Council killjoys ban taxi driver from having St George's Cross on cab
A TAXI taxi driver has been banned from having a St George's Cross sticker in her cab - because it could discriminate against foreigners.
Patriotic Denise Said, 56, has three English flag signs stuck on the doors and boot of her vehicle.
But after one complaint from a rival cab firm she was stunned to receive a letter from the council accusing her of breaching equality laws.
Teignbridge Council in Devon said the stickers would leave anyone who is not English at a "disadvantage in their day to day life".
The local authority says it will refuse to renew Denise's license in February unless she ditches the stickers.
But the veteran driver of Newton Abbott, Devon, has vowed to keep flying the flag and says there's nothing offensive about them.
Furious Denise said: "I think it's pathetic. I believe the council is implying that I am racist but nothing could be further from the truth.
"I've had a few foreign people in my cab and I've asked them if they find it offensive and they don't in the slightest. In fact, one told me 'your country has gone mad'.
"You only have to sneeze now for someone to find it offensive. I've asked a solicitor who says I'm not doing anything wrong.
"The upsetting thing is that I could lose my livelihood and my home if they take away my license." Denise has been displaying the St George's Crosses for a year without a single complaint before a rival reported her.
But when she rang Teignbridge Council to remonstrate about the ban she says she was told the stickers were denigrating and offensive to foreigners.
The stickers have the words 'Local Driver' on them which the council said was not acceptable.
Self-employed Denise, who was married to a half-Maltese man for 16 years, says the stickers on her Volkswagen Touran people carrier are not offending anyone.
The mum-of-one added: "You can gather from my name my ex husband was foreign.
"I was told it was the council's policy regarding equality. I do not think that displaying the words 'Local Driver' is upsetting anyone or is derogatory in any way.
"I am a local driver and have been driving in Newton Abbott for 16 years.
"I'm British, I'm a local driver - where is the problem? I don't discriminate against anyone who gets into my car.
"I've discussed it with my daughter and she's totally behind me. There's no way I'm backing down on this." The council said the authority's Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy contained restrictions on the signs and adverts allowed on taxis.
A spokesman said: "Adverts or signs that do not comply with our equality duties, or cause offence because words or signs carry a certain inference, breach this policy.
"In this instance the English flag sign combined with the words Local Driver could put other people who don't share either of those characteristics at a disadvantage in their day to day life.
"We always ensure we are providing fair services for all by complying with the Equality Act 2010 - legislation that is designed to protect all cultures in our society." Cllr Mark Walters, the council's spokesman for corporate services, confirmed a single complaint had been received.
He added: "In their view the message could be interpreted as discriminatory. We always look at complaints and as a responsible licensing authority we have a statutory duty to promote equality and ensure fairness for all.
"On this occasion we felt the complaint was reasonable."