Disabled people in Leeds are being treated like “second-class citizens” by taxi and private hire firms, it is claimed.
Nathan Popple, who has severe disabilities due to cerebral palsy, claims to have been quoted £108 for a one-way trip in a wheelchair accessible car for a 5.6 mile journey from Adel to Armley.
The 18-year-old is behind Accessible Leeds, a website which rates services in the city on how they cater for disabled people. The quote, which came while his own wheelchair accessible car was broken, forms part of a complaint that has sparked a council investigation.
He claims to have been rejected travel by private hire drivers in Leeds, while drivers of
Hackney carriages, or black cabs, often fail to stop for him or refuse to help him in or out of vehicles.
In a letter of complaint sent to operators, MPs and Leeds City Council leaders, he said city firms “treat disabled people as second-class citizens”.
He said: “Complaints about these companies need to be taken seriously and real action needs to be taken against them. At the minute Leeds feels like a no-go area for disabled people.”
Mr Popple said that despite many private hire firms advertising that their vehicles are wheelchair accessible, prices are “awful” for disabled people.
He claims other private hire firms offered the Adel to Armley return trip for £60 or £30 but offered either limited times or refused advanced bookings.
“There are endless stories of taxis not showing up, driving away or refusing to stop for disabled people, refusing to state a collection time or simply overcharging,” he said.
“Disabled people have a massive amount to give to our city. I am not asking for special treatment, I am asking for fairness.”
A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said: “We are always very concerned to hear about taxi and private hire drivers in Leeds who do not treat all passengers equally and will be investigating Mr Popple’s complaints.” She explained that all new taxi or private hire licence applicants receive customer care training that emphasises fair treatment for all, although the council has no control over charges levied.
The council can send private hire drivers for extra training or revoke licences if complaints are received and proven. Hackney carriage drivers must also abide by the Equality Act 2010 or face possible prosecution.
Neither the Leeds Private Hire Drivers Association nor Unite the Union’s Leeds Hackney carriage branch were available to comment when contacted by the YEP.
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