DRUNKEN passengers who are sick in their taxis could soon be hit with a £40 fixed fine.

Taxi drivers in Richmond and Catterick Garrison are proposing that a set fee is introduced for passengers who vomit, urinate or foul their vehicle in any way.

Stickers would be placed on dashboards to warn of the new fine.

George Pearson, chairman of Richmond Taxi Owners' Association, said the charge would cover cleaning the vehicle, plus any loss of earnings while the taxi is off the road.

Mr Pearson said: "Hopefully, the warnings will be quite sufficient. Having someone vomit in your taxi is part and parcel of being a taxi driver.

"But if we can avoid it by putting up notices about the charge, it will be well worth the trouble."

Taxi drivers can already charge a passenger for soiling their vehicle, but there is no set fee.

Mr Pearson said some of the worst offenders were young recruits, returning to barracks after spending the night drinking.

He said: "It takes a brave or foolish taxi driver to pick up from some ranks, as it is a certainty that the passengers will either vomit, urinate or soil your car in some other foul way. And if that is not the case, it is highly unlikely he or she will get paid."

In a bid to cut anti-social behaviour, a taxi rank in Shute Road has recently been moved, for a trial period, to near Aldi, in Richmond Road.

Taxi drivers have applied to Richmondshire District Council to increase their standard tariff by 30p per journey.

However, council officers have recommend charges only rise by 15p. They do agree that a new rate should be introduced for vehicles, carrying five to eight passengers.

John Jamieson, the district council's environment unit manager, said: "Officers have written to all hackney carriage owners and drivers to obtain their views on the proposals."

The charges will be discussed at a council meeting on Tuesday.