Taxi driver consultation criticised

Through the summer and autumn of 2017, Bridgend Council discussed possible changes to taxi fares and vehicle testing requirements.

The Cabinet ultimately rejected three proposals from taxi drivers to increase fares last September, despite drivers arguing that: Bridgend fares were below the Welsh and regional average (and they wanted them closer to the minimum wage), they faced increased costs and needed compensation for “dead miles” (where they return from a drop-off in a rural area without a fare on the way back).

As a result of the fares decision, the Cabinet said they would look into establishing a “Taxi Forum” to discuss the issue further with drivers.

One of the drivers who submitted a fare proposal, Dario Nelson (website), suggests BCBC had “made no attempt” to establish the promised Taxi Forum, with any talks that did take place only involving “4 or 5 people” in the trade and excluding “98% of drivers”.

A Taxi Forum was deemed by officers to be the first step towards a formal public consultation on changing fares. It appears that some letters asking taxi drivers for their views on a fare change were only received today, a year on – which has got to be one of the slowest consultations the council have ever undertaken.

Bridgend shares regulatory services with the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff, yet a consultation on a fare change in the Vale went from Cabinet report to public notice to implementation within 8 weeks.

On his website, Dario adds that taxi drivers are already undertaking/considering strike action which reduces the availability of taxis for short journeys at evenings and weekends – though it’s unclear how strong feelings are amongst taxi drivers generally and how many would consider/are taking part. A complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman about the consultation is also mentioned.

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Owen