St Albans taxi company refused to take disabled woman without a carer

Jennie Page outside the Clock Tower

Jennie Page outside the Clock Tower - Credit: Archant

Taxi companies have been warned against assuming that disabled people cannot travel by themselves, after a 65 year old woman in a wheelchair was rejected by a driver for failing to take a carer.

Jennie Page became paralysed 18 years ago as a result of an operation on her head, and moved to a care home in Verulam Road last year.

Jennie explained: “I am articulate, well-informed on global current affairs, have had and continue to have the support of family and many friends, but, I cannot walk.”

She was looking forward to seeing a performance at the Abbey Theatre in St Albans, explaining, “For six years I hadn’t had the means, but now I have a state-of-the-art wheelchair, and I had the opportunity to meet friends at the Abbey. Best of all, I was going alone.”

Jennie continued: “The taxi arrived on time and the ramp was put down. The name on the side of the seven-people vehicle was not that of the company with which I had made the reservation.

“I latterly found out that they had to pass on the booking to another company due to their own driver/vehicle problems.”

Just as her chair was about to be wheeled into the vehicle, the driver asked if the carer standing nearby was also going, to which they both responded ‘no’.

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The driver told Jennie he could not take her, and he then repositioned the ramp, shut the door and drove off without explanation.

Jennie said she was left “distressed, appalled and wondering whether this reaction would be the ‘norm’ each time I wished to go out. I had no dialogue whatsoever with the driver.

“Yes, I was a disabled woman in a wheelchair travelling alone, but is there anything unusual in that?”

Jennie has reminded local taxi companies that if vehicles can take a wheelchair they are legally obliged to do so, unless the driver has specific exemption granted by the licensing authority.

She did manage to get to the theatre, albeit nearly two hours later.

A spokesman for Gold Line Taxis in St Albans said he would like to pass on a ‘huge apology’ to Jennie.

He explained that there had been confusion as the booking had been passed on by another company, and the driver was not given the correct details about Jennie’s trip.

The spokesman added: “The driver was not comfortable taking her without a carer. We would like to apologise. All our customers are important to us.”