Boro Taxis boss says he will subsidise the extra cost until a solution is reached

Darlington and Stockton Times: Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald

THE owner of a Teesside taxi firm has made a U-turn over a refusal to carry disabled passengers, following a public outcry.

Mohammed Bashir, who owns Middlesbrough’s Boro Taxis, had said it was “uneconomic” to send eight-seater vehicles to pick up disabled customers if it had to charge the same price as it did for a smaller four-door vehicle.

The decision caused an outcry on social media, with Facebook pages set up urging people to boycott the firm and criticism from Paralympic athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson, who lives in Eaglescliffe, on Twitter.

Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald also called the move “appalling” and “chilling in the extreme”.

And UKIP Disabilities spokeswoman Sian Etheridge, herself a wheelchair user, has written to the council asking for Boro’s licence to be revoked.

Now, in a statement on its Facebook page, Boro Taxis has said it will subsidise drivers who pick up wheelchair users.

It said: “Mohammed Bashir and the other directors of Boro Cars are concerned that there is a public misconception of the problems for private hire operators of operating wheelchair accessible vehicles.”

The firm said minibus drivers expect to be paid fares around twice as much as drivers operating cars. But charging disabled people more would break the Equality Act.

“Boro Cars do not believe that the drivers should bear the responsibility and cost in the circumstances”, the statement said.

It called on the local council to pay the difference but will cover the cost in the meantime.

Mr Bashir’s comments came after Middlesbrough Council warned taxi companies in the town that it was against the law under the Equality Act to charge more for disabled passengers.

Middlesbrough’s deputy mayor, councillor Dave Budd, said: “This issue was raised in a report to the council’s licensing committee following complaints that a number of private hire businesses in the town were operating differential pricing policies for wheelchair users and the disabled.

“This is in clear contravention of the Equality Act 2010, but rather than take legal action we felt it more appropriate in the first instance to remind all operators in the town of their obligations under the legislation.

“That prompted one operator to announce they would no longer provide a service for some disabled passengers, although 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.”

Comments (7)

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4:08pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Snilly says...

Too little too late I have already deleted "Boro Cars" from my phone.

I hope to object when the Licence renewal is due for you Mr Bashir.

Shame on you!
Too little too late I have already deleted "Boro Cars" from my phone. I hope to object when the Licence renewal is due for you Mr Bashir. Shame on you! Snilly
  • Score: 12

5:32pm Mon 13 Jan 14

judygone says...

What a greedy company, how can they expect the council to pay the difference. The boycott should stay, pure greed
What a greedy company, how can they expect the council to pay the difference. The boycott should stay, pure greed judygone
  • Score: 9

9:15pm Mon 13 Jan 14

Jackaranda says...

It should be boycotted anyway, for obvious reasons!!
It should be boycotted anyway, for obvious reasons!! Jackaranda
  • Score: 6

10:21pm Mon 13 Jan 14

star_pumpkin says...

Thank you for using the press release. I have to point out that my name is Star (like those in the sky at night) and not Sian. My last name and all other information is correct,

I am glad to hear that the firm will treat disabled people who need to travel in their wheelchairs in the same way as any other passenger. Sadly this is not the first time I have come across a company charging more for a wheelchair user.

I was in Exeter last February, we needed a taxi so the hotel arranged for one for us. We were told before I even got close to getting in (ramps and pulleys needed to be put in place) that there was a minimum fee of £10 no matter the distance. So able bodied people could take the same journey for £3 but I would need to pay £10.

I must say it did put me off leaving the hotel after that and it did upset me. It is wrong to charge disabled people more simply because they are in a wheelchair.

I hope that other firms will now take note and will treat their disabled passengers with care and dignity, I must say that the vast majority do and are always very helpful. The cab drivers in London and Wolverhampton (I have most experience of these) are fabulous and so very helpful.

The best news is that disabled people will now have the choice of whether they use Boro Taxis services in future.

Best wishes

Mrs Star Etheridge
UKIP Disablilties Spokesman
Thank you for using the press release. I have to point out that my name is Star (like those in the sky at night) and not Sian. My last name and all other information is correct, I am glad to hear that the firm will treat disabled people who need to travel in their wheelchairs in the same way as any other passenger. Sadly this is not the first time I have come across a company charging more for a wheelchair user. I was in Exeter last February, we needed a taxi so the hotel arranged for one for us. We were told before I even got close to getting in (ramps and pulleys needed to be put in place) that there was a minimum fee of £10 no matter the distance. So able bodied people could take the same journey for £3 but I would need to pay £10. I must say it did put me off leaving the hotel after that and it did upset me. It is wrong to charge disabled people more simply because they are in a wheelchair. I hope that other firms will now take note and will treat their disabled passengers with care and dignity, I must say that the vast majority do and are always very helpful. The cab drivers in London and Wolverhampton (I have most experience of these) are fabulous and so very helpful. The best news is that disabled people will now have the choice of whether they use Boro Taxis services in future. Best wishes Mrs Star Etheridge UKIP Disablilties Spokesman star_pumpkin
  • Score: 7

10:56pm Mon 13 Jan 14

darloboss says...

agree with other commenters boycot them
agree with other commenters boycot them darloboss
  • Score: 2

10:13am Tue 14 Jan 14

English lad says...

Makes no difference at all, when someone rings for a wheelchair access cab they will just say they haven't got one available, not just boro taxis, but every taxi firm!
Makes no difference at all, when someone rings for a wheelchair access cab they will just say they haven't got one available, not just boro taxis, but every taxi firm! English lad
  • Score: 2

11:39am Tue 14 Jan 14

star_pumpkin says...

English lad wrote:
Makes no difference at all, when someone rings for a wheelchair access cab they will just say they haven't got one available, not just boro taxis, but every taxi firm!
Sadly that may be what some could do. However, I believe to hold a licence to run a firm that they must have provision for wheelchair users. This vehicle (or vehicles) should be available for use during the most of the 24hr period. Council licensing departments can (I've heard) do spot checks by calling the firm to book a trip.
This should be done regularly, or "mystery" shoppers used. Just an idea & it's likely such things are happening with the aid of Trading Standards.
[quote][p][bold]English lad[/bold] wrote: Makes no difference at all, when someone rings for a wheelchair access cab they will just say they haven't got one available, not just boro taxis, but every taxi firm![/p][/quote]Sadly that may be what some could do. However, I believe to hold a licence to run a firm that they must have provision for wheelchair users. This vehicle (or vehicles) should be available for use during the most of the 24hr period. Council licensing departments can (I've heard) do spot checks by calling the firm to book a trip. This should be done regularly, or "mystery" shoppers used. Just an idea & it's likely such things are happening with the aid of Trading Standards. star_pumpkin
  • Score: 3

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