TAXI customers look set pay more for fares following a chaotic council meeting to set new rates in Inverclyde.

Members of the general purposes board agreed a public consultation on a proposed updated tariff system to calculate fares.

But the decision came after shambolic scenes in the council chambers during which elected members and local authority officials were left puzzled about what had been decided - after a vote had taken place.

The meeting was called to approve a simpler tariff system, which is still subject to public scrutiny, and to set the new rates for the coming year.

But confused councillors questioned how the fares could be decided without knowing which 'matrix' would be in place to calculate them.

It came after a vote had already taken place with members unanimously supporting the new tariff system, leading to bewilderment in the chamber.

The issue was raised with the meeting at an apparent end of the proceedings when people were already in the process of leaving.

Councillor Graeme Brooks said: "It's a badly worded report."

A council official agreed, adding that the document 'isn't clear'.

As hasty discussions ensued between council officers and board chairman Gerry Dorrian, Councillor Robert Moran advised them to leave the room and sort out the mess.

Mr Moran said: "Go away for five minutes and come back with a better form of words. "It's very ambiguous as it stands."

When they finally arrived back in the chamber, embarrassed council staff were accompanied by the local authority's head solicitor, who had been summoned to deal with the bizarre situation.

In the end, councillors agreed to increase the initial cost for a taxi by 5p to £2.55, based on tariff one, and also decreased the distance that fee covers, from 916 to 880 yards as recommended by officers.

It was also decided that the subsequent charge, which is currently 10p for every additional 98 yards travelled, should be changed to 31p for every 288 yards to reduce the frequency of the meter 'clicking', with the idea that passengers will pay less for shorter journeys.

Councillors were told the changes would bring the current outdated taxi fares system in Inverclyde in line with neighbouring local authority areas and also fix a price disparity.

Council officer Jim Bradley said: "We are low for short journeys but becoming increasingly expensive for longer journeys.

"It's a bit out of kilter with other authorities."

The fares rise is said to represent a 2.1 per cent increase, in line with the current consumer price index (CPI) rate of inflation.

The exact details of the proposed changes will now go out to public consultation before a final decision is made.