An increase to taxi fares for hackney carriage drivers in Reading has been approved.

But the rise will be significantly delayed due to the coronavirus crisis.

Reading Borough Council’s (RBC) Policy Committee approved the plans on Monday evening.

The council had already agreed the daytime fare rise in February but the decision was called in for a second vote after a resident complained that drivers did not deserve it as they are “often unfriendly and surly” and do not help customers with bags.

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Councillor Tony Page lead member for Transport, said the increase is “modest” but the objection should be “taken seriously”.

He added: “We do have a hardcore of fairly miserable hackney carriage drivers.

“The first face of Reading is often hackney carriage drivers and if they are miserable, grumpy and unhelpful this can set the wrong tone and image for the town.

“Our taxi drivers are ambassadors for the town. I think there is a need for the trade to up their game and that as is something I will be repeating to those in the trade when we meet again.”

Fares will rise by an average of 3.75per cent during the daytime, once coronavirus social distancing measures allow changes to the meters to be made.

Licensing officers had called the objection to the rise “not relevant” but councillors said the resident’s concerns were important.

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Councillor Jeanette Skeats, leader of the Conservative opposition, said the council takes complaints seriously and called on all taxi drivers to “take their job very seriously and help people with their luggage, if necessary”.

Labour councillor Karen Rowland said “there are a lot of good people in the trade” in Reading. and she believes drivers “will have heard concerns loud and clear”.

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.

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”.

Implementation will be delayed 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”.

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.