Taxi drivers in Preston, Lancashire have recently come under fire due to the fact that a number of them refused to take a disabled teenager home after a night out due to the fact they claimed there was no disabled pick up point in the taxi rank. Nineteen year old Jack Milner, who suffers from Muscular Dystrophy, had to wait an hour on at the taxi rank outside Lava Ignite and Yates in Preston before a taxi driver finally agreed to take him home to Longton.
Even though all Hackney carriages in the area have the facilities to take disabled passengers, including ramps and harnesses, many have claimed that because the rank doesn’t have a disabled pick up point they would struggle to get Jack into the vehicle. Now, taxi driver Sayeed Bukhari has apologised on the behalf of the other drivers and said: “I personally apologise for the drivers who are not picking Jack up, but I would like to point out that an overwhelming number of taxi drivers are helpful, and often help people out with bags and those who are struggling.”
“I think the reason that many might have refused Jack is because the taxi rank outside Lava Ignite and Yates’ does not have a disabled picking up point. Black cabs are equipped with ramps, but we need a raised area to help us get the passenger in. We have asked the council for a dedicated area many time, but nothing has been done.” However, a spokesman from Preston Council has said that there have been no previous requests for a raised area to be built in the taxi rank by the Hackney Carriage Association.
To make matters worse, the chair of the Hackney Carriage Association Charles Oakes suggested that disabled passengers should have their own dedicated phone line for their needs, which many people have claimed is discriminatory. Mr Oakes also said that taxi drivers should make a “judgement call” when it comes to picking up disabled passengers, and that drivers need to consider health and safety and taxi insurance concerns before they do so. In response to this, town centre Councillor Michael Lavalette said: “I think this is an outrageous response. He is condoning discrimination.”