Wigan’s hackney carriage drivers will have to stump up the £7,000 cost of an independent survey that found there was no need for more vehicles.
As reported in the Evening Post last month, town hall officers had commissioned a report to see if the current amount of Hackney Carriages in service in the borough was suitable.
The independent assessment found there could have been a case for “significant unmet demand” but the closure of Morrisons in The Galleries has had a negative impact.
Several licence holders, who asked not to be named, questioned whether the town hall was correct in recovering the cost of survey from an increase to this year’s fee.
They claimed in the years since the last survey, hackney carriage drivers had been paying towards a fresh one, meaning those funds should have been used rather adding to next year’s payment.
However, town hall officers have moved to clarify the situation, explaining the fees paid in previous years had been spent on other “operational costs.”
A spokesman told the Evening Post: “The costs of all taxi licensing fees are reviewed on an annual basis and fees are calculated based on the costs incurred for the particular licence category.
“The cost of the previous survey was recovered through an increase in the hackney carriage vehicle licence fee at the time.
“All fees that vehicle owners have been paying since then have been to cover normal operational costs including licence processing, vehicle testing, enforcement and provision of taxi ranks.
“We have clearly explained this to vehicle owners over the past few months in detail to reassure them.”
A town hall committee last year ruled the borough was not in need of more hackney carriages following recommendations from council officers. But the authority is required to carry out an independent review to ensure the correct decision had been made.
Specialists CTS carried out the survey, which included almost 300 hours of observation of taxi ranks across the borough. It concluded there no demand for more hackney carriage licences to be issued in the borough.
Licence holders are required by law to pay for such surveys and a recent council report reveals the £7,000 total will be recovered from the borough’s 136 drivers, at a rate of £51 each.