Harrogate taxi firm boss calls for fare rise as borough council decision looms

A decision will be made later today at a meeting of Harrogate Borough Council's Licensing Committee
A decision will be made later today at a meeting of Harrogate Borough Council's Licensing Committee

The owner of a Harrogate taxi firm has said proposed changes to fares by the borough council could leave drivers 'meeting the costs out of their own pockets'.

Today a recommendation will be put to the cabinet member, in order for final a decision to be made in October, on increasing the rates of Hackney Carriage taxis at a session of Harrogate Borough Council's Licensing Committee.

It will have to decide between options including a council officer recommended increase of 4.78 per cent or a 2.5 per cent increased, proposed by Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities, Coun Mike Chambers MBE. It could see the starting charge, or flag fall, raised by 10p to £3.30.

Kevin O'boyle, owner of Central Taxis, and the longest holder of a taxi license in the district, says the rise used to be based on a formula used by London City Council and other authorities around 10 years ago, which helped drivers meet rising costs.

Calling on the committee to consider a rise of 4.84 per cent, he said: "The thing is most taxi drivers are putting a lot of hours in, if they are relying purely on that income some are working 60 to 80 hours a week. But drivers can be sat for two hours on the rank and not get a fare, they might sometimes have days where they get a £5 fare.

"Drivers are putting those hours in, but people don't see them during that kind of down time. When you weigh it up you are getting way below the minimum wage."

"Asking them to meet costs out their own pocket is unfair and in my opinion we are going to suffer."

In a letter to the council he stated that officer's recommendation of 4.78 per cent 'would only cover the cost of expenses since the last increase,' and not 'the shortfall' drivers have faced over the years.

HBC declined to reply to this story due to the proposal still being considered by the licensing committee.However in documents it has said drivers face rising costs including an 18 per cent rise in insurance, 8.4 per cent for fuel and 5.6 per cent for vehicles between the May 2017 and August 2018 period.

It also said: “The hackney carriage trade have this time requested a revision in the fare structure rather than an across the board rise. The request is to remove the initial 440 yard distance meaning that the first 20p charge is added to the initial flag fall of £3.20 at 185.93 yards and then every 185.93 yards thereafter. The effect of this request would be to load the tariff increases onto the beginning of the journey meaning that shorter journeys see a higher increase.”

This would mean a one-mile journey could see an 8.7 per cent increase on its 2017 price, while a 10-mile journey could have go up by 1.8 per cent.

Consultation, with the Taxi Liaison Group saw 28 of 32 who responded in favour of an increase in some form.

According to figures for England and Wales, provided by Private Hire Monthly, Harrogate currently ranks as 70th for the most expensive charging of £6.43 at two miles. HBC has also said if a 4.8 per cent increase went ahead it would see Harrogate become the most expensive Hackney Carriage fares in the region.