TAXI drivers struggling to make ends meet due to rising costs and cheaper-than-average fares in Barnsley will quit the industry if tariff increases are not approved by the council, it has been warned.

An application to increase Hackney carriage fares in the town will go to consultation after members of Barnsley Council’s general licensing board said they were in favour of assessing views following last week’s crunch talks.

Drivers in the town hope the council will allow them to raise fares from £4.20 to £4.50 for the first mile, then from £1.60 to £1.80 for each mile thereafter.

The Hackney Carriage Association in Barnsley says the price hike would help towards counter-balancing a ‘significant rise’ in fuel bills, running costs and insurance as well as staving off the threat of drivers ditching the industry.

Rob Taylor, chairman of the association, said: “Barnsley is currently 298th in Hackney fares out of 339 councils this increase would bring us up to 252 still well below the average of others.

“We believe this increase to be fair and proportionate in the current economy.

“We have recently lost drivers to the main two private hire companies and also to jobs that pay the minimum wage of £10.42.

“Very often we don’t make the minimum wage throughout the week and need extra hours such as working nights to make our wage up.”

Rises could come in imminently if the fare increases are deemed appropriate by council licensing bosses, who control how much Hackney carriages can charge.

Private operators do not have per-mile restrictions to adhere to and these often fluctuate, according to the association.

A council spokesperson added: “Section 65 of the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 gives the council the authority to fix fares for Hackney carriages.( “When the council makes or varies the fares it must set out the new table of fares and specifying the period of not less than 14 days within which any objections to the proposal can be made. ( “A copy of the proposed tariff must also be available at council offices for the public to inspect at all reasonable hours.( “If no objections are received the new table of fares will come into effect on the expiration date of the period specified in the published notice.

“If objections are received then the council must consider these and then make the decision to approve or amend the tariff accordingly.”