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Taxi companies in Sudbury successfully secure rethink on Babergh District Council's proposed changes to cab fare rates




Cab companies in Babergh have successfully secured a fresh look at proposed changes to taxi fares, after uniting to urge councillors not to introduce changes they claim will add confusion to drivers and passengers.

Taxi firms in Sudbury had campaigned against the changes to the cab fares structure, designed to address the increasing costs they faced, because the changes would actually leave some drivers worse off, while others said the new tariff structure would cause more confusion.

Currently, Hackney carriages – those which can be hailed from the roadside – charge a day rate starting price with additional charges that vary according to distance travelled, with a 50% increase for night journeys and a double rate for Christmas and New Year.

Steve Hale, owner of Hale-A-Cab, is concerned about the financial impact of planned rate changes to taxi fares in Babergh, on taxi businesses in the Sudbury area. Picture by Mark Westley. (30717390)
Steve Hale, owner of Hale-A-Cab, is concerned about the financial impact of planned rate changes to taxi fares in Babergh, on taxi businesses in the Sudbury area. Picture by Mark Westley. (30717390)

The new structure proposed a £3.20 starting day rate with 20p increases every 195 yards thereafter, a £4.60 starting rate for night journeys with 20p increases every 136 yards and a Christmas/New Year rate of £6.20 with 20p increases every 104 yards.

But in a joint letter sent by eight Babergh cab firms, a catalogue of issues were raised which included concerns it would create confusion for both drivers and passengers because of the different distances between each tariff.

At Babergh District Council’s cabinet meeting on Monday, councillors agreed to send the proposals back for further work, and pledged to set up a meeting with taxi firms in order to address their worries.

Steve Hale, from Hale-a-Cab, one of the signatories of the letter, said that “common sense has prevailed”.

He added: “It has proven that some councillors have no real understanding of how our trade works.

“However, I was delighted to hear some standing up for us and willing to listen and learn.

“We’ve always wanted to work together on this and hopefully now it can happen.”

Cllr Elizabeth Malvisi, cabinet member for the environment said: “The aim is to achieve a reasonable scheme for the operator, taking into account all the costs of maintaining a vehicle to today’s standards.

“The primary aim was to remove percentages from Babergh’s tariff table,” adding that this was because some would apply the percentage uplifts on the basic rate while others would apply it to the final cost of the journey.

Cllr Michael Holt, cabinet member for economic growth was among those calling for a rethink on the scheme, and said: “At the end of the day they are the operators and they are there to provide the service.

“If those operators don’t feel that there is a living to be made out of it we will lose out. It will hit our residents and it will hit our economy.

The proposals will go back to the licensing committee for a fresh look which will attempt to simplify the structure and make the fares as transparent as possible for passengers and drivers, and set up a meeting with cab companies to iron out the issues.

The work only applies to Hackney carriage cabs and not private hire vehicles.



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