Taxi fares could rise in Harrogate, passenger woe or a fair standard of living?

Hackney Carriage fares could rise by 2.5 percent
Hackney Carriage fares could rise by 2.5 percent

Residents can have their say on proposals to raise Hackney Carriage taxi fares after the council’s cabinet member for safer communities supported the recommendations.

Coun Mike Chambers gave his approval on Tuesday, 21 March for plans to allow running miles and waiting times to increase by 2.5 percent in the borough’s 148 licenced vehicles.

He said a careful balance had to be struck between supporting drivers who face increasing operating costs, and the impact changing fares will have on passengers.

Dean Richardson, Harrogate Borough Council’s Head of Safer Communities said: “It is the council’s responsibility to strike a balance between setting a maximum fare that is acceptable to both the customer and the taxi driver, and this proposal is aimed at supporting the local economy and maintaining a much valued service.

“Taxi operators are faced with increasing financial pressures such as rising fuel costs, and without the increase we could see a drop in the number of taxis on the roads if the service becomes unprofitable for the operators.

“This in turn would lead to less choice for customers. It is not felt that this modest increase would impact upon retaining customers.

“It is important that the public have the chance to have their say on the proposals and so a 14 day period is provided for representations.

“All responses will be considered before a final decision is made.”

Rising costs are across six categories with fuel and vehicles costs, parts, garage labour, insurance and cost of living being seen to have risen by at least 1.5 percent.

Drivers originally submitted the request for the fares increase in December at a Taxi Liaison Group meeting.
It followed a 1.6% increase that was previously granted in April.

Restricting their request to increasing running mile and waiting times drivers claim the approach will see an increase that prevents short journeys becoming more expensive.

Running miles could rise to £1.90 from £1.85 while the hourly rate for waiting time could change from £16.88 to £17.30.

Near unanimous support was given to their request by the council’s licensing committee who recommended it for Coun Chamber’s approval.

Vulnerable passengers, including the elderly and people with disabilities, were however noted in council assessments as being at risk of a disproportionate impact from the increase if approved.

But drivers argue the high cost to keep specialist vehicles on the road had to be taken into account.

A spokesperson for Harrogate Borough Council said:“In setting the maximum fare, the Cabinet Member is striking a balance between drivers being able to make a fair living from their trade and the impact that fares have on the travelling public, especially the more vulnerable members of society who might rely on Hackney Carriages in their daily life.”

Residents have until Thursday, April 13, to voice their objections to the proposed plans and these can be made by letter to Harrogate Borough Council, PO Box, 787, HG1 9RW.