Cabbie urges help for drivers in rural areas as cost of filling up tanks soars

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Taxi driver Keith Walker has seen his profits fall as fuel prices have soared.

Mr Walker, of Walker Taxis in Richmond, also chairman of the Richmondshire Taxi Association, says taxis are a vital way to get around parts of rural North Yorkshire and many of his customers are vulnerable people, such as the elderly, who do not have any other form of transport.

He was keen for the Chancellor to forgo the 3p increase on fuel duty in January but also believes some kind of fuel duty rebate for rural areas would be a good thing – although he believes these 
are difficult times which are hitting drivers across the country.

“I think rural areas deserve some help,” he said. “Fuel is our main expense.

“There are some drivers in some cases who have stopped taxiing because they just cannot make a living. It’s a difficult situation.”

In the past eighteen months Mr Walker has seen the cost of filling up his car rise from £60 to £90.

“In the last three years we have really been going backwards in terms of revenue,” he added.

“It’s difficult we are between 30 per cent and 40 per cent down in turnover to what we were over four years ago.

“People do not go out to the pubs as much because they cannot afford it and then they don’t get a taxi out and they don’t get a taxi back.”

Last night Anne McIntosh, MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey, welcomed the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and said cancelling the 3p fuel duty increase planned for January would bring benefits for motorists and businesses alike in her constituency.

CLA North Policy and Public Affairs Director, Douglas Chalmers, added: “Rural-based businesses are significantly disadvantaged by being further from road and rail networks.

“Raw materials in, and products out have further to travel, and most people are dependent on private transport.”

picture: Gary Longbottom