The increase will only apply to so-called hackney carriages – that is, those taxis licensed by the local authority, and was agreed by councillors on Northumberland County Council’s licensing and regulatory committee.
It is in response to the rising cost of fuel and the agreement will see all fares rise by five per cent from July 4. However, due to the way the tarriffs are calculated, it means the distance travelled before the meter ‘ticks’ up will decrease.
For example, under the current tarriff a fare costs £2.50 for the first 500 yards, with each subsequent 91 yards costing 10p. Under the new arrangements, the fare will cost £2.60 for the first 500 yards and increase by 10p every 86 yards.
These are the maximum amounts that operators of hackney carriages can charge, and actual costs may be lower.
In addition, there are different charges for larger vehicles and charges on bank holidays and over the festive period are also higher.
Furthermore, the changes were agreed back in March – prior to the worst increases in the cost of fuel and the cost of living generally – meaning fares could rise further. Since then the public has been consulted on the changes with notices issued in local press, but respondents to the consultation have been low.
The council’s director of housing and public protection, Philip Soderquest, told the committee: “We’ve seen a great increase in the cost of living and more noticably, we’ve seen a significant increase in fuel cost. Had we run the consultation today, we might have got a different response.
“We have strived to include everything we have received up to today. Taxis have always been a luxury, but even more so now.”
But Coun Brian Gallacher, who represents the Haydon ward, raised concerns over the lack of respondents.
He said: “I don’t think taxis are a luxury. I think they’re becoming crucial for a lot of people where they’ve lost their bus service and they cannot afford to use cars.”
A majority of councillors on the committee voted to support the increase.