Plans to increase taxi fares in Reading are set for significant delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Licensing committee agreed in February to increase fares by an average of 3.75 per cent during daytime, subject to their being no objections from the public.

But councillors will now vote again on the plans next week, after a resident complained that black cab drivers do not deserve the rise.

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The unnamed resident said drivers do not help the customers with their bags when loading or unloading and are “often unfriendly and surly”.

Licensing officers have recommended the plans be approved regardless of the resident’s concerns, which they say are “not relevant” but they have warned that the Covid-19 crisis will delay the roll-out of the increased fares.

This is because officers will have to replace programmable chips in the taxi metres of around 240 cars and this currently “would expose staff to unnecessary risks of engaging with a wide range of people and vehicles”.

The fare increase – which is an increase to the maximum black cab drivers can charge – will only affect rides during the day (between 6am and 10pm) as drivers said keeping the current the night-time fare would help them to compete with Uber.

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The Reading Taxi Association proposed increasing the maximum fares drivers can charge, and these proposals were approved on February 7 by the licensing committee at Reading Borough Council.

It is the first increase to taxi fares in a few years, but Mr Rashid said drivers would rather have “smaller increases more often” instead of “one big increase every five years”.

Drivers have to pay fees to the council for their licenses to drive taxis, and a council policy introduced last October means all taxis must be electric or ultra-low emission vehicles by 2028.

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Asif Rashid, chairman of the association, explained to the licensing committee in February why taxi drivers need to increase fares.

Speaking prior to the lockdown, he said: “We have had nothing for two and half years. We have had our licensing fees increased since then, with another increase coming in April. 

“The fare won’t cover everything. We’re also expected to replace our vehicles because of the new emissions policy. It all adds up.

“The longer we leave it, the bigger the increase we will have to ask for.”

Mr Rashid, who works at night, also explained to councillors why the proposals were only for during the day. He said: “Of course, I would love to increase my takings at night.

“But work is quiet and has been for some time, and we don’t want to lose what we have already got.”