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MOBILITY MATTERS


FOUR TAXI DRIVERS FAIL TO PICK UP TAUNTON WHEELCHAIR USER


A wheelchair user claims four cabbies declined to pick her up at a taxi rank in the centre of Taunton. The Somerset County Gazette reports that Jasmine Rankin says the fifth driver then overcharged her by setting his meter running while he prepared the ramp to enable her to get into the vehicle. Jasmine, 27, had enjoyed her first night out in months with her fiancé Luke before the couple made their way to the rank in Corporation Street, when the evening turned sour. She said: “The first driver in the queue just drove off straight- away. I said to Luke, ‘Maybe he’s had a call’. Then the next driver pulled up. He said he had a medical exemption, but when I asked to see it, he said he’d left it at home. The third driver just completely blanked me and simply drove off. The fourth said he wasn’t wheelchair accessible.” Jasmine said she was so incensed she was having “a melt- down”, but calmed down when the fifth driver agreed to take the couple home. “I was grateful,” said Jasmine. “But he started the meter before getting the ramp out of the back and setting it up. The meter was on £6 before we left the rank.”


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Jasmine added: “I’m really cross. It’s discrimination. It makes the whole experience horrible. Sometimes I’m on my own and vulnerable and not being able to get a taxi is worrying.” Mike Davis, owner of A1 Ace Taxis, is adamant none of the five drivers worked for his firm. He said: “The rules are really clear. On a rank, you have the right to refuse a passenger, but there has to be a reasonable reason. But if you have a licensed hackney carriage and that vehicle is wheelchair accessible, you should be taking wheelchair customers from the rank. Unfortunately, some people who drive indepen- dently don’t really want to serve disabled customers because it takes longer.


“Under the Disability Discrimination Act, you have to treat a disabled person in the same way as you treat an able-bodied person. You should turn the meter on at the start of a jour- ney, not when you are loading and unloading the ramp before the start and after the end of the journey. At A1 Ace Taxis everybody is very clear about what the rules are and we embrace them because it’s only fair.”


WOLVERHAMPTON PHV DRIVER WHO REFUSED GUIDE DOG LOSES LICENCE


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28


A Black Country taxi driver who refused to carry an assis- tance dog in his vehicle has had his licence revoked. The Express & Star reports that Dudley Magistrates’ Court dismissed Shamal Hussein Majid’s appeal against Wolver- hampton Council’s decision to revoke his PH driver licence. The council’s solicitor, Amy Groves, told the court on Friday, April 23, how Majid had initially refused to carry a customer with a guide dog from Molineux Stadium on 7 March, 2020. The customer was then advised to put the assistance dog in the boot of the vehicle – and told she would be charged an extra £10 in order to clean the vehicle. When challenged by the customer, Majid later stated that he was allergic to dogs, despite not holding an exemption certificate. He then abandoned the customer - who is registered legally blind - at the roadside and drove away. After dismissing the appeal, District Judge Wheeler, said: “I do not accept your evidence at all. You were making it up when you attended the review hearing in April last year and you are making it up today as you go along. I attach no cred- ibility at all to your evidence. Wolverhampton Council was right to speak to you about this and to conclude that you abandoned the passenger and her guide dog. The council’s decision was not wrong and their response was appropriate.” Mr Majid was also ordered to pay the council £300 towards legal costs.


MAY 2021


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