Gold Line Taxis tell customers to report driver to council after he refused to take wheelchair user

PUBLISHED: 19:00 01 August 2018

George Street, St Albans.

George Street, St Albans.

Archant

A driver who refused to take disabled people in his taxi could face robust action from St Albans council.

The incident occurred last Thursday, when former president of the district’s Chamber of Commerce David Clarke, who is blind, and Harpenden town councillor Michael Weaver, who uses a wheelchair, were dining with the chamber’s executive director Lisa Bates-Wallis.

Lisa called and paid ahead for a taxi to take them home and they stood on the pavement to wait.

But when the Gold Line Taxi pulled up at 10.15pm, the driver was not parallel with the wheelchair.

He was asked to move forward to make him more accessible, but he told Lisa: “I’m not dealing with this,” and drove off.

Another taxi was sent to pick them up and Gold Line Taxis has since offered Lisa a refund and said she should report the driver to the council.

“They feel that’s the only way something will be done about it,” she said. “Apparently the reason the driver didn’t pick us up was he had a bad back, but he never told me or anyone at Gold Line Taxis.”

Under the Equality Act, licensed taxi drivers using wheelchair-accessible vehicles cannot discriminate against wheelchair users and should give them assistance when required.

Drivers can be made exempt if they provide evidence they are medically unable to assist passengers in wheelchairs, but this exemption should be displayed on the vehicle.

Lisa said: “Gold Line told me the council will take it further, so I do feel they have been quite diligent and driver is realising he has made a mistake.”

Part-owner of Gold Line Taxis Aneel Ahmed said: “We have contacted the customer and apologised.

“I do not know the full details, but this is not acceptable.

“Fair enough he has a problem with his ramp, but he should have taken time to explain.”

Sections of the Equality Act were activated last year after St Albans MP Anne Main highlighted the case of 65-year-old wheelchair user Jennie Page, who a Gold Line driver refused to take after he found out he would not get any help with unloading her at the other end.

Fellow wheelchair user Dominic Hyams has also spoken at St Albans council about his experiences of being refused service by taxi drivers and being made to wait for a lift.

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