12:38, July 17 56 0 theguardian.com

2018-07-17 12:38:03
Comedian 'humiliated' as guard disputes use of train's disabled space

A comedian has criticised Great Western Railway after she was left feeling “harassed and humiliated” for using a disabled space for her mobility scooter.

Tanyalee Davis, who has a form of dwarfism, said a guard on the UK train service threatened to call the police if she did not leave the space to make way for a woman with a pram.

In an incident that left GWR staff “collectively horrified”, the train guard also announced to passengers that Davis was causing problems that were delaying the train.

Davis, 47, who was born in Canada, and who tours throughout the world but mostly in the UK, was travelling from Plymouth to London on the 11am service on Sunday when the incident took place. The dispute was captured on film by her partner, Kevin Bolden, using his mobile phone.

Davis, who was returning from a comedy performance, was told to move from the unreserved space after a young mother asked to use it for a pram.

The 47-year-old, who lives in Norwich, said she felt “personally and publicly humiliated” after the guard threatened to call the police. “He made an announcement ... saying that it was ‘the woman with the mobility scooter’ that was causing problems and that the train would be delayed indefinitely,” she said.

She added: “It was humiliating and I cried for most of the journey home.”

In a video posted on YouTube after the journey, she said: “We got to the train station and there was no disabled carriage ... the platform man was really weird about putting me on anyway ... he said if a person with a wheelchair comes on then they will have priority over you. I thought I will deal with that when we come to it.”

She added: “About an hour into the journey a woman got on with a pram and ... the guard told me to fold up my scooter ... It would have been fine if another wheelchair user had booked the space but it was a baby [and] a pram. It was really frustrating.”

Davis said: “I am sick of having to deal with this all the time. Just because I use a mobility scooter it doesn’t make me a pariah, it doesn’t make me less disabled. I’m just trying to make a living, to make people laugh.”

Dan Panes, from GWR, said a team from the train company had watched Davis’s video and were “collectively horrified”.

“We got it wrong, it made no sense. A wheelchair space is a wheelchair space, it’s not for luggage or pushchairs,” he said, adding that Davis should not have been asked to move.

Panes said that an investigation was starting, although he did not say if any action would be taken against the train guard.

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