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Blackburn family's anger after taxis refuse to carry wheelchair user
2:00pm Saturday 20th October 2012 in News
A FAMILY said they were left angry and embarrassed when two specially adapted black cabs refused to carry their wheelchair user son.
Blackburn mum Anette McDermott and her son Darrell, 26, were shopping with their disabled son and brother Ashley, 24 when they claim they were told, ‘I don’t do wheelchairs’ by one driver and waved away by a second.
The pair said both drivers outside Blackburn market were driving newer model cabs, designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Now Blackburn with Darwen Council is set to investigate what happened.
The trio were laden down with bags and were looking for a disability adapted cab in order to get Ashley, who suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, home.
Their story has angered disability campaigner and former Hyndburn mayor Malcolm Pritchard who said the licences of the drivers involved should be investigated.
The McDermotts said the first cab driver, whose taxi was equipped with a ramp, gave no reason for his refusal while another with an adapted taxi said he had an injured arm.
Darrell, 26, who is his brother’s full time carer, said: “Ashley knew he was being turned down for a cab and it was upsetting for him. The first guy who turned us away just waved at us and didn’t give a reason, even though his taxi has a ramp.
“The second one said ‘I don’t do wheelchairs’ and another driver said he had a bad arm and couldn’t lift anything.
“I explained I would do all the lifting, but that wasn’t good enough. He just wouldn’t let us.”
Anette, who works full time with disabled children at Oswaldtwistle’s Hargreaves House, said the cab drivers’ refusal to let them in the taxi caused an embarrassing scene which upset her son.
She said: “People were starting to gather and stare and we just had to walk away.”
Coun Pritchard, whose son Mark is also a wheelchair user, said: “I think this family having to go through this is disgusting. They deserve to be treated with a bit of dignity and not discriminated against in that way. I think the provision of cabs and drivers for the disabled in Blackburn needs to be urgently looked into to.”
Blackburn with Darwen Council said it was illegal for drivers to refuse to carry a wheelchair user without a medical exemption certificate and they would fully investigate all complaints.
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