CONCERNS have been raised about the controversial planned overhaul of rules for taxi drivers in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

Among new restrictions being planned by BCP Council are a 3.5-year vehicle age limit and a new white colour requirement while a cap on the number of licences issued would also be removed.

But industry representatives have hit out at many of the “ridiculous” changes, warning they may lead to lower standards and harm the financial viability of the profession.

Three draft policies governing requirements for taxi drivers and companies will be considered by councillors on Thursday (February 4).

They were drawn-up last year to improve standards and safety in the industry with a consultation held in October.

Included within the documents are vehicle age and emissions standards, a new white and blue colour scheme, driver dress codes banning tracksuits and jeans and the scrapping of a cap on the number of Hackney Carriage licences.

Should they be adopted, newly-licensed vehicles could only be 3.5-years-old at most but this has prompted concerns it could make electric taxis unaffordable.

And taxi firm PRC Streamline has warned the proposed removal of the driver cap could put the industry’s reputation in the area “at risk”.

“The consequences of this policy change will be a large increase in cars on the roads of the BCP area leading to less work per car so affecting the livelihoods of the many drivers,” it said.

“In addition, it may lead to lower standards of service and car quality. Congestion on the taxi ranks is also likely.”

It said the number of licensed Hackney Carriages already exceeded the capacity of the area’s taxi ranks while there was already a “free market” for private hire vehicles.

The concerns have prompted calls for the idea to be completely shelved when the new policies are discussed.

Bournemouth Taxi Ranks Association chairman Barry Jones said the draft policy showed the council had “a complete lack of understanding of the knowledge of the taxi trade”.

Others are urging a rethink of the vehicle age limit, saying it was discouraging the use of more environmentally-friendly cars in favour of cheaper petrol or diesel ones.

The policies will be considered at Thursday’s licensing committee meeting before they go to the full council for formal adoption.