THERE are too many hackney carriage taxis operating in a borough – and a report recommends numbers should be capped.

A survey was carried out for Barrow Borough Council by a consultancy firm, as part of standard government requirements.

The report, due to be discussed by the council’s licensing regulatory committee tomorrow, shows there is an “excess supply for the level of demand”.

Historically, the number of licensed hackney taxis in the borough has been capped at 120, but there are presently 142.

In light of the report, the council’s licensing department is recommending councillors impose a maximum limit of 120 and approve a quantity control policy on that limit.

The report concluded: “There is no significant unmet demand and an apparent excess of supply of hackney carriages.

“Therefore, there is no compelling need to increase the number of hackney carriage licences, on the basis of public benefit.”

The survey – which was charged to the licence holders at a cost of £44.14 each – was undertaken at taxi ranks over four days in June.

Six ranks were surveyed: Barrow railway station, Cavendish Street, Dalkeith Street, Cornwallis Street, Dalton Road and Duke Street.

The report said day time trade was “relatively low for the size of the hackney carriage fleet”.

The data showed almost 50 per cent of hackney carriages departing the ranks left empty.

Most of those were thought to be responding to pre-booked hires.

Almost 70 per cent of rank-based hires happened on Friday and Saturday nights.

And virtually all Friday and Saturday night activity was in Cavendish Street – where Barrow’s nightlife is now focused.

The report said it is understood around 90 per cent of hackney carriage drivers also work on booking circuits for private firms.

The remaining 10 per cent rely on demand through the ranks and from “flag down” hires.

Passenger queuing was described as “rare” and only three instances were recorded over the four days.

In general, the survey found members of the public are content with the hackney carriage level of service.

But a number of key concerns were voiced by the trade.

The main issues raised were frustration with private cars parked in taxi rank space; frustration with the lack of a well-marked, formal taxi rank in Cavendish Street; and a desire for new ranks to serve daytime demand from shoppers and nighttime demand from pubs and clubs.