PROTESTORS have lodged objections against a plan to create a taxi rank in a town centre.

Chester-le Street District Council's licensing committee will consider whether or not there should be a hackney carriage stand on Front Street.

The idea is to reduce the potential for drink-fuelled violence at the current council taxi rank at Bridge End.

But the authority has received letters of complaint from traders and a travel company, expressing fears of vandalism and traffic chaos.

Geoffrey Clark and David Richardson, of Athena Bathrooms, said: "We are against any proposal to place a taxi rank here as we have large showroom windows.

"Up to now, no window has ever been broken in the seven years we have been here, so we must strongly object to any taxi rank being outside our showroom.

"If this was to go ahead and damage to our property occurred, all bills for materials and labour to repair such damage to our building will be sent to the council directly for payment."

Andy Gamblin, service delivery manager for bus company Go North-East, said the new rank would cause congestion for public transport.

He said: "This proposal would merely cause problems for traffic using Front Street during the evenings when a bus is using the northbound stop, with a conflicting taxi using the southbound taxi rank. A southbound bus, or vehicle larger than a car would be unable to pass, which would effectively block the Front Street, causing further unnecessary delays to buses and other road users."

Loughin and Sons Butchers said traders required access for delivery vehicles during times when the proposed taxi rank would be operating.

Paul Jenkins, council environmental health manager, said the area was covered by CCTV.

He said there would be a large police presence at certain times.

Mr Jenkins said: "There is the large potential for large numbers of revellers to migrate towards the Bridge End rank in the early hours of the morning.

"This has obvious public order and nuisance implications for the whole of the town centre area, and must be balanced against the risk of increased localised disturbance in the vicinity of the proposed rank should it be appointed."