THE council's decision to remove 22 taxi spaces at Horseshoe Common has been described as “ridiculous”.

John Tye, the chairman of Bournemouth Taxi Association, raised the issue at the full council meeting on Tuesday just a week after dozens of cabbies protested about the changes.

The drivers have claimed the failure to replace the rank on Old Christchurch Road, which was scrapped as part of the council's redevelopment of Horseshoe Common, mean revellers attending nightclubs in the area have to walk five minutes to Lansdowne to reach the nearest rank.

Mr Tye said the council incorrectly favours buses over taxis and that cabs are the “more user-friendly option”.

“Has anyone monitored how many people buses are actually carrying?” he asked.

“They are circumnavigating for 18 hours a day. A taxi sits on the rank, minding its own business, until it is needed.”

He said the town's taxis also provide much needed wheelchair access and the loss of the rank was having an impact on disabled people wishing to travel.

“There seems to be a general reduction [in the number of taxi ranks]. For a town of this type it is ridiculous,” he added.

“They now have to walk anything up to half a mile to get to a rank.

“For the young people coming to this town or bringing money into this town, coming to the pubs clubs, restaurants - to then expect them, girls, young girls, often semi-dressed [to walk that distance] - it is not fair.”

Cllr Michael Filer, cabinet member for transport, said there “was no bias of any kind against the taxi trade” and considers it “an essential part of the town's transport policies”.

“We have regular meetings with the trade to ensure their views and problems are fully understood and catered for,” he added.

“The night time closures and parking restrictions have been introduced by experimental order which provides us the flexibility to change the restrictions over an 18 month period prior to making the orders permanent.”

He said the council “must support this important dispersal strategy”, adding: “I would encourage the taxi trade to support the closures and give the scheme an opportunity to take full effect for the benefit of all.”