Taxi drivers in Guildford will have to pay almost £1,000 to rebrand their cars with a new livery proposed by the borough council.
Changes to the borough’s fleet of cars will be discussed again next Wednesday (November 18), which also includes the need for drivers to pass a new knowledge test and the removal of the requirement for all new taxi vehicles to be wheelchair accessible.
However, drivers will be encouraged to make their cars wheelchair accessible by being offered a reduction in licensing fees for doing so.
Council cuts subsidy by two thirds:
The borough council has proposed to contribute 25% of the costs of the rebrand of the 178 vehicles in the first six months of the new policy being adopted, which is a reduction from the 75% it proposed earlier this year.
The cost is said to be £1,250 per vehicle, meaning the car owners will be left with a bill of £935.
Papers due to go before members of the council's licensing committee on Wednesday highlight one of the disadvantages to drivers with the new logo is that some use their vehicle for private use, and would not necessarily like it to be identified as a taxi when they do.
Councillor Graham Ellwood, lead councillor for community safety and licensing, said: “Our first priority is public safety and customer satisfaction with our borough’s taxi and private hire vehicles.
“We want to give members of the public assurance that by choosing a Guildford taxi, they will get a safe and professional service.
“These changes are based on local people’s views of what they want and expect from the taxi service. The new branding will be distinctive and associated with a service the public deserves.”
The council was due to discuss the changes at a full council meeting in April, but the item was deferred.
A spokesman for the council said: “It will no longer be compulsory for all new taxis to be wheelchair accessible, except those with council contracts to carry disabled passengers where the requirement to have a disabled access vehicle remains compulsory.
“However, those who provide for wheelchairs will benefit from reduced licensing fees.
“This decision is in response to public feedback and survey results that show many people, including those with disabilities, prefer to travel in a saloon vehicle.
"We have consulted with disability groups and they are in full support.”
Following reports to the licensing committee on November 18 and the executive November 24, the changes will be considered for adoption at a meeting of the full council on December 8.