THE closure of a Radcliffe-based taxi operator is driving a Ramsbottom private hire firm round the bend.

Prestige Travel, which operated from premises on Seddons Farm, closed its business a few weeks ago.

But since then similarly-named Prestige Chauffeurs Ltd based on Bolton Street, Ramsbottom, have been receiving calls from stranded customers who pre-booked a taxi with the Radcliffe firm before it closed.

Mr Chris Hargreaves, managing director at the Ramsbottom firm, explained: "We have been inundated with phone calls from angry customers who have got our firm confused with the one that has closed because the names of both firms are so similar and have become shortened to just Prestige." The family-run Prestige Chauffeurs Ltd, which operates chauffeur-driven luxury vehicles, even received a phone call from officials at Manchester Airport demanding to know the whereabouts of a pre-booked cab for a waiting customer.

"I had to explain that it was nothing to do with us, and we have had other similar phone calls," said Mr Hargreaves.

He is also worried that people who have got the two companies confused might think that it is his business which has closed.

"We opened the business in 1996 and today we have a well-established customer base not just in this country, but also worldwide. We cannot afford our clients to think that it is us who have gone out of business. We are still operating as usual and would quite happily provide a service for customers of the shutdown Prestige Travel," he added.

A spokesman for Bury's licensing department confirmed that Prestige Travel, described as a "one-man band", had closed and the operator's licence had been handed back.