November 15, 2009
Cabbies in Reading are among those who have managed to persuade their local council to freeze the issue of new public hire licenses. However, they now face a £43 increase in their annual license fee – up from £250 to £293 – to pay for a demand survey to justify the council’s decision.
The town now has 214 hackneys – an increase of more than 40 per cent over the last two years. Earlier this year, however, the Council agreed to stop issuing new licenses after drivers complained there was no room on the ranks for more. To do this the council had to agree, following Department for Transport guidance, to carry out a survey to see if there is any demand for cabs that the current fleet cannot meet.
The research – costing £10,000 – was undertaken this autumn, allowing the Council to keep the situation under review next year. Councillor Terry Byrne stated that the decision would be made for the benefit of “the taxi trade and the people of Reading. We’re not coming from one side or another,” he said.
“You guys wanted a limit on the number of plates so we are required by law to carry out a survey so we can decide whether to stick with this limitation or not. There is no point putting out more badges if there is no demand.”
Tahir Abdullah, acting chairman of Reading Cab Drivers Association, told the licensing committee: “The first time this was done the results suggested eight more [licenses] but the council ended up giving out 60 more. As long as, this time, the Council goes with what the survey says, it’s fine with us.”