Taxi fares to rise in Fenland but some fear it may drive them out of business

TAXI fares in Fenland will rise – even though some drivers fear it may sound the death knell for their businesses.

The licensing committee of Fenland Council today approved the increases- to take affect from May 2- and also agreed a 20p fee for those taking more than four passengers.

Among those opposed to the increase was Bev’s Taxis who argued that a two mile journey would now be �5.30 as opposed to �4.34- a rise of 25 per cent.

“People’s budgets are stretched and I do not think this is fair on behalf of the public to be possibly charged this greater increase,” the firm told the council.

However the committee felt the proposed increase “would place Fenland around the middle banding of fares within the council’s similar basket of authorities as previously requested by the trade”.

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Bev’s Taxis also argued that customers were only just getting used to all taxis operating with calibrated meters but the council pointed out that once a request had been made to increase fares it had to consider it.

Councillor David Patrick, a Lib Dem member but also a taxi drivers’ spokesman, told the committee that on short journeys the new fares would reduce the amount that can be charged.

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“Predominantly by far the largest volume of our work involves what I call short haul journeys where the journey is likely to be less than 1.4 miles.”

He also said the new tariffs were “particularly punitive” to those taxi firms that provided six or eight seaters.

However the council said a meeting last month to set the ball rolling over fares increase was not attended by drivers who could have stated their objections then.

Andy Martin of Fenland Taxis said that as a driver of 22 years standing in Wisbech “I am concerned about the changes to the tariff you are trying to apply to us.”

He added that a major concern will be when a customer calls to make a booking from a village “it won’t be financially viable for taxi drivers to do jobs that do not come into Wisbech or go through Wisbech on the journey.” He wanted a fee for phone bookings but this was refused.

Councillor Kit Owen said current fares in Wisbech were the cheapest internationally but Councillor Phil Hatton argued that in a low wage area increased fares would hit the public hard.

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