Fenland Council reads Wisbech taxi drivers their rights after overcharging claims

TAXI drivers accused of overcharging were formally cautioned by Fenland District Council, read their rights and called in for taped interviews to explain their actions.

But Councillor Dave Patrick, chairman of Wisbech and District Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, believes it was “strange that this should happen prior to a full council meeting where meters were to be ratified”.

And stranger still, he says, that once the vote was taken to install meters the “case was closed”.

Cllr Patrick said no action was taken against two of the three drivers “as no offence had been committed based on their evidence.

“The third was given words of advice as he is new to the trade and it was accepted a genuine mistake had taken place. Not in relation to the price but the fact he had not negotiated his fare.

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“If you do not negotiate your fare prior to hiring then you must charge by the tariff. That was his only error.”

The council is adamant it was “not a sting by us nor was it a test purchase. The first that the licensing team knew of it was when a complaint was made by a member of the public.

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“We followed up that complaint, as is our duty.”

The licensing team “was presented with evidence by a member of the public that three drivers had overcharged on three occasions”.

The council says receipts confirmed the journeys and identified the drivers and companies.

Two of the journeys came from the Horsefair and were less than 1.4 miles but on each occasion the passenger was charged more than the �3.31 tariff. The third journey, from Morrisons to Elm, was also too high.

The council says that all three admitted the charges under interview and “each driver was apologetic, saying they had made a genuine mistake. Each explained how they came to charge more than the �3.31.

“This incident highlights the fact that it is extremely difficult for a driver to work out a waiting charge or whether it is appropriate, without the use of a stopwatch or indeed a taximeter.”

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