Taxi drivers are furious about changes to licensing conditions that are hitting them hard in the pocket.
Minicab and taxi drivers are furious at changes brought in by Elmbridge Council earlier this year.
Under the new rules, drivers must buy a year’s licence, for £235, as always, but if their car is taken off the road for any reason they have to pay for a whole new year for their temporary car.
They then have to pay the year again when they bring their old car back on to the road, even if they have already paid the licence on it.
It means a taxi driver who has an accident and needs repair work could pay for a year’s licence three times in a year.
If they buy a new car two months in to buying a new licence, no refund is offered and they have to pay for a whole new year again.
Taxi driver Jawved Siddique, who works from Weybridge train station, said: “Everybody is really angry about it and we’re upset with the way the council is treating us.”
A council spokesman said the licence service was cost-neutral. He said: “The amount of work involved in processing a transfer licence was the same as that for a new licence. The fees therefore needed to be realigned to reflect this.
“Legal concerns were raised regarding transferring a licence from car to car. The car itself is the subject of the licence so it did not follow that this could be transferred from vehicle to vehicle.”
Another taxi operator from Weybridge, who did not wish to be named, said: “I think it’s unjust. Most drivers in the borough are angry because it’s just not fair.
“I understand they have administration fees because there are a lot of drivers on the road, but I’m sure they’re more than covering costs and I’m sure there’s enough money through basic licensing to budget for things like accidents.”
He said he had a shortage of drivers and was struggling to attract them to Elmbridge because neighbouring boroughs were not imposing the same costs.
He said: “I just can’t fill the spaces and persuade people to come to Elmbridge and that’s been happening for the past three years with changes the council have been making.”
Drivers are also angry at new rules banning tinted windows, which come as standard on some people carriers and “high class” vehicles, from back windows.
One driver who bought a new car a fortnight ago was forced to pay £600 to change the windows.
The taxi operator said: “I think it’s disgusting. Bearing in mind all our drivers are CRB checked, are they saying we can’t be trusted? It’s not nice. Police should have the confidence that the guy behind the wheel is safe and all the checks have to stand for something.”