A SHAKE-UP of taxi fares across parts of Oxfordshire has sparked fears of higher prices and customer confusion.

Customers and cabbies have raised concerns over moves to axe regulated fares for some taxis in Vale of White Horse.

Meanwhile taxi fares could cost the same all year round in Kidlington, Bicester and Banbury under plans that have divided hackney carriage drivers.

Vale of White Horse District Council could vote to remove its right to set fares for hackney carriages, which do not have to be pre-booked.

Councillors hope the move will encourage competition by letting drivers charge what they want. But some customers and drivers fear the change could lead to confusion and higher fares.

It would see Vale join neighbouring South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) as the only English local authority not to set a tariff.

Vale general licensing committee chairman Melinda Tilley said: “We are trying to reduce bureaucracy on people trying to make a living.

“We want to give them a free market and make money.”

Mrs Tilley said it would get more cabs out in the early hours, particularly to pick up Saturday night revellers in Abingdon.

But cabbie Colin Dobson said: “If anything, there is an over-supply of taxis. Having a tariff is much clearer and more transparent for the customer.”

Councillors are to look at the policy in the new year before making a decision.

It comes as the North Oxfordshire Hackney Association wants councillors to switch to a flat rate for taxis during the day, at night and on Sundays and bank holidays.

This would see some fares increase by more than 10 per cent, but bring a massive drop in Christmas and New Year tariffs.

It would only apply to the 123 cabs that can be hired in the street or at taxi ranks across the Cherwell district.

Private hire firms would not be affected.

The 6am to 10pm day base charge would go from £2 to £2.50 and the cost for every subsequent 101 metres would rise from 11p to 12p.

This would increase the cost of a two-mile journey from £5.08 to £5.86 and four miles from £8.60 to £9.70.

The 10pm to 6am night base charge would go from £2.30 to £2.50 as would the 6am to 1pm Sunday and bank holiday rate.

Current Christmas and New Year base rates would drop dramatically, down from £4 to £2.50, with each 101 metres costing 12p instead of 25p.

Cherwell District Council is to consider the change at a meeting in Bodicote House, Banbury, this afternoon.