TAXI fares are to increase in Test Valley.

Hackney carriage drivers had asked for the rise in charges, a request which was granted by Test Valley Borough councillors.

Test Valley currently charges £5 for the first two miles on its daytime tariff, compared with rates of £6.20 in Winchester, £5.80 in Southampton, £5.80 in the New Forest and £6.10 in Eastleigh.

Now this will increase to £5.40 – 1p more than the national average, but 45p less than the area average.

Hackney carriages may legally charge no more than the maximum fare set by the council – such fares do not apply to private hire vehicles, which can charge what they wish.

The Test Valley Taxi Association, which represents a large number of taxi proprietors, had argued that the fees had not changed since March last year.

At a licensing meeting, in Andover, councillors heard that the request was a fairly minimal increase.

Council members quizzed licensing manager, Michael White, who recommended approving the scheme, on whether this would lead to minicabs undercutting the association due to the increase.

But Mr White said that the increase was the maximum fare that taxis can charge, so this would not necessarily be what is charged.

Robin Pike, of the Test Valley Taxi Association, said: “We decided a year ago we wouldn’t put in for a single increase to put us in line with the rest of the area. Instead we went for smaller increases more frequently.”

The licensing committee voted unanimously in favour of the proposal at the meeting last Thursday and the fare changes will come into practice in the coming weeks.