A COUNCIL has been accused of wasting cash after spending more than £12,000 on a survey of how many Hackney cabs they needed.

The report by independent consultants found that residents in Hyndburn were only waiting an average of several seconds at taxi ranks and current provision was adequate.

The decision to spend £12,078 on the report, the result of 127 hours of taxi rank observation, has been slammed by opposition councillors. But the council’s deputy leader says the survey saves money in the long run.

Because the borough has a cap on the amount of licences they issue, the council say they are legally obliged to survey taxi provision every three years.

Deputy leader Clare Pritchard said the council could face heavy legal penalties if a refusal to issue a Hackney licence were challenged.

The survey was slammed by opposition leader Peter Britcliffe at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting as ‘nonsense’.

The former leader said there had been no need for a survey since his council capped the number of licenses at 62 in 2005. He said: “The cabinet has wasted public money at a time we are supposed to be tightening our belts.

“It would be obvious to anyone that taxi provision in the borough is fine. People complain to the council when there is a problem or we could have done a much cheaper consultation. It’s totally extravagant.”

Other aspects in the report said customers thought taxi fares were high, but that the trade considered them ‘about right’.

The report also said the public thought drivers in the borough should smarten up, but that drivers did not see it as an issue.

Coun Britcliffe said: “Customers want to pay less – hardly a revelation.

“It seems the council has spent thousands and the only new thing we’ve learned is that people want smarter drivers.”

Coun Clare Pritchard said the council would conduct the surveys every three years. She said: “We have a statutory obligation to do this and I think you were failing in your duty that it was never done when you were leader.

“Should we have a legal challenge this survey would protect our backs in court.”