TAXI drivers in Abingdon are fighting plans to move town centre ranks as they fear it will harm their trade.

Seventy drivers and more than 150 customers have signed a petition against proposals to move the East St Helens Street rank and the Bridge Street rank to Broad Street and Queen Street.

The petition was presented to the Vale of White Horse District Council’s licensing officer Nigel Haverson after the council began consultation on the plan on behalf of Oxfordshire County Council.

Taxi driver Stuart Thomas, 36, said: “A current rank is in the market place, right behind the county hall.

“It has been there for 40 years now. It is in an ideal location. It is close to the bus stop, right at the heart of town.

“They want us to move to Queen Street which is basically a car park.

“Our customers will have to wait there at two in the morning. We don’t think that is a viable option for anybody.

“I wouldn’t want to stand alone at two in the morning. The elderly and more disabled will have trouble getting there because it is so uneven.

“It was universally unpopular when we mentioned it. Not one person liked the idea. We will definitely lose trade because we will not be visible anymore.”

Another taxi driver, Chris Gealy, 55, added: “It will effect everyone’s trade in the town.”

The county and district councils issued a joint statement, which said: “Following consultation with local people and taxi operators, the county council put forward plans to move the taxi ranks from East Saint Helen Street and Bridge Street to Broad Street and Queen Street.

“These were identified as convenient locations close to local services such as the doctor’s surgery and the library.

Vale of White Horse District Council then had a legal duty to consult on these proposals.

“We would like to thank the taxi drivers for submitting their petition and taking the opportunity to have their say on the proposals.”

A spokesman said no date for a decision had been set as further consultation was taking place.