TAXI drivers in Leamington are putting students’ safety at risk by illegally refusing to take people short distances.
A survey by the University of Warwick Students’ Union (WSU) revealed more than half of the 500 people questioned had been refused lifts by drivers because they wanted longer more profitable fares.
WSU development officer Rob Ankcorn said: “These shocking results reveal that some taxis are regularly breaking the law. By refusing short journeys they are putting young people in danger.
“This is not just a problem for our students but for all young people in general. While we appreciate that not all taxi companies are to be tarnished with the same brush, we are working with the council to stamp out this unacceptable behaviour.”
There are around 6,000 students living in Leamington and 23,000 studying at Warwick University.
Many said they regularly had to walk home in the early hours of the morning after being refused lifts by taxi drivers.
And several female students have feared for their safety when being forced to walk home alone after not being able to get a lift late at night.
But the findings have not shocked one Leamington taxi firm, which did not want to be identified, which The Observer spoke to.
A spokeswoman for the firm said: “Drivers refusing to take people short distances is a real problem and legally we are not allowed to do it. Taxi drivers refuse to take people from the top of town to the bottom of town, especially from outside bars or nightclubs. They just don’t want to do the short distances when they don’t make a lot of money.”
Warwick District Council has promised to work with the students’ union and local taxi companies to put a stop to the illegal practice.
Council regulatory manager Marianne Rolf said: “We are extremely concerned with the results of the survey and do not condone the unfair practices described.
“When any practice is reported to Warwick District Council it is fully investigated and the appropriate action taken. Earlier this year we created a forum where the police, taxi companies and public work together to improve standards. We are working together to ensure these practices do not take place.”