Members gave consideration to a report which provided Members of the Regulatory Committee the background and options to the Taxi Fare Increase Request.
Under the provisions of the Town Police Clauses Act 1847 and the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 the District Council was the Authority responsible for licensing hackney carriages and private hire vehicles. The Council was also responsible for setting a scale of fares, which set out the maximum amount that could be charged by hackney carriage proprietors. The Council could not, however, control fares for private hire vehicles.
The Council licensed 55 hackney carriages, 26 private hire vehicles and 103 drivers in the District. In the last 10 years there had been two increases in the scale of fares, the last one being in 2017 when rates had been increased. As a result of a hackney carriage proprietor contacting the Licensing Team to request a fare increase. In the absence of a Hackney Association in West Lindsey, each proprietor was contacted individually for their views as to whether they felt there was a need for an increase in fares.
Out of 43 proprietors consulted, 14 were in favour of an increase and had suggested various options, 7 were not in favour of an increase. The Officer concluded his remarks by reminding Members that it was their decision regarding whether there should be an increase in the fees chargeable, and if so, to determine the level of that increase. The report provided Members with current tariff levels and an indication of the fares which would be chargeable if the options suggested by those responding to the consultation, were accepted, Table 2.2 referred.
Debate ensued and Members recognised longer term issues that included the rise of inflation, petrol price increase, and the cost of living that had led to the taxi firms’ request. Members also drew attention to medium term and short-term effects which included the effect of the Coronavirus-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine.
In response to a question about the consultation process, Members learnt that the process was conducted in November 2021, which a Member pointed out was prior to the war in Ukraine, which the Member noted had led to a substantial increase in the price of petrol. Replying to a similar question about the rate of the responses, Members heard that 21 out of 43 responses showed a good number of traders expressing their opinions, almost 50%.
In answer to a comment about the publication, Members heard that the change would be publicised through a Public Notice without a press release.
Noting that the general consensus from the Committee was that fees chargeable should be increased and that there were no concerns with the re-naming of the tariffs, the Chairman suggested recommendations a) and b) be dealt with first, to allow debate to focus on the level of increase to be applied.
With recommendations a) and b) having been proposed and seconded, on voting it was unanimously
RESOLVED that: -
(a) the renaming of tariffs be approved; and
(b) the current scale of fares be increased.
Having determined an increase should be applied and having resolved such, debate ensued as to what that level of increase should be (recommendation c) related). The initial proposal was for a 7% increase, with a Member stating that any higher increase would be too high for some of the main users of taxis, citing those on lower incomes and older people. It was important to balance the needs of the trade against the needs of its users.
A counter proposal was made for a 9% increase, with several Members’ comments reflecting difficulty for the taxi business to make a profit given the substantial increases in their costs, and suggested that a slighter higher raise at this point would limit the need for a further review in the near future.
The amendment was proposed and seconded and on being put to the vote, the amendment was CARRIED. It was therefore
FURTHER RESOLVED that:-
(c) the fares chargeable be increased by 9%.
For the avoidance of doubt, following the vote the Housing and Environmental Enforcement Manager clarified a 9% increase would result in the Tariff 1 start rate increasing to £3.20 and the Tariff 2 start rate increasing to £4.36.