TAXI drivers in West Berkshire have agreed to a hike in fares, which will come into effect at the start of April.

The fare increase is the first in the district since 2013. Under the new proposals, a fare would be slightly more expensive than in Reading for three miles or less, but cheaper for four miles or more.

The new fare system is clearer to understand than the current one — using whole miles as increments rather than distances like 377.1429 yards.

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The current fares are £4.50 for a mile, £6.65 for two miles, and £8.80 for three; while new fares proposed are £4.95 for a mile, £7.35 for two, and £9.75 for three.

The licensing committee at West Berkshire Council agreed in November the proposed increases, and then consulted local taxi drivers on the plans.

Of the 32 who responded to the consultation, 30 were in favour of the increases — according to a report by council officer Suzanne McLaughlin to a meeting of the licensing committee on January 27.

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Responses included comments such as: “We need this increase”, and “about time”. 

Ms McLaughlin said: “The key consideration is the balance between supporting small business and ensuring the general public has access to a good value hackney carriage service across all areas of the district.”

However, the council also wants to increase the fees it charges taxi drivers for their licences. Of the 25 who responded to a consultation, 23 objected to the increase. 

Responses said it was “disgusting”, and “too much and unnecessary”.

Ms McLaughlin said: “These objections raise points such as how the increases can be justified, increases that are above inflation, and overwhelmingly the feedback is that they do not want any increase at all.” 

The fees are expected to be voted on by full council to approve as part of the budget-setting process on March 3.