8:40pm Wednesday 2nd May 2012
CABBIES across South Lakeland have been given the green light to increase their maximum charges for the first time in 10 years.
The move, unanimously approved by South Lakeland District Council’s licensing committee, is being rolled out across the area for hackney carriages.
Under the new charges, a standard fare of, for example, £4 will rise to £4.70, an increase of 17 per cent.
But taxi drivers argue that they have to cover the cost of massive inflation since their last price increase in 2002.
After the meeting, Kendal cabbie Andrew Gardiner, of the Taxi Drivers’ Association, welcomed the move: “We are finding it to be a very difficult time. Our customers understand that we are not just a charity, we are self employed.
“Petrol prices and garage charges are through the roof now.
“It has been said that this increase will be 17 per cent but we haven’t had a rise in rates since 2002, and if you take on board the inflation since then, it would come out about the same as what we have asked for now.
“Elderly people are telling us that it is cheaper for them to use taxis than their own cars even with these increases, so they are giving up their cars to use us.”
Among the objections from local people was the bringing forward of the night-time tariff to start at 11pm, rather than midnight. It would increase the cost of a two-mile journey starting at 11pm from £5 to £9. There is also to be an extra charge levied for carrying more than two passengers.
Coun Norman Bishop-Rowe pointed out that the extra charge for more than two people was due to the extra weight involved.
“These are moderate increases in what are very, very difficult times,” he said.
Backing the increase, Coun Clare Feeney-Johnson said: “We have to look at it from the point of view of those who perhaps cannot use public transport, but at the same time we do have a responsibility to look at the taxi drivers’ perspective and in view of the length of time that they have spent on the old tariffs, we have to address that.”
Coun Janet Willis said she had spoken to some drivers who were ‘not happy’ with increasing fares, but she added: “To me that is an opportunity for them to advertise that they are charging at a lower rate than others.”
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group