PROPOSALS to change the current taxi five-tier tariff system in Wiltshire will be discussed at a licensing committee meeting next week.

Taxi fares have been a topical issue in Salisbury for the past two years, and Wiltshire Council will now be considering an update to the county-wide tariff system, in the hope that visitors will pay revised and more appropriate fees for their journeys.

The changes to the system are designed to encourage the use of more taxis, which would in turn improve the late night economy and safeguard individuals by reducing walks home.

As previously reported, Julie Anderson- Hill of Wiltshire Council met with representatives from city taxi firms and the local economy in December to discuss the tariff system in Salisbury and simplifying the fees.

It was 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. This proposal was also supported by Salisbury City Council.

Wiltshire Council has now proposed changes for the entire county - suggesting that vehicles with up to four seats should use tariff one between 7am and 9.59pm, tariff two between 10pm and 6.59am and tariff three all day on Easter Sunday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and bank holidays.

The authority has also suggested vehicles with more than four seats should run tariff two between 7am and 9.59pm, tariff four between 10pm and 6.59am and tariff five on the same public holidays as listed above.

“We just want the best deal for all our customers, both in the evenings and daytime. A fully open and transparent taxi service that is affordable,” said Chapel Nightclub owner Amanda Newbery, who has frequently pushed for a review into taxi fares.

She added: “The recommendations going ahead are more or less in line with what the taxi service and nighttime economy had put forward, so it is important that we attend this meeting to make sure our late-night economy in South Wiltshire is fit for purpose.”

In response to the current tariff system, Ian McLennan, Wiltshire Councillor for Laverstock, Ford and Old Sarum and member of the scrutiny team, said there was a “distinct difference” in the nighttime economies across the county, adding: “One size does not fit all!

“We recommended the lower tariff bands are used in Salisbury - which the main companies use anyway. If it is compulsory for all taxi drivers in the south and the meters are set accordingly, then the opportunity to take advantage of customers, by the few, will disappear.

“I would hope, as a consequence, that the vibrant night economy will see a mass influx of returning and new visitors.”

If the proposal is approved by the licensing committee, the changes will be subject to a public consultation, and if then approved the new tariff system will be implemented by the summer.

The meeting will be on Monday, January 27 at 10.30am, in Trowbridge County Hall.