West Suffolk taxi licensing fees may increase by 33%
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
West Suffolk Council is proposing to increase taxi licensing fees by 33% due to increased safety checks and administration costs.
Subject to consultation and call-in periods, if approved by cabinet this will be the first time West Suffolk has seen an increase in these fees for seven years.
The proposals include a 50% increase in the price of combined driver's licences, a 28% increase on Hackney Carriage vehicle licences and a 22% increase on private hire vehicle licences.
Gayle Scarrow is the manager of Town and Country Cars based in Mildenhall.
She said: "We're trying our best to make a living, working all hours possible and all we seem to do is constantly pay out to the council.
"There will be no taxi drivers left before long as nobody will be able to afford the start-up costs and regular pay-outs.
"It's becoming extremely worrying."
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Asad Ali, a taxi driver for Britannia Taxis, added: "It's really not good news that the fees are increasing by so much.
"Everything seems to be going up and there are a lot of hidden costs including MOTs, inspections and safeguarding courses.
"The costs continue to sky-rocket and the taxi fare remains the same - the drivers are not happy."
West Suffolk Council said that while the fees and charges haven't been put up since 2015-16, there has been a significant rise in the costs associated with the licensing of taxis during this time.
Increased workloads and costs have been prompted by national changes in government guidance including compliance with new HM Revenue and Customs tax conditionality checks and more frequent driver Disclosure and Barring Service checks
Cabinet member for regulatory and environment Andy Drummond has announced his decision to consult with the trade on the proposed increases.
He hopes this will gauge whether they agree that the council has complied with legislative requirements and whether it has used an appropriate approach to setting the fees.
Councillor Drummond stated: "We recognise that members of the trade have asked us to review passenger fares, which last went up in 2019 and we have confirmed that our licensing committee will look at this in July."
While passenger fees may increase this year, if approved, the licencing fee changes won't come into force until April 2023.