A CAB driver who left his taxi unattended on a rank to use the toilet has accused a council of causing him unnecessary stress after a five-month wait to decide how to punish him.

Mark Brown faced Darlington Borough Council’s licensing committee yesterday to determine whether he could keep his hackney cab licence, weeks after a court appearance when he was fined £25 in a private prosecution brought by the authority.

Mr Brown, 37, was reported by traffic wardens after they saw his empty cab on the East Row rank, in Darlington, while he used the toilet in a nearby betting shop, on January 14.

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He admitted leaving the cab, but said he had no choice because of a stomach condition which can cause him to need the toilet at short notice.

Speaking after the licensing hearing, Mr Brown said the five-month wait had caused a disproportionate effect on his life.

He was given a written warning but allowed to keep his licence.

He said: “The council expects you to leave the rank and park to go the loo, but you can wait for a fare for two hours and to leave the rank and then rejoin at the back would kill us.

“I’ve dwelled on this hearing every day for months for fear they would take my licence off me. It’s caused huge stress and had an effect on my family life.

“I’m not saying that drivers should be able to park on the rank and go shopping but we can’t even go the toilet. We’re grown men, we should be able to go to the loo when we want. We just want flexibilty and common sense from the council.”

Cab driver Mark Fulleylove, 48, also appeared before the committee yesterday for leaving his cab unattended to use the toilet and was given a written warning.

He said: “When the rank is full, where are we going to go? We just want the council to think a bit more and work with us.”

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said: “By leaving taxis unattended on working ranks, drivers prevent other taxi drivers from being able to use that rank properly.

“Taxi ranks are not car parks for taxi drivers – if taxi drivers do need to leave their taxi when they are working they should find somewhere appropriate to park.”