DISABLED passengers in Middlesbrough have been charged up to twice the normal fare for taxis by some drivers, it emerged last night.

Members of Middlesbrough Council’s licensing committee heard how some drivers in the town are discriminating against wheelchair users by charging them more money than able-bodied passengers.

Some are being charged up to twice that of non-disabled passengers as a “direct consequence of their disability”, a report to the committee claimed.

Now licensing officers at Middlesbrough Council are clamping down after receiving complaints from customers.

The council has the authority to set fares in relation to Hackney Carriages but it has no control on the prices charged by private hire vehicles, which are decided by market forces.

However, private companies have to act within the Equality Act of 2010, which bans discrimination, and the council is now warning that if evidence is found then they would review private hire licences.

The council has now written to taxi and private hire businesses warning them to comply with the act. It said it would be testing “compliance” over the next few months and warned licences could be at risk if evidence of discrimination was found.

Hackney drivers and private hire operators have been warned in the letters that over-charging was a breach of the Equality Act.