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Cabs "snub" disabled, users claim (Bucks)

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Cabs "snub" disabled, users claim (Bucks)

Post by Admin on Thu 29 Jan 2009 - 1:12

By Oliver Evans


MINICAB drivers are overcharging and refusing to pick up some wheelchair users, leading to a flood of complaints to a council.
Disabled campaigner Alison Lewis

Private hire drivers are inflating costs, claiming cabs are not available and refusing to make short journeys, a council officer said.

A disabled campaigner today said the move was further isolating disabled people – but a minicab driver said he had not heard of this and vehicles were available.

Wycombe District Council licensing officer Caroline Steven said: “We have had a fair amount of complaints, it would be fair to say, over the last 12 months…in respect of overcharging by private hire companies.”

She said: “Often they will not make themselves available if they know they are wheelchair users or are not prepared to take short journeys.”

Some private hire firms provide an “excellent service” she said – but this was not the case for some users.

It came as she revealed Wycombe district still only has one wheelchair accessible hackney carriage, taxis which can be flagged down.

This means disabled people can only use pre-booked private hire firms, which have some bigger vehicles to accommodate a wheelchair user.

She said: “I am afraid we haven’t moved forward on that one at all.”

Alison Lewis, of pressure group Wycombe Area Access For All, which works with the council on disabled matters, said overcharging complaints were common.

She said: “The moment you mention a wheelchair there is an “er” and and an “um” and they will give you a different price.”

She said she was given on quote of 8 for High Wycombe to Marlow which leapt to 20 when she mentioned she had a wheelchair.

“It is making disabled people more isolated than they are already. In the current financial climate they have less money to spend anyway.”

But Mohammed Asif, owner of Royal Cars, High Wycombe, who has spoken out about other issues affecting the trade, said he did not know of overcharging for disabled people.

Mr Asif said: “They are available at any time they want.”

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/news/localnews/wycombenews/4078468.Taxis__snub__disabled__users_claim/
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