Taxi fare rise: Councillor says ‘just drink less’

Norman Work, who is a part-time taxi driver as well as a councillor, has been criticised for his comment. Picture: Julie Bull
Norman Work, who is a part-time taxi driver as well as a councillor, has been criticised for his comment. Picture: Julie Bull
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A SENIOR SNP councillor has sparked outrage by suggesting that if women have one drink less when they’re out, that will pay for the increased price of their taxi home.

Councillor Norman Work found himself under fire after using Twitter to comment on concerns that the controversial proposed late-night levy on taxi fares between midnight and 5am would put women at risk.

Cllr Work – himself a part-time taxi driver – tweeted: “The prices pubs charge up town, one drink less easily 
covers £1.60 increase.”

But Lothians Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale said his attitude was “outrageous”. She has already warned that the levy – which would see late-night fares starting at £4.60 instead of £3 – will mean more women walking home on their own.

Ms Dugdale said: “It’s completely outrageous for an SNP councillor to say women should have one fewer drink so they can afford the taxi fare home. Women have the right to feel safe and if that means choosing to get a taxi home, they should not have to pay a high price for it.

“It’s not just alcohol that brings people into the city in the evenings.”

James McAsh, president of the Edinburgh University Students Association, also condemned Cllr Work’s comments.

He said: “Cllr Work is wildly out of touch if he thinks that £1.60 covers the cost of a drink in Edinburgh. But I’m more concerned with his dismissal of concerns about women’s safety. It is not women’s responsibility to not get attacked, nor should they be expected to bear whatever cost is necessary.”

Fourth-year Edinburgh University student Emma Meehan said: “This is not just about people getting drunk. There are a huge number of reasons people need to get taxis after midnight. A lot of women work at night. For many this is not a choice.

“This kind of comment reinforces a victim-blaming culture, which unfortunately we still see despite campaigns against it.”

Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish beer and Pub Association, said anything that made it more expensive or complicated for people to get home was not welcome.

On Cllr Work’s tweet, he said: “People tend to tweet without thinking. I’m sure there is more sensible advice to offer young women.”

We told yesterday how taxi chiefs have labelled late-night taxi fee hikes a rip-off. Their proposed introduction has also sparked a backlash from campaigners who fear they will force women to walk home,.

Cllr Work could not be reached for comment.

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Norman Work has been SNP councillor for Almond ward since 2007.

During the cold snap of January 2010, Cllr Work sparked fury by telling city residents to clear their frozen pavements themselves. He said residents should “stop expecting other people to do the work” – unless they are “90 years old”. As deputy health leader, he also came under fire in 2009 for telling care providers worried about a new pay cap that he “wouldn’t mind working for £12.65 an hour”.

Last year he became Scotland’s first “carers champion”, engaging with carers and being their voice in the City Chambers.