Taxi drivers have been warned they could be stripped of their licences if they add their own charges onto fares to pay for the soaring cost of fuel.

Council officials are investigating complaints that some Wiltshire drivers have broken the rules by overcharging passengers.

The cost of a litre of unleaded fuel went up by 20p last month, helping to push inflation to a 40-year high.

Hackney carriages – taxis that can pick people up from official ranks – have to stick to fares which are set by the local council.

Wiltshire Council has offered to increase the fares drivers can charge by ten per cent.

But it says drivers should not be making their own decisions on prices, unless they agree a higher fare with the passenger before setting off. 

Its cabinet member for transport Councillor Dr Mark McClelland said: “We’ve had some reports of taxi drivers adding charges to the tariff as a way of meeting rising costs, and it’s important for passengers to understand that they cannot do this.”

The authority says that unless a different fare is agreed, drivers must charge the price which appears on the meter.

At the moment, between 7am and 10pm on every day but Sunday, drivers can charge a basic £3.50 plus £2 per extra mile

The council says it is prepared to raise this rate by ten per cent between 6am and 10.30pm.

A consultation exercise on its plans has just come to an end.

Dr McClelland added: “We do recognise the cost pressures faced by taxi drivers. We’ll know the results of this consultation soon and will take action once we have considered the feedback.

“Part of our business plan mission is to have vibrant, well-connected communities and growing economies, and a thriving public transport network is part of that. It’s for this reason that we’re listening to the views of hackney carriage licence holders here in Wiltshire, while also ensuring that taxi users are charged according to the law.”

Taxi firm owners say the rising cost of fuel is a big issue – but the bigger problem is a shortage of drivers.

Zoltin Szirmai (corr), who runs Chippenham Taxi (corr) said Brexit was the main factor for the lack of drivers, along with the cost of licences and the difficulty of the test drivers have to pass.

“There is a terrible driver shortage,” he said. 

If people have questions about taxis in Wiltshire, they can email, while they can register complaints at