Three Hackney Carriage taxi drivers who neglected to pick up a disabled child have had their taxi licences suspended by Bristol City Council.
Karen Tilley and her 11-year-old daughter Josselin, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, were turned away by several taxi drivers in Bristol when they travelled by train from Wiltshire to visit the Hippodrome in November last year.
Cllr Fi Hance, Chair of Bristol City Council’s Public Safety and Protection Committee, said: “It is absolutely unacceptable that anyone should be turned away by a taxi service because they use a wheelchair, or indeed have any other disability.
“We require all our Hackney Carriage taxi drivers to use wheelchair accessible vehicles and it is their responsibility to know how to use their equipment properly when it comes to assisting a disabled person, so there is no excuse for turning someone away.
“In Bristol we pride ourselves on being an inclusive and accessible city that is an exciting and vibrant place to live and visit as a tourist destination for everyone.
“The majority of our taxi drivers provide an excellent service to the city, but on occasions like this where passengers are subjected to discrimination we will investigate and take action where necessary.”
The three taxi drivers had their licences suspended at the council’s Public Safety and Protection Committee meeting on Tuesday, 27 February, for neglecting to pick up Karen and Josselin. Two of the drivers had their licence suspended for four months, while the other received a six month suspension.
Karen Tilley said: “I am pleased that the committee chose to apply some punishment to these drivers, not because I wanted to see them off the roads, but because I would like this to be a lesson to other taxi drivers that they need to make sure they aren’t putting disabled people in the position that my daughter and I were put in.
“Making sure you have made the right adjustments for people with wheelchairs really is a small obstacle compared to those that disabled people have to face on a daily basis.
“I hope this helps to raise awareness amongst taxi drivers about the need to be accessible to people with a disability.”
All three drivers will be required to undertake further training on disability assistance prior to getting their licence back. This will be at a cost to themselves through the council’s Gold Standard taxi driver training programme, which all Bristol taxi drivers are required to complete.
Anyone with concerns about a taxi driver can report it online at: https://www.bristol.gov.uk/en_US/streets-travel/taxi-complaints