TAXI drivers and operators will be consulted on Gwynedd Council plans to hike the cost of their licences – which could result in more expensive journeys for their passengers.

This morning, Gwynedd’s General Licensing Committee approved seeking their views on increasing the costs of such licences in order to cover their own administrative overheads. However, the plans are contentious, with a prominent local operator raising fears that it could lead to a shortage of available drivers.

In response to industry reservations, the committee were told that spreading the cost of licences, rather than paying in one lump sum, was an avenue the authority could explore. It was also confirmed that Gwynedd could look at raising the county’s taxi fares if the industry so wished. If the proposals are adopted, it would mean an average increase of 28% across the board, but the cost of three or five year licences would work out much cheaper than purchasing one lasting for 12 months only.

It’s proposed that a one year driver’s licence would increase from £136 to £233, with a new hackney carriage license going from £204 a year to £232, and a renewal also going up in cost from £169.20 to £197.

Meanwhile, a one year operator license is set to increase from £180.80 to £236 and a five year version from £297.80 to £329, with new private hire licenses also being hiked from £240.50 to £269.

Committee chair Cllr Peter Read said: “I think its fair to say that this committee has gone out of its way to help the taxi industry in the past, keeping costs down where at all possible. We’ve heard this morning that very few, if any, operators take out a 12 month license, and it works out much cheaper to opt for the three or five year ones.”

According to the report presented to the committee: “The fees have not been changed since the 2015 Deregulation Act introduced the right to apply for taxi driver licences that remain valid for three years, and operator licences that are valid for up to three or five years.

“The Treasurer’s Department has assessed the proposed fees and has concluded that the proposed increase is reasonable to recover the costs incurred when processing an application, in accordance with what is permitted within the Act.

“The percentage increase reflects the average percentage increase across the different licences. Some fees have lesser or greater increase than the average percentage depending on the additional effort involved in the processes.”

However, the proposals have sparked concerns among the industry. It will put a lot of people off becoming drivers,” said Huw Edwards, who runs Tacsis Huw (Huw’s Taxis) in Penygroes.

“You’re looking at £400 if you throw in a medical and a CRB check. It’s going to have a massive impact on the whole industry in Gwynedd.”

Once completed, the findings of the public consultation will be presented to the committee, who will make the final decision.