TAXI drivers say they have been left fearing for their lives while working on the streets of Bury.

During a meeting attended by police and politicians on Sunday evening, more than 100 drivers from a number of private hire companies from across the town spoke of how they now felt unsafe following several reports of drivers being targeted in recent weeks.

One such incident took place in Broad Oak Lane last Saturday when a driver of teenagers shattered the rear window of a vehicle belonging to Royal Peel Cars driver.

The drivers claim that the police and Bury Council are not doing enough to protect them.

One driver told the meeting at Jinnah Day Care Centre, in Alfred Street, that he felt at risk every time he left the house, and stressed that the situation is also dangerous for passengers.

Another added: “Every day we are getting messages on the system saying ‘drivers be careful, kids are throwing stones.’

“If I drive past a corner and see a group of kids I know an attack is coming. I have been doing the job for 12 years and it has been going on for ages.

“The worst areas for drivers are around Bell Lane, Clarence Park and Walmersley Road, and Whitehead Park on Ainsworth Road.

“Why should I report it if there’s no action? Someone once threatened to shoot me for parking outside his house and still police did nothing.”

Another driver complained that he had previously been told by a police officer that taxi drivers were considered 'a low priority’.

Cllr Tamoor Tariq, the council's cabinet member for communities, told the meeting that the council and police had identified, and were dealing with, eight individuals who were behind the recent attacks.

He added: “I feel very strongly that these eight individuals, and some that may be identified in the future, need to feel the full force of the law.

“Everyone has a responsibility to treat taxi drivers with respect because that is what we expect of taxi drivers.”

Chief Inspector Phil Spurgeon, who was only recently assigned to Bury, said he felt the drivers had been ‘let down’.

He added: “Keep the faith in Greater Manchester Police, keep reporting and we will do our best even though that sometimes isn’t good enough.”

A number of drivers also expressed frustrations with the way police dealt with reports of passengers not paying fares.

One driver, who said he had been targeted on the Dicky Bird estate, said: "Police have done nothing. It's such a small crime for them but for me it's my living.

"It's a waste of time reporting crime. Nothing is going to be done."

Bury North MP James Frith also attended the meeting and praised the work of police in the face of cuts, while telling drivers he understood their frustrations.

He added: “I will work across multiple platforms to design a pledge that gets out the issues you have raised because no one should go to work fearing for their lives and the same applies to passengers. If I need to take it to parliament then I will.

“I call an end to this us and them. I call an end to this idea that most customers are wanting to mistreat their cab experience and that cabbies have to endure fear whenever they go to work.”

East Ward Cllr Trevor Holt ended the meeting by saying: “It’s clear that the situation is getting worse. I had not appreciated how bad it has got.

“In spite of the fact, we are doing a lot, we can do more. I’m aware how much you mean to the local economy. It depends on you so please work with us."