A BLACK cab rank should be allowed at the Royal Bolton Hospital for patients, say taxi drivers.

Charlie Oakes, chairman of the Bolton-based Hackney Carriage Association, said he has been asking for the past three years for a rank at the hospital.

Now hospital bosses say they are open to the possibility as they look to renovate the main entrance and the A&E entrance.

Mr Oakes, who worked as a porter at the hospital in the 1970s, said it was encouraging to hear that the hospital would look into the plans.

He added: “We’ve written to the hospital over the past three years saying we wanted to provide a rank and they said they hadn’t got an awful lot of space.

“But at the end of the day how much space does a couple of hackney carriages need?”

“I can’t see a rank not working there. If patients are incapacitated and can’t have an ambulance to take them home, services by a hackney are preferable to using a private hire vehicle.”

Cllr Nick Peel, Bolton Council’s cabinet member in charge of licensing, said he would support such a move.

He added: “The council will officially be neutral on this issue, but I personally don’t see any problems with it.

“I think some patients would welcome it and it might end up that some patients choose to use the hackney carriage over a private hire vehicle.”

Heather Edwards, head of communications in Royal Bolton Hospital, said the bid by the association is something they would look into.

She added: “We haven’t received a formal request for this, but it is something we would consider.

“We already have plans to make improvements to Accident and Emergency and the main entrance, so potentially we could look at including a taxi rank in that.”