TAXI drivers say they are outraged at a decision of private hire company to reduce its minimum fare.
SN1 Cars reduced its minimum fare for a half-mile journey from £3.80 to £3 on Monday.
Its drivers say it will lead to less money in their pockets and drivers from rival companies say it will lead to increased competition.
About 20 drivers from SN1 Cars, V Cars, United, Swindon Airport Cars and Hackney Cab drivers met to discuss the move, as well as other issues affecting their income, yesterday.
Nick Chambers, who has been a taxi driver for 10 years, said: “Private hire taxi drivers are outraged by a decision that has been made without any prior consultation with the drivers, to reduce the minimum fare to £3 from £3.80.
“This will greatly reduce their incomes and it comes at the same time as radio rent was also put up again with no consultation from drivers.
“This, combined with increasing petrol and diesel costs, means drivers are working dangerously long hours and their family life and their health is suffering.”
Other taxi drivers, including Russell Read, also raised concerns about the number of licences handed out by Swindon Council and the rent for radio, which averages at £90.
“We are not asking for special treatment as we have all chosen this particular employment,” he said.
“What we are asking for is the same fair working conditions all people in this country supposedly have the right to.
“That income is not put down by management with no consultation, those working hours are not raised without consultation, those staff levels are not allowed to get so high that the work level just isn’t there.
“We want the people of Swindon to have some understanding of our predicament while we carry on providing a good service.”
Martyn Newson, the proprietor of SN1 Cars, said: “The minimum fare has been reduced for a journey which represents half a mile.
“This was designed because we get OAPs really unable to walk. They have short journeys, perhaps 200 yards up the road, and I just think charging people doing this sort of journey £3.80 is exactly fair.
“The amount of diesel for half a mile is next to nothing. We felt it would generate work for the drivers.”
“As a result, we no longer have the power to limit the number of Hackney Carriage vehicle licences issued.
“The council has no legal authority to refuse to issue licences to Private Hire drivers and Private Hire vehicles, providing the council’s licensing criteria is met.
“We were invited to today’s meeting with the drivers, but we declined because we are meeting the Private Hire Association and Hackney Carriage Association, both of which are recognised groups, on Friday.”