South Ribble taxis: this is how much passengers in Leyland, Penwortham and Bamber Bridge could be charged if they soil the cab

South Ribble taxi passengers who make a mess of the vehicles in which they are travelling could soon be hit with a three-figure bill to cover the cost of cleaning up after them.

By Paul Faulkner
Sunday, 16th January 2022, 5:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 4:18 pm

The so-called "soiling charge" for Hackney cabs in the borough currently stands at £40. However, local drivers want to see the maximum amount they can demand from passengers hiked to £100.

It is part of a wider proposal to increase the district's taxi fees, which have remained static for the past seven years. Hackney cabbies have to seek permission from South Ribble Borough Council for any changes to their tariffs - and their request will now be subject to a four-week public consultation before the authority makes its decision.

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Taxi drivers in South Ribble say they need to increase some fees to cover their spiralling costs

If approved, the "start-up fee" which determines the price on the meter at the beginning of every journey, would increase by 50 pence to £2.70 for journeys made between 6am and midnight and to £3.50 for trips taken overnight. The fare for each mile of the journey would remain unchanged - at £2 during daytimes and evenings and £2.50 in the early hours.

The current 10 pence "waiting time" charge added to the fare for every 30 seconds that a taxi is stuck in traffic ,or holding on for a passenger, would effectively be increased by it being incurred every 20 seconds instead. The fee for carrying a dog - other than an assistance dog - would also go up from 60 pence to £1.

Taxi drivers wrote to the council appealing for permission to make the changes, which they say are needed to offset the increased costs including fuel and insurance.

"We have taken into account all of the customer base and especially the elderly within the community - however, sadly we all have livings to make and [families] to feed, along with bills to pay," the letter reads.

"We have also noticed a huge reduction in our elderly going shopping - we have put this down to the pandemic and families having made other arrangements in getting shopping delivered to [their] parents' homes," it adds.

At a recent meeting of South Ribble Borough Council's licensing and public safety committee, three drivers fleshed out the problems they are facing. Gary Sherlow said that the price of diesel had leapt since the last time taxi tariffs increased in South Ribble.

He added: "My loaf costs the same as your loaf [and] that loaf has been going up week after week, [but] we're earning less money every week," he said,

Committee member Paul Wharton-Hardman said the time was now right for a review. He told the meeting that the pandemic meant there had been "no night-time economy [and] people have been working from home, so clearly it has affected [the taxi trade]".

However, former council leader Peter Mullineaux said he felt that the £100 soiling charge seemed "quite excessive".

But another driver, Talat Yusuf, said that cabbies incurred more than just the cost of a valet every time someone soiled their cab - because their vehicles also have to spend time off the road and so cannot be used for picking up passengers.

"Also, we don't really look for people to soil in our car...nobody wants anybody soiling [their] car," said Mr Yusuf, who added that all of the requested fee increases had been kept to a minimum.

Committee member Keith Martin said that he could not see any reason to oppose the soiling charge: "If [people] soil, they pay."

Overall, South Ribble's Hackney fares are currently the sixth most expensive out of Lancashire's 12 districts.

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