MARSHALS will be on patrol at a busy town centre taxi rank every weekend to ensure festive revellers get home safely and without incident after a night out.

A taxi marshal scheme is being trialled after other towns reported theirs had cut anti-social behaviour, helped vulnerable people and reduced illegal 'pick-ups'.

A team of four from Exclusec Security Solutions worked at the taxi rank in Bradshawgate for the first time last weekend.

The marshals will be on duty every Friday and Saturday evening, from 11pm until 5am, until the New Year, when it will be reviewed.

Cllr Nick Peel, Bolton Council’s executive cabinet member for environmental services, said: "People in Bolton will be using taxis at Christmas more than at any other time of the year and we want to make sure that they use them safely.

"The marshals will be there to give help, information and reassurance to members of the public at the end of their evening.

"We would also urge people to be safe when they are out this Christmas. Always use a licensed taxi, and remember only hackney cabs can pick up fares on the street.

"Private hire vehicles are only allowed to pick people who have booked. Drivers who ply for hire could be in breach of their insurance, which means passengers would not be covered in the event of an accident.

"Any drivers caught picking up passengers illegally could face a steep penalty, fine or even lose their taxi licence."

The council has previously secured fines of up to £880 and up to 8 penalty points for drivers who were caught accepting passengers who had not made a private hire booking.

Exclusec Managing Director, James Bancroft, said: "We are delighted to be able to work with Bolton Council and provide support to the public during this busy Christmas period.

"There are many extra people coming into town over this period, and of course, they like to go out and have a good time. Our marshals will be able to make sure that people get home safely after a night out celebrating."

The council said that they have already received positive feedback from licensees. Black cab drivers have welcomed the scheme.

Hackney carriage driver Sajid Butt said: "We really appreciate the scheme, it controls traffic in the area and stops those who should not be there from parking there.

"It is very good we have the council doing this to help us. It will help with control although I have never had problems with people queuing — it is the traffic issues and vehicles parking there which have been the problem."

The scheme is the latest to be launched in the town centre aimed at keeping those out at night safe.

Last month the Ask for Angela scheme was launched in Bolton to help those who felt threatened on a night out. It is the first time the scheme has been launched in Greater Manchester, with Bolton being chosen because of its successful Best Bar None Scheme.