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Taxi Wheelchair Refusals Leave Users Vulnerable

April 19, 2022

A wheelchair user has urged officials to take licences off taxi drivers who refuse to transport disabled people.

Prof Duncan Cameron, of Sheffield University’s School of Biosciences, said he was turned away by drivers three times last month.

“It is not like I have another option in getting home,” Prof Cameron said.

The city council said all its hackney carriage vehicles were wheelchair accessible and urged anyone turned away to report it.

Prof Cameron said being refused made him feel “incredibly vulnerable”.

“I really want to see taxi drivers educated in terms of their legal obligations to take you as a disabled person, but secondly how they are making people feel.

“I’ve gone home and burst into tears having fought to get a taxi before.”

Taxi drivers who refuse to pick up wheelchair users can be fined up to £1,000 and risk losing their licence unless they have a medical exemption.

Ashraf Ali, from Sheffield Hackney Carriage Association, said drivers had a duty of care to transport people regardless of any disability.

“I find this appalling,” he said.

“Help that person. You have to do your jobs, just get out of the car,” was his message to drivers.

The Equality Act requires hackney carriage vehicles to carry passengers in their wheelchair, provide them with appropriate assistance and not charge them extra.

Councillor Paul Wood, executive member for housing, roads and waste management, said the licensing process also required applicants to complete a range of tests, including their legal obligations and the loading and unloading of wheelchairs.

“We urge people to inform us of any instance where a licensee has failed to fulfil their duties, such as refusal of a fare; where relevant complaints should also be made with the private hire operator,” he added.

Prof Cameron said that was not his experience.

“I think it’s an absolute joke, I take a photograph of the licence plate every time this happens to me and fill that form in and I never, ever get a response.”

Councillor Wood insisted the council took all complaints seriously.

“[We] will prosecute licensees for specific offences where we are able,” he added.

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