A leading taxi business in the North East has threatened Middlesbrough Council with legal action over the local authority's proposed refunds to licence holders in relation to overcharging.
Boro Taxis, which with a fleet of more than 800 vehicles is Teesside’s largest private hire company, said the local authority had begun to distribute letters to licence holders detailing refunds due.
It claimed that the council’s offer “does not cover the entire period during which the council unlawfully overcharged all operators and vehicle licence holders”.
The refunds follow a complaint by Christine Bell, Boro Taxis’ Company Secretary, to the Local Government Ombudsman, which the company said had established that the council could not show how it had calculated its fees.
According to Boro Taxis, the Ombudsman called on the local authority to apologise for its failings, demonstrate how it calculated its fees, and carry out a full review of the taxi fees it had charged.
Boro Taxis’ Bell, said: “We have not received a letter yet, but have seen copies sent to other licence holders. We will not be accepting the council’s offer because it only covers the last four years, and not the many years prior to that during which the council unlawfully charged extortionate fees, which should be included.
“It’s very disappointing to note that the council is only telling people how much it intends to refund and asking licence holders to sign accepting the restitution payment, but is not informing them of their right to seek independent legal advice. Boro Taxis is encouraging all members of the taxi trade to take legal advice, and to stand together to make sure that Middlesbrough Council refunds all the money unlawfully charged
“This is about ordinary hardworking people in the taxi trade, many of whom are self-employed and work independently, getting back the money that was wrongfully taken from them in the first place – it’s their money, not the council’s.”
Middlesbrough Council has been approached for comment.