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Fares rise 'could be the final below' taxi firms claim

By Donna MacAllister

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Taxis, Inverness Taxi Alliance
Taxis, Inverness Taxi Alliance

ROSS-shire taxi firms fear they are being pushed to the edge by "yet another" fare increase imposed by Highland Council.

The Highland licensing committee last week agreed new tariffs that will see increases for Christmas and New Year, as well as Easter and May Day.

Representatives of Inverness Taxi Alliance (ITA) argued against the move, with member Duncan Fraser saying it would be "crippling".

However, Sneckie Taxis counter-argued that the basic tariff had not been raised for seven years, so the proposed rise "would make it proportional to the rest of Scotland".

Douglas Hiddleston, owner of Black Isle 24 Hour Taxis, said the increase was "ridiculous".

"They’re killing the taxi trade," he said. "It’s already on its knees and this could be the final blow.

"All these fare increases are just encouraging people with unlicensed taxis and their ‘Facebook lifts schemes’ to get stronger and carry on competing with the trade."

Louise Carle, manager of Dingwall’s long-established C&E Taxis, echoed the concern, saying customers would not put up with it.

Ms Carle said: "I really don’t think our passengers are going to be OK with this.

"The customer is already paying quite an extortionate amount of money – more than they used to."

She added: "Over on this side of the bridge we have a lot of small jobs and we have a lot of older people.

"We really think the taxis are expensive enough."

Prior to last week’s licensing committee decision, the ITA and Sneckie Taxis clashed horns over the proposed increases.

Opposing what he considered "crippling" increases, Mr Fraser, of the 150-member ITA, accused Sneckie Taxis’ of supporting tariff rises to suit "their own business concept," which, he claimed, was "a small part of the trade throughout the Highlands".

Sneckie Taxis’ employs drivers as staff while ITA drivers are hired on a provisional basis.

Mr Fraser argued that if tariffs went up those from the outlying areas would be hardest hit".

Sneckie Taxis’ managing director Raymond Munro told councillors he was simply requesting "a reasonable return to cover the costs that we have operating this business".

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