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Residents urged to report illegal taxi surcharges to Wiltshire Council

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MELKSHAM residents are being urged to report taxi drivers who are putting extra charges on their tariff, saying it is to cover the rising cost of fuel, or the Bath Clean Air Zone.

The issue was raised in a letter to Melksham Town Council and discussed in a meeting held last week. Councillors say that including extra charges is illegal and should be reported to Wiltshire Council.

The letter to the council, written by a Melksham resident and taxi driver said, “I raised my concerns regarding the [Bath] Clean Air Zone with Fleet Licencing at Wiltshire Council months ago, to explain that Melksham companies were passing the £9 per day fee on to the customer. This is against the conditions of a Hackney Carriage licence.”

It was also raised that some taxi drivers are charging excess to the fare, saying it is to cover the increased cost of fuel. The letter stated, “There is no surcharge. We are not allowed to charge more than is on the meter.

“The reality is that customers will pay almost anything if there is a shortage of taxis. One online response to my highlighting this claimed that, because an eight-seater was not available from Trowbridge to Bath, they phoned a Melksham company who turned up with £23 already on the meter. They did not know this shouldn’t happen and paid accordingly. I have encouraged them to complain – it remains to be seen if they will.

“Wiltshire Council tell me that there are very few complaints from customers and so there isn’t an issue. The fact is that most people won’t go to the effort of a formal complaint. They won’t formally complain about a £1 extra, they will complain if a taxi leaves them abandoned at 2 in the morning. If drivers don’t explain the rules, how do customers know if they are being broken?”

Discussing the issue at a meeting of their economic, development and planning meeting on Monday 14th November, councillors urged anyone who is charged a surcharge, to contact Wiltshire Council. Town and Wiltshire councillor, Jon Hubbard said, “In my Wiltshire Council capacity, a local company has contacted me about this. This is a Wiltshire Council matter. Any taxi that charges such charges are in breach of their licence and risk losing their licence. We urge any member of the public to report this. This is an illegal act and it is an exploitation of vulnerable people. We should be urging any residents who have been charged a surcharge to challenge it and report to Wiltshire Council. It is illegal.”

To contact Wiltshire Council call 0300 456 0100.

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