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HAMMERED: Council urged to review planned hike in cost of taxi licences

HAMMERED: Council urged to review planned hike in cost of taxi licences

Members of the council’s regulatory committee approved the new fees at the end of last month

Taxi firm Boro Cars says the trade is being “hammered” with “massive” fee increases after Redcar and Cleveland Council put forward plans to hike licence fees.

The company urged the council to look again at the proposed price increases, which will affect hackney carriage vehicles, along with private hire vehicles and operators.

The changes mean that, for example, the cost of renewing a hackney carriage taxi licence will increase by £30 from £240 to £270, while renewing a private hire taxi licence will go up from £235 to £265.

A new private hire operator seeking a five year licence, or an existing one seeking to renew for another five years will see the fee go up from £500 to £740, a 48% increase.

Members of the council’s regulatory committee approved the new fees at the end of last month, which were subsequently advertised.

If any objections are received the matter will have to be referred back to the regulatory committee, but otherwise the fees will rise as stated.

A spokeswoman for Boro Cars said the planned increases were disappointing at a time when the taxi industry was facing a national shortage of drivers – covid being considered one factor in driving many away from the trade.

She said: “It would be interesting to know if the council has reviewed and streamlined its own processes in any way, before hammering the trade with these proposed massive fee increases.

“We urge them [the council] to review their proposal before proceeding any further.”

A council report, considered as an urgent item by the regulatory committee, said fees were set with a view to recovering any costs such as the administration of licences.

It said fees could not not be used for general revenue raising purposes and any surplus had to be carried forward from year to year.

Licence fees were thus determined by adjusting what otherwise would have been appropriate fees to reflect any surplus or deficit in the accounts.

The report said: “Following a review of the council’s taxi accounts in 2017, the accounts that cover hackney carriage vehicles, private hire vehicles and private hire operators were found to be in surplus which meant that the fees for these licences were reduced to balance the accounts.

“The surpluses for those accounts have now been reduced which means that the relevant fees need to be increased to allow the council to recover its costs.”

The council said its licensing team had written to all affected licence holders about the proposals.

 

Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter


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