CABBIES are urging transport bosses to put the brakes on a road scheme that will ban them from part of Southampton city centre.

Earlier this year civic leaders altered the flagship scheme to pedestrianise Southampton's Bargate following opposition from bus companies.

City bosses had hoped to pave areas around the historic area to link with the existing Above Bar Precinct and the planned multi-million-pound city plaza complex.

They backed down after bus firms objected to the proposals, and gave the go-ahead for their vehicles to continue to use the area around the Bargate and Portland Terrace.

However, taxi leaders have now launched protests as the scheme would see their cars barred from using the route.

Perry McMillan, chairman of the Transport and General Workers' Union cab section in Southampton, said: "There has been no consultation with us at all on this.

"We are a form of public transport, just as buses are, and our passengers will not be able to understand it."

His concern was echoed by Southampton Hackney Association and the Southampton Taxi Consultative Council.

Councillor Royston Smith, chairman of the city's licensing panel, which governs taxis, called on the Cabinet member for environment and transport, Councillor Jill Baston, to meet representatives of the taxi trade.

He said: "Taxi drivers are right to be angry at not being consulted about the proposed road changes. They are trying to provide a service but are not being given a level playing field."

Councillor Penelope Baldwin, who sits on the licensing panel, said: "Of course taxi representatives should have been involved as they're a major part of Southampton and offer an important service to the public."

Cllr Baston insisted taxi chiefs were asked about their views and said they were barring taxis for safety reasons.

"Taxi representatives were consulted on the pedestrianisation proposal and made no objections.

"The bus operators objected and following discussion it was agreed that buses could cross the Bargate area using a special transponder system to lower the bollards, which will be in place to prevent access by any other traffic.

"We think pedestrian safety is what matters most. People will not be safe if cars are allowed to cross what will be first and foremost a pedestrian area."