'˜Extortionate' licence fees for private hire car drivers

A hike in driver licensing fees for private hire vehicles was approved by Chichester District Council on Tuesday, May 17.

A hike in driver licensing fees for private hire vehicles was approved by Chichester District Council on Tuesday, May 17.

The fee rise comes after a review of charges associated with private hire cars in response to new government legislation.

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Under the new system, vehicle licence fees will decrease, but drivers will face paying up to 33 per cent more for a yearly licence.

Manager of Starline Minicabs Malcolm Cannon branded the new fees ‘extortionate’ in a formal objection to the proposals.

He wrote: “As someone who has held a Chichester District Council licence for 28 years, I find this completely unacceptable and will certainly have to consider carefully whether to renew if these huge hikes are implemented. Personally, it looks as though drivers are paying for the reductions given to vehicle operators.”

The cost of renewing a private hire driver’s licence for one year will rise from £85 to £113 effective from May 23.

Drivers can also apply for a three-year licence that costs £285 to renew, an increase of £10 a year.

Cllr Paul Jarvis commented that considered in the face of six-years’ worth of inflation since the last review, the change in fees was a relatively ‘insignificant amount’.

He added that officers had ‘done the best job they could’, adding: “At the end of the day, if they get it wrong, all they simply do is re-adjust these numbers in the future. I think this is perfectly reasonable and fair, and we have to let it run for a certain period.”

A total of nine formal objections to the fee rise were acknowledged from individuals and groups of the 320 drivers licensed with the council. Many comments focussed on the difference in three-year and one-year fees, which officers attributed to admin costs already covered in an application.

At the start of the meeting, chairman Cllr John Ridd said: “When it comes to fees, we are talking about people’s livelihoods, and perhaps not the most well-to-do in our society, but hard working people, for whom every penny counts.”

He went on to add: “We are concerned that the service does continue, as we hope, without disadvantaging any members.”

The fee changes were passed with an agreement to review the fees after one year.

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