A DISABLED Horsell woman was refused a taxi ride home by the driver of a purpose-built cab outside Woking railway station.

Rachel Chambers, who has had multiple sclerosis for 25 years and has lost the use of her limbs, has had to use a wheelchair for the last 12. She had been out with a group of friends to So's Kitchen noodle bar, opposite the main station entrance, on July 11.

She said: "At about 11pm four of us went across to the station to get a taxi home. We approached a driver who had a disabled sticker on his black cab.

Rachel,  45, who owns the Ring-a-Roses florists in St Johns, said: "Four of us were heading back to Horsell but the driver refused to take me on the grounds that this wheelchair I am sitting in now is a 'scooter', which it clearly isn't. He said it was 'illegal to take an electric wheelchair'.

"I must point out that I have never ever had a problem with getting a taxi before, either in Woking or in London."

Her friend Angela Ellis said: "I was disgusted when I heard the driver refuse to take her and refuse to get out of his cab to try to get her in."

Rachel added: "I started feeling a bit angry and other people coming out of the station couldn't believe the driver wouldn't take me. He also refused to write down his name and number and, when I challenged him whether he could write, he said he couldn't. I wasn't abusive and didn't use any bad language.

"I can only conclude that he was just too lazy to get out of his taxi. We took pictures of his vehicle and number plate."

Proud of the slogan 'Access for All', the E7 hackney cab - the same model as the driver's - is jointly designed and manufactured by Peugeot and Cab Direct, purpose built for the taxi trade.

Their website says: 'Disabled people in particular often depend on taxis to get about, which is why the E7 raises standards in accessibility for disabled passengers. All E7s are fully wheelchair accessible'.

The other cabbies had gathered together outside their vehicles and, it would seem, had decided to close ranks.

Rachel, who lives in Horsell with her husband Adam, said: "We then asked several other drivers able to take wheelchairs and they, too, all refused to take me.

"It was very intimidating and I was just thankful I wasn't on my own.

Angela added: "We were so upset we went to Woking police station and reported this.

"Had my friend been by herself, she would not have been able to get home. This is a disgrace, given that the country is promoting the Paralympics and our non-prejudice towards the disabled community."

Rachel said: "Woking Police Station closed at 10pm, so Angela's husband Justin used the telephone next to it to report the incident.

"The police weren't able to do anything because the driver didn't actually use the word 'disabled' when he refused to take me, which would have been discrimination - just that he refused to take me in the wheelchair - so it isn't deemed a criminal offence.

"The police were helpful enough to give us another cab number. Funny thing is, the taxi that arrived happened to be the same make and model as the one the other driver had refused to take me in. Of course he took me home no problem.

"We have put in a formal complaint to Woking Borough Council and I am very pleased that the police have given the incident a crime number and contacted the council, who are looking into it.

"I don't suppose I'll be able to get another cab from the station now."