Increase in ‘soiling charge’ for people making a mess in Hartlepool taxis

A taxi rank
A taxi rank

TAXI passengers who make a mess in Hartlepool’s cabs face having to fork out more to pay for their disgusting behaviour.

Licensing chiefs in the town are set to approve a £15 increase in the “soiling charge” for the town’s fleet of Hackney Carriages.

The rise from £20 to £35 is due to be agreed, along with other changes, when Hartlepool Borough Council’s licensing committee meets to discuss the issue next week.

But cabbies the Hartlepool Mail spoke were sceptical it will make much difference as they say they often struggle to get the charges from passengers in the first place.

Taxi drivers told how they have to put up with passengers leaving a mess in their cabs from food, being sick and worse.

Hackney cab driver Billy Corbett said: “Every time you go to the police about someone soiling your car they just say it’s a civil matter.

“A lot of people couldn’t care less about the mess they make. It is obviously worse on a night.

“If I don’t like the look of someone I will just put the central locking on but with the best will in the world accidents happen.”

Another taxi driver, who did not wish to be named, said: “It is a big problem.

I think £35 is a fair price because you have got to get your car valeted.

“I have actually been off the road solely because somebody has wet themselves in the car. But I didn’t know about it until it was too late.”

Another cabbie, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The soiling charge only covers the cost of valeting, it doesn’t cover the cost of lost fares.

“Even then you probably won’t be able to get it off them as a lot of the time you don’t realise until they have gone.”

The licensing committee will also consider a proposal to increase the ‘flag fall’ charge for hackney cabs by 30p.

It would see the initial charge on getting into a cab rise from £2.20 to £2.50.

It was put forward at the Annual General Meeting for licensed hackney carriage owners in February.

The last flag fall rise from £2 to £2.20 was last year but, before that tariffs had not increased in Hartlepool since 2008.

According to the taxi trade magazine Private Hire Monthly Hartlepool’s hackney carriage tariffs for a two mile journey are the third cheapest in the country.

The licensing committee will meet on Wednesday.