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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Barrow taxi drivers and tattooists facing licence fee hike

BUSINESSES in Barrow such as taxi firms and tattoo parlours may have to pay three times more for their new licences.

Under the proposals from Barrow Borough Council, a Hackney taxi licence could rise from £45 to £140, and private hire from £39 to £140.

A boat licence would go from £81.50 to £127, and a boatman’s licence from £3.50 to £95. A tattoo parlour licence would go from £46.50 to £171, and an ear piercing premises from £93 to £171.

Phil Huck, the council’s executive director, told a meeting of the executive committee that some increases were “significant”, but said it had been five years since the fees were renewed and were “well out of date”.

The proposed rises are also based on a “full cost recovery” to fall in line with a 2014/15 council budget affected by government cuts. And the council wants the department to be funded entirely by the income generated by carrying out its licensing role.

Mr Huck told the meeting: “Some of the increases are significant, but they do reflect what it’s currently costing us to provide that service.”

He said that where no new businesses in a particular field had opened, the fees had dropped.

“For example, the fee for a new sex shop would drop from £2,529 to £197.64. And he said boat licences were “an historic anomaly.”

The cost of the council’s existing licensing function is £206,490 in the 2014/15 proposed budget. The original income for 2014/15 was expected to be £172,300, leaving a £34,190 deficit. The proposed cost recovery-based fees are expected to generate £203,022, which is £30,730 more than the 2014/15 budget.

The executive committee agreed to put the proposed increases to consultation.

Councillor Dave Pidduck, council leader, said: “Ultimately, the costs are to make sure we are protecting the public.”

Bob Mullen is a Furness Taxi Trade Association secretary, a driver with Acacia private hire and a hackney driver.

He said the council should have introduced the rises in smaller increments over the past few years, and added: “It’s going to cause some problems for some drivers, definitely.

“Some are struggling now. We haven’t had a fare increase for a while. There’s competition with some firms undercutting, so it will cause problems.”

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