Taxi drivers are in short supply in Cheshire East as almost 150 quit when their profession was badly hit by the pandemic.
Kim Evans, head of the licensing team at the council, said it was a regional and national issue and London had lost around 4,000 drivers.
“When the night economy was shut down by various lockdowns, that obviously had an impact on how much money they were able to bring in,” she said.
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“Was it worth it for them to stay, was it worth it for them to renew their licenses when, compounded by this, online orders and then deliveries of those online orders have increased massively?
She said many opted for delivery driver jobs instead and did not return to taxis.
The issue was discussed at a Cheshire East Licensing Committee meeting on Monday, where the council was considering raising certain fees and charges for Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicles.
Ms Evans said there were no plans to increase driving license fees.
“Whether to grant or renew, we are not proposing to increase them this year,” she said. “While that’s probably a very small thing we can do, it’s one of the things we can do to try to make sure new candidates come forward.”
But she said some fees and charges are expected to increase.
“The fees we charge should cover the cost of providing the service,” Ms Evans said. “That includes personnel costs, which includes the cost of materials for the plates, all the incidental things around the licensing scheme that you can imagine.
“So we’ve always offered increases to the other types of licenses that are out there – vehicle licenses, operator licenses, and then some increases to testing fees as well as vehicle testing fees.”
At present, a Hackney Carriage license or private hire vehicle costs £315 per year. The proposal is to increase this amount to £320.
The test fee would also increase by £5, from £80 to £85.
And it is proposed that a five-year private hire operator license will be reduced from £360 to £375.
All of these and other proposed fees shall be subject to publicity and consultation.
The committee voted to confirm the proposed fees and authorized the Licensing Team Leader to publish them.
It also agreed that delegated authority be given to the Director of Environmental and Neighborhood Services to review objections received and determine the final fee payable in consultation with the Chair of the Licensing Committee.