A HALT on minimum licensing standards plans could mean a “real financial hit” for taxi drivers who have spent more money on older cars, critics claim.

A council cabinet decision was meant to be forthcoming on Monday over the imposition of Greater Manchester wide rules for the borough that would mean taxi vehicles would have to be less than five years old on first registration and have been on the road for less than 10 years in order to avoid a charge.

The decision was deferred until February 7 for further consultations.

But opponents of the proposal say this could penalise drivers of older cars who have maintained their vehicles to a higher standards, while there would be no penalty for newer cars that have not been well maintained.

Bolton Labour group leader Cllr Nick Peel said: “There’s a potential for a real financial hit, which is what taxi drivers have been concerned about.”

He added: “Some older vehicles will be very well maintained and some newer ones won’t be, it will differ from vehicle to vehicle.”

The rules would be slightly different for wheelchair adapted vehicles which would have to be under seven years old on first registration, while none could be more than 15 years old Cllr Peel claimed that this could see drivers who spend more money and time on maintaining older cars penalised.

This comes after a protest was staged in Bolton town centre on Monday by taxi drivers and van drivers, each concerned about the impact the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone could have on them.

The vehicle age policy would add another pressure on top of this, they insist.

Cllr Peel added: “Minimum licensing rules should be deferred until after the Clean Air Zone decision and what we would have done is ask for that element to be looked at again.”

Metro Mayor Andy Burnham has since paused the implementation of the scheme ahead of further talks with the government over the financial implications of the policy.

Bolton Council leader Martyn Cox says that there will be further talks with the taxi trade in the borough to try to address these concerns in the meantime.