Council approve black cab fare rise

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Black cabs operating within the borough will begin charging higher fares after St Helens Council approved a rate increase.

The proposals were brought to the council’s licensing and environmental protection committee this week by trade representatives to help offset rising diesel costs.

A council report says that research carried out revealed that St Helens hackney carriage rates were less than neighbouring boroughs.

Currently, the Hackney trade in St Helens operate three rates.

Under the proposals, rate 1 will increase from £1.60 to £1.90 for the first 300 metres or part. The current charge of 10p per subsequent 100 metres will rise to 20p for each 190 metres or subsequent part.

Rate 2 will increase from £1.90 to £2.30 for the first 300 metres or part.

And the current 10p per subsequent 75 metres will increase to 20p for each 140 metres or subsequent part.

Rate 3 will rise from £3 to £3.50 for the first 100 metres or part.

And the current 10p per subsequent 75 metres will change to 20p for each 140 metres or subsequent part.

A change to the extras button is also proposed to allow incremental rises of 10p for tolls, airport charges, Mersey bridge or similar.

While the committee approved the rise, several councillors expressed concerns that the hackney trade has not previously heeded the committee’s recommendations to annually review its rates.

Coun Joe De’Asha, ward member for Rainhill, said: “As someone who has been on this committee for some time, this is about the third or fourth time we’ve been here in relation to this issue not being annual.

“The consequences we’ll see is the percentages and the increase.

“This is not the people of St Helens’ problem, this is trade’s problem.”

The council report says that there have been ongoing discussions within the hackney trade about a rate rise for this year since January.

Following a meeting with five hackney drivers in August, those present went on to carry out a consultation with their colleagues.

At the meeting it was agreed that those present would establish a rate rise committee, which would be responsible for discussing, agreeing and submitting the requests to the licensing committee.

licencing manager Lorraine Simpson also said consultation with the trade is the “healthiest” it has been in some time, following the formation of St Helens Association of Private Hire and Taxi Drivers (SHAPHTD).

David Irvine, secretary of SHAPHTD, said: “I think it’s important to recognise that there have been problems in terms of consultations historically,

“That’s one of the main reasons why we’ve found ourselves in the position that we’re in.

“Hopefully from now on we’ll be putting that right and we’ll be working a lot closer with licencing to get the improvements that not only licencing want, but what we want as well.”

Mr Irvine added that there is an “inherent cost” in improving vehicle standards.

He said the trade anticipate vehicle standards will have to improve even further in the future and said it would be “folly” to wait until that happens to implement the rise.

The proposed increase was unanimously approved by councillors.