FEARS have been raised that weekend late-night pubbers and clubbers could be stranded after a taxi firm announced it was pulling the plug on a busy depot.

Dusty Miller, of West Quay Cars, blamed "outdated" legislation on his decision to withdraw the service in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday at Southampton Coach Station.

Hundreds of people gather at the centre, which opened four years ago, after nights out.

Mr Miller said about 500 cabs a night at the weekend picked up there but said he faced prosecution by the council.

He admitted he had to pull in about 300 vehicles from his Hedge End firm, Phipps, to cope with demand, which broke boundary regulations.

Transport union chiefs said Mr Miller could solve the problem by converting his Eastleigh licences to Southampton ones.

Mr Miller said: "It was a very small business when we started it but is now one of the busiest ranks in town.

"But because I'm an operator in Southampton and an operator in Eastleigh, I can't sub-contract the work from one company to another."

The Daily Echo revealed last month that many cabbies were too terrified to go out at night because of increasing attacks.

Mr Miller said scores of people would be left hanging about when the service stops at weekends from November 1.

"It's the people of Southampton that will lose out.

"It means there will be an extra 3,000 or so people on the streets at the weekend looking for taxis because we won't be there."

A City Council spokesman said: "The position of Southampton City Council is to uphold the law and to ensure that the public can travel safely.

"It is hoped that all operators in Southampton are aware of the law and operate within it.

"Any change in the business that may have been affected by an operator has presumably been done to ensure that their taxi/private hire operation is lawful.

"The council hope that operators within the city have the capacity to cope with any additional workload at weekends."

Perry McMillan, vice-chairman of the cab section of the Southampton branch of the Transport and General Workers' Union, said: "If he wants to continue operating a service from the coach station then all he has to do is convert all his Eastleigh plates over to West Quay Cars so that they are Southampton plates."