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Highland taxi operators want council to back fares' rise bid as fuel price hikes take their toll

By Nicola Sinclair, Local Democracy Reporter

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TAXI operators have asked Highland Council to urgently review their fares amid concerns over fuel prices.

Ninety-three operators in Inverness and beyond have put their name to a letter to the council’s licensing committee requesting the fare review.

The Highland taxi firms also took part in a survey which showed that 95 per cent are in favour of putting up fares.

The operators are feeling the pinch as a result of rising costs for fuel and vehicle repairs, as well as a shortage of drivers.

Highland Council has statutory powers to set the prices charged by taxi drivers in its licensing area. The council last set its tariff in October 2021.

It’s required to review the fare structure every 18 months at least, so another review would be due in April 2023. However, the council can revise fares at an earlier date if requested.

A report to Highland licensing committee says operators in Thurso and Inverness asked for an early review. The council asked the Inverness operator to help them assess demand, resulting in 93 responses.

The survey included taxi operators and drivers, with 83 per cent of respondents operating in the city.

It showed that 95 per cent support a fare increase. Current fares start at £4 for the first mile and £1.80 for every subsequent mile. A higher tariff applies to weekend and night time runs, and higher still for public holidays. Taxi drivers charge a maximum rate of £7.30 for the first mile and £4.50 for subsequent miles over the Christmas and New Year period.

Of the taxi firms surveyed, the majority want to increase fares by 20 per cent. Just over a third favour a 15 per cent price hike and 19 per cent want a 10 per cent rise.

The council’s report also includes inflation data from the Office of National Statistics. These figures back up the taxi firms’ claims. The price of a second hand car has increased by a whopping 30 per cent since February 2021, and new cars now cost 5.8 per cent more.

Petrol and diesel have increased by 33 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.

Councillors will decide at the licensing committee next Monday whether to agree to a fare view.

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