Fears taxi fare increase in North Kesteven could impact on residents

There are fears that plans to increase hackney carriage fares to help taxi drivers tackle the cost of living crisis pressures could impact on other residents.

North Kesteven District Council’s general licensing voted on Wednesday to recommend that the authority should go to consultation on plans to increase maximum fares in a way which would see them rise to £22.80 for a 10-mile journey. Currently the fares equate to £20.80.

The changes, which will be given a final seal of approval by NKDC executive before going to consultation, will see passengers charged 20p every 1/10th of a mile rather than every 1/9th.

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The waiting time (when the vehicle is stopped or waiting in traffic) would be changed to 20p for every 40 seconds. The current flag charge of £3 would be retained.

A request to increase prices was made by hackney drivers in a bid to tackle inflation and cost of living rises.

Council officers said the rise was “proportionate for both Hackney Carriage proprietors and the travelling public”. They added that it was in-line with neighbouring authority’s latest moves.

However, NK Independents Group Councillor Jim Clark said the figure was already “quite a lot of money to come into Sleaford shopping for the elderly, those on fixed income, etc”.

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“Although other authorities have increased with inflation and I understand why totally – are we adding to people’s cost of living?”

He also raised concerns over ambulance response times and people’s choices to take alternative transport to hospitals in emergencies, as well as changing behaviours of residents and where they choose to shop.

He feared those on low income were finding their finances “stretched and stretched and stretched”.

“A Hackney carriage driver has a choice of making a living or not, a lot of people don’t have that choice and it’s a difficult decision,” he said.

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Council officer Neil Chadwick said he had spent “countless hours” on the report.

“What I’ve tried to do is find a modest balance between the two, a modest increasing in income, because obviously we all know there are increased costs, but also a modest increase that the customers are going to have to foot at the end of the day.

He told councillors the taxi companies themselves would decide whether to increase their fees to the maximum level.