Inverness taxi drivers have warned of a “potentially catastrophic” impact to the trade caused by new charge rises which they say are “patently unfair” on the public.
However, the Inverness Taxi Alliance has decided against appealing the changes proposed by Highland Council.
The group, which represents independent drivers in the Highland capital, met on Monday evening and agreed not to appeal to the Traffic Commissioner about the proposal.
The group appealed a previous proposed fare rise in 2015 which they felt was not high enough.
The appeal was found in their favour after it was ruled that the council had not consulted widely enough, meaning the process had to start all over again.
Despite their decision not to appeal, the taxi alliance also warned about the prospect of an appeal from elsewhere in the Highlands.
A letter issued yesterday by the group’s chairman, Andrew MacDonald, and vice-chairman Duncan Fraser set out their concerns. They said: “The meeting decided that because of the timeframe that an appeal would take and the interim suspension of any part of the review, together with the effect of denying the trade any kind of increase in their earnings that it would be, overall, a detriment to appeal at this stage.
“Notwithstanding, there may already be an appeal lodged from another area in Highland.
“The meeting did, however, agree unanimously that several aspects of the agreed review were potentially catastrophic to the trade and patently unfair to the public.”
Key elements of the council’s changes to the taxi tariff include raising the basic running mileage from £1.40 to £1.50 per mile. Waiting time costs will also be increased from £18 to £25 per hour and soiling charges will also be increased.
Supplementary charges will also be introduced for people who live more than three miles from the taxi base or where the car is when it is dispatched.
The changes will be implemented later this month, pending any possible appeals.
The taxi alliance also reiterated long-held concerns about proliferation of private hire cars in the city, as opposed to taxis which are allowed to sit on a rank.
The letter was copied to the chief executive of Highland Council, Steve Barron, asking for “meaningful dialogue and compromise” between the local authority and the trade.
The council’s licensing chairman, Councillor Ian Cockburn, said that the taxi alliance should contact him directly with any concerns.