THE council which licensed more taxi drivers than any other in England has backed calls to to tighten up laws around licensing of the vehicles.

Britain's 'outdated and unfit-for-purpose licensing laws for taxis' should be updated by legislators, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

That call has been backed by Rossendale Council, which licensed 3,756 taxi drivers last year, far more than any other English council.

It puts the borough ahead of major cities such as Manchester with 2,329, Liverpool with 2,224 and Birmingham with 1,338 .

The borough has 53.7 licensed taxi drivers per 1,000 population, ten times as many as Christchurch, the second highest in the list, which has 5.3.

The figures emerged in an investigation by The Times, which found that people from across the North sought licences from a town hall that was seen as a ‘soft touch.’

Rossendale Council refuted claims made in the Times article and it is now supporting calls by the LGA for tougher laws around around taxi licensing, which they said 'weren't consistent' across the country.

Cllr Jackie Oakes, portfolio holder for operations which includes public protection at the council, said: "As we made clear in our response to the Times piece yesterday, we have some of the most stringent licensing policies in the country which we started to introduce since 2016.

"But this is not consistent across the country.

"There are no minimum standards for taxi operators and drivers. Essentially the taxi licensing laws need to be fit for the 21st century and they are not.

"We support the LGA calls and would urge the government to get a grip of this issue once and for all.

"As well as to continue to lobby for these changes, we will take steps locally.

"Our leader Alyson Barnes will ask Lancashire district council leaders to see if we can agree a set of standards for taxis that the whole of Lancashire adopts and implements based on the work we have done here."

The LGA said: “Councils have been making the case for our outdated patchwork of taxi laws to be updated with a taxi regime fit for the 21st century, and it’s now time for government to deliver this.

“The current regime is not fit for purpose – some parts of the law pre-date the internal combustion engine, let alone apps and smartphones – and it’s long past time we had taxi licensing laws that reflect the everyday realities of this industry, and its vital role in our communities.”