BARROW has a “dearth” of taxi drivers, according to a trade leader.

Bob Mullen, secretary of the Furness Taxi Trade Association, said it was tougher to get a licence with drivers facing a range of necessary checks.

The measures were introduced to protect the public as well as driving up standards.

They include a medical, extended driving test, local knowledge, simple maths and English, disability and child protection awareness and a criminal records bureau check.

Mr Mullen estimated there are around 300 taxis serving the borough but said: “There’s definitely a shortage.”

The National Taxi Association said the measures, while necessary, could sometimes take “months” and the delay could deter some people.

Barrow mayor Cllr Kevin Hamilton said some areas of the country had been massively over-subscribed with councils required to take action to reduce the number of drivers in places where there were too many.

Barrow Council is planning to make it easier and cheaper for drivers to appeal  if their licences are refused, suspended or revoked.

It plans to amend its policy in order to give drivers the “right of review” before the council’s cross-party 12-member licensing regulatory committee.

Drivers can continue to appeal directly to the magistrates’ court but this can be costly for both the person and the council.

A report to the council said an appeal could lead to a “prolonged and financially burdensome process” for the individual and the authority.

A report to go before the council next week said: “Where drivers’ licences have been refused, or a driver has their licence suspended or revoked, the individual will have an optional right of review to the licensing regulatory committee.

“A request for this review must be lodged with the public protection manager within 21 days of receiving notice of the decision to refuse, suspend or revoke.

“This right does not affect the statutory right of appeal to the magistrates Court and is only an option. The individual may still choose to appeal directly to the magistrates court, where applicable, without utilising this optional right of review.”

Mr Mullen added that it was good to have the option of an appeal to the committee.