TAXI drivers have given partygoers an early Christmas present after agreeing to freeze their festive fares this year.

Cabbies across the city will charge customers time and a half during journeys made after 11pm on Christmas Eve, throughout Christmas Day and on Boxing Day – the same rate as last year.

But they will also continue to charge passengers double time from 11pm on New Year’s Eve, until 6am on New Year’s Day.

The prices, which were revealed by the Southampton cab section of Unite, mean that the starting rate will be set at £3.75 on journeys made between 11pm on December 24 and 6am on December 27.

And customers will be faced with an initial charge of £5 on journeys made over New Year’s Eve.

Taxi drivers agreed to maintain the “goodwill gesture” after it was agreed with the Southampton Hackney Association and the Southampton Trade Association.

Perry McMillan, chairman of the Southampton cab section of Unite, said: “We have decided to stick with the time and a half rate over Christmas.

“We took the double time tariff away over Christmas last year, partly as a goodwill gesture in the recession and partly to improve custom.

“That seemed to suit everyone involved, so we want to keep that goodwill going this year too.”

Mr McMillan also issued a warning to passengers using the service during the festive period, urging them to only pay the amount which is shown on the taxi driver’s screen.

He added: “There are complaints year after year about drivers charging double what’s on the meter, but the meters are already collaborated with the new tariffs.”