TAXI DRIVERS ‘DISAPPOINTED’ AT NO RISE
Members of Argyll and Bute Council’s planning and licensing committee met on Wednesday to consider a paper on the issue.
The report included representations from taxi drivers and owners’ associations protesting at an earlier decision to maintain the level of fares with no increase throughout 2012 - and no review until 18 months’ time.
The Taxi Owners and Drivers Association of Dunoon (TOAD) wrote to the local authority in February objecting to the decision, saying: “This fare increase is needed by us to cover the ever-increasing cost of fuel and not to improve but just to maintain our present standard of living.”
Twenty-five Cowal taxi drivers signed their names to the letter of protest.
They also objected to the length of time until the next fares increase review, calling it “a poor decision” that would negate any kind of fare increase until 2014.
Councillors at Wednesday’s meeting did express some sympathy for the taxi drivers’ plight.
Cllr Bruce Marshall said: “Dunoon drivers are adamant that they are not making a decent living.
“If we want our taxis to maintain decent standards they need proper recompense. We need a shorter review time. Fuel prices are rising all the time and this is a real issue.”
While other councillors appeared minded to stick with the 18-month review gap, Cllr Alex McNaughton asked if the matter could at least be ‘considered’ earlier, even if not under full review.
This was agreed and members of the licensing committee will receive a report at their January 2013 meeting to look at the situation.
Fares, though, will remain at the levels set in January 2011.
The news brought little comfort for Dunoon taxi drivers.
TOAD chairman Michael McIntyre told the Standard: “Even looking at it in 12 months’ time instead of 18 does no good - we need it now.
“A gallon of diesel has gone up 18p in recent times. It may not sound like a lot of money - but when you’re buying it all the time, it is.
“Local taxi drivers do not have extravagant lifestyles anyway and this will only make things worse.
“Fuel prices are only going to go one way - up. And, with regard to the review, by the time any proposal is submitted and considered there isn’t likely to be any time difference anyway.
“This was essentially our only opportunity for a pay rise. There will be a lot of unhappiness when drivers hear about it.
“To say we are deeply disappointed is an understatement. Some drivers are only just hanging on as it is - and this may just finish some off altogether.
“We are not asking for a lot, after all.”
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