'Totally unacceptable' - cabbies unhappy at controversial taxi fare rise across North Yorkshire

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Taxi passengers in North Yorkshire are facing having to pay five per cent more per mile in the face of appeals to increase and lower maximum permitted fares across the county.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive agreed to the daytime rates rise, extending night-time rates time to eight hours from 10pm and increasing the maximum call-out charge from £1 to £1.50 after hearing taxi drivers were divided over the rates which should be charged.

If the move is not contested, day-time taxis will be able to charge £4 for the first quarter mile and 20p for every extra quarter mile or 35 seconds of waiting time.

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Ripon cabbie Richard Fieldman told the leading councillors the 70 drivers from Whitby to Harrogate he represented were opposed to the proposals.

The taxi rank in Thirsk town centre.Picture: LDRS.The taxi rank in Thirsk town centre.Picture: LDRS.
The taxi rank in Thirsk town centre.Picture: LDRS.

He said: “What you see before you today is totally unacceptable for those that work nights and the unsocial Christmas period.

"The proposal gives no increase to those working these hours which less and less drivers are prepared to work these days.”

The meeting was told one of the proposed changes, to start higher rates from 10pm rather than 11pm, would have a minimal impact on night-time drivers.

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He added: “It is ironic that officers recognise that drivers need rewarding for late-night unsocial hours with abusive, alcohol and drug-fuelled customers, yet are failing to provide them with the same increase as the day-time drivers.”

Mr Fieldman said the £1 per mile call-out charge had remained the same for many years and when combined with higher fuel costs had become “unviable in a vast rural county” to travel significant distances to pick up passengers who only wanted to go a few miles.

The meeting heard drivers were refusing to do these types of journey, leaving some passengers unable to get home.

In addition, areas such as Northallerton, Thirsk, Ripon and Skipton had serious shortages of drivers working unsocial hours and the proposals would ensure even less cover.

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Ripon councillor Barbara Brodigan told the meeting recent changes in Barnsley similar to the North Yorkshire proposals had led to too few or no taxis being available during holiday periods and at night-time.

However, Coun Kevin Foster, who represents Colburn said he received a lot of complaints over the cost of taxi fares.

He said the public needed to be made aware taxis did not have to charge the maximum permitted fares.

Several executive members said they felt the proposals represented a reasonable compromise.

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While the fare increase will be subject to consultation if anyone objects, managing our environment executive member Coun Greg White said some people had called for the maximum charges to be lowered to make North Yorkshire more competitive with nearby areas.

He said a three-mile trip in Barnsley would cost £8.90, but in North Yorkshire it would be £14.98.

A report to the meeting showed while a 20-mile night-time journey in North Yorkshire would cost £68.67, in Bradford passengers would be charged £42.40, in Leeds and £49.45 in East Riding.

Coun White said: “We are already more expensive than Bradford, Durham, East Riding, Lancaster, Leeds, Redcar and Cleveland and York.

"So I’m really keen that we don’t get to the situation where we do an injustice to the people who use the taxi service by making those taxis become unaffordable.”

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