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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2021 2:42 pm 
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Edinburgh taxi firm slams council's decision to raise licence fees as lockdown ends

https://www.edinburghlive.co.uk/news/ed ... s-20478161

Exclusive: CityCabs told Edinburgh Live that "other trades which have struggled in lockdown have been helped."

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Image: Edinburgh Live

An Edinburgh taxi firm has penned a passionate letter to the City of Edinburgh Council after an increase in licence fees was implemented amid lockdown easing.

City Cabs have questioned why license fees have increased in the capital while "other services" have been granted additional financial support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an open letter to the local authority, the company cited a free service supplied to front-line Covid workers throughout the year-long lockdown as well as an overall offering of 40 per cent discount on all fares to all NHS and care workers.

Les McVay, City Cabs company secretary told Edinburgh Live: "Other trades which have struggled in lockdown have been helped and it would've been a nice gesture.

"This increase to the licence fees, albeit around three per cent, leaves us all wondering just where we went wrong.

"There's a licensing fund specifically there to help - there's currently a surplus exceeding £800,000 - what's it for if not a time like this?".

The letter, written on 'behalf of the Members and of City Cabs', and shared with Edinburgh Live reads:

"Dear Councillor,

"On behalf of the Members and of City Cabs, I would like to register our disappointment at the increase in licence fees implemented by the Council in the last few weeks.

"At a recent Taxi/PHC Consultation Group meeting, the Convenor, Councillor Fullerton, kindly thanked our Trade for the excellent service, during the pandemic, provided to the NHS and those involved in the care profession, as well as the service we provided to the disabled and elderly within our community.

"City Cabs supplied a free service to front-line Covid workers, an overall offering of 40 per cent discount on all fares to all NHS / Care workers and a blanket 20 per cent discount to all of the general public.

"This increase to the licence fees, albeit around three per cent, leaves us all wondering just where we went wrong.

"I would respectfully remind Councillors on the Regulatory Committee as well as Council Officials of the General Note within the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, Page 40, Section 12, which is as follows:

"The Secretary of State expects that authorities will ensure that the costs are kept to the minimum and that the basis for the fees charged should be explained to the local trade organisations, who should be consulted well before charges or adjustments are proposed.

"City Cabs are not aware of any consultation taking place before the recent increase in licence fees.

"The situation is that there is currently a surplus exceeding £800,000 in the Licensing Fund, which is ring fenced for licensing issues.

"I pose the question, 'Did no one think that it would be a nice gesture of support for a struggling Taxi Trade to absorb this year's licensing fee rise from within this surplus'. If the worst case scenario was to appear and in future years there may be a shortfall in the Licence Funding, the licence fees could have been adjusted accordingly once the Trade had been given a little breathing space to get back on its feet.

"What are surpluses for, if a bit of it can't be used for a purpose such as this, particularly under the present circumstances?".

Cllr Catherine Fullerton Regulatory Convener, said: “We’re committed to helping Edinburgh and all of our citizens recover from what has been an extremely challenging year.

"There has been regular contact with the taxi and private hire trade throughout the pandemic and we’re doing everything we can to support them. Last year we deferred their licence fee payment and this month we announced a £4.4m boost for drivers from our discretionary fund. The increase is needed to cover our costs and is in line with inflation.”


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