Harrogate taxi firm boss calls for price rise 'fair to all'

The owner of a Harrogate taxi firm has called on the Borough Council to reconsider its plans to increase Hackney Carriage fares by three percent after a consultation was launched earlier this month.

Harrogate Borough Council could increase fares by three percent from December
Harrogate Borough Council could increase fares by three percent from December

Harrogate Borough Council's consultation draws to a close this week over whether to increase taxi fares by three percent from December 1, after it received approval from Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities, Coun Mike Chambers.

While the cost of a one mile journey will not change the increase would see a two mile journey rise from £6.60 to £6.80, three miles from £8.60 to £8.80, a five mile journey from £12.20 to £12.60 and a 10 mile journey to £21.80 to £22.40.

However this is unlikely to cover the rising costs that drivers face, says Kevin O’Boyle, owner of Central Taxis, and the longest holder of a taxi license in the district, adding they needed to be able to cover the costs of living in the district.

It followed HBC officers quoting figures from Private Hire Monthly, a taxi trade publication, which ranked Harrogate as 70th for the most expensive for charging over two miles, which Mr O'Boyle says is not an 'exact science' for ranking costs.

He said: "The impact is we are not getting what we should be, if we aren't where is the shortfall coming from? Its coming out of two things, the driver is taking out less wages for himself, or he puts more hours in, or both."

He added: "They have said we would be high up in the league table, but its not an exact science by any means. We have other authorities behind us in the league table over a two mile area, over 10 miles they charge more than we do. Its just not that exact.

"The other thing is, yes it might be one of the highest in Yorkshire but my answer to that is someone has to be first, and where is the dearest place to live here? Its in Harrogate, and taxi drivers have the same expenses as everyone else and need to be able to live here too."

Coun Chambers said that the three percent increase was chosen to 'strike a balance' for passengers and drivers.

He said: “As we’ve said previously, the setting of taxi fares is a statutory duty for the borough council, and our aim is to strike a balance between setting a fare that is acceptable to the customer and to the taxi driver.

“As a result, we felt that three per cent achieved that fair balance."

The past 10 years have been hard for Hackney Carriage drivers in the district, said Mr O'Boyle, adding that HBC previously used a formula used in other areas - Which would see a 4.84 per cent increase introduced. Mr O'Boyle, called on coun Chambers to apply the old formula which he says 'would produce a figure fair to all parties.'

He said: "10 years ago there was a formula in place (in Harrogate) that has been used in London and other councils for the past 30 years. Its a proven formula, takes into account the facts of running taxis and comes up with a percentage increase to keep up with the costs of living, and running a taxi.

"In other areas the fare increase, whatever the formula says that it should be, gets rubber stamped - Whatever it says is given to them. The formula is based on pure fact, and takes the politics out of it.

"This council followed the policy at first, in the second year however they refused. Since then they have never given us the full increase recommended by the formula since then. We also lose out on a double whammy, while they don't increase on what the formula says whatever increase they do give us isn't applied across the board.

"For this to be a true three per cent it needs to be on everything, the meter, flag fall, everything. In the past its only been applied to the running mile and waiting time. Also if you take whatever percentage they have given us, and take the average over each mile it works out less, quite a bit, as to the percentage being given.

"In this case, Councillor chambers has said he is trying to be fair both to the travelling public and taxi drivers. Well there is a formula that is fair to everyone, it gives taxi drivers what they need, and not claiming more than what they require."

He added: "I am calling on him and saying there is a formula there, why aren't we using this when it is fair to all parties?"