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ROUND THE COUNCILS..


EAST STAFFORDSHIRE: STRUGGLING CABBIES GIVEN A LIFELINE


Taxi and PHV drivers in East Staffordshire fighting to stay in business during the coronavirus pandemic have been given a lifeline over how long they can keep older cars. According to StaffordshireLive, they have been granted a four-month extension to how long they can keep ageing vehicles before having to replace them as cabbies battle to stay afloat during the pandemic. Burton cabbies had pleaded with East Staffordshire Bor- ough Council to grant them the extension due to the major downturn in trade. The council’s licencing committee considered their con- cerns, which were raised in a letter and signed by 19 taxi firms across East Staffordshire, now known as the Burton Taxi Trade after forming an alliance. The committee decided to grant a four-month extension. This is on top of the previ- ous four-month extension they were granted last year which has come to an end. Previously PHVs must be replaced when they reach seven years old and hackney carriage vehicles at ten years old. One taxi driver, Mohammed Tariq said: “We appreciate the four-month extension. It is better than nothing. We were hoping for longer but we will take what we can get at the moment. It is a good sign so let’s see what happens.” From December 2020 to December 2021, a total of 90 PHVs and 26 hackneys would have needed to be replaced under the old licence agreements issued by the borough council, but now these drivers have a reprieve with older cars.


WARRINGTON: COUNCILLORS BACK FARE INCREASE


Councillors have backed an increase in taxi fares in Warring- ton. According to the Warrington Guardian, in March, the council’s taxi licensing committee considered four requests for a rise in hackney fares. The last increase was back in 2014. As of February 2020, the average two-mile fare on tariff one in Warrington was £5.20. Compared to all 361 authorities in the UK, this ranks Warrington at number 326 – in the fare comparison table compiled by PHTM. The committee was told a joint proposal put forward by four members of the taxi trade would result in an average per- centage increase in fares of around seven per cent, with the fouling charge rising from £30 to £50. The committee voted to increase the fares and fouling charge. It also backed the proposal for an annual tariff review. However, due to the impact of the coronavirus pan- demic, the trade acknowledged it was not the right time to


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consult on changes to the tariff during the initial lockdown. But amended fare tariffs came before the committee during its virtual meeting on Tuesday 12 January and they were approved. They would result in an average increase of seven per cent.


Sagheer Zaman, a member of the taxi trade, welcomed the decision. He said: “This is excellent news for the taxi trade in Warrington. Due to inflation, the living wage, petrol and insurance costs, this was needed.” The committee recommended the fare increase for a deci- sion by the council’s cabinet and approved a public consultation on the changes.


NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME: CABBIES FUMING OVER FEE HIKE PLANS


Cash-strapped Staffordshire cabbies are fighting controver- sial plans to hike their licence fees. StaffordshireLive reports that licensing bosses plan to increase driver fees from April. But the drivers are furious and claim Newcastle Borough Council’s plans are forcing drivers out of the town. Stoke-on-Trent Private Hire Drivers’ Association chairman Shahraz Yaqub said: “When the fees and charges went up last year, there was strong opposition to it. But there wasn’t a full dialogue with the trade, they just went and did what they wanted to do. “What the council don’t understand is they’re not working with the trade; they’re working against the trade. “They’re losing licensed drivers to Wolverhampton, who are (still) operating in Newcastle borough but are out of the jurisdiction of local licensing officers. Mr Yaqub claimed costs for cabbies were 50 per cent less in Wolverhampton compared to Newcastle. He said: “The borough council needs to give its head a wob- ble. With Wolverhampton, there’s less bureaucracy and red tape, so why wouldn’t a driver go to Wolves?” The proposed hikes include: • Increasing the cost of the knowledge test from £25 to £27; • Increasing the charge for transferring a vehicle from non- taxi to taxi from £38 to £41;


• Increasing the charge for changing a vehicle registration plate to display that it is a taxi from £43 to £46.


A Newcastle Borough Council spokesperson said: “The pri- mary reasons for proposing an increase in the fees are that staffing costs have increased, as they do year on year, and the total number of licences has decreased. “The proposed fees have been calculated to ensure that the council recovers the full cost of administering the service while bearing in mind the legal provisions in relation to this. “It is important to note that not all of the proposed fees are increases from 2020/21 fees. Fourteen of those fees for 2020 remain the same.”


FEBRUARY 2021


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