More than 1,500 sign petition for changes to taxi charge

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CALLS have been made to develop affordable taxi licensing charges in Northumberland after a petition was signed by more than 1,500 people.

A case for consultation was presented to Northumberland County Council’s at its monthly full council meeting.

The petition has asked for the unitary authority to work with all of the county’s licensed Hackney Carriage and private hire drivers to ensure that high standards are maintained while charges are kept affordable.

Speaking at the meeting, one taxi driver said that costs were getting hard to buffer.

He said that all drivers have to have a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check each year, but as the check has to be done through an accountable body they have to use the county council to do so and are charged an extra admin fee for that.

He added: “We just want fairness in relation to the charges.

“Why should we be charged extra for a CRB check when we have to have it?”

When the unitary came into power in April 2009 all policies for private hire and Hackney Carriage taxis were brought together from six district and borough councils.

In September 2010 a new policy was drawn up to encompass all of these, with some changes which have affected drivers.

One of those was having to renew licences every year, instead of every three years, as well as having a CRB check every year.

In some former district areas this means there has been an increase in charges to taxi drivers.

The council is to undertake a review into the fees and charges made.

But Coun Grant Davey, pictured, called for the economic prosperity and overview services committee, which is chaired by Coun Gordon Castle, to look into the matter and it was agreed to do so.