Proposals to increase taxi fares in Eastbourne have been given the backing of town councillors.
On Monday (March 11), Eastbourne Borough Council’s licensing committee considered proposals to increase the maximum amount Hackney Carriages can charge in fares for the first time in 10 years.
Taxi fares are set according to a rate card decided by individual councils, which calculates how much a journey will cost depending on how long it is and when it began.
While committee members all agreed to some increase in fares, opinions were split over the amount of increase proposed.
Colin Belsey (Con. – Ratton) said:
“I’m sure we all feel that an increase is due, but I am a bit perturbed at the increase of per mile up to five miles because that is an increase on the current fare rate of 25 per cent.
“For travelling around town, I guess that is the sort of mileage you are talking about, from the station to where Ratton stops and probably towards the Harbour as well.
“That is quite a chunk. I think a 25 per cent increase on that is quite heavy.”
Meanwhile Steve Wallis (Lib Dem. – Devonshire) raised concerns about the larger increases for taxi fares on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
However, other committee members felt the size of the increase was due to the lower than average rates currently charged within the borough.
Colin Murdoch (Con. – Ratton) said:
“I did go through, before I came here, all the rates in the UK, picking areas we are comparable with.
“It is a 25 per cent increase on the card, but when you look at the [fare] they charge at the moment it is extremely low.
“This actually brings them up comparable with everyone else.”
Following a short debate the fare increases were backed by the committee on a seven to three vote.
Under the current rate card, Eastbourne taxis can begin a journey between 6am and 11pm with a maximum of £2.60 on the meter, charging a maximum of £1.60 per mile for the first five miles and £2 for each mile afterwards.
The increased charges mean taxis would be able to begin the same journey with £2.90 on the meter, charge a maximum of £2 per mile for the first five miles and £2.20 for each mile afterwards.
Other factors, such as time waiting and the number of people in the taxi, also add to the cost. Bank Holidays, Christmas and New Year are also charged at a higher rate.
This rate card only applies to licensed Hackney Carriages, with pre-arranged private hires set without the council’s involvement.
Due to the complexity of this system, the average rate is usually presented as a two-mile fare when comparing it to other areas,
In Eastbourne this average fare currently comes to £5.70, which council officers say is the lowest fare charged within East Sussex.
Under the increased charges, the average two-mile fare in Eastbourne will cost £6.90 – the same average fare as set by Wealden District Council.
While given the backing of the committee, a final decision on the proposals will be made by council leader David Tutt.
(By Huw Oxburgh – Local Democracy Reporter)