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Taxi fare rises approved for part of east Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 07:30 22 October 2020

East Suffolk Council has approved a Hackney Carriage fare increase for the first time in eight years. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

East Suffolk Council has approved a Hackney Carriage fare increase for the first time in eight years. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A rise in cab fares for part of East Suffolk has been agreed for the first time in eight years.

East Suffolk Council’s licensing committee on Monday night gave the go-ahead to a revised fare structure for Hackney Carriage taxis – those that can be hailed from the roadside – for the old Suffolk Coastal district area.

It means that on the day tariff the starting rate goes up by 20p up to £3.60, with a 40p increase on the current £4.20 for one mile, a 60p increase on the two mile distance, £1.20 increase for five miles, £2.20 increase for 10 miles and £3.20 increase for a 15 mile journey.

For the night tariff between 10.30pm and 5.30am the flag fare and one mile journey increases by 30p, 50p for two miles, £1.10 for five miles, £2.10 for 10 miles and £3.10 for 15 miles.

The request was brought forward by the taxi trade itself, which has not had an increase since May 2012.

Mike Stokell, an established operator in East Suffolk who runs 22 of the 30 licensed Hackney Carriage cabs in the south of the district, in his representation said the new structure brought it more in line with other nearby authorities.

He added: “It is now eight years since the last fare increase.

“Since then all of our costs have increased with the exception of fuel.”

The committee voted 11 to one in favour of the changes, but said that work would soon need to begin to bring the different tariffs in the north of the district – the old Waveney District Council area – and the south together into one uniform tariff.

That work is likely to begin early in the 2021/22 financial year.

Councillor Steve Wiles said: “The taxi drivers in the area would be best placed to make the decision on how the economy is running in their area.

“Covid has taken a lot of business away and if you are looking at the rate of inflation in the last eight years without inflating their prices I think they have done pretty well.”

However, councillor Linda Coulam, who has previous experience working in the trade, said: “I don’t think this is the right time for us to have an increase.

“I think if you agree to this increase when you do come to put the taxi fares together [for north and south] that is a lot to ask the north to agree to.

“With Covid I don’t think the taxi drivers need an increase at the moment – they need more help to keep their taxis on the road. Life is very difficult for a taxi driver right now.”

Another option the committee is set to assess in the future is a mandatory increase every two or three years.

If there are no objections from the public the new fares will begin from December 1, or be considered at the committee’s January meeting if objections are received.

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