The Licensing Manager thanked the taxi operators for attending the meeting.
Introducing his report, the Licensing Manager made the following points:
· The last time that a fare increase was discussed by the Committee, inflation had been at a very low level.
· Annual meetings with the taxi trade were being re-introduced.
· 2/3rds of East Devon’s taxi drivers are at retirement age.
· Contract work for Devon County Council was very different from working on the taxi rank.
· It was noted that North Devon has provision for an extra fuel charge, so that when fuel prices reach a certain threshold, an additional charge per journey can be made.
· Feedback from the 2020 consultation indicated that some of the taxi trade did not support an increase at that time as it would affect vulnerable customers.
· Taxis play an important role in public safety in rural areas and a balance of supporting the taxi trade and the general public who used taxis was needed.
In response to questions for the Licensing Manager from members, the following points were made:
· There is an option to set different rates for different tariffs eg. for day and night time tariffs.
· The booking fee is discretionary and generally used by companies at night and to cover dead mileage, and was not included as part of the request for a tariff increase.
Discussion by members and questions to the taxi operators included the following:
· It was difficult to say whether operators would continue to be in business if the increase was not agreed, although one operator who employs their own drivers were of the view that their business would not be able to continue.
· Most of the business is day time as operators are finding it difficult to get drivers to work at night.
· In order to calculate when the fuel price surcharge should come into effect, North Devon used the monthly AA south west fuel costs. When fuel prices fall, the surcharge also falls back to previous levels. EDDC would monitor the AA south west fuel costs and would inform the drivers accordingly.
Should the tariff increase be agreed, officers would work up the rates set out in Appendix A in order to go out to consultation. It was agreed that the Licensing Committee meeting scheduled for 16th November 2022 would be postponed to enable the results of the consultation to be reported back to the Committee at a slightly later date.
That tariff 1 would increase by 15% and tariffs 2 and 3 would increase by 20% and that the fuel surcharge trigger of £1.75 per litre would come into effect with an additional 10p per journey charged when the monthly south west fuel price set by the AA increased by 10p above the trigger price.