Female-only taxi service dismissed as sexist by Glasgow City licensing chiefs

Margo Welsh's proposal for a female-only taxi service has been turned down by Glasgow City Council.
Margo Welsh's proposal for a female-only taxi service has been turned down by Glasgow City Council.

A women-only taxi app designed to make female passengers feel safe has been thwarted by licensing chiefs for excluding men.

Glasgow City Council threw out Margo Welsh’s proposal to start Rosy and Pink Cars, offering female drivers to female passengers and their children.

It was an idea she came up with after seeing “the amount of sex attacks in this day and age”.

But councillors dismissed her plan as “sexism” against men.

Now, the committee has been branded “inappropriate” by her lawyer.

“There’s definitely a need for this,” said Ms Welsh. “Loads of taxi companies are predominately male. It’s another option for women.”

She added: “I spoke to my family who said do you want to be driving men around at night? I wanted to be taking grannies to bingo and kids to school, rather than a stag do.”

But licensing convener Alex Wilson said: “If it was the other way round we would be looking at discrimination against females.

“The whole not picking up male passengers is a concern to me. I don’t think we should discriminate at all.”

Councillor Robert Connelly added: “It is essentially sexism towards males. It doesn’t sit right with me.”

Ms Welsh, who has vowed she won’t give up on her plan, was denied the opportunity to use her tenement flat as a booking office.

She said: “I was a wee bit intimidated, I felt they were laughing, that my idea was ludicrous. To say men are being discriminated against, I just don’t feel that.

“I’ve spoken to beauticians, women in supermarkets, even firemen. One said if his daughter is going to a nightclub he’d rather it was a female driver.”

Councillors criticised Ms Welsh for securing a private hire car licence herself, only not to use it or hand it back as required.

Bailie John Kane said: “You’ve not even bothered reading your terms and conditions.”

Ms Welsh admitted that was an “oversight”, when she couldn’t afford the insurance.

The committee questioned why male children could only use the service up to the age of 11. They also said driver conditions mean no passengers should be refused a journey, apart from in certain circumstances such as when they’re too drunk.

“There had to be a cut off point,” Ms Welsh said. “I’ve got a son and when they get to high school age they can be boisterous. It was for the safety of drivers.”

Her lawyer Stephen McCaffrey said he disputed conditions would be breached by the app, adding councillors disliked the concept itself.

“I have appeared before many committees over the last ten years throughout the UK. The hearing this morning was the most hostile and dismissive I have ever been before.

“I accept that there may well be concerns about discrimination given it is female only app but felt the manner in which that was voiced and expressed was unprofessional and entirely inappropriate to say the least.”

A Council spokesman said the committee were not satisfied how “the service would be managed to avoid it being considered discriminatory”.

He added: “It is a standard practice for licensing applications to be scrutinised and robustly questioned by committee members, particularly if there are concerns.”