A TAXI operator says the system Colchester Council has put in place for cabbies to claim refunds is “unrealistic”.

In July, the council admitted it owed more than £200,000 to drivers after unlawfully increasing operators’ fees for the last six years.

Now licensing bosses are asking drivers and operators to produce paperwork for every individual licence they have received in that time in order to get a refund.

Christie Wettasinghe, who runs Hawaii Five-O cab firm, criticised the council for making it too difficult to claim back what money cabbies are owed.

“The council is being unrealistic in what it is asking us to provide,” said Mr Wettasinghe.

“The reality is there are drivers who are going to be missing out because, firstly, they don’t know they are entitled to it, or they don’t know how to claim the money back.

“We have lost by the looks of things.”

Money is owed to drivers because Colchester Council did not properly advertise the increase in licence fees.

If drivers believe they are due a refund, they must fill in one claim form for each vehicle or operator licence.

Mr Wettasinghe added: “The council has its own records, it will know who is owed what, in exactly the same way the Inland Revenue know if you have paid too much or too little tax.

“You don’t have to chase that, you just get a cheque in the mail.”

A Colchester Council spokeswoman said: “The council have been working closely with representatives of the Colchester Hackney Carriage Association and the Private Hire Vehicle trade to agree the process by which the refunds due will be repaid.”

The £200,000 will be shared between the borough’s 1,390 licensed drivers.

Each should receive at least £150.