A woman from East Lancashire says she is ‘exasperated’ with the taxi service in her home town.

Lucy Gudgeon, from Accrington, says she has been late to work several times, stranded in the dark for hours and forced to cancel social commitments due to the unreliable taxi services operating in Hyndburn.

Now, Hyndburn Council has announced plans to remove the limit on the number of hackney carriage vehicles in the district in a bid to make it easier for customers, like Lucy, to use them.

Lucy, who works as a fitness instructor at Fit4Life Health and Fitness in Accrington, doesn’t have a car of her own and has relied on taxis to get her to and from work for years.

However, around Christmas time she began to notice taxis taking longer to turn up or failing to turn up at all.

She said: “I have relied on taxis for a few years now. There are people who don’t normally get taxis who have been mentioning that they can’t get hold of one

“It seems to have become a widespread issue that isn’t just affecting me.”

As a result of missed or late taxis, Lucy said she has been late to work on more than 10 occasions in the last three months.

She said: “This week alone, I have been late to my job six times consecutively and had customers waiting for me for quite a while.

“I open up the gym and sometimes people complain because there is no one there – and it’s come down on me every single time.

“The people who just want to use the gym before work really are bothered.”

Lucy, 43, said she is forced to wake up at 4:50am each morning, just to ensure she can book a taxi well in advance.

Where possible, she tries to pre-book the night before but says the hired vehicle doesn’t always turn up the next day.

She said: “I’ve not had any problems pre-booking but when I chase them the next morning I’m told that there either aren’t any taxis or that one will turn up in an hour.

“Other taxi services have hung up on me and even put me back in the call queue.

"There just seems to be a flippancy towards people who need to get to places – I feel like they don’t care about us.

“It’s just a source of stress you don’t need. You do everything you can to get to these places on time and life is busy enough as it is.”

The issue also affects Lucy’s personal life and she is now hesitant to make plans with friends out of fear of being stranded after dark.

She said: “I was once stranded at midnight for two hours in the cold and have heard several stories like this from others.

“Recently, I went out with friends and ordered a taxi at 11.30pm, but it didn’t arrive.

“In the end, we had to cancel the taxi and get a friend to come and pick us up. I didn’t get back home until 2.30am.

“When you are a person who relies on taxis you’ll understand that it is causing major issues and restricting what you do.

“You’re stopping yourself from visiting different places and going out because you’re worried about being stood in the dark and waiting for a taxi late at night.”

An “exasperated” Lucy took to Facebook one day and asked other people in Hyndburn if they faced similar issues with taxi services – and she was met with dozens of responses and stories.

She said: “I wrote the post because I was so exasperated and just needed to get it off my chest, because it was driving me insane.

“Ironically, straight after I posted it my taxi to work didn’t turn up at all.

“I had to get a neighbour to take me. It was embarrassing because they were making their tea and felt obliged to do it.”

One Facebook commenter said: “It’s very dire at the minute trying to book a taxi never know if they are going to turn up or if they do are very late.”

Another said: “Pre-booked a cab an hour in advance last week for a very important hospital appointment that I had been waiting months for.

"It didn't turn up and I kept ringing only to be told it would be ten minutes… over an hour later still no cab.

“I had to cancel my appointment and the taxi.”

To make it easier for locals to obtain a taxi, Hyndburn Council say they will be removing the limit on the number of hackney carriage vehicles in the district.

The limit in Hyndburn is currently 59.

Hyndburn Borough Council officers have listened to feedback and analysed survey responses from residents about difficulties in obtaining a taxi in the borough.

They say it is a nationwide issue, with a shortage of licenced vehicles throughout the country.

A licensing officer at Hyndburn Borough Council said: “We are pleased to announce that the limit on number of hackney carriage vehicles has now been removed in Hyndburn and we are also implementing a solution to improve accessibility of taxis, particularly late at night.

“Over the next few months we are working with parking enforcement officers to monitor taxi ranks and ensure the parking of private vehicles in these spaces is not preventing licensed vehicles from using these ranks to work.

“Those found to be parking illegally will be issued with Fixed Penalty Notices.”

Special attention will be paid to the ranks in Accrington Town Centre, including the one outside the Bee’s Knees and on Blackburn Road.

This action has come after feedback from hackney carriage drivers who find they often cannot station their vehicles on these ranks.

Hyndburn Borough Council are urging drivers to make sure they are not parking in taxi ranks and avoid any penalty notices.

They said: “Not only will this help local taxi drivers with their business, it also helps public safety with improving the availability of a way home for people who may otherwise choose to walk alone at night, be enticed by a non-registered taxi, or even drive under the influence.”