Taxi drivers’ leader brands 5.5% fare increase insufficient as council approve rise
TAXI drivers’ leader Councillor Dave Patrick claimed today that a council decision to increase fares by 5.5 per cent is insufficient and risks killing the profession in Fenland.
The district council’s Cabinet approved a recommendation yesterday to raise the fares but Cllr Patrick argued that even with the increase, Fenland’s taxis remain amongst the cheapest in the country with a two-mile journey costing just �4.24.
After the meeting Cllr Patrick said: “I’m absolutely gutted, I feel stitched up. They are talking about the public interest but what about the poor people who are driving them around?
“Fuel prices are escalating and we cannot keep absorbing the costs. It is restricting our chances of earning a decent living.
“These are professional people and the proposed increase is not paying a professional wage. It’s killing the profession.
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“I didn’t ask for the best tariff on earth. I just wanted something nearer to the average and I feel that they have desperately let down Fenland’s taxi drivers.”
Cllr David Patrick, chairman of the Wisbech and District Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, presented Cabinet with 30 letters calling for a steeper increase.
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Later the council was handed a further 15 letters, penned by taxi drivers from March, supporting Cllr Patrick’s call for higher fares.
Cllr Patrick told Cabinet the proposed rise was denying drivers “the opportunity to earn a realistic wage.” He claimed taxi fares locally were among the cheapest in the country.
The increase means the price of a journey of up to 1.4 miles will rise 17p to �3.31. For every subsequent one-fifth of a mile the price has increased from 29p to 31p.
But Councillor Kit Owen, portfolio holder for Shaping Fenland, said that many taxi drivers were satisfied with the increase proposed.
He said: “People who use taxis in Fenland often use them to go shopping and carry all their bags. If they do that journey several times a week, any increase above that proposed would be significant.
“We have to take heed of the needs of the people who use the taxis and the amount they can afford. There’s no way we could justify an increase above and beyond the 5.5 per cent we have recommended.”
The proposed increase was approved - subject to a 14-day consultation period - with only Councillor Mac Cotterell abstaining.