Frustrated disabled man told he’s ‘too fat’ to ride in a taxi

A wheelchair user claims he regularly faces discrimination whenever he uses a taxi in Nottingham, with taxi drivers claiming he is "too fat" to ride in their cab.

Charley Jonstone-Brent, 20, who attends Nottingham Trent University, said he suffers with "huge stress and anxiety" whenever he travels by taxi in the city.

He has been using a wheelchair since being hit by a bus in February and relies on taxis to get around twice a day, reports NottinghamshireLive.

As a result of the accident, Mr Jonstone-Brent said he now suffers with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder – and says he is subjected to discrimination whenever he uses a taxi.

He said: "I am a regular user of the Nottingham taxis, especially as a wheelchair user, it is not always easy to use a bus.

"There has been quite a lot of issues surrounding me as a wheelchair user and getting into a taxi. On an almost daily occurrence the first thing a taxi driver will comment on is my weight, saying that I’m too fat to ride in their cab."

"Me and my wheelchair weigh less than 300kg, the safe loading weight of the vehicle ramp. Another thing they say is that their ramps are not working or they forgot their ramps at home," he added.

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"They should not be on the road without their ramps and it is a criminal offence for this to happen. When they reluctantly to put a ramp down, they verbally abuse me."

Mr Jonstone-Brent said he goes on two taxi rides a day, five days a week on average. The student said he spends between £60 to £100 a week just on taxi journeys. He explained he uses green and black hackney taxis waiting at ranks across the city.

But he said that he gets "this sort of comments and discrimination" from some drivers at least three times a week. He added: "I just want for people to be more aware of it."

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Charlotte Throssel, the chief executive for the Disability Support charity in Nottingham, said: "I think this is mortifying for the young man and downright rude from the taxi drivers. Discrimination towards disabled people is on the rise in general.

"I think services should be reminded that not only is this discriminatory, rude and disgraceful but that they are losing money by refusing this gentleman. Their attention should be turned towards the “Purple Pound” and have a refresher course on the Equality Act."

Mr Jonstone-Brent explained he got so fed with the situation that he specifically reported the most recent incident he encountered to Taxi Licensing, a service run by Nottingham City Council. The local authority confirmed it was aware of the recent claim, and that the council had spoken with the driver of the taxi in question.

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A Nottingham City Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of Mr Jonston-Brent’s concerns and we have spoken to him directly and will be looking into this further. We have also spoken to the driver to remind him of the rules. All taxi drivers know that any discrimination against wheelchair users is unacceptable.

"All hackney cabs in Nottingham are London-style cabs with disability access and we expect private taxi operators to be responsible in offering disability accessible vehicles. Any formal complaints we receive will be fully investigated and could lead to prosecution and either revoking or suspending the drivers licence."

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