TAXI drivers were celebrating a double win yesterday as controversial firm Uber's move to the city was declared void and a possible ban accessing the new Westgate Shopping Centre was scrapped.

Licensed drivers and private hire firms across Oxford had feared for their futures when app-based Uber applied in July last year for a licence in the city but the Oxford Mail can reveal it has been declared void.

The firm claimed more than 50,000 people had tried to access its service in one year, despite the fact it was not available yet.

After a period of 12 months, the application has now lapsed as the company "didn't get around to" submitting vital details in time.

But a spokesman for Uber said it would not rule out re-applying in the future.

Two of the city's biggest private hire firms, 001 Taxis and Royal Cars, merged and launched their own app earlier this year to combat the potential threat.

Managing director of Royal Cars, Niaz Mohammed said: "It's great news for us and our customers.

"We were very concerned about the safety of Uber and whether its drivers would abide by Oxford City Council's regulations.

"Their goal is to close down all the other companies and they would have disrupted the system that has been in place for many years."

Mr Mohammed added it was "vital" his loyal customers and the people of Oxford were driven around by people they could trust.

He said: "It's very important for customer relations and at the moment people have a good feeling and can trust our drivers - they want drivers they know."

City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association secretary Sajad Khan said: "I'm very pleased and I'm sure all the city's drivers are.

"It would have been devastating for our trade and they would have wrecked the current system.

"They charge awkward fares and there is also the question of safety - our drivers go through very stringent checks but you hear some worrying stories about Uber drivers."

And plans to ban the city's black cabs from a new link road to the £440m Westgate Shopping Centre were also put on hold yesterday after a dramatic intervention from Oxford City Council.

The proposed traffic measures would have banned licensed hire cabs from an access road to be constructed between Castle Street and Speedwell Street - giving only local buses and cyclists access.

Drivers had claimed late night revellers, vulnerable passengers and children would be left stranded when the new development opens in Autumn 2017.

With many shops, bars and restaurants planned on the south and west side of the £440m development, the City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association (COLTA) had strongly objected to the move.

Oxford City Council submitted a last minute plea and the county council agreed to open discussions about allowing cabs access to the road outside shopping hours.

Mr Khan said: "It's a massive relief and it's great that the council has finally listened to us.

"The ban would have had a hugely negative impact on our trade and on our ability to transport passengers quickly and efficiently around the city.

"We work very hard with the police and the city council to reduce anti-social behaviour and we are so grateful for the city council's support."

COLTA chairman Bashir Ahmed said: "They had failed to realise how important our service is late at night.

"At Carfax we often have people asking if we can reverse down Queen Street to pick drunk revellers and quite often people coming out of clubs don't want to can't walk very far - we need to have as full access as possible in the city to keep people safe.

"Being able to quickly disperse people from the city at night also prevents fights breaking out - this decision is good news and we hope they will allow us access to the road when the centre re-opens."

County council board member for transport David Nimmo Smith said: "I'm happy change the recommendations and pick up discussions with city council to see how we can allow Hackney Carriages into the area and to use the link road."

Uber spokesman Harry Porter said: "Uber is fully licensed in every town and city it operates in and only uses licensed private hire drivers that have been through the same enhanced DBS background checks as taxi drivers.

"As such fears that Uber is less safe than other private hire companies or taxis are unfounded."