Proposal for £5 hackney cab city centre drop-off charge scrapped

A £5 Liverpool drop-off charge has been scrapped for Wirral hackney carriages but maximum fares will rise.

The fee was due to be brought in this year following approval by Wirral Council’s regulatory and general purposes committee in November 2023 along with a series of fare rises. It had been put forward by Unite the Union on behalf of the taxi drivers it represents arguing the raise was needed so taxi drivers could continue making a living.

However, nine objections had been received over the proposals forcing the council to reconsider including from taxi drivers concerned it would “kill the Hackney trade”.

At a committee meeting on 31 January, councillors decided to drop the £5 charge and increase some maximum fares from 21 February, though to a lesser extent than previously proposed.

The current daytime rate is £3.60 for the first 300 yards and 20p for every 207 yards and this will stay exactly the same going forward. However, the night tariff will now be £3.80 for the first 350 yards instead of the first 300 as previously proposed and will go up 25p for every 165 yards after that.

For public and bank holidays, it will be £4.50 for the first 350 yards instead of the first 300 going up 25p for every 165 yards. For Christmas and New Year, this will be £5.70 for the first 880 yards instead of the first 300 and will go up by 40p every 165 yards, a 21% increase over two miles according to councillors.

While the £5 Liverpool drop-off charge has now been scrapped, people will still have to pay the tunnel toll there and back from Liverpool.

Cllr Stephen Bennett who put forward the proposal pointed out people can get the bus for £2 or the train for roughly £3 from Wirral, adding, “It still gives them a rise but we believe it comes in line with the objections as well so we’re trying to do both that works for the public and gives taxi drivers an earning they deserve.”

Speaking in favour of the policy, Cllr Tom Laing said, “This is still a fairly hefty increase that reflects the cost of living crisis and the pressures taxi drivers are facing, while also reflecting the struggles many customers are also facing.”

He argued if the original rise had been implemented it would reinforce a narrative even though it was a maximum rate, adding, “Everyone will say taxis have gone up, these are unaffordable, let’s just get the bus.”

The rise was voted through by Labour, Conservative, and Liberal Democrat councillors. The committee’s four Green Party councillors voted against the Labour proposal and argued in favour of Unite’s proposal which would have seen a bigger rise and the highest taxi fares across the Liverpool City Region.

Pointing to the objections, Green councillor Christopher Cooke said, “It doesn’t strike me as a huge number and I think we have to give some credence to the representative from the Union, who he may not represent even half of members, but there were certainly more than nine.”

Cllr Ewen Tomeny said the decision was difficult but pointed to the union’s arguments “they’re often working at less than minimum wage.” He said, “It is in our interest to protect and make sure there are taxis available for people who require taking taxis and can’t take a bus,” adding, “The suggestion was they cannot afford to run their businesses at the current rates.”

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