CONCERNS have been expressed that taxi drivers could pop over to neighbouring local authorities to get a Taxi Licence that costs less reports Twm Owen of the BBC Local Democracy Service.

On Monday, January 10 at meetings of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s General and Statutory licensing committees councillors discussed proposals to freeze licence fees.

The fees are for taxi drivers, street traders, scrap metal dealers, sexual entertainment venues and gambling premises.

Trading standards and licensing team manager, Steve Osborne said: “There are huge economic pressures placed on businesses and consumers.

“We propose is that fees remain the same.”

Mr Osborne explained that freezing the fees would cost the council £2,300 which would be managed in the environment and regeneration department’s budget.

Documents on the proposals included fee comparisons with neighbouring councils.

On Taxi Licence fees Blaenau Gwent charge £295: while Torfaen charge £246, Monmouthshire charges between £227 and £236, Caerphilly charge £197 and Merthyr Tydfil charge £154.

Cllr George Humphreys said: “It’s alarming, the fact that if a taxi driver wanted to go to another borough to get a licence, he could get it cheaper.

“To me it’s not attracting business we are in desperate need for taxi services.”

Cllr Sonia Behr said that she was “puzzled” to see that some neighbouring authorities had much higher fees for sex establishment licences and pointed out that Torfaen charged £1280.30 and Merthyr Tydfil £1300 while Blaenau Gwent asked for £612.42.

Cllr Behr said: “Why are we so different to our neighbours, should we gradually nudge up.”

Mr Osborne said: “When we calculate the fees it’s based on recovering how much time we spend processing applications and consultations.

“I can’t explain how other authorities calculate their costs.”

He added that there is a template used nationally that is supposed to provide a “basis for consistency.”

Mr Osborne said: “The figures are there to provide benchmark and a feel for what other authorities are doing.”

Mr Osborne said that a “discussion could be had at a Gwent level” to find out why the fees differ across the region.

He also said that Blaenau Gwent don’t have any licenced sex establishments.

Committee chairwoman Lisa Winnett said: “We’re experiencing some really bad challenging times, residents and businesses are struggling with the cost of living crisis.

“The taxi trade has been hit very hard with soaring fuel costs and not increasing the fee will help them.

“I know the council are facing massive budget cuts as well but I welcome not increasing the licensing fee.”

Councillors unanimously agreed the fees.

This means that the fees stay at:

New Hackney Carriage or Private Hire vehicle:

New licence application – £295.

Renewal licence – £239.

Sex Establishment

New licence application – £612.42.

Renewal application – £410.82.

Street traders:

New licence application – £649.98.

Renewal licence application – £600.78.

Temporary trading licence (28 days) – £69.

Scrap Metal:

New licence application – £368.26.

Renewal application – £349.36.

Scrap Metal site:

New licence- £482.56.

Renewal application – £334.06.

Gambling fees

Bingo Premises – £446.

Family Entertainment Centre – £446.

Betting Premises Licence – £446.