A decision on whether Angus taxi fares will go up has been delayed after council bosses forgot to ask local operators to a meeting to decide on any possible hike.
Licensing chiefs held their hands up to the human error.
But while a couple of cabbies managed to take up a late invite, councillors decided it was not fair to drive through change without everyone having their say.
Consultation divides taxi trade
The regular fares review has already gone out to consultation.
And the prospect of a rise has split local drivers and operators.
Some claim any increase could be a “fatal blow” to businesses already struggling to survive.
And they do not want to heap more pain on passengers battling the cost of living crisis.
Others say a rise is necessary to keep up with the cost of running vehicles and things like insurance.
Arbroath taxi firms want the status quo to remain.
Forfar and Montrose operators back the idea of increases of around 4% – up to 10% for evenings and weekends.
‘Oversight’ emerges at key meeting
The council’s civic licensing committee was due to decide on any fares increase.
However, officials admitted that local operators were not invited until the very last minute due to a blunder.
Forfar taxi boss Mitch Murray – who favours an increase – was one of those unable to attend at short notice.
Committee convener George Meechan told the morning meeting: “Unfortunately, due to an oversight, operators were not informed of the opportunity to attend until late last night.”
He backed a deferral.
“In the interests of natural justice, we want to be seen to hear everything on it,” he said.
Montrose SNP colleague Kenny Braes added: “Especially since there is a difference of opinion, it is absolutely essential they (the operators) have the opportunity to come to the meeting and make their point of view.”
But Forfar Conservative Ross Greig wanted the fares review to be debated.
“The fares (we set) are the maximum operators could charge,” he said.
“If it’s up to the individual operator to decide whether they charge up to that level, I don’t see any reason why we can’t go ahead and set these.”
Councillors voted to defer it to a special meeting of the committee on December 5.
Forfar councillor Linda Clark said: “It’s been an unfortunate error.
“I would like to think we are pulling out all the stops to make sure we do this with complete transparency so that everybody feels comfortable with it.”
What is on the table?
The main Angus tariffs are:
Monday to Friday 6am to 6pm: £4.03 for first mile, £6.31 (two miles), £8.58 (three miles) rising to £35.91 (15 miles)
Nights and weekends: £4.97 (first mile), £7.55 (two miles), £10.14 (three miles) rising to £41.13 (15 miles).
There are different rates for Christmas and New Year.
Forfar Taxi Company want to see the daytime tariff rise to £4.32 for the first mile, and an evening/weekend rise to £5.17.
But the firm says fares for longer trips should be reduced, by up to 8%.
Lorimer Cabs in Montrose propose a similar daytime rise, and a 10% evening/weekend increase to £5.45.