A TAXI driver, who suffers from anxiety, has been told to remove sensory lights from his vehicle - because councillors say they could be distracting.

Stuart Curtis, 44, who ferries people from A to B, is known in the city as DJ Earth.

He says he has lights in his taxi to help him with his condition and his young daughter, Summer, who suffers from Down Syndrome.

But this week, Mr Curtis, of Warwick Bridge, appeared before the council's licensing panel - which had concerns about the lights in his taxi.

On September 2, the council received a complaint that Mr Curtis had an extensive lighting system and was playing loud music in his vehicle.

He requested a meeting with the council's regulatory panel and removed his comprehensive lighting system but left his sensory lights up.

He wanted the panel to exempt him from a condition attached to his Hackney vehicle licence which prevents additional lighting in his taxi.

The council document stated: "Mr Curtis would like condition 13 to be removed from the conditions attached to his Hackney licence and is seeking permission to retain the lights which he states are sensory and have a positive impact on young children, intoxicated adults, person/s with behavioural issues and person/s with cognitive impairments and is referred to the panel to consider."

Condition 13 of the terms and conditions attached to a Hackney Carriage vehicle licence states: "No signs, notices, advertisements, plates, marks, numbers, letters, figures, symbols, emblems, superfluous lighting or devices whatsoever shall be displayed on, in or from the vehicle except as may be required by any statutory provision (including bye-laws) or required or permitted by these conditions."

Mr Curtis, who has driven a taxi for 14 years, said: "The whole situation is just really frustrating.

"The lights help people like myself, my daughter and passengers suffering from various conditions. They're not strobe lights or flashing lights they are sensory lights. They are a calming influence.

"My taxi is not a rave taxi. I feel a lot of the councillors on the panel are set in their ways. The lights I've got are not illegal. I have not modified my vehicle in any way."

Mr Curtis is refusing to take his lights down but says, following the hearing, that he is not switching them on.

"You can't even see them during the day," he said.

"Saying they have to come out is just crazy. The only person who has complained about this is another taxi driver and for what reason I don't know."

"I'm not here to cause trouble. I have a good relationship with the licensing officers. I think they do a fantastic job. I am merely just standing up for my rights."

Mr Curtis has the backing of lots of his customers and friends who have all posted messages on his Facebook page.

He has also got a petition together through change.org, which can be viewed here.

One mum, in support of Mr Curtis, wrote: "As a mother of a four-year-old with autism I fully support this. They are not harming anyone or putting anyone in danger."

The council refused Mr Curtis's request.

He intends to appeal and is going to try and gather evidence from charities and sensory organisations about the effect the lights have on people.

Jo Ellis-Williams, chairwoman of the council's licensing panel, said: "It was not a unanimous decision and there were some good arguments.

"However, the council do have rules and regulations for Hackney carriage licensees and they must adhere to these.

"We do like to have things that are interesting in the city and the lights are Mr Curtis's unique selling point but the panel decided that the lights are in breach of the condition and so we asked Mr Curtis to remove them."