The taxi industry has been overcharged £181k by Middlesbrough Council over the past three years.
The local authority has handed out refunds to more than 500 of the 600 proprietors that are owed and the rest will be contacted in due course. A council spokesperson said the surplus payments were largely due to an error relating to the cost of the taxi vehicle inspection.
A spokesperson for Boro Cars said they appreciated the honesty of the council in admitting its error, even if it was disappointing that vehicle licence holders had been overcharged. The taxi licensing service is funded from the fees paid by drivers, taxi owners, and private hire operators.
A Middlesbrough Council spokesperson said: “During work to set the fees for future years it was identified that there had been an overcharge in the calculation of the previous fee primarily related to the cost of the taxi vehicle inspection.
“Through conversation with the taxi trade, it was agreed that the best and fairest way to address this is to provide a refund to vehicle owners who were affected.” They added that council officers had processed refunds to more than 500 of the 600 proprietors and the rest will be contacted in due course.
A Boro Cars spokesperson said: ‘It is disappointing that the council has again overcharged all vehicle licence holders, this time for a period of three years. However, we appreciate their honesty in admitting their error and are also pleased that the council has had a change of heart having now agreed to refund all drivers and other vehicle owners affected.”
All vehicles are inspected by the council’s own examiners when a person first applies for a licence. Earlier this year, the council changed its licensing rules so vehicles could be licensed for the first time up to five years old and can stay on the road up until they are ten years of age, or 12 if it is wheelchair accessible.
Previously, the local authority would only license vehicles for the first time if they were less than three years old and they could remain on the road until they were up to eight years old, or ten years if it was wheelchair accessible.
The move came after it became clear that the council was losing out on cash after taxi drivers were travelling to Wolverhampton where cars could be licensed for the first time up to 12 years of age and remain licensed up to 17 years of age. It costs between £216 to £268 to license a vehicle depending on the age and whether it’s a private car or a hackney carriage.