SNP Councillors hit out at failure to review Licencing processes

Councillor Leadbitter – taxi owners will need to pay double

AN ATTEMPT TO force the Moray Council’s Tory and Independent administration to review the costs involved in issuing licences as part of moves to increase fees for such as Taxi drivers has been rejected.

SNP councillors made the call at the Full Meeting of Moray Council on Wednesday – however, the motion from the SNP’s Graham Leadbitter and Sonya Warren was defeated.

The SNP Councillors said it was the right time to review the whole licensing system in the Council and see how things could be improved to minimise cost and streamline the service.

Administration group members refused to back even reviewing the service – with the Chair of Licensing committee, Councillor Gordon Cowie, saying it ‘was not the right time’ – but without giving any indication of when a good time would be.

Speaking after the vote Councillor Leadbitter said: “This motion was a recognition that, as a result of the need to introduce the new role of Licensing Standards Officer for Civic Licensing we, are faced with significantly increased licensing fees.

“In the case of some taxi licenses that increase is more than 100% – at a time when the trade faces significant challenges. Other licenses are also facing large increases. Quite simply I do not think it is reasonable for the council to impose such significant increases without exploring other options in full and that, for me, means a full review of the licensing system.

“If it was a tax increasing by 100% or care charges increasing by 100% we would likely consider that to be unreasonable so why would we consider that with License Fees without looking at all the options?”

Councillor Warren – no increase in taxi fares for five years

Councillor Warren added: “At a time of significant pressure for both the public and private sector it is not an acceptable position to increase licensing fees but such a huge amount to the particular detriment of our taxi trade.

“In Moray, there has been no increase in fares by the Council for five years – and other taxi related costs have been increased substantially by the Council. These latest fee proposals would make Moray one of the dearest places in Scotland to be a taxi driver.

“The SNP fully support the need for Licensing Standards Officers to improve the licensing system, but to push up licensing fees by such a huge amount without reviewing the other parts of the system to streamline the process and reduce expense elsewhere is totally unfair to the customers of the Council, who have no choice but to pay these fees.”