Freeze on taxi fares backed by councillors

Taxi charges have frozen
Taxi charges have frozen

There will almost certainly be no increase in charges for Berwickshire taxi users in the coming year.

Last week the executive of Scottish Borders Council, which licenses the region’s 355 taxis, voted to keep fares at current levels.

In so doing, councillors rejected a recommendation from their own officers that the “flag rate” – the amount shown on the meter at the start of a journey – should be increased by 7% from December 1. This would have seen the flat charge go up from £2.15 to £2.30 for 1-4 passenger cabs and from £3.25 to £3.50 for bigger vehicles.

A report from SBC’s transport management team leader Tim Stephenson revealed that, when this proposal was put out to the trade in September, only one operator responded with a letter.

And at four consultation meetings set up by the council in Duns, Hawick, Galashiels and Peebles, a total of nine operators attended, with just two turning up for the Duns discussion.

That apparent indifference was cited by SBC leader David Parker as he moved for no change in current maximum fare levels.

After this was endorsed by a 10-3 vote, he told the Berwickshire News: “The response from the industry, apart from one operator who challenged the whole formula for fare setting, has been negligible.

“In light of this and to help the hard-pressed Borders public, we agreed to peg fares at current levels although operators can set charges as they see fit within these parameters.”

Mr Parker did, however, concede it was “unfortunate” such an important part of the region’s public transport sector had no trade organisation to represent it.

“I hope that next year when we do our annual fare review, that this has changed and we can sit down with representatives of operators, perhaps on a regional basis, to discuss the best way forward.”

Taxi operators dissatisfied with the decision have 14 days to lodge an appeal to the Traffic Commissioner who will decide if there are grounds for a hearing, the costs of which will be borne by the council.