Hundreds of furious Cardiff cabbies have objected to a council proposal to almost double their annual licence fees.
A Cardiff council committee will today decide whether to rubber-stamp an increase in the annual hackney carriage vehicle renewal fee from £230 to £435.
Under the plans, which were first approved by councillors in April, the private hire vehicles renewal charge will drop from £230 to £97.
A host of new fees are also planned, including £30 for a driver’s first two oral knowledge tests, £19 for the written knowledge test, £15 for replacement plates and a £26 admin charge for change of vehicle.
A petition with 527 signatures was collected by Capital Cabs company secretary Sharyn Donnachie, who also submitted 89 signed letters from the hackney carriage trade.
Dozens of other objections were lodged by other drivers, who say the large increase hike in running costs during an time of economic downturn could put some out of business.
One cabbie said it appeared the council was trying to “force out of business the smaller owner drivers in favour of the bigger companies”.
Another said it would result in more black-and-white hackney drivers switching to private hire, resulting in less cabs with wheelchair access on the city’s roads.
The Cardiff GMB taxi branch wrote: “One can ponder if there is not a deliberate policy to phase out (the) hackney taxi trade in Cardiff. This will definitely kill off the trade.”
In a report to councillors, the council’s head of regulatory services Dave Holland said the hackney carriage trade incurs more cost to the authority than private hire, such as higher enforcement costs and the supervision of ranks.
The increases, he said, would cover the cost to the council of operating the licensing regime.
The proposals were agreed by the council’s Public Protection Committee in April, but will once again go before councillors for a final decision.
The committee will vote on whether to implement the proposed fees and charges, make modifications or withdraw the proposal altogether.
Representatives of the city’s taxi trade, meanwhile, have also launched legal action against the council.
On March 1, an application for a judicial review in the High Court challenging the council’s current fees and those of previous years. The proceedings are in the early stages and are being resisted by the council.