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Devizes cabbie must quit driving
9:00am Friday 30th November 2012 in News
Devizes taxi driver Darren Jones is facing a bleak Christmas after Wiltshire Council said it is taking away his licence because of changes in the medical requirements.
Mr Jones, 41, has been driving cabs for Devizes Taxis for eight years and has never had an accident or a complaint made against his driving.
But, because Wiltshire Council have changed the medical requirements to hold a taxi licence, bringing them in line with drivers of heavy goods vehicles, he is facing losing his livelihood from next Wednesday, December 5.
The father-of-three from Melksham, whose family hails from Devizes, said: “I have had a lazy eye since I was a child. It just means that my sight is slightly blurred in my right eye and it can’t be compensated for with glasses.
“I handed in my new medical questionnaire in March and they told me that I was no longer safe to drive.
“But they are not taking away my licence until December 5, so how can I be safe to drive for nine months but not after a certain date?
“I looked on the DVLA website and it said these changes are guidelines and not the law.
“I have got a family relying on my wages. The Government is trying to get people off the dole and Wiltshire Council are putting them on it.
“Driving a taxi is something I love. I enjoy doing it. Wiltshire Council haven’t stopped me doing contract work with children or vulnerable people.”
Mr Jones has enlisted the help of his MP, Claire Perry, who has written to Jane Scott, the leader of Wiltshire Council, and she is awaiting a reply.
Mrs Perry said: “I understand the council’s reasoning and a full consultation on the change was carried out.
“But I find it hard to accept that Mr Jones is considered fit to drive on one day and then, due to a the implementation of a new policy, is no longer fit to do so.
“This does not seem like common sense and I will be asking Wiltshire Council if an exception can be made, on medical advice. Mr Jones has driven safely and successfully for years and his livelihood is at stake.”
Keith Humphries, Wiltshire Council cabinet member responsible for licensing, said: “I certainly sympathise with Mr Jones’ situation, however public safety must be paramount when we make these decisions.
“The policy was agreed by the council’s licensing committee more than two years ago in 2010 following a consultation which included all licensed taxi drivers in Wiltshire.
“Most councils use the same medical criteria as we do, which is recommended by the Department for Transport, and I am confident we are doing everything we can to balance the interests of both the public and the taxi drivers.
“Anyone who is refused a licence has a right of appeal to the magistrates court within 21 days.”