Investigation launched after wheelchair ‘taken’ in row over taxi fare

A woman from Cambridgeshire has described the moment she was left without her wheelchair after a dispute over payment saw a taxi driver keep it overnight.

Hauxton resident Jayne Oates, who has multiple sclerosis, had to be carried back into her home by her partner after the couple returned from an awards dinner in Newmarket last week.

The “uncomfortable” incident meant Jayne, who was diagnosed in 2011, was forced to use her cumbersome outdoor wheelchair round the house until her partner Lee Hill, 47, could retrieve her chair the following day.

Jayne, 41, told the News: “It was a bit rubbish because we had a really nice night out.

“It was a real treat for myself and my partner to go out together because it’s tricky for me to go out and attend events.

“I think the driver thought because Lee had questioned the rate on the meter that he didn’t have enough money, or wouldn’t pay, but that was never Lee’s intention.”

The couple said their intention was to pay the driver, employed by Newmarket company New Tax Taxis, as soon as he had helped get her chair out of the boot, which they said he refused to do.

Jayne added: “It was rubbish because it makes you realise you might not be able to do things and you really don’t need to be reminded of that.

“It makes you reluctant to go on taxi journeys again because you don’t want the same thing to happen.

“An apology would be nice but I’m not expecting anything – I just hope people will be more considerate.”

However the driver, who asked not to be named, denied that he had refused to help unpack the chair and said he had offered to do so upon receipt of his fare.

He said: “He [Lee] insisted he needs his wheelchair first and then he would pay.

“I said since you are home now you pay in the car with me and I’ll come out and take the wheelchair out.

“He was flashing £55 [but] wasn’t willing to pay. We get customers who try not to pay every week – I know when someone is trying to do something like that.

“I said I’m going to hold your goods until you pay [and] he said ‘fine’. He wasn’t very concerned about this wheelchair.”

New Tax Taxis said it was aware of the incident.

A spokesman for Forest Heath District Council, which licenses New Tax Taxis’ vehicles, added: “We are aware of the incident and we are investigating it.”

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