TAXI fairs are set to rise throughout Malvern despite concerns the increases will hit residents on low incomes.
The district council’s executive board approved the changes last week which will apply to Hackney Carriage cabs – taxis parked in bays and that can be hailed from the street – from April 1.
The minimum fair from Mondays to Saturdays between 7am and midnight is set to increase from £3.50 to £4.
It will be £6 on the higher tariff which includes the early hours of the morning, Sundays, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve and Bank Holidays.
The minimum charge will double to £8 on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Tariffs for the first mile will stay the same, but the cost of each subsequent mile will rise by nearly 15 per cent to £2.40 on standard journeys, £3.60 on the higher tariff and £4.80 on the three days a year when the most expensive rates are charged.
Stuart Pearson, representing the taxi drivers, said the fairs had not increased in more than two years, and minimum fairs had not been changed in almost five.
He argued the rise in prices was necessary due ‘greatly increased’ fuel prices in the last few years, higher insurance costs for taxi drivers and a fall in demand from the public due to the current financial climate.
Several members of the executive board dismissed the claims.
Coun Julian Roskams said the changes would hit many people significantly and said the answer to a drop in demand was not to raise prices.
Coun Tom Wells also criticised the move arguing it would cost a resident in his Powick ward an extra £6 to travel to Malvern Theatres and back which he branded unacceptable.
“I am sorry taxi drivers but if the market is shrinking then do something about it. If that is the rationale then they should be reducing the prices not increasing them.
“If you look at the potential threat to bus services which is currently happening then taxis will be more important than ever before.”
He also branded Coun Paul Cumming naive for suggesting the tariffs were ‘maximum’ prices which may not be imposed fully.
Deputy leader Paul Swinburn also dismissed Mr Pearson’s claims that fuel prices and insurance costs had risen in the last two years.
Despite the concerns the changes were voted through.
Coun Mike Soley said: “I have an awful lot of respect for these taxi drivers. They run their own business with their own vehicles, work 24 hours a day and receive quite a bit of abuse.
“They haven’t asked for an increase in more than two years which I think is pretty good. We should be helping these people run these taxis in Malvern.”