Two key roads in Leeds city centre are to be closed off to traffic at peak weekend times in a bid to clamp down on trouble and clear the streets of revellers quicker.
Traffic will be banned from accessing Albion Street and Call Lane from 11.30pm to 5am from Friday to Sunday as part of the proposals.
Highways bosses hope it will stop crowds concentrating in Albion Street, which often results in drunken arguments and public disorder.
However, hackney carriage drivers, who will be most affected, say the plans are “counterproductive” and could cause gridlock in the city centre in the approach to the peak Christmas party season.
Paul Landau, who chairs the Leeds Hackney Carriage branch of Unite the Union, said: “We are perplexed. It’s counterproductive because the policing initiative is to clear the city centre as fast as possible.
“But this will increase waiting times and could create a bottleneck. It will take [drivers] longer to service the city centre and it will add to the passenger’s journey time. It is adding both to the metre and to the tension in the car. They are using a big sledgehammer to crack a small nut.”
A spokesman for Leeds City Council said: “The measures are to be introduced in partnership with the police to address concerns they have about public safety and public order.
“Increased taxi provision will be in place near both locations with bus stops able to be used as temporary ranks outside of the bus operating hours to ensure people can enjoy their visit to the city centre and move around and leave safely, especially during the busy Christmas and New Year periods. Consultation has been undertaken with all stakeholders including the Hackney Carriage and private hire traders, and while we appreciate their concerns the principal reason these restrictions are to be introduced is for matters of public safety which are of paramount importance.”
He added the effectiveness of the changes would be “closely monitored” in the coming weeks.