Thousands of furious taxi drivers have demanded an apology from Birmingham City Council after a meeting over plans to introduce single-colour cabs ended in farce.

Police were called to Villa Park on Tuesday night after 3,000 drivers jostled to get into the Holte Suite meeting room, capacity 800.

Many stood outside for two hours, waiting for a second session before the meeting was abandoned on health and safety grounds.

Council licensing department officials had to “slip off out the back”, it was claimed. Officials from the authority blamed the “unprecedented” turnout.

Philip Williams, from Erdington, spent two hours trying to get into the meeting and said he had never seen a “bigger shambles” in his 20 years as a cabbie.

He said: “There were already more than 1,000 people on the car park 15 minutes before the meeting was due to start. I think a police officer got frightened and called for reinforcements. He said something about a breach of the peace. There was no trouble, just a lot of people. They were a bit heavy handed.”

The fury turned on organisers who invited more than 5,000 minicab drivers to discuss plans to respray every minicab silver or white, make them take MOTs every two years and scrap cars over eight years old.

Union officials warned the council to expect a massive turnout.

Transport and General Workers Union representative Waseem Zaffer said: “It was a total and utter farce. This is the largest local authority in Europe and it has totally cocked up. We told them in an email to expect 2,000 to 3,000 people. If you invite 10 guests to your house you make sure you have 10 seats.

“We want a public apology from the licensing committee over the disgraceful running of this meeting.”