An aspiring taxi driver’s bid to remove the limit on the number of taxis operating in Halton has resulted in a £30,000 fine for the council.
Halton Council spent £15,000 for legal presentation in 2019 following John Robert’s court case to contest their denying him 13 taxi licenses. They also used £15,000 to conduct a survey ordered by the court to ascertain that there was no need for more taxis in the borough. The council decided to not issue him with the license because in so doing they would go over the borough’s limit on taxi licenses. However, the judge disputed this claim saying the cap was based on outdated statistics and instructed the council to conduct a survey to establish current taxi demand.
The council’s regulatory committee found out that the initial decision to keep taxi licenses at 267 was valid as there was no unmet need for taxis in Halton. The survey that was finalized in April 2020, did not establish any unmet need for taxis.
Councilor Tony McDermott noted that he was annoyed by the expenses the council had to meet even though there was enormous evidence for their position. He was equally concerned about the legal costs as well as the case’s workload. In particular he couldn’t fathom how an unfounded claim ended up costing the council £30,000.
The borough’s lawyer, John Tully intimated that the legal costs would be recovered from Halton’s current taxi drivers in the next five years. He added that these expenses would have to come from the hackney carriage trade. The traders were informed of the legal costs though they were not given a minimum time period for repayment. By spreading it over a five-year period, he believes the trade is comfortable with that decision.
Following the new evidence that there was no unmet demand for taxis, the committee has gone ahead and rejected John Robert’s new application and have asked the council’s executive board to keep the taxi licenses limit at 267. Mr Roberts who runs Frodsham and District Taxis was not present at the meeting on Wednesday.