Tees

Boro Taxis in wheelchair fare row U-turn

Teesside's biggest taxi company has reversed its decision to stop picking up people in wheelchairs.

Boro Taxis had said it could no longer afford to transport them as it was unable to charge higher fees due to anti-discrimination laws.

It said using an eight-seater minibus for one person, and only being able to charge the same price as a four-seater car, was not economically viable.

After an outcry, and calls to boycott the firm, it has changed its policy.

The issue was raised in a report to Middlesbrough Council's licensing committee following complaints that a number of private hire businesses were operating differential pricing policies for wheelchair users and the disabled.

Boro Taxis said most of its cabs were not adapted for wheelchair users, but some minibuses were.

'Subsidise service'

Drivers rent the vehicles, and those operating minibuses expected to be paid fares around twice as much as drivers operating cars, but charging disabled people more would break the Equality Act.

The firm said in a statement: "Boro do not believe that the drivers should bear the responsibility and cost in the circumstances,

"As a temporary measure, until such time as the council sees sense, Boro will subsidise this service.

"If a customer has to be provided with a minibus for reasons of disability the driver will charge the same fare as for a smaller car and Boro will compensate the driver for their loss."

Middlesbrough's deputy mayor, councillor Dave Budd, said: "I am pleased that this threatened withdrawal has now been removed.

"Middlesbrough Council is always happy to talk to the taxi trade to ensure the best possible service for all users, but it should go without saying that issues of equality are not open to discussion or negotiation."

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