Taxi drivers to foot £30,000 costs after Halton Council wins licence cap battle

Hackney carriage drivers licensed by Halton Council will now have to cough up a bill of £30,000 after would-be taxi drivers failed to lift a cap on the amount of licences issued.

Halton Council forked out £15,000 in legal costs last year after John Roberts took them to court over the rejection of his application for 13 taxi licences. The council then went on to spend an additional £15,000 on a court-ordered survey to prove there was no demand for more taxis in the borough.

Details of the costs were released during a licensing committee meeting held on 2 August.

The council had rejected the application put forward by Mr Roberts on the grounds it would exceed the borough’s cap on taxi licences. A judge ruled that the council’s rules on capping licences were based on out-of-date statistics, ordering the council to put together a new survey to prove there was still no demand for more taxis.

At Wednesday‘s meeting, council members discussed the results of the survey which backed their original stance, that there was no immediate demand for more taxis in the area.

Cllr Tony McDermott said he was “galled” by the costs incurred by the council, given the “overwhelming evidence” in support of its position.

He said: “Who is going to receive the bill for carrying out all the work and the court costs in particular? Surely it can’t be right that what turns out to be a frivolous appeal costs us £30,000?”

John Tully, the borough’s solicitor, explained that the costs would be clawed back from Halton’s existing taxi drivers over the next five years.

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