Cabbies threaten strike action

STRIKE action is being threatened by more than 120 cabbies unless town bosses deliver the increases in fares they are demanding.As part of an annual review of fare charges three separate options for increasing hackney carriage charges will be on the table at a meeting of Ipswich council's executive on Tuesday.

STRIKE action is being threatened by more than 120 cabbies unless town bosses deliver the increases in fares they are demanding.

As part of an annual review of fare charges three separate options for increasing hackney carriage charges will be on the table at a meeting of Ipswich council's executive on Tuesday.

Cabbies claim two of the options for increases proposed by the council do not go far enough and are insistent on a 20 pence hike in initial distance charges combined with percentage increases for longer journeys.

This would see the existing daytime initial distance charge, which has been at the same level for several years, jump from £2.40 to £2.60.

The borough says the taxi drivers' request is “excessive” - however the council-owned bus company has just put its fares up by 20p for most journeys, from £1.50 to £1.70.

John Williams-Davies, Chairman of the Ipswich Station Taxi Tenants Association, said cabbies make increasing numbers of short journeys to the from taxi ranks at the railway station and Lloyds Avenue due to Ipswich's growing Waterfront.

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He said that initial distance fares have not increase for several years despite diesel fuel now costing close to £1 a litre.

Mr Williams-Davies said: “We are prepared to go out on strike if we don't get what we want.

“These are all issues we feel strongly about. We really feel it is about time the council give us a rise.

“20 pence will still not take us near the £3 for initial fares that drives in mid Suffolk get.

“There are guys who have been in the business years and years and they are not happy about this.”

He added that 80 taxi drivers who work at Ipswich railway station as well as 40 working from Lloyds Avenue are prepared to go on strike and have the support of a number of private hire firms.

Paul West, responsible for transport at Ipswich Borough Council, said the authority will decide on what kind of increase will be put in place based on the best interests of the fare-paying public while taking into consideration the views of taxi drivers.

He said: “It should be remembered by the taxi trade that last year we addressed their concerns about low increases, as they perceived it over a number of years, by sweeping the board clean and starting with a new starting point for tariffs.

“They were quite pleased with this.

“As a council we have to get the balance right and our primary concern is for the fare-paying public but we have obviously got to weigh that against what the taxi drivers want.”

Did you know?

Ipswich is currently ranked equal 120th most expensive authority in the UK for daytime fares based on September 2007 figures out of 380.

The current ranking is based on the charge for a two-mile taxi journey.

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