New Babergh cab fares proposed to replace those which could 'enable discrimination'

East Suffolk Council has approved a Hackney Carriage fare increase for the first time in eight years

New fares have been proposed for Babergh Hackney Carriage cabs - Credit: Archant

Fresh fares for Hackney Carriage taxis in Babergh will go out to public consultation, after previous tariffs had to be scrapped just days before coming into effect because they breached discrimination laws.

And licensing bosses have said they have used suggestions from the cab trade to help ensure there are no issues this time around.

New fares due to be introduced in April had to be shelved at zero hour because the way the fares would work could breach the Equality Act, and a council report suggested it could "inadvertently enable discrimination".

That was because fares were based on the size of the taxi, rather than the number of passengers, which could have penalised those with walking frames, wheelchairs or pushchair buggies who have no choice but to use the larger vehicles.

Cab drivers in their consultation comments had raised the matter as a problem, but the proposals still proceeded.

The council's licensing committee on Friday morning, which ousted committee chairman Mark Newman with a vote of no confidence over the handling of the matter to date, agreed to a fresh series of tariffs.

West Suffolk Council's cabinet agreed to several changes to its taxi licensing policy. Picture: ARC

Changes to Hackney Carriage fares in Babergh have been ongoing for more than a year - Credit: Archant

Emma Richbell, assistant manager for food, safety and licensing, said: "The starting point this time was the trade itself.

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"We had received a number of tariff proposals from drivers, operators and meter agents and we used this to draw up three tariff proposals which would provide an increased income for  the trade while being affordable for the travelling public, and in particular would not penalise those who would only be able to travel in one of the larger wheelchair-accessible vehicles."

The saga has been ongoing for more than a year, with the latest fares the third set to come to committee in that time.

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Cab fares have not increased in Babergh since 2016, with the raise designed to help drivers cover the increased costs of running vehicles during that time but not at the expense of putting travellers off.

A 28-day public consultation will now be held, with responses returning to the committee on August 13, and a final decision being made by cabinet after that.

The proposals for one-four passengers now start at £3.20 for a day rate with an 18p increase every 176 yards, £4.80 for evenings with 27p every 176 yards and £6.40 for Christmas and New Year with 36p every 176 yards.

For five or more passengers the day rate starts at £4.80 with 27p every 176 yards, £6.40 for evenings with 36p every 176 yards and £8 with 45p every 176 yards on Christmas and New Year.

Those fares are maximum fares and only applicable to Hackney Carriage cabs - those that can be hailed from the roadside, not private hire vehicles.

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