A controversial vote on whether to increase taxi fares in North Northants was paused this morning at the eleventh-hour.
Taxi drivers from Corby and Wellingborough had been due to speak at this morning’s (Thursday, June 16) council executive meeting at the Corby Cube against a motion to standardise fares across North Northamptonshire.
Members of Corby Hackney Carriage Owners’ Association had previously threatened to blockade George Street over the plans which may have resulted in the doubling of fares in the town, with similar increases across Wellingborough and Kettering.
They held an event in Corby town centre on Saturday to publicise the effects of the changes and gathered a 1,800-signature petition. They had also planned to protest outside this morning’s meeting.
And just minutes before the meeting was due to start, the item was removed from the agenda.
The Northants Telegraph understands a legal issue had been raised with officers ahead of the meeting.
In a statement, Leader of the Council, Councillor Jason Smithers said: “I have listened and continue to listen to those affected by the recommendations that were in item six of today’s executive agenda.
"This is clearly an important decision for lots of people and the council and therefore I have decided to defer the item to ensure that myself and the executive have as much information as possible and that we make the right decision for North Northamptonshire. I offer my apologies to anyone who has attended today in relation to this matter."
Following Saturday’s event in Corby, Unite Regional Officer Sean Kettle said: “As always the Corby public have responded magnificently in their show of support to the taxi trade in Corby.
"In signing the petition not only are they showing solidarity with the owner/drivers they are registering their anger at the Tory-led NNC for imposing this unwarranted excessive fare increase on them.
"Corby is unlike other towns within NNC. It has a long-standing, much-used and valued taxi service which is in bedded in the town’s culture. Unite will give 100 per cent full support to our members who are owner/drivers in their campaign to get fair fares for the Corby community.”
John Martin from the Taxi owners’ association said: “It’s been an eventful few hours with hundreds coming out and discussing their concerns and signing the petition.”
Taxi user Jimmy Campbell from the town’s Beanfield estate said: “I, like many, rely on the taxi service Corby provides. The buses are infrequent and a visit to Lakeside Medical Centre will add pounds extra on to the weekly taxi bills .
Neil Rielly, secretary of the owners’ association and a member of Unite, said: “It is clear the public do not want these rises. This is levelling down and hitting the most vulnerable in society.
"It’s unheard of when the owners and public not to want a rise for the council to enforce one.”
A decision on the issue is now likely to be taken at a later date.