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Request for taxi fare hike rejected by Watford councillors
An "unjustified" taxi-fare price hike, more than ten times the rate of inflation, was rejected by Watford councillors last night.
Cab drivers are calling for a tariff rise for the first time in three years, to help offset the rising costs of petrol, insurance and servicing.
Their proposal, to add 60p for just the initial fare, was thrown out by the council’s licensing committee last night, in favour of a 20p increase on all fares.
The increase, proposed by councillor Peter Jeffree, will bump up the price of initial fares, as well as for the one, two, five and 10 mile tariffs.
Watford Borough Council is the licensing authority for hackney carriages within the town and sets the maximum tariffs. The last fare review and increase took place in 2010.
Shafiq Ahmed, chairman of the Watford Hackney Carriage Drivers’ Association, said: "We are aware of the difficulties everybody is facing in the current economical climate.
"Due to these reasons we held back for three years of not requesting a fare increase with great difficulties.
"It is unfair for taxi drivers to continually keep absorbing high fuel prices, insurance, maintenance and tyres increase in prices ever year. Licensing and other expenses are also increasing."
Mr Ahmed proposed an increase of 60p to the initial fare, for the first three miles of a journey, from £2.20 to £2.80, above the national average of £2.68.
The average one mile day-time journey in East Anglia is £3.82, compared to the proposed increase in Watford of £4.60.
Neighbouring council’s starting fares include Hertsmere, at £2.40, Three Rivers, at £2.70, Dacorum at £2.80 and St Albans at £2.50.
Councillor George Derbyshire said: "Is an increase of 36 per cent justified when there has been very little increase in earnings for anybody in the past three years?
"The government’s retail price indices show that over the past three years certain elements of the drivers’ costs have gone up substantially and they need to be compensated for that. Petrol has risen by 20 per cent, maintenance by 9.5 per cent.
"A 60p increase is not justified and I certainly don’t think it would go down well with the users whose own incomes have not been increasing at all."
Councillor Jagtar Singh, who used to work as a minicab driver in Edgware, said: "I know the racial abuse I took.
"The taxi drivers have been very tolerant in not asking for a rise in three years, but I think enough is enough. They could have easily asked for £3 or £3.20.
"When you’re a certain age and you’ve been doing a job a long time, and that’s the only skill you have, you are caught, you cannot hand your plate in. It’s not that easy to get a job out there."
Councillor Peter Jeffree added: "There clearly is a huge excess of supply over demand and that is at the root of a lot of taxi drivers’ problems.
"I run a business and a lot of the time I’m sat idle like taxi drivers waiting in ranks but I don’t expect my customers to pay for that.
"They need an innovative offer to attract customers and there is a lot they could be doing."
He suggested an increase of 20p on all fares, taking the initial fare to £2.40, the one mile fare to £4.20, the two mile fare to £6.40, the five mile fare to £13 and the 10 mile fare to £27.
Councillor Mo Mills suggested upping the initial fare by 80p, to £3, but councillors voted for Peter Jeffree’s suggestion.
The revised tariff will now be advertised for 14 days, and if no objections are received, then the tariff will take effect from the end of the consultation period.