Drivers upset at taxi price rise

TAXI drivers today pledged to consider opposing moves to increase fares in Ipswich by 4.3 per cent after councillors voted to push through the new charges.

TAXI drivers today pledged to consider opposing moves to increase fares in Ipswich by 4.3 per cent after councillors voted to push through the new charges.

Ipswich Taxi Drivers' Association and the Ipswich Station Tenants' Association are set to meet to discuss a decision by Ipswich Borough Council's executive to accept the 4.3 per cent rise from December.

Some taxi drivers had hoped the council would introduce a 20p increase on the minimum fare, taking it from £2.40 to £2.60, but the council argued that would result in a much bigger percentage increase in fares.

Cllr Inga Lockington, the borough's portfolio holder for environment and transport, said the new charges, which were agreed on Tuesday during the meeting in the Civic Centre, were part of a three-year agreement with taxi drivers.

She said they would now be put to public consultation.

"There is an agreement and a process and that's what we go by. (Otherwise) what's the point of having an agreement?

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"We will look at all of the results and if there is any objections to the decision we took last night it will then go to another meeting of the executive.

"It could be a member of the travelling public who wants to say something because taxis are part of public transport.

"It has to be affordable to a lot of pensioners. There's no point in having taxi fares so expensive people don't use it, that's not in anybody's interest."

The new fares will mean that, in the daytime, the minimum fare of £2.40 will cover a distance of almost 1,100 metres, or four minutes and 34 seconds.

It will then cost 20p for each extra 57 seconds, or about 230 metres.

Ipswich Taxi Drivers' Association vice chariman Ron Keeble said he opposed the 4.3 per cent increase and would have preferred a 20p rise on the minimum fare.

However he said it would be up to the association, in conjunction with the Ipswich Station Tenants' Association, which represents drivers working from the railway station, to decide what action they would take.

"We will be having a meeting of the taxi drivers' association and Ipswich Station Tenants' Association and we will be deciding what to do about it," Mr Keeble said.

He added that drivers had seen a reduction in profits on short journeys below the minimum charge and the new 4.3 per cent rise would not be realised on shorter journeys.

"On a £2.40 fare we are getting less profit now than we were four years ago. They can't see this," he said.

What do you think? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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