Charge hikes for Northampton’s cabbies, ice cream vendors and burgers vans

A German market in Northampton in 2009
A German market in Northampton in 2009

Sweeping charge hikes are on the way for cab firms and street traders operating in Northampton from next April.

A report before next week’s Northampton Borough Council licensing committee is recommending increases for private hire and Hackney Carriage operators and drivers as well as for the likes of ice cream vendors and burger vans.

Currently, Northampton has 56 firms employing 935 private hire and Hackney drivers allowed to work in the borough operating out of 700 registered vehicles, but they are now facing their first rise for four years on a wide range of charges triggered by, the Guildhall claims, the rising cost of administration, compliance checks, software and manufacture of badges and plates.

Councillors will be asked to opt for a rise in charges which would see, for example, the renewal of a cabbie’s licence with CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check rise from £91.50 this year to £101 next.

The Hackney carriage written test will rise from £50 to £55 while a new private hire/Hackney application will increase from £90 to £99. In total about 20 different charging criteria will be increased.

In a report before the committee, senior licensing officer Philip Bayliss, said: T”here is no intention for the proposal to have a negative impact on any particular group. The proposal is aimed at recovering the cost of the licensing service to the council. If this is not achieved the service will run at a deficit.”

Meanwhile, there are plans to increase street trader fees in the borough for the first time in a decade, a move that will affect ice cream vans and units selling the likes of burgers and donuts. These are split into town centre premium sites such as Abington Street, premium sites like Abington Park and standard fees for units outside the town centre such as the type operating off Weedon Road.

According to the report, the rise in charges would net the boorugh council £23,200 next year rising to £32,000 in 2015-16. However, that depends on the number of street traders staying at present levels and does not factor in the potentially widely varying number of operators paying the so-called town centre premium,

At the moment each trading pitch is charged the same fee regardless of the location, all calculated at a rate of £100 per annum for each day of trading. So a trader operating five days a week would be five by £100 and pay £500 a year to the Guildhall. From April next year - subject to consultation - that would double from £100 to £200.

The report adds: “In the current economic climate and with some traders already deciding to reduce the number of days trading, it is a high possibility that the increase in fees will result in a decrease in the number of financially viable locations.”

The licensing committee meets at 6pm on Tuesday.