Petition calls for fee change

CALLS have been made to develop affordable taxi licensing charges in Northumberland after a 1,500-name petition was presented.

The petition was submitted at a full meeting of Northumberland County Council asking the authority to work with all of the county’s licensed Hackney Carriage and private hire drivers to ensure that high standards are maintained while charges are kept affordable.

Speaking at the meeting one taxi driver said that costs were getting hard to buffer.

He said that all drivers have to have a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check each year, but as the check has to be done through an accountable body they have to use the county council to do so and are charged an extra administration fee for that.

He added: “We just want fairness in relation to the charges. Why should we be charged extra for a CRB check when we have to have it?”

When the unitary authority came into power in 2009 all policies for taxis were brought together from six districts. In September 2010 a new policy was drawn up to encompass all of these, with some changes which have affected drivers.

One of those was having to renew licences every year, instead of every three years, as well as having the annual CRB checks.

In some areas this means there has been an increase in charges to taxi drivers.

The council is to undertake a review into the fees and charges that are made.

Coun Grant Davey called for the Economic Prosperity and Overview Services Committee, which is chaired by Coun Gordon Castle, to look into the matter and it was agreed to do so.