Manchester taxi driver refuses wheelchair passenger

DEGRADED’: Brian Gaskell and girlfriend Vanessa Daley were snubbed by taxi driver Winstion Bourne (right) in Manchester city centre who refused to take the couple because Brian was in a wheelchair

A cabbie could lose his taxi licence after refusing to take a passenger because he was in a wheelchair.

Winston Bourne, of Gorston Walk, Wythenshawe, was waiting in his black cab in the city centre when he was approached by Brian Gaskell and girlfriend Vanessa Daley.

Former mechanic Brian, 47, was left permanently paralysed after a severe stroke last year.

But Bourne, 57, refused to let him in the taxi – despite having the special ramps and fittings necessary to carry a wheelchair.

Brian and Vanessa were able to get in the taxi behind Bourne’s but took the details of his cab and complained to Manchester council.

Bourne was asked to explain himself by council officers and invited to interview under caution. But he failed to turn up and did not respond to reminder letters.

He eventually came forward after being issued with a court summons and claimed he was unable to accept the couple because he had a bad back.

Bourne was found guilty of a ‘refusal to hire’ charge at Manchester magistrates court and was fined £100 and ordered to pay £350 costs plus a £15 victim surcharge. Bourne will also have to attend a licensing review hearing where he could lose his licence.

Brian said: “I felt humiliated and degraded.

“It’s been very frustrating since I had the stroke and this has just made me more wary of going out in my wheelchair.

“We had been shopping, I felt a bit rough and it was raining.

“I asked him will you give us a taxi and he just said No. I thought he was joking – I’ve never been refused one before.

“I kept thinking he was going to get out but then he said ‘there’s no point sitting there you may as well get another one’.”

Coun Nigel Murphy, executive member for the environment, said: “Every licensed black cab operating in Manchester is designed and adapted to ensure they are accessible for wheelchair users and drivers are expected to help their passengers when and where necessary.

“There is no excuse for not accepting a disabled passenger and we would urge other people who feel they have been discriminated against in this way to make a note of the vehicle registration number and contact the council on 0161 234 5004.”

source: http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/