FARES for hackney carriage taxis are set to increase to encourage more drivers to work at antisocial times to address demand in Barnsley town centre.

The hike, which has resulted in a public consultation being launched today by Barnsley Council’s licensing regulatory board, would be the first increase to come into effect in two years.

It’s been borne, the Barnsley Hackney Carriage Association say, due to a lack of drivers being available at peak times such as the early hours of Saturday and Sunday mornings between 3am and 7am.

A statement said: “Unsurprisingly few drivers opt to work the antisocial hours to take home night-time revellers.

“We hope that by increasing the charges for those few hours, which are unlikely to affect anyone other than those who are out in the town centre, will encourage more drivers to stay out longer.

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“This will represent a general increase of £1.10 and each subsequent 110 yards will be charged at 15p instead of 10p.

“The current fares came into force more than two years ago on February 27, 2017, but only made small changes to the fares that had applied since November 5, 2010.”

Should no objections be received within the next 14 days, the changes will come into effect from midnight on July 13, although if any objections are made the bid will then be decided on by ruling cabinet members.

Coun Charlie Wraith, chairman of the board, added: “Not many drivers are working those hours and currently the demand experienced in Barnsley town centre outweighs supply.

“We cannot compel them to work so there has to be some sort of incentive. It’s not huge, but it is a slight increase and a rise has not happened for quite some time.

“Subject to the consultation receiving no objections, this will go straight through.”

Coun Steve Green told Wednesday’s board meeting that if it’s passed, queues and waiting times will be reduced.

“Hopefully there will be a quick turnaround as it’s very rare you’re not queuing for a taxi in the early hours of the morning,” he added. “That’s because there’s not enough to cope with the amount of people the town centre attracts.

“We’ve got taxi marshals working, who do a great job, but having more drivers available is good news.”