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Guildford Taxi Fare Increases ‘Not Fair’ Claim Some Cabbies

Published on: 3 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 4 Apr, 2013
Taxis at the Guildford Station Rank

Taxis at the rank at Guildford railway station.

In a rancourous debate, the Executive of Guildford Borough Council agreed unanimously to increase taxi fares under an amended formula that follows 18 months’ worth of consultation with local cabbies.

The decision has left some drivers unhappy, if not angry. They claim that the formula is flawed and that they were not given a proper hearing at the council meeting.

Fare increases range from an increase of 25p to £4.75 for a one mile journey to an increase of £1.26 to £23.16 for those travelling ten miles but a decrease from £44.70 to £43.62 for those travelling 20 miles.

The aim, according to the lead councillor for communities and safety and health, Cllr Richard Billington, (Con, Tillingbourne), was to give taxi drivers an equitable increase in their incomes but also to ensure transparency. He said: “We wanted to make it possible for taxi drivers to maintain their standard of living but also ensure that fare charges were easy for the public to understand and contained no hidden extras only revealed at the point of payment.”

The key changes are summarised as:

  1. Removal of the £1 booking fee as an extra charge
  2. Removal of the £1 fuel surcharge per hiring as an extra charge
  3. Increased charge from £50 to £100 for cleaning the taxi if it is soiled by a customer and is then unfit for immediate hiring
  4. Reduction in the flag drop (this is the initial minimum fare) from £4.00 to £3.50 on Sunday
  5. The cost per mile will now be displayed on the table of fares

Mark Rostron, the secretary of the Guildford Hackney Association (GHA) said: “At the recent council Executive meeting to discuss a new taxi fare chart, drivers felt that the council unfairly cut short the time some were given to speak.

Cllr Billingtom wants all fares made clear to passengers from the outset.

Cllr Billington wants all fares made clear to passengers from the outset.

“It seemed that the council had pre-ordained the outcome. No questions were asked by councillors. One gave a very brief speech of approval. A quick vote was taken almost under their breaths.

“The result is an unbalanced fare structure with some unnecessary increases on medium distance night rate work that will discourage some passengers, and damaging large cuts in the longer fares over 10 miles which will result in drivers turning away longer distance fares.

“The booking fee for private hire work was recklessly abolished. It could have been worse if not for the intervention of the Guildford Hackney Association. But it was probably the best that could be expected from councillors and council officers, who seem to act as self appointed experts on the taxi trade, in a hurry to rid themselves of a hot-potato issue.”

During the debate each speaker was strictly limited to three minutes. This led to a sharp exchange between David Williams-Wynn, the chairman of the GHA, who had, he said, been told by email that he would be allowed to speak for five minutes, and the council leader, Stephen Mansbridge who at the end of the meeting had to tell Mr Williams-Wyn several times to stop speaking.

“This is not the army, you know!” Mr Williams-Wyn retorted, referring to Cllr Mansbridge’s military background.

Today (Wednesday, April 3) Mr Williams-Wynn, said: “I … was refused permission to give my speech standing up and only allowed to give half of what I had prepared to say. What has happened to our democratic right of free speech?”

The new fare structure will need to be advertised locally before it can be put into operation.

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Responses to Guildford Taxi Fare Increases ‘Not Fair’ Claim Some Cabbies

  1. Michael Simmonds Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 11:49 am

    As part of the GHA [Guildford Hackney Association] I am not surprised at this outcome. The council thinks it knows everything but, of course, it never listens and never asks. Not one of them has ever driven a taxi or worked as a taxi driver, yet they feel qualified to make decisions on the subject. This is typical of councils and government in this country.

  2. Benn Simmonds Reply

    April 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I was at the meeting and from the beginning. I had an idea that it was going to be rushed through. They didn’t listen to the speakers or discuss the matter with each.

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