THE town's taxi drivers want better protection after a driver was left with a suspected fractured eye socket after being assaulted in the town centre.

Last Sunday at around 6am, a man attempted to get a taxi home from Barnsley Interchange and allegedly punched the driver because he could not pay for the fare in advance,

The 43-year-old driver, who does not wish to be named, suffered a suspected fractured eye socket and bruising.

"Doing this job you do feel very alone and you do have very little protection," he said.

Mark Cocks, chairman of the Hackney Carriage Association and a driver for 19 years, says assaults are on the rise and drivers need some form of protection.

"There was a driver who was slashed with a pen knife a few weeks ago in Grimethorpe and another driver was slashed with a kitchen knife a few months ago. Attacks on drivers are on the increase.

"If I was being assaulted I would protect myself with reasonable force, but as it stands if I was to hit a person back and they made a complaint about me, my badge would be suspended.

"All drivers are of the same opinion, both private hire and Hackney carriage, that we will protect ourselves. It's human nature."

A spokeswoman for the police confirmed officers attended an alleged assault against a taxi driver at the Midland Street rank at about 6am on Sunday and a man was arrested on suspicion of assault.