TAXI drivers say the closure of two ranks helped put Bournemouth’s Fir Vale Road on a list of the country’s most violent roads.

They are urging Bournemouth Council to reinstate the pick-up points near Lava Ignite and several other clubs.

Research for a thinktank, the Economic Policy Centre, recorded the sixth highest level of violent crime “on or near” Fir Vale Road.

Taxi driver Paul Stark, 59, from Winton, said: “People like to leave the club and step straight into a taxi – it was a crazy idea to remove the ranks.

“People are coming looking for taxis, even young girls, and that’s when they are getting assaulted.

“The removal of the ranks has a lot to do with the violence.”

Derek Heritage, marketing director at United Taxis said: “We have long been campaigning for the return of the taxi ranks and access for private hire vehicles in this notorious road.

“Every weekend our telephonists are asking hundreds of customers to walk to the nearest rank or to a safe spot where we are allowed to pick up customers.”

Bournemouth Council closed the Fir Vale Road rank, and another on adjoining St Peter’s Road, after a trial period during 2010.

The Echo reported how Ashley Miller, head of the Taxi Trade Association, had warned that it would create an “explosive” situation at the already busy Horseshoe Common rank around the corner.

The Horseshoe Common rank was being patrolled by taxi marshalls, though funding for the marshalls has been cut and the search is on for another source of money.

Dorset Police asked for the change to help disperse people away from the nightclubs around Fir Vale and St Peter’s Road.

Paul Kenyon, manager of Bliss and Chilli Whites near the two closed ranks, had said the change cut the chance of accidents on that stretch of road.

A spokesman for Bournemouth Council said: “By closing the road this helps to disperse people away from the nightclubs in order to avoid a large concentration of people forming directly outside one central spot.

“The nearest alternative taxi rank benefits from the presence of taxi marshalls to ensure effective queue management and public safety.”