Bedford Council will not increase licence fees in 2022 – but may impose larger rise in 2023

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Bedford Borough Council will not increase licensing fees for the town’s Covid-hit taxi and private hire trade this year – but the council has warned that next year’s increase might be higher than usual.

A report presented to the General Licensing Committee said it was “not lawful to seek any more than to recover the costs of administering the particular licensing function”, and that it was not allowed to use the fees and charges for the purpose of income generation.

Lee Phanco, the council’s chief officer, assessment application and business support, said: “An inflation rate increase of 3.5% has been applied, or is proposed to be applied, to the fees.

“Some of the smaller fees are then subject to a slight variation due to rounding, but in looking at the situation we did have particular regard to the taxi and private hire trade which has been particularly badly affected by Covid.”

“Therefore, we are proposing that the unavoidable fees linked to taxi and private hire trade shouldn’t be increased in the current financial year, but that situation would then be reviewed next year where there may need to be a slightly higher increase to allow for the zero increase this year,” he said.

Cllr Sue Oliver said: “I think it’s really welcome that we are not making an increase in the private hire and hackney charges, because they have been hit hard. I think it’s a really good gesture on behalf of this council not to be putting that up.”

Cllr Louise Jackson added: “I wonder if I might ask that consideration is given next year to any increases that have to happen to whatever the situation is then. It is welcome, obviously, that those fees and charges for private hire drivers have been suspended this year, but fuel prices are going up, we all know the cost of living is increasing, and it may well be an even more difficult situation next year.”