Taxi driver told to remove Santa beard over health and safety fears
A taxi driver has criticised council officials after they banned him from wearing a Santa beard over health and safety fears.
Brian Makwana, 37, has been dressing up as Father Christmas to spread festive cheer for his customers in Grantham, Lincolnshire.
But the South Kesteven District Council licensing team have now ordered him to remove his fake white beard “for the safety of the public”.
The ruling came after a passenger complained to the council, saying they were unable to identify Brian because the beard covered his features.
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Brian – who celebrates his 38th birthday on Christmas Day – was told the rules stated his face must match his official ID badge.
He said he would be forced to scrap his 'Santa Taxi' which he had planned to drive around town until the new year.
Dad-of-three Brian said: “Without the full costume it just doesn’t have the same effect.
“I get waves from members of the public on the street and in cars, both young and old.
“But since I’m not wearing my beard, I get nothing as they just think it’s a person wearing a Santa hat.
“After all it was council and government advice about wearing a mask and this was deemed acceptable so what is the difference, as you can see my eyes and the side of my face?
“I just think it’s very petty and short-sighted of the council.
“Furthermore, the size of my photo on my badge which hangs around my neck whilst driving is only visible should a customer lean in closely or request to see it, which has never happened.”
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In a bid to get around the beard ban, Brian coloured his normal beard with white hair spray, but he says it “flakes badly and doesn’t last very long”.
Brian, who works for CB Taxis, says he’s still “determined to continue to put a smile on people’s faces”.
He added: “It makes me feel that some people need more Christmas cheer to help them because they are feeling so bad or low to have to complain about something like this.”
South Kesteven District Council said it is not its “intention to spoil the festivities” but the “safety of the public must always be the key priority”.
A spokesperson said: “The photo on a driver’s identification badge gives passengers reassurance, if needed.
“Therefore, we ask that any item of clothing that makes it difficult to identify a driver, must not be worn.”