TAXI drivers in Guildford will protest as the Olympic Torch passes through the town next July if their complaints are not listened to by Surrey County Council.
The Guildford Hackney Association (GHA) wants a fare increase of 2.7% to be implemented plus new rules to stop unlicensed private cabs picking up passengers.
The peaceful demonstrations will not disrupt the taxi service in Guildford but it is hoped by the GHA that it will be seen in front of the world’s cameras.
“We are not being listened to,” said David Williams-Wynn, chairman of GHA, who has been a Guildford cabbie for 37 years.
“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring pressure to bear on local councils that are not listening to our complaints.”
The 72-year-old added: “We are not out to cause trouble.”
Mr Williams-Wynn said the costs of running a taxi service had spiralled out of proportion due to increasing costs in fuel, car repairs and paying £536 per cab each year to be able to collect fares from the railway station.
Surrey County Council will hold a licensing meeting on Wednesday, January 4 to decide whether the tariff used by GHA to come up with the 2.7% proposed increase is justified.
The council said it was not opposed to any fare increase if it was deserved, but has asked for evidence about why the rise, based on London taxi fare increases, is legitimate.
Councillor Matt Furniss, chairman of the licensing committee, said the council wanted to come up with a methodology that actually reflected Guildford prices.
The evidence the authority needs is based on fuel costs, car maintenance, mileage and cost per mile among other aspects.
However, Mr Williams-Wynn said that the fare increase was accepted earlier this year, but the council was now asking for evidence before it goes through, which he said was unexpected.
When asking for the minutes from that meeting, Mr Williams-Wynn said the council could not produce them.
“It is all very bizarre,” he added.
Cllr David Goodwin, vice-chairman of the licensing committee, confirmed there were no recorded minutes from the meeting earlier this year, however, he pointed out that as there were no Guildford borough councillors present, no formal decisions on taxi fares could have been made.
“Those decisions have to come from a licensing committee,” he added.
Mr Williams-Wynn believes basing prices on London fares is appropriate because the capital has a much larger fleet of vehicles and Guildford cabbies rack up almost twice as much dead mileage, which is driving without a paying passenger.
The GHA also believes the council is not dealing with the issue of private hire cars picking up passengers wherever they want, as opposed to when they are allowed to.
The association claimed evidence of this had not been accepted by the county council.
For more information on the planned protests, visit www.taxi-driver.co.uk.