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Rethink over plan for taxi fares hike

PUBLISHED: 15:14 18 August 2008 | UPDATED: 21:05 05 July 2010

INFLATION-BUSTING increases in taxi fares across Waveney are to be reconsidered after a flurry of objections.

Waveney District Council previously agreed price hikes of up to 11.

INFLATION-BUSTING increases in taxi fares across Waveney are to be reconsidered after a flurry of objections.

Waveney District Council previously agreed price hikes of up to 11.3pc, but must debate the issue again after a consultation exercise sparked complaints from the taxi industry.

Five opponents want to peg the fares at current levels for fear of losing business, while another group of 20 drivers has suggested cuts for longer trips, but bigger increases for short journeys.

Three drivers backed either all or some of the increases voted for in June, but a total of 196 drivers did not respond.

Waveney council tabled the plans for fare increases after hearing representations from the local taxi trade about the impact of increasing fuel costs.

Councillors voted in favour of an increase in a one-mile journey from £3.20 to £3.30 (3.1pc), but wanted bigger percentage increases for longer journeys. A two-mile trip would rise from £5.60 to £6 (7.1pc); a five-mile trip's increase would be from £12.80 to £14 (9.3pc), while fares for 10 miles would soar from £24.80 to £27.60 (11.3pc). The percentage increases for trips taken after 11pm, on Sundays and bank holidays would have been even larger.

The council advertised its decision, but the licensing committee must reconsider the proposals following the objections when it meets on Tuesday.

John Lock, managing director of Lowestoft-based Five One Taxis, said in a letter: “We are already one of the dearest areas in the country… I feel we are charging what is affordable in the current economic climate. Everything is more expensive and an increase would result in a decrease of work…”

Taxi driver Ray Stringer added: “… I feel our fares are already high enough and further increased rates are not needed (in spite of fuel prices) as we cannot offer effective competition to neighbouring licensing areas at existing prices…”

Figures presented to the licensing committee show fares for five and 10- miles journeys in Waveney-registered taxis are considerably more than those charged in Norwich, Yarmouth, Ipswich, Suffolk Coastal and North Norfolk.

Another letter, countersigned by 19 drivers, suggests an increase in charges for one and two-mile journeys, but cuts for longer journeys to promote competition with taxis from other areas.

Letter author Colin Morton said under the proposed fares for long distance travel, it would cost £19.40 travelling from Yarmouth to Lowestoft, but £27.60 in the opposite direction.

However, councillors are being recommended to either vote again for the increases agreed in June or peg prices at current levels.

The licensing committee will meet at 5.30pm tomorrow (Tuesday) at Lowestoft Town Hall.


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