A GROUP of taxi drivers met last week to vote on whether to address Adur District Council on the fact that the hackney taxi tariff hasn’t been increased since 2008.
A trade ballot carried out last year narrowly rejected proposals for an increase and a bid to increase in March was also rejected.
Steve Martin, 67, of Shoreham, has been in the taxi trade for 40 years and said that there has been no consideration given by the council to the increased costs to the trade over the last six years and this was causing increased hardship amongst trade members and unacceptable increases in their working week in an attempt to make ends meet.
At the meeting last Wednesday, Steve said 13 taxi licence holders turned up and that that was a poor representation.
Steve said: “A vote was called for a proposal to ask the council to work out how much we have lost since 2008, since the tariff hasn’t risen and then we can calculate how much the tariff should go up by.
“We will base this number on their figures.”
Steve added: “I was around before Adur was. I have seen a lot of change. Over the years we were steadily improving the position of taxi drivers but that’s not so any more.
“The matter has reached crisis point. We are not asking for a wage increase, it is the question of increased costs.
“At the time of the last increase agreed in 2007, petrol was 78p a litre and some drivers are now being asked to pay up to £3,500 a year for insurance.
“The council licence fees are £88 per year for a taxi driving licence and nearly £400 a year for a taxi vehicle.
“This year, due to my age, I have had to pay an annual fee of £150 for the medical just to drive the taxi.
“We have all invested early in more fuel-efﬁcient vehicles but the maintenance costs are higher due to our mileage. Everyone is aware of the difﬁculties of ﬁnancing which is common to most small businesses.”
The taxi trade has its fares controlled by the local authority.
On the other hand, unlike the taxi trade, private hire or minicab trade set their own prices and are, therefore, unaffected by the local authority.
Steve added: “It would seem that the taxi trade has been selected for harsh and unfair treatment.”
A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said: “We consider any application made for tariff change.”