Melton cabbies fear council’s decision to increase licence fees by 25 per cent will ruin their businesses

Drivers and office staff from Melton taxi firms Freddy's Cabs, Lee's Taxis, Elaine's Taxis and Mark's Cabs who protested at the Sherrard Street rank against the council plans to hike their operating licence fees EMN-151011-090541001
Drivers and office staff from Melton taxi firms Freddy's Cabs, Lee's Taxis, Elaine's Taxis and Mark's Cabs who protested at the Sherrard Street rank against the council plans to hike their operating licence fees EMN-151011-090541001
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Taxi drivers in Melton fear a council’s decision to hike licence fees by 25 per cent could drive them out of business.

Cabbies say they’re worried how customers will react if they have to put their fares up as a result of their increased costs for the rest of 2015/16.

Speaking after Melton Council’s rural, economic and environmental affairs committee agreed the licence fee rise last Wednesday, Stuart Wilkinson, of Elaine’s Taxis, said: “This decision is going to ruin our businesses. The increase in costs is going to be passed on to customers but what if they don’t pay?”

Independent cabbie Lee Franklin, of Lee’s Taxis, added: “Customers aren’t going to pay if we have to increase fares. The council wants the licence fee money from us but how are we going to get it?”

Cab firms and the Melton Mowbray Taxi Drivers’ Association had claimed the council’s methodology for calculating the fees was flawed and that questions the association had asked the council had been ignored.

But the authority said its calculations were reasonable and proportionate following detailed analysis of costs and re-calculation of results following objections it had received to its proposals.

The council added the new fees would still only recover 73 per cent of its costs of issuing and administering licences, compared to 54 per cent in 2014/15.

It was also mentioned at the committee meeting that methodology used by Bournemouth Council would be used to inform the level of licence fees for 2016/17.

But this didn’t lessen the taxi drivers’ disappointment at the council’s decision to raise 2015/16 fees.

Mr Wilkinson added: “The council hasn’t justified anything in our eyes. They’ve completely ignored us. It seemed to me they were tired of discussing it and now we’re the ones who are going to bear the brunt of their decision.”

It was also agreed, on the suggestion of councillor Leigh Higgins, the committee would write to the Treasury and Minister without Portfolio the Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP outlining the benefit of fuel duty freezes to rural areas like the Melton borough in regards to the local economy, including valued local taxi firms.