'Disgust' after plans to raise taxi fares rejectedBy Tim Harris
November 15, 2012
TAXI drivers in Aldershot and Farnborough have been left ‘disgusted’ after the council binned their proposals to raise taxi fares.
Rushmoor Borough Council’s licensing committee approved a revised fares scheme on Monday, following a consultation, and dismissed separate proposals made by the taxi trade itself.
The council’s changes will mean an uplift total of 1.51%, meaning a journey of two miles would cost £5.84, a 4.29% increase from the current £5.60 cost for this distance.
The taxi trade had originally proposed a new running mile rate in June, which would have meant a two-mile journey would cost £6.20 under the suggested changes, a 10.71% increase from the current two mile fare.
Taxi drivers had also requested a reduction in the pull of charge yardage – the distance travelled for the initial charge on the meter.
The trade then submitted an alternative proposal in September, which would have meant a two-mile journey would cost £6, a 7.14% increase from the current two mile fare.
The committee decided this was still too high and confirmed the original decision made in June to install the council’s own notional scheme.
Graeme Marshall, an independent taxi driver in Rushmoor, said: “The committee did not take into account our pleas for help. They did not actually listen to our pleas.
“The committee has stuck with its 1.51% increase, which is a ludicrous increase. I am actually disgusted.”
Mr Marshall also said a fare discount for the elderly, suggested by some councillors, would just not be possible.
Claire Burridge, A1 Rushmoor Taxis’ representative on the Taxi Trade Board, addressed the licensing committee.
She said: “We need to make sure that business is viable. The cost of running a taxi business has gone up.
“We provide a five star service but it costs five star money.”
Costs that taxi drivers are required to cover includes purchasing a vehicle, fuelling their cabs and insurance.
Rushmoor councillor Martin Tennant, the chairman of the Rushmoor Borough Council licensing committee, has defended the decision voted for by a majority.
“I think the right decision was made,” he said. “I am confident the taxi drivers can still make a living.
“We have a difficult balancing act to make sure that driving a taxi in Rushmoor is a profitable business and taxi drivers want to do it, but we also have to consider our residents and what they can afford.
“It is common knowledge that it is a tough time economically, and people are feeling squeezed – the last thing we want to do is add to that by squeezing people further.”
Cllr Tennant also drew attention to the fact that more than 26% of taxi drivers in Rushmoor actually live outside the borough.
He added: “They trade here because they wish to trade here. It surely cannot be as terrible as we would be led to believe.”
The new taxi fares scheme approved by Rushmoor Borough Council will come into place on December 3.