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Number of wheelchair accessible taxis in Torfaen drops

THE number of taxi drivers registered in Torfaen has plummeted in just two years – and cheaper fees elsewhere in Gwent may explain why.

Figures produced by the borough council show there are now just 154 people holding a taxi driver’s licence in the area, which is down 28 per cent from 2021, when 216 people held a licence, and that further reduced in 2022 to 180.

Torfaen council will now consult on reducing the amount drivers must pay for a three-year Hackney Carriage and Private Hire driver’s licence by £3, meaning the price will drop from £365 to £362, with the same charge for a renewal.

The price for a two-year licence is proposed to be £349, or £323 for a new one-year licence. However those prices still compare unfavorably with the fees currently charged in other areas of Gwent, which all neighbour Torfaen.

Newport offers the cheapest fees, based on 2023/24 prices, at £249 for a new licence and the same charge for a renewal, while the cost for a new licence or renewal in Blaenau Gwent is £251, and it charges just £180 for a one year licence. In Monmouthshire a new licence costs £310 and a renewal is £221, while in Caerphilly a three-year licence is £316, or £276 for a two year licence, and £236 for one year.

Cwmbran St Dials councillor Elizabeth Haynes asked at the council’s licensing committee, which agreed at a meeting on Tuesday, November 28, to consult on the new proposed charges, if drivers were able to register with other councils but still work in Torfaen.

The independent councillor said: “It seems anyone who’s a little bit savvy could go and get a licence in Newport, for example, and save themselves a few hundred pounds. We need to be mindful of that.”

Council licensing manager Claire Howells said the authority has noticed an increase in vehicles being licensed outside of the borough but operating within it, which is allowed provided the driver also hold an operator’s licence with the other council.

She said: “We haven’t got firm evidence to say drivers are going to neighbouring authorities but that could be the case.”

Panteg Labour member Norma Parish said she supported continuing to offer an £80 reduction on the £245 vehicle licence fee for wheelchair-accessible vehicles and £70 discount on the £205 renewal fee. The charges are being increased by £5 and £2 respectively – though any driver renewing a vehicle more than eight-years-old will see the price fall from £286 to £252. The same discount for wheelchair accessible vehicles apply to electric vehicles.

Ms Howells said the number of taxis able to carry wheelchairs and registered in Torfaen dropped by eight, to just 14, this year, which she blamed on one of the borough’s “larger” private hire operators closing.

There are no fully electric vehicles licensed as taxis in Torfaen, but the number of hybrid vehicles has increased from five to 15.

For vehicle licences Torfaen’s proposed 2024/25 fees are cheaper than Blaenau Gwent’s current fees.

The council will now consult for at least 28 days on the proposed new fees, which include the discount for wheelchair accessible and electric vehicles, and any objections will be reported to the committee.

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Number of wheelchair accessible taxis in Torfaen drops

a taxi sign
(Photo by Envato Elements licence)