Felixstowe cab drivers call for immediate surcharge after fuel rise

The taxi rank in Lloyds Avenue, Ipswich. PIcture: JASON NOBLE

Hackney Cab drivers in Felixstowe asked for an immediate 60p fuel surcharge, which was rejected by East Suffolk. PIcture: JASON NOBLE - Credit: Jason Noble

Calls from a group of Felixstowe cab drivers to introduce an immediate 60p surcharge in response to the rising cost of fuel has been rejected.

The proposal called for the surcharge to be on Hackney Carriage cab journeys in East Suffolk which East Suffolk Council's licencing committee rejected and said would need further consultation with drivers. 

The request came from nine Felixstowe drivers who asked for a 60p fuel surcharge to be added to all journeys for a temporary period of 12 months, in response to the rising cost of petrol and diesel.

According to the council, there are currently 187 Hackney Carriage drivers. Information provided by the Felixstowe drivers proposing the change indicated that their fuel costs had increased by around £8-10 per day, across an average 18 jobs per day.

East Suffolk Council’s licensing committee rejected the 60p surcharge but would consult drivers during a two week consultation to see how many felt it was necessary.

Members said they would introduce a lower 20p rate in the summer if needed and reviewed after a three months. 

Cllr Paul Ashdown said: “This needs to go out to consultation first with every taxi driver so we have a complete report of all their opinions. I think 60p is too much in any case. They are reasonably well paid with the fees they have actually got at this moment in time, and everybody is feeling the pinch.”

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Drivers suggested that would be a reasonable amount for passengers to pay for a temporary period to see them through the current cost of living crisis. Currently no fuel surcharge is levied.

Cllr Linda Coulam added: “We have got to look at the whole piece of people in East Suffolk, not just taxi drivers, and I do believe we have got to put this out to consultation first.”

Concerns were also raised over whether a flat rate of 60p for all journeys regardless of length was appropriate.

Councillor Keith Robinson, who backed the 60p surcharge, said there was a situation where they were “losing taxi drivers in Lowestoft”. 

He added: “We need taxi drivers and to have taxi drivers we need them to make a living. I think if we don’t allow them a bit for fuel increases I can see more and more going out of business.”

A date for the consultation is set to be announced in due course.