Wisbech mayor apologises to council colleague - and taxi drivers’ leader - for Christmas Day fare ‘rip off’ claim

Cllr Michael Hill, the mayor of Wisbech.

Cllr Michael Hill, the mayor of Wisbech. - Credit: Archant

The mayor of Wisbech has ­apologised to a taxi driver – and council colleague – after claiming cabbies charged “rip-off” prices to customers on Christmas Day.

The comment was made at Wisbech Town Council on Monday when Councillor Michael Hill mentioned he had taken a woman to Peterborough Hospital on Christmas Day to visit her husband, who suffers from dementia.

But UKIP councillor – and taxi drivers’ leader – Dave Patrick said the mayor’s comment was “offensive” and a “slur.”

Cllr Hill said: “I made the comment as the taxi price shocked me. It was not a direct insult to Cllr Patrick.

“I was just surprised at how much it cost.

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“Cllr Patrick was clearly upset and I apologised to him on the night. If he would like I will give a written apology.”

Cllr Patrick said: “I believe his statement has brought his position of mayor and that of the council into disrepute.

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“He has also brought into question the integrity and honesty of all taxi drivers who worked hard on Christmas Day, giving up their own time meeting the needs of people wishing to visit their families.”

He said that many taxi drivers, including him, capped prices on Christmas Day taking a Peterborough journey down from a metered rate of £90 to £70.

“The mayor’s comments are disrespectful and a slur to those working hard to provide a service,” he said.

A Fenland District Council spokesman said: “The rules on what taxis can charge are clear. For bank holidays, including Christmas Day, they are £6.60 for the first mile and 40p for every one tenth of a mile after that.

“These are double the normal rates. The licensing committee agreed these fees in April 2012.

“Customers should only pay what is displayed on the meter, or less.”

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