LICENSED door staff will act as taxi marshals in Bridlington over the festive period.
On December 23, 24, 26, 30 and 31, two members of registered door staff will be employed by East Riding of Yorkshire Council to monitor Hackney Carriage taxi ranks on Cliff Street and Regent Terrace, between midnight and 4am.
The council is warning people to keep safe and be wary of bogus taxi drivers, after reports of two unlicensed vehicles operating in the town last Christmas.
They say that while revellers queue for cabs, the marshals will ensure that queues are orderly and that anti-social behaviour is not tolerated, that customers only get into licensed vehicles, they will check people are not excessively drunk, advise them no food and drink is allowed in cabs and make sure groups or individuals have enough cash to pay their fare.
The area in which they operate offer improved lighting, designated CCTV cameras and a direct link to the police, if needed, which the council say is for the protection of customers.
Councillor Jane Evison, chair of East Riding of Yorkshire Community Safety Partnership and portfolio holder for public protection, said: “The use of taxi marshals on our ranks is a new measure introduced to keep people safer and make them feel more secure.
“The scheme will ensure people can obtain licensed taxis safely and orderly in the town centre.
“It will be particularly beneficial over the busy Christmas and New Year period and will assist us in preventing crime and disorder, managing anti-social behaviour on the ranks and keeping people safe.”
The taxi marshals scheme, which will also run in Beverley, is costing East Riding of Yorkshire Council only £500 - money which is raised from licensing and not from council tax - and will also help protect propery licensed drivers.
Councillor Evison said: “The danger to the travelling public is from a small element of unlicensed drivers who either hold no licence or attempt to accept passengers when they are not legally entitled.
“The council wants everyone to have fun and enjoy the festive season but, above all we want them to get home safely.
“Getting into an unlicensed vehicle is essentially the same as taking a lift from a stranger; people should remember to stay safe especially if they are under the influence of alcohol.”
Sgt Steve Dove of Bridlington Neighbourhood Policing Team, said that the police had their own strategies to deal with the possibility of town centre violence or anti-social behaviour - particularly at busy times of the year.
He said: “Anything that would prevent incidents of drunkeness or violence around the taxi ranks, and assist the night time economy, would be supported.”
Chris Short, who has worked as a Hackney Carriage taxi driver in Bridlington for around six years, said: “It is a good idea. There are people trying to do things right, and the unlicensed drivers trying to make a quick buck.
“I don’t think unlicensed drivers are not a huge problem in the town, but it only takes one before it turns into a free-for-all.”
Mr Short believed that Christmas is a particularly difficult time for taxi drivers in the town, and welcomed measures to control queuing at taxi ranks.
“You get two types of drunk people, the happy ones and the aggressive ones, and it is good to know that there will be some control over the queues.”
Paul Bellotti, head of housing and public protection at the council, added: “The working relationship we have with the taxi and private hire trade is very positive and they do a great job, especially late at night, of getting people home quickly and safely at a time when no other public transport is available.
“We are working with the trade and our partners to continue to show that the East Riding of Yorkshire is a safe place to spend an evening.
“The licensing team will also be making random spot checks and will prosecute those who operate taxis and private hire vehicles illegally.”
If you have any concerns about unlawful taxis operating, contact East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Licensing Team on (01482) 396297 or Humberside Police.