Cabbies in Bedford are being warned to make sure that their vehicles are in top condition after Bedford Borough Council’s General Licensing Sub-Committee convened a meeting to discuss the ongoing taxi driver protests.
The protests have seen cabbies complaining about what they see as paying over the odds for various fees regarding the industry, including an £83 re-test fee for vehicles that fail their annual overhaul.
Gill Anderson, the council’s manager for registrations and land charges, claimed that although there is discontent from within the trade surrounding the retest fees, vehicles should be presented ready to pass the test.
Ms Anderson said: "Minor issues can be dealt with the same day but if it fails, the driver has to re-book.”
One of the issues which has been raised in relation to the re-testing of vehicles is that because there are 600 licensed drivers working in Bedford, it can take several weeks to get a new slot, as a consequence drivers are potentially put out of work.
The four councillors who made up the sub-committee were inforned that 25 private hire vehicles and taxis had failed their checks over a three month period between February and May.
Gurdeep Dosanjh, the secretary of the Bedford Hackney Carriage Association told Bedford Today that there are major concerns over rising operating costs from within the trade, as well as unfair competition from drivers who are not licensed for the area exploiting the lack of cross border hiring legislation.
He also stated that cab drivers are angered by the fact that there hasn't been a fare increase for six years.
Unacceptable council charges have also been raised as an issue, with fees of £41 for a photocopy of a taxi licence and £83 for a re-test, which they believe is out of line.
It is believed that the council is looking to streamline the licensing and safety checks process, thus reducing the cost of the process.
Councillors at the meeting were informed that it would be illegal for the council to over-charge and use licensing fees to do anything other than cover their costs.
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Image Author: Simon Speed