TAXI passengers across the Barrow area may have to stump up for a new booking fee - if councillors back the idea this week.

A Barrow Borough Council committee meets on Thursday to discuss a booking charge - initially put at £3.50.

The proposal would apply to Hackney Carriage operators or those taxis which can be hailed in the street or caught from a rank.

Other local councils such as Lancaster add a £4 booking fee for Hackney Carriage drivers.

Barrow council's licensing regulatory committee appeared to rule out the idea last month. But following feedback from the taxi trade, councillors are being asked to 'reconsider'.

Ubaro, a recently-launched Uber-style taxi-booking system for the borough, is in favour and has urged the council to go-ahead.

It said: "Having looked at a number of other areas across the country, Barrow Borough Council is the only authority that does not seem to have the requested booking fee currently in operation."

However, another Hackney Carriage taxi driver told the council they strongly objected and warned it would cause 'confusion' about taxi rates.

The Furness Taxi Trade Association, which represents more than 120 Hackney Carriage and private hire drivers, has backed a booking fee in a vote.

The council has 283 licensed drivers on its books - 96 are Hackney, 120 private hire and 53 hold a dual license.

A report to go before councillors said the 'majority' of the local taxi trade supported the booking fee.

It said: "It is in the public interest for consumers to have a choice and different options available when ordering a taxi."

It said there is 'no compelling evidence' that it would 'adversely affect' the public or taxi trade.

"Operators have discretion whether to charge a booking fee. It is likely some operators will not charge the booking fee," said the council report.

The committee, chaired by Cllr Tony Callister, will be asked to choose one of two options at a meeting in the town hall.

Cllr Callister, the Labour member for Walney North, declined to comment on the proposal as he did not want to pre-determine any decision made on Thursday.

The committee could vote to introduce a booking fee - although this would require further consultation. Alternatively, the committee may disregard the idea and make no change.