A GROUP of disabled people is taking a North-East bus company to court over allegations of discrimination.

Darlington Association on Disability (Dad) has hired lawyers after three of its members complained of several incidents of discrimination by Arriva North- East.

The allegations include:

• Buses not stopping for passengers with wheelchairs;
• Wheelchair users being refused access because there are already pushchairs on board; and
• Verbal abuse when disabled people tried to board or alight from the bus.

Dad has now enlisted disability discrimination specialists Unity Law to handle the case.

Ann Dodsworth, 60, from Darlington, is one of the claimants.

She said she has contacted Arriva on numerous occasions after treatment at the hands of drivers left her feeling humiliated.

On one occasion, her carer had to lower the ramp to let her on a bus after the driver refused to get out of his seat, she said.

Another time, she claimed she was not allowed on a bus because she was told she was too heavy to use the ramp.

Mrs Dodsworth, who has multiple sclerosis and has been in a wheelchair since 2002, said: “Some of the drivers are absolutely brilliant, but when you get a bad one, he’s very bad.

“You can tell by the face, he’s thinking, ‘Oh God, what have I got here?’ “It’s complete humiliation.”

Gordon Pybus, the chairman of Dad, claimed that nothing had been done by Arriva, despite issues being raised about the company’s treatment of disabled passengers on several occasions.

He said: “We’re at the point now that, with no action forthcoming from Arriva, and with the growing number of complaints coming our way, we felt we had to take this to the next level.”

Chris Fry, managing partner at Sheffield-based Unity Law, said that, under the 2010 Equality Act, companies should have due regard for equality issues.

He said: “What that means is they have to implement adjustments which ensure disabled people are not treated less favourably as a result of their disability.

“What we want out of this is a positive change. We’re hoping that systems will be improved and training will be provided to bus drivers.”

A spokesman for Arriva said: “We are satisfied that we comply with the current guidelines with regard to the Disability Discrimination Act.

“We will, of course, continue to investigate any individual concerns and deal with them in the appropriate manner.”

Anyone who has experienced similar problems can contact Dad on 01325-489999, text 07624-818780 or email equalaccess@darling tondisability.org