CIVIC chiefs have shown their support for updating taxi tariffs in Salisbury, after “getting ripped off by unscrupulous drivers” was how the current system was described.

Councillors unanimously agreed to back suggested tariff changes, in which the countywide five-tier system will instead be spilt into three in Salisbury, and pricier tiers four and five will be abolished.

As previously reported, in December Julie Anderson- Hill of Wiltshire Council, head of services for waste and environment culture and operational change, met with representatives from city taxi firms, local night time economy bosses, the Salisbury Business Improvement District (BID) and Street Pastors, as well as leader of Salisbury City Council, Jeremy Nettle, to discuss the tariff system used in the city and propose simplifying the fees.

It has now been suggested that hackney carriages - taxis that can pick up passengers from the street or from ranks - use tariff one, offering the lowest prices, between 6am and 11pm, tariff two between 11pm and 6am, as well as all day on Sundays and on Boxing Day, and tariff three on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day only.

At the Planning Committee meeting Monday night, Adrian Sainsbury, of Value Car Group, said “Salisbury would be better” if the tariff system was updated, adding: “I’m asking for this because the tariffs as they are at the moment, there is so much corruption - people from the station, the taxi ranks late at night [are getting] ripped off by unscrupulous drivers of taxi ranks and it needs to stop.”

All councillors voted to support the latest proposal including Councillor Atiqul Hoque, who said he was “really pleased”, adding that the reintroduction of tariffs would make a “significant difference” in helping the tourism and nighttime economy in Salisbury, as well as being of benefit to the younger generations.

Cllr Hoque also suggested all taxis should offer card payment to customers, in which Mr Sainsbury answered that paying by card is already available in some vehicles.

Mr Sainsbury added: “Paying on card is just the way forward now, for safety, crime issues, it keeps cash in the bank, the kids are safe, it just makes for a better scenario and [gives taxi companies] accountability.”

After the meeting Cllr Nettle said that since he became the city council leader he has had conversations with Salisbury residents about the “inappropriate use of the tariffs”, including one customer spending £35 to travel from the city centre to Lower Woodford at a weekend, and another spending £90 from Larkhill to Salisbury on a Saturday afternoon.

He added: “It is very important that Salisbury has consistent fares as part of encouraging not only an evening economy but also during the day.

“[This is] at a time when not only do we want to encourage people to come into Salisbury more, but more residents, some of these are vulnerable, are using taxis.

"What we as a city council want on behalf of our residents is to ensure that all taxis abide by the tariff rates. The simple message - book your journeys by phone and ask what tariff will be applied, should you then be charged otherwise, record the taxi number in the vehicle and send a complaint to Wiltshire Council.”

The views of Salisbury City Council will now be forwarded to Wiltshire Council’s Licensing Committee - which launched the five-tier scheme, to discuss on January 27.