PUNTERS picking up taxis in Gloucester are being made aware of the risks of flagging down private hire cabs in the city at night.
A poster campaign is being launched in Gloucester's pubs and clubs to raise awareness of the dangers of using unlicensed or uninsured vehicles.
White Hackney carriages, with a blue plate and taxi sign, can be flagged down or picked up from the rank.
But private hire cabs with a yellow taxi plate must be pre-booked.
Both are licensed by the city council.
Paul Hopkins, a self-employed Hackney carriage driver, represents the taxi industry on the volunteer-run Nightsafe community panel.
"There is a place for private hire taxis in Gloucester, but they must be pre-booked and cannot be flagged down," he said.
"The danger is you may not be insured if you accept a fare. As taxi drivers, we all want to be highlighting safety moving forward.
"People must plan ahead and book a taxi home.
"The last thing I want to do is hear on a Monday morning that someone I have dropped off in the city at night has not got home safely.
"There are too many people walking home at night alone.
"The incident on Saturday night is a worry.
"Taxi drivers will always make sure women on their own will get home safely and to their door." There is a problem with private hire taxis stopping off in Eastgate Street to collect fares, the panel heard.
The panel hopes relocating taxi ranks from outside Liquid nightclub and the bus station to the front of GL1 leisure centre will help diffuse issues. The move could also speed up plans to fully pedestrianise Eastgate Street at night.
Aspire Leisure manages GL1 but its chief executive Steve Elway has concerns over any possible move.
"We would have reservations over a taxi rank outside GL1, mainly because of the glass frontage and the potential for vandalism," he said.
"We are happy to work with the Nightsafe partners for the benefit of the city to come up with an alternative.
"GL1 would like to be part of any future discussions."