Taxi drivers in Bristol are breaking the law by turning away some disabled passengers, an ITV investigation has found.
The City Council says it will launch an inquiry after we filmed hackney drivers telling a woman in a wheelchair they couldn’t give her a lift.
Kate Sweetman, who uses an electric wheelchair because she has multiple sclerosis, missed a concert after travelling from her home in Chippenham to Bristol because no hackney cab could take her to the venue.
ITV West Country filmed with her in Bristol city centre as four out of five drivers she approached said they were unable to help:
Reasons they gave included the size of her chair or weight restrictions on their vehicles. One didn’t have suitable ramps to get Kate into the back of the vehicle. Kate says her chair is no wider than a manually operated one.
“It makes you feel like a second-class citizen,” she said. “It smacks your disability in your face. Everywhere should be suitable for anybody to use. Your human right should be for you to use anything the same as anybody else.”
The chair of the Public Safety and Protection Committee, Cllr Sultan Khan Chair, told us drivers were committing a criminal offence by not taking Kate.
“They shouldn’t be doing that,” he added. “We can suspend their licence, we can revoke it if necessary. The bottom line is the hackney vehicles are wheelchair accessible and nothing can prevent them from taking passengers, whatever their disability.”
He said the local authority would be investigating the findings and reviewing its policies. It also intends to carry out undercover spot-checks.
The City Council issues just under 1,000 hackney cab licences in Bristol.
The Bristol Disability Equality Forum told us Kate’s experience was ‘depressingly common’.