TAXI firms face more than 100 per cent price hikes in some licence costs after East Lothian councillors approved an increase in fees.

A meeting of the local authority's licensing sub-committee yesterday (Thursday) approved increases which will see the cost of taxi driver licences more than double from £62 to £130 a year.

Operators will see the cost of a licence for each vehicle also rise from £250 to £386 a year.

The same increases are being introduced to private car drivers and operators.

Prices across the board have been increased, with a new set price for a vehicle retest of £150 introduced.

Councillor Colin McGinn, chairman of East Lothian Council's licensing sub-committee, said: “A review of East Lothian Council’s licensing services was carried out last year to ascertain what levels the fees should be set at to ensure full recovery and compliance with legislation.

"Benchmarking comparisons of fee levels in neighbouring councils were also carried out and it was found that East Lothian Council’s current fees were, in general, substantially below the national average.

"As each council is legally required to recover its full costs, it was expected any differences between local authorities would be comparatively small but in fact East Lothian Council had not actually been achieving full cost recovery.

“The new licensing fees will come into use from April 1.

"We appreciate that cost increases are never welcome but the new fee levels bring East Lothian Council more into line with other local authorities.”

However, the increases came as an unwelcome surprise to many in the taxi industry in East Lothian.

Ian Torrance, who runs Torrance Taxis in Dunbar, said it was the first he had heard of the price rises.

He said: "The council has not allowed us to raise our standard meter fares in years and only this week asked us to extend our school contracts, yet they expect us to find this extra money from nowhere.

"We've had no consultation about this."

The increases were part of an overhaul of licence fees across the county which included theatre, tattoo artists, metal dealers and window cleaners also seeing prices go up.