THREE taxi drivers had their licences suspended as part of an operation designed to keep members of the public safe on festive nights out.

Cherwell District Council and Thames Valley Police carried out 38 checks on taxis in Banbury and Bicester last weekend to ensure they were following the conditions of their licences.

The suspensions were for a non-roadworthy tyre, incorrect display of a licence plate and a missing roof light.

Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s executive member with responsibility for licensing, said: “We are pleased that the vast majority of our taxi drivers are offering a safe and accountable service to their passengers.

"However, the fact that we have just suspended three licences shows that we take breaches of conditions extremely seriously and will take enforcement action wherever necessary.

“We advise people travelling by taxi in our district to check that the vehicle is carrying a white or green council plate to the rear and that the driver is displaying his photo ID inside the car.

"They can then enjoy their journey in the knowledge that their driver has been through our rigorous checks and training.”

The operation was part of the Departure Zone campaign which advises revellers how to stay safe while out on the town, addressing topics such as illegal tobacco, drinks spiking, and the dangers of underage drinking.

Council licensing officers checked vehicles' plates matched drivers' registration documents, while ensuring the latter were up to date.

They also checked hackney meters were sealed and roof lights switched on and offered advice on other faults including no-smoking signs, a faulty front bumper and minor faults with indicator lights.

The council is planning to run further spot-checking operations at regular intervals over the coming months. 

Police and council representatives will station themselves at hubs in Banbury and Bicester again this weekend as part of the campaign, which is using the hashtag #PartySafeHomeSafe.

The first hub is in Sheep Street, Bicester, on Friday, December 14, with the second at Banbury's Parsons Street and Market Place on Saturday, December 15.

They will be offering freebies and tips on topics such as illegal tobacco, drinks spiking, and the dangers of underage drinking.