Bid to raise East Devon taxi fares is put on hold by district licensing chiefs

A plea by taxi drivers to increase fares in East Devon by 15 per cent has been put on hold after councillors asked for more information. 

The mooted hike – requested in the face of soaring fuel costs – would have been the third in just over three years, writes Local Democracy Reporter Philip Churm.

But members of the district council’s Licensing and Enforcement Committee asked for more time to consider the bid at their July meeting.

Councillors upped the maximum fare in April 2020 after the Exmouth Taxi Trade Association – now the East Devon Taxi Association – asked for a 50p increase on the initial half-mile journey ‘flag’ charge.

This resulted in a change from £3 to £3.50 for daytime fares.

In April this year, members approved a further increase of 10 per cent. This meant daytime fares would rise from £3.50 to £3.85 and evening fares from £4 to £4.40.

In June, the association indicated that a further increase of 15 per cent on the pre-April rise was necessary due to rising fuel and maintenance costs.

East Devon District Council licensing manager Steve Saunders explained that members had the option to delay a decision until they had more details.

Budleigh and Raleigh representative Cllr Tom Wright suggested it would be better not to agree the price rise just yet.

He said: “That last meeting, it was me who proposed that we increase the fares by more than the officers were proposing.

“And in fact, that decision has been very timely in view of the current increase in fuel costs.

“The actual inflation rate, the general inflation rate, I think on today’s figures was 9.4 per cent. So the 10 per cent increase, or slightly more, that we granted covers that.”

Cllr Wright added that there was also uncertainty around government policy.

“In order to win votes, some of the contestants in the current Prime Minister’s race are proposing that they will remove fuel duty,” he said.

“So [the]suggestion that we should pause a little while before further increases is well-founded.”

Exmouth Town ward member Cllr Olly Davey agreed but said: “You’ve got to balance the interests of the taxi drivers and the interests of the public using them and it’s often people who are disabled or elderly who are using those taxis.

“And we do have to bear in mind, inflation’s running at 10 per cent, but fuel prices have increased by at least 50 per cent, if not 60 per cent. I think it would be good to get a bit more information.”

A proposal to consider temporary approval for using the higher evening taxi fare tariff for daytime fares was voted down.

 Councillors requested more detailed information before making a decision on further increases to taxi fares.

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