‘Out­ra­geous’ taxi fare hike set to go ahead

The Oban Times - - News -

A FORT WIL­LIAM taxi driver has said he is ‘dis­ap­pointed’ with the traf­fic com­mis­sion­ers de­ci­sion to not pro­ceed with a fares ap­peal, writes El­lie Forbes.

Nairn McArthur branded a pro­posed 28 per cent in­crease in fares a ‘dis­grace’ ear­lier this year, and lodged an ap­peal with the traf­fic com­mis­sioner.

The High­land Coun­cil is due to in­crease the price mile for tar­iff one – Mon­day to Fri­day dur­ing the day – from £1.40 to £1.80.

Tar­iff two, which op­er­ates be­tween 9pm and 7am at the week­end and when five or more pas­sen­gers are car­ried at any time of the day, and tar­iff three, which is used on Christ­mas Day, Box­ing Day, Jan­uary 1 and 2 and when five or more pas­sen­gers are car­ried at any­time of the day on a Satur­day and Sun­day, will re­main un­changed.

The ap­peal, which was signed by Mr McArthur and 25 oth­ers, stated that the coun­cil’s changes were ‘ill- con­ceived and badly thought out’ and that a 28 per cent in­crease would be ‘an in­tol­er­a­ble bur­den on lo­cal cus­tomers and vis­i­tors’.

But in a let­ter to the com­mis­sioner, the coun­cil stated the valid sig­na­tures on the ap­peal rep­re­sented less than five per cent of the op­er­a­tors in the High­land Coun­cil area.

Traf­fic Com­mis­sioner Joan Aitken de­clined to take the ap­peal any fur­ther.

‘They are 21 per­sons out of 453 op­er­a­tors in the High­land Coun­cil area. It would be stretch­ing def­i­ni­tions to find them rep­re­sen­ta­tive of a sub­stan­tial pro­por­tion of op­er­a­tors,’ she said.

‘I am very fa­mil­iar with the vary­ing eco­nomic cir­cum­stances of dif­fer­ent parts of the High­land Coun­cil’s area and that many in Lochaber have lower in­comes than a great many in In­ver­ness.

‘Thus, I can un­der­stand the es­sen­tial ap­peal point made by Mr McArthur and his co- sig­na­to­ries which is that the max­i­mum charges for a taxi will be be­yond the purse of many in Lochaber or be a harder spend­ing choice.’

But Miss Aitken noted that none of those who signed the ap­peal at­tended the coun­cil li­cens­ing com­mit­tee meet­ings on De­cem­ber 6, 2016 or Fe­bru­ary 7, 2017 to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions.

She said they also did not make any writ­ten or oral re­sponses to the coun­cil’s con­sul­ta­tions, other than the pre- con­sul­ta­tion meet­ing at Fort Wil­liam on Septem­ber 21, 2016 when three asked for no change. Mr McArthur told the Lo

chaber Times: ‘It’s out­ra­geous - a 28 per cent in­crease in any­thing these days is bad.

‘ We re­alise we are a voice in the wilder­ness of what is an In­ver­ness- cen­tric re­gion. We were out­voted as usual, and In­ver­ness got its own way - if In­ver­ness wants it then they get it. But this in­crease is ridicu­lous.

‘There is a strong feeling of res­ig­na­tion that we couldn’t do any­thing about the in­crease.’

The in­crease is set to come into place in the next few weeks.

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