Ex Dundee taxi chief who once said all cabs should be wheelchair-friendly loses fight for non-accessible car

The Dundee Evening Telegraph reports that a Dundee taxi driver who once called for all city cabs to be wheelchair-friendly has had his own appeal to drive a non-accessible car dismissed by a court.

City cabbie Erik Thoresen, from Lochee, had asked to stop using a wheelchair-accessible vehicle in May 2016 – but his application was rejected by Dundee City Council.

In his appeal, heard at Dundee Sheriff Court, Mr Thoresen claimed that the authority’s “mixed use” taxi policy – which maintains a 60/40 split between wheelchair-accessible vehicles and saloons across the city – was unfair.

However, Sheriff George Way has ruled that the council’s licensing committee had laid out its reasons for rejecting his application in a “straightforward manner”.

It marks a dramatic shift in stance for Mr Thoresen, who had previously called for all taxis in Dundee to be wheelchair-accessible when he was chairman of the Dundee Hackney Association.

When he applied for his licence in 2004, he accepted the council’s requirement that he have a car that was wheelchair-accessible.

However, in submissions to Sheriff Way, Mr Thoresen said he wished to stop driving a wheelchair-accessible vehicle because of the higher costs associated with them compared to normal saloons.

Dundee City Council had previously committed to the introduction of an “economic fairness mechanism” in order to balance costs between saloon drivers and wheelchair-accessible drivers.

He claimed the council had not operated this policy fairly.

However, the local authority contended that it had considered Mr Thoresen’s application on its merits, which it said were “self-evidently poor”.

Sheriff Way concluded that the licensing committee did not act in an “unreasonable manner” in refusing the cabbie’s request.

He said: “I can find no evidence, that persuades me, that the committee did not act in a rational and fair way towards the applicant.

“The bar that the pursuer must overcome is a high one… I simply cannot hold that the high bar has been crossed.”

Mr Thoresen was represented by the GMB union, which will now be held liable for Dundee City Council’s legal fees for the case.

A GMB spokesman said: “In light of the decision the judgment is currently being reviewed by our legal team, following which our next steps will be considered.

“All fees for legal representation are met centrally by the GMB itself.”