'There’s no money in the trade' - Bid to increase Hartlepool taxi fares nears success

Councillors have unanimously backed proposals from a group of Hartlepool hackney carriage drivers to increase taxi fares to help ensure they can make a decent living.

Hartlepool councillor and former taxi driver Stephen Picton has backed the move to increase fares.
Hartlepool councillor and former taxi driver Stephen Picton has backed the move to increase fares.

The rise will see the cost of an average two-mile journey in town rise by 60p during the day and £1.40 on a night.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s licensing committee has unanimously approved the increase, ruling the rise is key to ensure drivers can make a reasonable living.

Councillor Stephen Picton, a former taxi driver, said the increase will be “absolutely fantastic” for the trade.

Increased customer prices for Hartlepool's yellow taxis have moved a step closer.

He said: “There’s no money in the trade at the moment, that’s why people are leaving.

"We need to make sure they’re getting that proper bit of money to keep the taxi drivers.”

It came after officers warned they are seeing a shortage of taxi drivers.

Cllr Sue Little said: “Everything is stacking against them, that’s why we’ve got such a shortage, they’re not getting paid correctly.”

Yet councillors did acknowledge the impact the increase could have on residents and officers noted hackney carriage drivers can charge below the new rates if they wish.

Cllr Jennifer Elliott said: “It’s a difficult balancing act where we’ve got to get the figures right for taxi drivers to be able to make a good living, to get people in the trade.

“We’ve also got to consider the people who are using the taxis and make sure they are getting value for money.”

According to taxi trade publications, Hartlepool’s new hackney carriage tariff, at £5.40 for a two-mile journey during the day, will still be among the cheapest in the country, with more than 200 council areas charging £6 or more.

The proposed increase was backed by the Taxi Owners Working Group, a group of 10 hackney carriage owners, elected by the trade, including the Blueline company, which own around 30 vehicles.

All 86 hackney carriage owners were consulted with nine in favour, 27 against and the rest making no comment.

The increases are for Hartlepool’s yellow hackney cabs that use designated taxi ranks and would not apply to private hire vehicles.

A public notice will now be issued informing residents of the rise.

If any objections are received within 14 days of publication then the issue will be referred back to the committee.

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