Jan 20 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Friday
A £25 INCREASE in the cost of drivers entering Stirling’s taxi trade has been branded “crazy” by a local businessman.
Stephen McIntosh (40), who runs S&M Taxis with his partner in Cowie, complained that anyone applying for the paperwork needed to get behind the wheel now has to stump up £101.
The hike came into force on January 1. The previous price was set by Stirling Council at £76 and the figure for the 2010/11 financial year was £69.90.
Mr McIntosh called for a rethink and said decision-makers were putting the brakes local companies’ efforts to reduce unemployment.
He told the Observer: “We’ve always tried to provide as many jobs to local people as we can but it can be very, very difficult, especially when application fees for taxi licences get put up by £25 in one go by the council.
“If you speak to anyone in the industry they’ll say this is a crazy increase. How can someone who’s currently out of work pay £101 just to get off the starting blocks?
“Nine times out of ten the driver will pay the fee out of their own pocket. We’ve paid for people’s applications in the past as a gesture a goodwill but it’s a bit of a gamble because you don’t know if they’re going to make the money back.
“Imagine if we increased our fares by as much as the council has just raised the licence application fee? Firms are having to lower what they’re charging to encourage more business.
“About two years ago the fee was just under £70. How can it go up to more than £100 so quickly? I’ve had a letter saying it’s because the council need to recover their costs but to me the whole situation is a joke.”
A council representative said: “Stirling Council has recently carried out a review of all charges and fees to align these charges with the actual costs incurred by the council.
“In the case of the fee for a taxi driver licence this increased from £76 to £101, from January 1 this year, to cover the actual costs of processing, approving and issuing the licence, including statutory consultations, and the cost of the badge.
“The decision to increase this and other fees was taken by the full council at its meeting on December 1, 2011.”