Business owners across Aberdeenshire have joined the barrage of criticism against the local authority’s proposed licence review.
Taxi firms are the latest group to complain about the increase in licensing fees for drivers and vehicles, arguing they will suffer most from the changes by incurring, in many cases, multiple charges.
Aberdeenshire Council is currently consulting on proposed increases of all their civic licences, maintaining a gap of £15,772 needs to be filled for them to break even this year.
The letter, issued to all licence holders, indicates the council is “not permitted to make any overall profit from the licensing service.”
However, one taxi company owner has calculated that, if all 823 vehicles and 1,950 taxi drivers, currently licensed with the authority, stump up the extra cash, the authority will make £80,150 of additional profit.
Stewart Wight, owner of Safe Drive taxis in Laurencekirk described the rise as a “complete farce” and questioned the rationale behind the new charges.
He said: “The figures don’t add up and aren’t even the same as the ones tabled at the Policy and Resources Committee on December 2.
“I received the letter last week, so have had hardly any notice at all – it’s just a joke.
“It may look like small increases, but if you extrapolate them over the whole taxi trade in Aberdeenshire, they are set to make a fortune – surely that’s illegal, going by their letter.”
Licensing sub-committee chair, Richard Cowling, responded: “The proposed fees are closely based on the actual cost for processing each type of licence, but there may be some flexibility round the proposed increases.”
Tracy Smith, owner at AJS Contract Cars in Peterhead, agreed that the council should be able to cover its costs.
She said: “I think non-profit organisations should get a discount, but not at the cost of one single type of license.”
However, Macduffbased Deveron Coaches’ owner, Albert Milne, argued the price jump was “absolutely ridiculous” and added: “I don’t know how they can justify these figures – it will make it much more difficult to get taxi drivers.”