A TAXI driver who overcharged a wheelchair user has been suspended by licensing chiefs.

Bolton Council’s licensing and environmental regulation committee banned the hackney carriage driver from operating for five weeks.

Last week councillors considered a report by the authority’s director of place which set out allegations of misconduct against the driver, Pervez Sajid.

They heard the driver made his disabled passenger pay almost twice the fare his firm charged a relative travelling to the same venue — despite the journey only being “marginally longer”.

The complainant also told the licensing unit that the driver had failed to strap the wheelchair in place. This resulted in another passenger having to secure the chair by grabbing it whenever the vehicle turned a corner.

During an interview with the licensing unit, the Mr Sajid claimed he had mistakenly looked at the minibus fares, offered to pay the difference and insisted the wheelchair had been properly strapped in.

However the committee did not “fully accept the driver’s explanation of the circumstances” — partly on the grounds the he had “held a licence for many year and should have been experienced enough to know that it was a long fare for that journey.”

Minutes from the hearing, which was held in private, state: “Members of the public and in particular, the elderly, infirm and children or vulnerable adults entrust their personal safety and wellbeing to hackney carriage drivers whenever they take a journey.

“Passengers often travel alone and are vulnerable to inappropriate behaviour and dishonesty. The committee’s primary duty is of concern for the safety and wellbeing of the public.”

Mr Sajid pleaded guilty to the offence at the Bolton Magistrates Court in April. He received and a 12 month conditional discharge. He was also ordered to reimburse the customer and pay costs of £200. Under the Equality Act 2010 drivers are obliged to charge wheelchair users the same as other passengers.