Ferry firm slammed for refusing blind man a disabled concession

Nick Whyton, who is blind but was refused a disabled concession on the Gosport Ferry as he does not use a wheelchair  
Picture: Ian Hargreaves (170333-1)
Nick Whyton, who is blind but was refused a disabled concession on the Gosport Ferry as he does not use a wheelchair Picture: Ian Hargreaves (170333-1)
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A FERRY company that refused to offer a disabled concession to a blind man has been forced to re-evaluate its policy.

Nick Whyton, from Fareham, has spoken out after he was told that disabled concessions on the Gosport Ferry only apply if somebody is in a wheelchair.

The 43-year-old, who is registered blind and uses a white cane, said he believes this policy to be discriminatory.

He said: ‘I went to the kiosk to purchase a ticket and asked for a disabled fare as a I have a registered disabled card from Hampshire County Council.

‘They turned around and said no, and I couldn’t believe it. When I asked why they said it was because I do not have a wheelchair.

‘I am disgusted by their attitude and I haven’t used the ferry since.

‘I think that as long as someone can prove they are registered disabled then they should be entitled to a concessionary fare.

‘Not all disabilities are visible.

‘I don’t know how they can get away with it.’

Nick, who lost his sight in one eye as a teenager and then the other eye four years ago, took his complaint to Losing My Sight magazine, a non-profit publication which is based in Portsmouth that campaigns for better rights for people who are blind or have a visual impairment.

Dave Taylor, editor, then got in touch with The News to get answers from the firm which runs the Gosport Ferry.

Speaking to The News, Clive Lane, general manager at the Gosport Ferry, said he would re-evaluate the policy following Nick’s complaint.

He said: ‘Our policy is now up for review. At the moment, disabled concessions apply to those in wheelchairs. We have in the last month been looking at this.

‘This is the first time we have had anybody bring up the issue of equality. We are now looking at what our stance should be. We do provide disabled access and facilities.’

However he warned that this review may see concessionary fares removed altogether.

He added: ‘Disability is high on our agenda but our main concerns is that the facilities are up to scratch.’

Dave welcomed the review.

He said: ‘We welcome the fact that Gosport Ferry are willing to look into their concession fare structure.

‘We always hope that not just Gosport Ferry but any company who provide a public service treat all disabled people on an equal basis despite their level of disability.’