THE council has stepped up its pursuit of taxi drivers parking illegally in the city centre as the problem of over-ranking continues.

Worcestershire Regulatory Services, which handles taxi licensing on behalf of Worcester City Council and the rest of the county, has continued handing out penalty points to drivers for breaking parking regulations and waiting outside of designated ranks.

Taxi drivers in the city are at risk of losing their licence if they are caught more than four times in two years.

A city council by-law means taxi drivers who park outside of a designated taxi rank when it is full and do not move to an empty one could be fined up to £500 and handed four penalty points.

A taxi driver who picks up more than 15 points within two years would be forced to meet with the council's licensing committee meaning the licence could be revoked.

However, a driver's total penalty points are wiped after two years.

Mohammad Sajad, from Worcester Taxi Drivers Association, said Foregate Street was a "mess" and over-ranking was caused by too many taxi licences being handed out by councils outside of the city and Worcester City Council needed to carry out more enforcement.

The issue of illegal parking and over-ranking has been discussed several times by Worcester Taxi Association and licensing bosses at Worcestershire Regulatory Services.

Last year, West Mercia Police said it had been issuing parking tickets to taxi drivers who had been parking illegally and causing obstructions in Foregate Street and outside McDonald’s and Angel Place and would continue to do so if the problem persisted.

Licensing officers, who carry out joint patrols of some of the infringement ‘hotspots’ alongside police and council officers, also hand out penalty points to taxi drivers on behalf of the city council.

Councillor Richard Udall, chairman of the council's licensing and environmental health committee, said the council had been acting on taxi drivers parking illegally and was currently working on a solution for Foregate Street to satisfy both drivers and the public.

He said: "We are very strict on this issue and we would be prepared to take action against drivers.

"Only recently we sent a taxi driver on a re-education course to make sure he was aware of policy.

"Drivers do say there is not enough space to park and I do understand their frustration.

"It is a nuisance and it is a problem for customers and other drivers but we are working towards a solution that works for the public and for the taxi industry."

A spokesman for Worcester City Council said: "Worcestershire Regulatory Services is responsible for the licensing of taxis across the county.

"It takes enforcement action following reports from the police, civil enforcement officers and its own officers of incidents including over-ranking and illegal parking.

"Penalty points can be issued for offences."