Wheelchair user claims he was left ‘stranded’ in Northampton when taxi drivers refused to take him home

Peter Ford, front row, centre, says he was left stranded in Northampton town centre at 4am on a Sunday morning, after two taxi drivers refused to take him home.
Peter Ford, front row, centre, says he was left stranded in Northampton town centre at 4am on a Sunday morning, after two taxi drivers refused to take him home.
  • Disabled Northampton man refused by two taxis
  • Borough council has vowed to investigate the incident
  • Cabs are not permitted to turn disabled passengers away

A Northampton wheelchair user says he was left stranded and at the point of tears when two Hackney Carriage taxi drivers refused to take him home in the early hours of the morning.

Former warehouse worker Peter Ford, who uses a motorised wheelchair, had been out for drinks with friends in Northampton town centre on a Saturday night.

I know I’m 42, but I’ll be honest I burst out crying, I was just so disgusted about the whole thing

Peter Ford

At around 4am in the morning of February 15, he flagged down a Hackney Carriage taxi on Mercers Row, by All Saints Church.

But Mr Ford claims the cab-driver told him he could not take him to his home in Kingsthorpe Hollow because his wheelchair was ‘too heavy’.

Minutes later Mr Ford tried again with a different taxi driver, and was told he could not get in his cab because the driver was ‘not qualified to take that kind of chair’.

Mr Ford, 42, said he was reduced to tears when both cabs drove off and left him effectively stranded in the early hours of the morning.

“I wasn’t particularly under the influence,” he said. “I wasn’t rude to either men, I’m not that sort of guy.

“It did really drag me down. I know I’m 42, but I’ll be honest I burst out crying, I was just so disgusted about the whole thing.

“It really hurts inside the fact they just refused to take me.”

Northampton Borough Council, which is the licensing authority for Hackney Carriages in the town, says it is now looking into the incident and will be checking CCTV footage around that time.

Two policemen saw Mr Ford by Mercers Row and gave him a taxi number to call.

He was eventually taken home by Tony O’Callaghan of the Fallow Walk-based Black Cab Company, a taxi driver of 29 years, who also drives a near identical Hackney Carriage to the two men who allegedly refused to take Mr Ford.

Grandfather of five, Mr O’Callaghan said: “When I pulled up he was absolutely in tears. But he was quite sober.

“The fact the drivers told him they couldn’t take him is absolute rubbish.

“We are all kitted out with ramps. If we haven’t got the facilities, then the vehicles are not allowed to be on the road, simple as that.”

Mr Ford, who was left paralysed from the waist down after an accident at work in 2008, said he was contemplating driving his motorised wheelchair all the way back to his home on the morning of February 15.

He said that would have been dangerous at that time of the morning, as there would be no one around to help him up if he were to hit a hole in the road and be thrown out of the chair.

He said he would have also been left vulnerable to robbery or assault due to his limited mobility.

A Northampton Borough Council spokesman said: “We will be carrying out a full and thorough investigation into this complaint, which will include examining any available CCTV footage and tracking down the two police officers who apparently assisted this gentleman.

“We are keeping Mr Ford updated on the progress of our investigation.”

Hackney Carriages must comply with the Disability Discrimination Act and be able to carry wheelchairs.

They are not permitted to turn passengers away on the grounds of disability.