FIVE shoddy Worcester taxis have been pulled off the roads after a 'snap' testing operation by undercover investigators, it has emerged.

After widespread concern over the condition of many cabbies a team from Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) spent an evening pulling over 30 vehicles near the ranks to see if they were up to scratch.

The Worcester News can reveal how 12 of them were sent straight to a garage due to concerns and five were handed "immediate suspension notices".

It comes a year after we revealed how nearly 170 city taxi drivers failed key 'compliance tests' including faulty brake pads, defective lights, expired MOTs and illegal tyres.

The suspension notices mean they must get their vehicles back into the right condition before Worcester City Council allows them back on the roads.

The findings were revealed during a scrutiny committee meeting, where Councillor Andy Roberts, a former licensing chief in Worcester, hit out at the numbers.

"There's not a need to take on WRS, but there is a need to take on taxi drivers who think they don't need a proper vehicle on the roads," he said.

"I wonder if drivers like that should get to keep their licences at all."

Susan Garratt, a licensing support services manager at WRS said: "We do have issues engaging with our partners to get enforcement activity done, the police are very busy and that limits what we can do."

Last year 389 cabbies were pulled over for compliance tests and 44 per cent of them failed, leading to the city council tightening up the inspection regimes.

But cabbies in the city say standards are far higher than for normal cars and the reasons for failing can include marked seats, ripped carpets, dirt, dents or a faulty inside light.

The vehicles are now subjected to mandatory testing twice a year, in addition to any undercover 'snap' exercises by WRS officers.

Any drivers who clock up 15 penalty points within two years are also now liable to be struck off after the system was tightened up last year.

During the scrutiny meeting Councillor Marc Bayliss, the committee's chairman, described the work of WRS overall as "a curate's egg".

He also said he’d had complaints from people about street traders.

"It's when we get to licensing, particularly on enforcement, that we get complaints," he said.

"Those of us with long memories will remember the days when we had a significant licensing enforcement team for taxis.

"You mention points, but if there is nobody about to see if they are flouting the rules, they'll never get the 15 points."

Twelve Worcester taxi drivers are on more than eight penalty points now with another 31 on at least four points, say WRS.

Each penalty point stays on a driver’s record for two years before falling off.