey revealed ‘significant unmet demand’ for taxis between 2am and 3am.
But drivers say daytime trade has slumped and no more licenses should be handed out.
Chairman of Newcastle Hackney Carriage Association Carl Phillips said: “There may be a shortfall of cars between 2am and 3am but every other town and city has the same problem. We are in a recession and Newcastle town centre is no exception.
“With a lot of empty shops we have taxis sitting around most of the day and most of the drivers are relying on repeat business from regulars.”
The borough council currently caps the number of Hackney carriages allowed to operate in the area at 51.
It also has a waiting list of 41 people who have asked to be issued with a Hackney license.
Nearby authorities including Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council do not have any limit.
The nearest area to maintain a cap on Hackney carriage drivers is Congleton.
Mr Phillips, aged 57, of Lightwood, who has been a taxi driver in the borough for the past nine years, added: “This is a small market town.
“We don’t have an airport or a railway station and to consider putting more cars on is wrong.
“Every three years we have to fight off these plans.
“There is no need to take away the limit, you only have to walk around the town to see taxis sitting waiting.”
Any authority which has a limit must justify the cap to the Government.
In December 2009, the borough council carried out a survey costing £20,779 to investigate whether a limit was needed.
The conclusions of the report revealed there was no significant unmet demand within the area.
The recent community safety team survey, which was carried out over a month, claims during peak times more than 40 people were spotted waiting for a taxi.
Andrew Davies, aged 54, of Wolstanton, who has been a taxi driver in the borough for the past 12 years, said: “I don’t see why a town like Newcastle needs anymore taxis.
“There has been a decline in business over the last few years as people are cutting back on what they spend their money on.
“At times you can be waiting around for 30 minutes for a job. If you have a busy hour you can make about £18 and if it’s quiet, very little.
“On a Friday and Saturday it might go really busy for about an hour but the rest of the time you just have cars waiting around.”
To relieve congestion around the town, the bus station is used as a taxi rank during weekend nights as private hire cabs are allowed to pick up punters while a team of marshalls radio through the bookings.
Mr Phillips added: “The system at the bus station works great and there are 300 cars helping clear the town.”
Kelly Royals, aged 26, a learning support assistant from Newcastle, said: “I don’t think there is any need for anymore taxis.
“The system at the bus station works just fine at night.”