ANGRY black cab drivers are calling for Blackburn with Darwen Council to let them raise their fares.

The demand comes after the Lancashire Telegraph revealed that last year almost half of taxis in the borough failed basic safety checks.

Although only a fraction of the taxis found unfit to be on the road were black cabs, the Hackney Drivers’ Association Ltd said its members were struggling to maintain their vehicles and turn a profit on the charge rates set in 2011.

However, another black cab group, Blackburn Hackney Carriage Association, said it was strongly against charging more.

The Hackney Drivers’ Association Ltd wants to charge an extra 20p per stretch. This would raise the first flag charge from £2.30 to £2.50, and increase the one, two, five and 10-mile journeys accordingly.

Chairman Charles Oakes said: “It costs us to maintain our vehicles and we can barely afford it. Just like everybody else, rising fuel prices and rising insurance costs affect us. Everybody needs to pay their mortgage and feed their kids.”

Mr Oakes has sought legal advice on whether he can take action against the council, which sets the tariffs, to implement his proposals.

However, the Blackburn Hackney Carriage Association said that raising fares in a time of recession would further drive away customers.

Chairman Mohammed Younis said: “We are all struggling to survive, with huge fuel and insurance bills and maintenance costs.

“But our drivers aren’t seeing enough customers as it is, and pushing fares higher would not be a clever move.”

Coun John Wright, licensing committee chairman, said: “An application to increase the hackney carriage fares was considered by the committee on Thursday.

“The members considered whether to recommend the request to the executive member for environment for an increase and to start the consultation process.

“On careful consideration, members of the committee said they would not recommend the current application.

“Members felt that any request should be brought jointly by all representatives of the hackney trade in Blackburn with Darwen.

“We will consider any new applications if and when they are brought.”