Opposition leader expects public pushback over 30% taxi fare hike in Kenilworth

By Andy Mitchell - Local Democracy Reporter

15th Apr 2024 | Local News

Taxi fares look set to be put up across Warwick district (image via pixabay)
Taxi fares look set to be put up across Warwick district (image via pixabay)

An opposition leader expects questions to be raised over Warwick District Council's plans to hike taxi rates by 30 per cent

Conservative group leader Cllr Andrew Day, who was leader of the council until May 2023, acknowledged the need for taxi drivers to be paid properly but said the scale of the hike in one go was too much. 

The district sets the maximum rates for Hackney carriages – taxis that can be hailed without notice as opposed to private hire vehicles which must be booked – in its area and they have not changed since 2014.

The current daytime rate – 6am until 10pm – is £3.40 for the first 700 yards, 20p per 100 yards after that and 10p per 30 seconds waiting. 

It is 50 per cent higher for five or more passengers in the day or for fares between 10pm and 6am. A third tariff for five or more passengers between 10pm and 6am is double the day rate. 

National data compares local authorities based on the cost of a trip of two miles taken in daytime hours.

It is currently £6 in the district of Warwick with the new tariff set to put that up to £7.65 from May 2024, provided the council does not face opposition when it advertises the changes.

If it does, the cabinet – the panel of Green and Labour councillors in charge of major service areas that this week supported the proposals in principle – will consider the matter again.

"Our group has concerns about the big step that is being taken here, not the principle," said Cllr Day. 

"It is such a significant increase in one go. We need to be mindful that the use of our Hackney cabs tends to fall mainly on those outside our towns, it has a disproportionate impact on people who, for example, wish to travel to shopping centres.

"At a time of cost of living increases, and again part of the way through a budget cycle, we see a 30 per cent increase in charges. That financial pain will fall disproportionately on a particular group in our community. 

"Maybe consideration could be given to stepping it in, even over six-monthly intervals over two years so people have the opportunity to adjust their budgets and deal with this.

"It is a very significant increase and is clearly something that should have been attended to earlier, that is acknowledged, but to take one jump is something I think our residents would be asking questions about."

Cllr Judy Falp took a different view. 

"In mitigation, we did start looking at this in 2019 because we realised how long it had been and then Covid came along," she said. 

"That department led on so much in relation to Covid, items like this got dropped, they didn't have the time to do it and we would have done that had it not been for Covid.

"I welcome it because these drivers have not had an increase since 2014 and they can only have an increase if we agree to it. Private vehicles can charge what they like, we also have Uber now, and the cost of living crisis affects them as well as the people who use them.

"It is long overdue and it needs to be done. Yes, it is a big hike now but I don't see the point in doing a little bit then in 12-18 months they say they need another hike because we are not where we should be.

"I think we need to take the pain now. I don't think they are asking for an unreasonable amount."

Cllr Jessica Harrison, the district's portfolio holder for transformation, said: "It is eye watering when you just hear 30 per cent but if you talk about numbers, £6 will increase to £7.65. 

"These rates are maximum charges, drivers can charge less, and private hire taxis can charge higher rates anyway. 

"Taxi drivers deserve a decent wage, the consultation put it towards a higher figure and there have been complaints over the long time it has taken to get here. 

"Our taxi drivers are good, reasonable people who provide an essential service – school runs, disabled passengers, getting people to and from our towns."

     

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