TAXI fares in Northumberland will remain static this year after councillors agreed to leave the current pricing system in place.

Tariffs were increased by 5 per cent across the board last year in the face of spiralling fuel costs. At the time, it was agreed to review the tariff again in 12 months time.

At Wednesday’s meeting (February 14) of Northumberland County Council’s Licensing Committee, members were told that fuel prices had fallen slightly on last year. It was felt that, when considered alongside increases in interest rates and car insurance costs, the fares should remain as they are.

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The basic tariff begins at £2.70 for the first 500 yards, followed by an additional cost of 10p every 82 yards. There are different tariffs for larger vehicles and in place on holidays such as Christmas.

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Alex Wallace said; “I appreciate showing us what the cost of fuel is. We all know insurance has gone up and the cost of hackney carriage and private hire insurance is much greater than on a private vehicle, for obvious reasons.

“The price of vehicles has also gone up and we have an age limit on vehicles. There has been no increase in any licence fees in the budget which is very positive.”

Cllr Ian Hutchinson added: “There has been nothing from the trade at all complaining about the price. There has been in the past, saying it is not enough.

“Fuel prices have gone down and there are no complaints. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

There was then considerable debate from members on whether to bring the matter back to the committee at a later date. Some councillors said it should be in a year, while others felt it should be six months due to fears over instability in global fuel markets.

In the end, it was agreed that a further report on hackney carriage tariffs would be presented to the committee if required.