Powers that be want to 'plug' more electric taxis in Milton Keynes

Councillors are setting out to encourage more electric taxis to ply their trade in Milton Keynes.

A committee heard that there are only four electric private hire cars in the city and no electric hackney cabs at all and that’s something some councillors find embarrassing because they want Milton Keynes to be known as the greenest in the world.
Cllr Norman Miles (Lab, Wolverton) told the regulatory committee on Monday that he objected to being “gassed” by diesel fumes every time he approached Milton Keynes railway station, where there is a large taxi rank.

A hackney carriage sign

A hackney carriage sign

Councillors, who approved a 2.1 per cent increase in taxi fees, are not in a position yet to introduce any green-minded incentives to encourage electric cars but they are working on new policies behind the scenes.

Committee chairman Cllr Mick Legg (Lab, Bletchley East) said the council was working on new policies and looking towards starting discussions in the new year.

He said he had met with the taxi trade and understood their concerns over the possible costs of electric cars, when compared to conventional cars. He said the council would also need to make sure there were enough charging points and in the right places.

Committee members discussed how, in 2016, the council had increased fees by a whopping 25 per cent which lead to a budget deficit of around £21,000 that they are only just recovering from. The service is meant to cover costs but not to create a profit.

The committee was told that it could not use charges to punish drivers who did not have electric cars, but that they could introduce incentives for them if they had electric cabs.

Cllr Paul Trendall (Lib Dem, Campbell Park & Old Woughton) said: “We should show people we are serious about this. It is coming, and we’ve got to do it sometime.”

The fee increases agreed by the committee will go to full council tomorrow (Wednesday, November 27), for ratification in time to be included in the 2020-21 budget. They include the costs of applying for a taxi licence and a criminal records bureau check.

There were no taxi trade people in the public gallery, which councillors took as meaning there was no great controversy about the increases. In the past, the public gallery has been packed with concerned drivers.