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Taxi drivers are still getting mixed messages

taxi meter on dashboard at night with city lights visible from the window

The debate about national taxi standards goes on as taxi drivers continue to receive mixed messages from councils.

On one hand, drivers in one area were given a fare increase, before it was effectively taken away with a rise in licensing fees. And while some councils have frozen fares, others have increased them by up to 30%.

Rising costs

After taxi drivers in East Lothian were given a long-overdue 20% rise in fares in February, East Lothian Council is now increasing the cost of private hire badges from £149 to £259, and public hire badges from £149 to £207.

The East Lothian Courier reports that the council’s sub-committee approved an alternative three-year licence for taxi drivers which will cost £310 and will be available after they have held a one-year badge.

A report to the council said: “The fee review ensures that each particular licence is not either subsidising or being subsidised by the fees for other licences.

“Accordingly, the proposed fees for a number of licences have decreased, while others have been increased.”

But neighbouring West Lothian, where a taxi or PHV badge costs £463.42 to renew, West Lothian Council has frozen fares until November 21, 2025.

The Daily Record reports the decision has split opinion within the trade, with some drivers calling for a 10% increase as in nearby Falkirk because the 2022 levels mean drivers are working below the minimum wage.

Others, however, believe any increase would hurt trade as people are already struggling in the cost-of-living crisis.

Fares increase

Meanwhile, one council has put up fares to meet drivers’ needs – although the move has caused controversy.

Fares in Kenilworth have been raised 30% by Warwick District Council, despite fears the jump might drive passengers away.

While this might seem like a huge leap, it is the first time the council has increased taxi and PHV fares in 10 years.

Kenilworth Nub News reported that the decision had divided the council.

Cllr Jessica Harrison said: “It is eye watering when you just hear 30 per cent, but if you talk about numbers, £6 will increase to £7.65.

“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.”


Conservative opposition group leader Cllr Andrew Day said: “Our group has concerns about the big step that is being taken here, not the principle.

“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.”

Cllr Judy Falp explained the background to the rise.

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

“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.

“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.”

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