Hike in taxi fees is ‘outrageous’

Proposed increases to taxi and private hire vehicle licence fees in Babergh have been branded as outrageous by the owner of a Sudbury firm.

Sean Fox, of Fox Cars based in East Street, has written to the council objecting to a proposal from Babergh District Council to increase licensing fees, which have not seen changes in six years.

He said the proposed hike to private hire vehicle fees in particular represented a 26 per cent fee rise.

In a letter, Mr Fox told council officers: “The increase in renewals of a private hire vehicle licence from £266 a year to £334 is outrageous.

“We should be supported, not penalised, for trying to offer a competitive and reliable service in this area.”

Mr Fox also questioned why licences cost more in the Babergh area rather than Mid Suffolk – especially when the two district councils were sharing some services to save money.

He also criticised the introduction of a proposed ‘knowledge test’ for drivers.

He added: “How is this going to help? How much is the resit fee, and is this really necessary?”

His comments were part of a consultation the council carried out after fees increases were mooted at a council meeting in February.

The proposals will come before Babergh’s Regulatory Committee tomorrow, Friday, with a recommendation for approval to come into effect in the next two months.

Council official Lee Carvell said: “It will be an operational decision for each operator proprietor whether any fee increases are, in due course, passed on to customers or contract providers in terms of higher fares. The hackney carriage fare maximum tariff has not increased since 2010.”

Jacqui Lawrence, company manager for Sudbury Town Taxis, also responded to the consultation.

She said: “I feel the fee increase is quite high, both for drivers and operators.

“The increase will only damage the bigger companies who have much higher overheads than the smaller ones, as the paperwork for the operator’s licence is the same whether there is one car or 10 cars in the fleet.”

Read more: http://www.suffolkfreepress.co.uk/