TAXIS will be fitted with smaller licence plates in the coming months after drivers complained that front plates were contributing to targeted attacks on them.

Bury Council looks set to heed to the calls of cabbies as a panel of councillors voted in favour of the changes to the local authority’s rules on licence plates.

Rules on tinted windows are also set to change so that taxi drivers can keep those windows already fitted by manufacturers rather than paying for new ones if they do not meet the council’s own standards.

The size of front licence plates will be reduced from April pending ratification at a full council meeting next week.

This comes after drivers told councillors about attackers targeting taxis and of one case in which yobs threw stones through a window, narrowly missing a man’s head.

But despite the changes, trade representatives argued that the requirement for front plates should be removed altogether.

Charles Oakes, chairman of the Hackney Drivers Association, said: “I’m speaking as someone with 38 years’ experience. You don’t need front plates. What good are they?”

Licensing unit manager Michael Bridge told taxi drivers at a meeting last week that Oldham Council had recently reintroduced the requirement to have two plates on vehicles.

But Bury Private Hire Driver Association secretary Muhammad Sajjad urged the Licensing and Safety Panel to remove the requirement for front licence plates on a temporary trial basis.

He said: “See if crime is reduced. If there’s no changes, put two or three on the front.”

Councillors considered removing the requirement for front licence plates at a meeting in November.

However, Cllr Steve Wright suggested looking at reducing the size of the front plate instead.

He raised concerns that the rules would change again when common minimum standards for taxi licensing across Greater Manchester are agreed in the near future.

The Prestwich councillor who works for a brakes company in Rochdale said that the issue of front licence plates had not come up when he spoke to taxi drivers.

A narrow majority of councillors voted to change the size of the front plate, but three opposed the changes, including Cllr Charlotte Morris who said the move seemed “premature”.

She said: “I’m not sure that a smaller plate addresses the issues being raised. I’m super sympathetic to the concerns raised but this seems like a half measure.”

The panel voted down a proposal to change the size of the identification badge which taxi drivers are required to wear.

Councillors did however support changes to the rules on window tinting by a margin of six to one.

Licensing chair Tahir Rafiq said: “The current policy doesn’t seem to be fair. I think an amendment allowing this would appear to be fairer.”

Front plates will be changed at no extra cost when drivers renew their licence after April.

Taxi drivers can pay to fit a smaller front licence plate should they choose to do so before renewal.