As apps like Uber shake up the taxi industry, new figures show that pre-booked cars are catching up on traditional hailed cabs in Cornwall.

The Local Government Association is calling for new powers to help councils regulate the taxi industry following the rise of ride-hailing apps, to ensure taxi drivers are protected.

There are two main kinds of licensed vehicles in the trade – traditional taxis, which can be hailed from the street, and private hire vehicles, which need to be pre-booked.

Department for Transport figures show private hire vehicles, also known as minicabs, accounted for 47 per cent of hireable vehicles in Cornwall in March – up from 40 per cent a decade before.

Overall, 557 minicabs were licensed to work in the area in March, compared to 359 a decade before.

Although taxis remain more popular, the increase in the share of licences taken by minicabs reflects the picture across England and Wales.

Of the 302,000 licences recorded across the two nations in March, 75 per cent were held by minicabs, compared to 67 per cent ten years earlier.

Uber, and other companies that provide mobile ride-hailing services, have become increasingly popular in recent years – their drivers require private hire licences.

Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA’s safer and stronger communities board, said councils have long called for an overhaul of taxi laws “in an era when mobile phone technology is significantly changing the way people access private hire vehicles”.

He added: “The Government has said it is committed to reforming taxi licensing – it now needs to bring forward new legislation which addresses the need for national minimum standards."

A recent study commissioned by the Government also found the rise of ride-hailing apps has led to more minicab drivers working entirely outside their licensed area, known as cross-border hiring.

The report's recommendations included making taxis and minicabs start or finish their journeys within their licensed area, to make their activity easier to regulate, and introducing new safety measures.

Mr Blackburn added: “The reforms need to ensure a level playing field for drivers by tackling cross-border hiring, and include national enforcement powers so councils can take action against private hire vehicles operating in their areas, irrespective of where they are licensed.”

A DfT spokesman said: “The Government has consulted on a wide range of measures, including new driver safety standards to ensure passenger safety, and will publish its response in due course.”