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Minehead taxi drivers rally against proposed West Somerset tariff changes

Taxi drivers in Minehead, West Somerset, are voicing strong opposition to proposed changes in taxi tariffs, citing concerns over potential income loss and service impact. 

A petition, backed by numerous local drivers, highlights five major issues with the suggested adjustments, signalling a deep-rooted dissatisfaction within the sector.

The proposed introduction of a unified tariff aims to merge fares set by the former district councils of Sedgemoor, Mendip, South Somerset, and Somerset West and Taunton. This move, however, has sparked some unrest among local taxi communities.

The proposed changes, formulated by a working group of Licensing Officers, seek to harmonise the varying rates, measurements, multipliers, and extras that currently exist across the four former council areas. Despite the intention to streamline and simplify the fare structure, the proposed adjustments have been met with resistance from cabbies working in Minehead concerned about the direct implications on their earnings and the broader impact on service availability.

Key Concerns Raised by Drivers

Modification of Rates and Times: Drivers are against the elimination of the time and a half rate on Saturdays and the proposed extension of the start time on weekdays to 11pm. They argue that previous changes in 2022, which adjusted the uplift period from 7pm to 10pm and included a 50% rate increase for Saturdays, were hard-fought gains. The new proposal to remove these benefits has sparked worries about reduced availability of taxis in the evenings, particularly affecting popular routes like the one from Butlins to Wetherspoons.

Impact on Minimum Fare: The proposed tariff changes would significantly increase the minimum fare, potentially deterring the older population—a substantial demographic in West Somerset—from using taxi services for routine trips. The drivers suggest a compromise with a new start rate of £3 while keeping other rates and distances unchanged.

Higher Operating Costs for Larger Taxis: The shift from a 50% extra charge for carrying more than four passengers to a flat rate of £2 per additional passenger is seen as a potential threat to drivers of larger vehicles. Such a change could notably reduce the income from longer trips, such as those from Minehead to Taunton with multiple passengers.

Council Merger Concerns: Drivers feel the effects of the local council merger, contrary to assurances that their operations would remain unaffected.

Waiting Time Charges: The revision of waiting time charges, extending the period before extra charges apply from 35 seconds to 2 minutes, is anticipated to further decrease drivers' earnings.

The drivers' collective stance highlights concerns of substantial income losses and a reduced number of taxis operating, especially during peak weekend hours. Such outcomes could not only affect the livelihoods of the drivers but also the accessibility and convenience of taxi services for the general public, particularly affecting the elderly and those dependent on taxis for transportation.


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