A Carmarthen taxi driver has had his licence suspended for seven days for refusing to take a passenger who has MS because her journey was too short.
Taxi driver David Keith Maynard denied refusing to take Barbara Stensland from Carmarthen Railway Station to the Ivy Bush Hotel on the town’s Spilman Street.
But Mrs Stensland said that Mr Maynard laughed when she said where she wanted to go and said the journey was too short and he would lose his place on the taxi rank.
It is an offence to refuse to take a fare.
Mrs Stensland attended yesterday’s meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council’s licensing committee to give evidence after an earlier meeting was adjourned to give her the opportunity to speak. Mr Maynard gave evidence to the previous meeting but was unable to attend today.
The committee heard that the incident happened at about 3.42pm on Friday August 5 this year. Mrs Stensland had travelled by train to Carmarthen and was exhausted as a result of the journey, hot weather and her condition. She approached Mr Maynard’s taxi and asked to be taken to the hotel.
She said: “He said he would not take me as it was just up the hill. He said the journey was too short and he would lose his place on the taxi rank. Initially I thought he was joking and laughed along until he repeated his refusal. I said I had MS and that it was extremely difficult to walk up the hill especially as it was hot.”
After being refused she walked because the other drivers were out of their vehicles talking to each other. She felt humiliated and when she arrived at the hotel the staff were so concerned that they asked if she needed medical help, she added.
Mr Maynard had told the committee he had not refused the fare but would tell prospective fares that the hotel was nearby as some preferred to walk than to pay the fare. He had taken a fare there earlier that afternoon.
He added that Mrs Stensland had asked for directions and said she would walk as it was a fine day. She had not told him she had MS.
The committee found the case proved against Mr Maynard, of Pontgoch, Bancyfelin, and suspended his dual drivers licence for seven days.
The committee’s judgement said: “On the evidence presented, the committee has no hesitation in accepting the evidence of the complainant and finds that Mr Maynard did refuse to take the complainant as alleged.
“The committee also finds that Mr Maynard was made aware of the complainant’s health problems and that his further refusal amounts to a serious aggravating factor in this case.
“In light of this aggravating factor the committee did consider suspending Mr Maynard’s licence for longer than 7 days, but in light of the mitigating information put forward by Mr Maynard, and comments by the complainant that she did not wish to see him suffer hardship, it has decided to follow the recommendation of the officers.”
Council executive board member for environmental and public protection Cllr Jim Jones said: “This is a very serious matter and drivers are reminded that the refusal to take a fare is an offence. Anyone found to be refusing a fare will be dealt with by the council. Members of the public are advised to contact the councils’ Licensing Section should they be refused a fare.”
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