CABBIES in Brentwood are calling for an “unlawful” licence fees to be they don’t have to up their fares.

Brentwood Council’s licensing committee agreed a new set of fees for 2014/15, including a £75 charge for a licence when a taxi driver has to replace his vehicle.

However, cabbies have criticised the authority over this fee saying it breaches the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976.

Section 70 of the act says a fee should only be charged for granting of a licence, not for changing or transferring a licence.

Steve Smith, owner of Treble 20 Cars, is furious.

He said his drivers are already having to cover the extreme costs of fuel, repairs and other licence payments, so these unwarranted charges will only make matters worser.

He said: “We would ask the council to accept that the charges made in respect of replacement vehicles are unlawful and that these should be refunded to the trade.

“Ultimately it is our customers who suffer by having to pay higher fares for using our vehicles, if the licence fees charged by the council are set unlawfully or at an artificially high level.

“The legislation is clear that the council cannot make a profit from licence fees and we will continue to pursue the council if it appears that licence fees have been set incorrectly.”

Council bosses said the fee was legal and they believe the system is fair.

Ashley Culverwell, the council’s head of borough health, safety and localism, said: “The current process is conducted as a pragmatic response by the council when a proprietor wishes to change their vehicle before the expiry of the current vehicle licence. 

“It enables the change to be facilitated with minimal possible bureaucracy whilst maintaining the primary objective of ensuring the safety of the travelling public.”

In the past, the council has refunded thousands of pound to cabbies over transferring vehicle licences fees after it was proven these were unlawful.