November 29, 2013 10:59
Councillors have voted to hike the cost of a variety of licensing fees on Shropshire taxi drivers by as much as 216 per cent – despite complaints by cabbies that the current service is “atrocious”.
The council’s licensing and safety sub committee voted through a range of new pricing policies for black cabs and other private hire vehicles following a meeting at Shirehall yesterday, with the new fees coming into effect from Monday.
But the price rises were only agreed after councillors were addressed by several taxi drivers who opposed the changes and said the service they currently receive was not good enough.
Concerns were raised that the report agreed by councillors had indicated ongoing council budget cuts mean delivering the current level of service is “not sustainable in the current economic climate”.
Nicholas Cox, from Oswestry Cabs, said: “The service we get for what we are paying is atrocious.”
He said he did not accept the council argument that the current level of service was not sustainable given it is paid for from fees from taxi drivers.
“They are there to cover the service we are receiving, it is not connected with the economic climate at all,” he said.
David Wilson, a licensing consultant representing two of the county’s biggest taxi firms, Central Taxis and Diamond Cars, said that it is illegal for councils to set fees with the intention of making a profit.
He said: “Even if fees were to stay at their existing level, the council is bound to generate a profit and it is unlawful for a council to set fees with the intention of generating a profit.”
But Frances Darling, service manager for Safer & Stronger Communities at Shropshire Council, said it was not the case the council would make a profit.
The highest percentage increase will see the cost of transferring a black cab licence to a new vehicle rise by 216 per cent from £27.50 to £87.