A row over a taxi rank has escalated to the point where hundreds of St Albans cab drivers are threatening to strike this week.
Pub and club-goers coming in to St Albans to enjoy the city’s nightlife could be stranded if the 24-hour strike action goes ahead on Friday.
St Albans & Harpenden Taxi Association, which represents Hackney Carriage drivers, say it has been "absolute chaos" now two ranks operate alongside each other during the night from 1am.
One is outside Santander and the other outside Club Veeda and St Peters Street.
General secretary of the association, Mudassar Yasin, said: "When the overflow of taxis to the rank opposite wish to cross over at the stroke of 1am this causes confusion, disruption and anger.
"Suddenly chopping the rank in half at 1am goes against the whole principle of a rank queue system. Drivers are left under pressure as to whether they should cross over or not when a space is available on the main rank, as a queue of drivers is building up at the rear wishing to get in line, this then brings the trade into disarray."
He continued: "The taxi rank is located near a dark alleyway, which is inadequately lit, so our drivers can’t assess the intoxication and behaviour of the person walking in to our cab.
"This is putting the taxi drivers’ lives at risk. There have been severaloccasions where we have had drivers beaten up and attacked.
"We are at risk - mentally and physically."
The strike will take place from Friday at 6am until Saturday at 6am. The drivers will also stage a protest outside the council offices on Friday afternoon.
St Albans Council’s Mike Lovelady said they were aware of the issues raised by the association.
He said: "The rank concerned was created outside Subway in 2012 at the request of Hertfordshire Constabulary. This was to help counter public order and safety issues.
"Before the rank became operational, there was a consultation and no objections were received from the taxi drivers.
"We have held meetings with St Albans and Harpenden Taxi Association to discuss how we can work with them to make the new rank flow better. "Following the last meeting, it was suggested the flow of the taxis could be reversed from 1am to improve the system.
"We are exploring this possibility and have received positive feedback from some taxi drivers. As a result, we have invited the sssociation to another meeting to discuss this further."
The taxi rank outside Club Veeda used to filter customers across to the main rank outside Santander, but now from 1am, two separate ranks operate at the same time, causing confusion.