Taxi fares are to be reduced in Guildford following a High Court decision last month which found in favour of the taxi licensing authority Guildford Borough Council.
The council’s proposal to reduce taxi fares had been postponed as a result of a judicial review challenge from the taxi trade. The review was heard at the High Court in November last year.
In the judgement which dismissed the challenge the Judge agreed with the council’s approach and considered its decision to use the data it did to set the fares was reasonable. Full costs of £17,875 were awarded. The council is now able to implement the fare rates previously approved in November 2016.
A spokesman for Guildford taxi drivers said the news was bad for taxi customers as taxi drivers will be driven out of business but Cllr Graham Ellwood, lead councillor for licensing and community safety, said: “We are delighted that the High Court dismissed the challenge to our proposals to reduce fares. The licensing team had gone to great lengths to consult with the trade to determine the correct input data for calculating the fares, which was recognised in court. Setting taxi fares is important to ensure taxi drivers can recover their costs and provide a service at a reasonable cost for the public. It’s vital that we set the right rates to ensure this balance and to protect users from being overcharged.
“As a result of the High Court decision, we need to implement these changes. Currently, taxi- meters are still set to the old rate meaning customers are now paying too much. Taxi drivers and proprietors must make arrangements to change their taxi meters by Wednesday, December 20, and we have written to the taxi trade advising them of this.”
Mark Rostron, spokesman for the Guildford Hackney Association, said: “This is bad news for visitors to Guildford whose chances of getting a taxi home have been reduced. And it will be a miserable Christmas for Guildford taxi drivers who will go bust trying to earn a living at £1.70 per mile for anything more than a two-mile journey. GBC’s own figures show that it costs £2.92 a mile to cover their understated costs and pay the driver a wage. Drivers will be losing over £1 a mile.
“Guildford’s new rate is 17 per cent lower than it is now, 19 per cent less than Woking’s, at £2.11 per mile, and 29 per cent less than Farnham’s £2.40. So it is likely that drivers will refuse longer fares on the reasonable grounds that they will be running at a loss. If they are forced to make a loss they will end up bankrupt, and their families will suffer.
“The council has run up a huge £17,000 cost bill with £5,000 a day barrister and £100 an hour council lawyer, all to impose a level of fares which is unsustainable and to intimidate anyone from objecting. The High Court verdict is disappointing, but in the end not surprising. It seems that it is next to impossible to get the court to reverse a council decision no matter how perverse it is. We’re on the eighth hearing objecting to the completely unnecessary puce livery.
“There may well be an appeal on the fares to the Court of Appeal and certainly to the Ombudsman, but in the meantime the council steamroller continues to blunder onwards.”
Mmmm... It was always our understanding that - unlike in Scotland - in England and Wales there is no appeal against the setting of taxi fares. This result upholds that position, and now the guys in Guildford face reduced incomes over the festive season, on top of being made to have all their taxis the same yuk turquoise... sorry, teal. No wonder some licence holders around the country end up working in another district, under these sorts of circumstances - Ed.