Equality laws can work in unexpected ways. Not far north of Crewe is the (still) industrial centre of Warrington, where two enterprisingly minded women have set up a private members’ club to provide cabs for other women. Why? Because many women – understandably – find being in a cab driven by a man, especially late at night, and even more so when travelling alone, an unsettling experience. The club – called Pink Ladies – gives reassurance, and arguably gets more of the area’s female population out and about than would otherwise be the case.
So that’s alright, isn’t it? Apparently not. The local council has now decided to take the club to court, claiming that it is an unlicensed private hire company, as reported by the Guardian. The problem for Pink Ladies is that, if it were operated as a private hire company, it would then be unable to turn down male custom. It may also be unable to offer its members the reassurance of women only drivers.
I am usually supportive of local government, especially when it comes under fire from an uninformed tabloid press with its agenda to pursue. But on the face of it, this case gives the appearance of being a pointless waste of public money. Pink Ladies is set up as it is for one very good reason: to provide a service to its members that the rest of the taxi and private hire industry cannot.
It would be interesting to hear what the council concerned has to say in its defence. Also, it would give some reassurance if representatives of taxi and private hire operators in the area were to state unequivocally that they have no interest in the case.
I may be in for a long wait on both counts.