Taxi drivers pile on the pressure in bid for bigger fare rise

MORE than 50 letters protesting against what has been branded an insufficient rise in taxi fares have been submitted to Fenland District Council.

The council’s licensing committee meet on Monday to consider rising taxi tariffs by 5.5 per cent, as recommended by the Cabinet in January.

Councillor David Patrick, chairman of the Wisbech and District Hackney Carriage Drivers Association, had attacked the “inadequate” fare increase, claiming that it would deny drivers the “opportunity to earn a realistic wage”.

He argued that, even with the increase, Fenland’s taxis remain among the cheapest in the country with a two-mile journey costing just �4.24.

The council have been presented with 56 letters from taxi drivers and members of the public demanding a steeper increase in fares.

But they have also received a 17-signature petition from Darts Taxis, in March, who ask that the proposed fare increase is deferred until November.

The petition states that Darts’ cars have meters fitted which they feel “are giving the public a fair and just charge”.

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Letters calling for a greater rise in taxi tariffs highlighted escalating fuel costs, increases in licensing costs and the fact that Fenland’s rate is comfortable below the average fare in the region and the country.

One stated: “We are professional people and this is something that should be reflected in what we earn. The tariff at its present level does not allow us to do this.”

After January’s Cabinet meeting, Councillor Patrick said: “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.

“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.”

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