‘Immoral’ taxi fare rise rejected

Sean Ridley, centre, with other hackney carriage drivers opposing the increase W51370H13
Sean Ridley, centre, with other hackney carriage drivers opposing the increase W51370H13

A BID to increase taxi fares in Adur has failed for a second time.

A division on the ranks saw some drivers calling for new rates, while others described the proposed fares as ‘immoral’.

Adur District Council’s licensing committee heard from both sides at Adur Civic Centre last Monday. Members rejected the increase, as the proposal did not come from the majority of drivers.

Chairman Carson Albury said: “It is up to the taxi drivers themselves to determine what fare they think is right. It is the second time we have had to go through this process and it is getting a bit tedious.”

Adur has not had an increase in the hackney carriage tariff since September 2008. A request in early 2011 for an increase was rejected.

The district has the 18th dearest taxi fares out of 365 areas nationally and it is the second dearest area in Sussex.

Sean Ridley from Lancing, who has been in the business for the past 30 years, spoke on behalf of a number of Adur taxi drivers.

He said the proposed increase came to the committee without the whole trade mandate. He described it as ‘nasty in its make-up’ and ‘immoral’.

“It is designed to unfairly penalise the shorter journey, exactly the opposite of the traditional method of constructing taxi tariffs,” he added.

Stephen Fleming from Shoreham was voted chairman at the trade meeting in November last year, when a narrow majority voted in favour of an increase.

He said a lot of drivers felt short journeys were economically unsustainable and rising costs were putting pressure on taxi drivers.

“Any tariff is a maximum, if you don’t want to charge it, you don’t have to,” he pointed out. But Emma Evans questioned how it would work and said it would cause issues at the taxi rank.

She added: “I am not prepared to support the proposal because it only represents 19 per cent of those who have a voice.”

The committee heard there were 68 hackney vehicles in Adur and 84 drivers.

David Lambourne, who said he was a taxi driver himself for a short period, said: “I think you should have had a proper postal ballot, then you would have had more credibility for this.”

Vice-chairman Peter Metcalfe said: “I think taxi drivers do a fantastic job and residents of Adur deserve a good taxi service.

“What they don’t deserve is the most expensive taxi service in the whole of the UK, which is what is being proposed here.”

The committee said it wanted to hear a proposal from the trade as a whole.