HUNDREDS of taxis congregated in a Bournemouth car park and drove into the town centre in a convoy to protest against a raft of policy changes being proposed by BCP Council.

Councillors on Tuesday are being asked to sign off on the deregulation plan, which has the backing of the local authority's licencing committee but strong opposition from those in the industry.

The new policies include removing the limit on the number of cab licences that can be issued in Bournemouth and Poole - a move which would mirror the current situation in Christchurch.

The plans have left cabbies across BCP furious and they teamed up in a joint effort to highlight the opposition what is being proposed.

Taxis from various firms based in the three boroughs met at the car park in King's Park this afternoon before setting off as a convoy to Bournemouth Town Hall.

Bournemouth Echo:

In a statement, Paul Sondheim, treasurer for the Bournemouth Station Taxi Association, said: "Our demonstration today is regarding the new Taxi and Private Hire Proposals which are going to a full BCP Council meeting on February 23 for ratification of the licensing board's decision from the meeting held on February 4.

"Various petitions have been presented and speakers from the trade who attended the meeting on February 4 were allotted just over five minutes a piece to voice their concerns over these new proposals."

The council has until April this year to replace its existing taxi policies due to the terms of its creation two years.

Bournemouth Echo:

As reported, members of the licensing committee gave their backing to three new, saying the scrapping of a cap on licence numbers would improve standards.

They govern both the Hackney carriage and private hire sectors and would introduce a white colour scheme and vehicle age limits.

More significantly, the draft policies would also gradually increase the number of licences issued “with the clear aim of a total removal of limits” in 2025.

There is no cap in Christchurch but in Bournemouth and Poole there are only 249 and 89 Hackney carriage licences issued respectively.

“We’re here to ensure standards and public safety, we’re not here to stop someone starting up their own business and that’s one of the reasons we started to look towards derestricting it,” the council’s licensing manager Nananka Randle said on Thursday.

“But rather than just derestrict it straight away, which we accept would have quite a devastating impact on the trade, we felt a gradual approach would be fairer.”