A PROPOSAL to increase taxi fares in Barnsley has been put to public consultation following a heated dispute by councillors.

On September 8, the Barnsley Hackney Carriage Association (BHCA) made a proposal to increase the base rate by 40p and to extend night hours from 11pm to 8pm.

The proposal was made to help bring fares in line with private hire competitors and to encourage more drivers to work unsociable hours.

However, councillors initially rejected the application, citing a lack of evidence and reconvened on Wednesday to discuss whether it should be put to public consultation.

Coun Steve Green, chairman of the licensing board, said: “In the last meeting, members felt that there was insufficient evidence to support the application.

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“The Barnsley Hackney Carriage Association has since provided four submissions of evidence which can be considered towards the proposal and the reason for the suggested price increase.”

Rob Taylor, BHCA president, spoke at the meeting and revealed he hopes the new prices will help bring more drivers to the industry.

“During the pandemic, our customer base dropped off,” he said. “Obviously people weren’t getting as many taxis and many of our drivers took other jobs to support their families.

“Since things have started to pick back up again, some drivers have been reluctant to return because they now no longer have to work unsociable hours.

“It is our belief that by charging 40p extra, and by changing the night tariff times, it will encourage drivers back and will help the Barnsley economy.”

Unlike private hire companies - who can pick up passengers from anywhere across the borough - Rob also revealed that the Hackney Carriages have to return to the town centre taxi rank before they can collect new passengers.

Members of the board agreed to send the application to public consultation.

Comments made on the proposal will then be discussed at a following meeting, and councillors will decide whether the new tariff should come into effect.

The consultation will be in place for two weeks and can be accessed on the Barnsley Council website.