Taxi drivers issue "Legal letter" to council about increased licence fee's which they

It is believed that a legal letter has been issued to Plymouth City Council by taxi drivers in regards to increased fee's set to be imposed on them. 

Plymouth City Council has now put off a final decision on whether they should increas fees for taxi drivers after receiving the legal challenge.

As reported by the Plymouth Herald, the council’s taxi licensing sub-committee was due to consider a report with two options for raising charges, but since the legal letter was issued, they voted to postpone any decisions. 

Details of the letter from the Plymouth Licensed Taxi Drivers Association have yet to be disclosed  but it is understood to include a reference to a legal case involving the sector at Wakefield in Yorkshire where legal action was brought by the local taxi association against the council's policy to recover the costs of any enforcement action taken against drivers.

The High Court ruled that such action against drivers was indeed unlawful. 

Wakefield City Council is now waiting for the publication of the decision before deciding whether to launch a challenge at the Court of Appeal.

According to the Lawyers of Wakefield taxi drivers, the council has overcharged them by £1m which they will be claiming back. The case is being watched closely by councils across the country, including in Plymouth, where the city council has said it has acted in line with legal advice when setting its fees.

The city council has defended the fee's by saying the taxi licensing service has to be self-financing and the increases are needed to keep the books balanced.  Rachael Hind, licensing service manager, told the sub-committee meeting on Thursday morning the council had received a letter from a legal representative of the Plymouth taxi association and officers needed to give it “due consideration."

If the council’s increased fee's proposals were to go ahead, hackney carriage drivers would see a one-year licence go from £210 to £342 and a one-year driver’s licence from £112 to £165.

Private hire drivers would also be hit by increased fee's,  with a one-year private hire vehicle licence jumping from £117 to £170, and a one-year driver’s licence going from £82 to £120.

According to the report, councillors have been told that without an increase in fee's the hackney carriage fund will be £92,000 in the red by the end of March. It has also been suggested that fees would need  to go up again next year to further reduce the deficit, with the aim of balancing the books in five years. The private hire account is due to end the year with a small surplus, but the rises are needed to keep it in the black. 

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