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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 December, 2003, 15:37 GMT
Cabbies' Santa beards banned
Cabbie Tony Jones (picture courtesy of the Llanelli Star)
Cabbie Tony Jones (picture courtesy of the Llanelli Star)
A cabbie has been told he cannot dress up as Santa because he will not look like the photo on his ID badge.

Each Christmas, Tony Jones says he always dons a Father Christmas outfit - complete with white beard - because it cheers up his customers and the people he passes on the streets of Llanelli.

But Carmarthenshire County Council has ruled that he and other taxi drivers can only wear the red and white trousers and tunic - the beard and the hood are out.

The council made its decision as part of an effort to drive bogus taxi drivers off the roads in the run up to Christmas.

But Mr Jones thinks banning Santa is a step too far.

"When you go to Asda and Tesco for the shoppers, all the children are there and they are just over the moon to see Santa driving a taxi," Mr Jones said.

We are not trying to act like Scrooge
Carmarthenshire Council

"Rumours were going round the town that the council weren't willing for us to wear the outfit, so I phoned the council and they told me the beard can't be worn.

"I drive around in a legal car. It's got the stickers, the roof sign. I've got my photo badge. I can easily take my beard off if people are frightened.

"It would be nice to have the beard for Christmas. It's only the week before. The children are finishing school. It would be nice for them to see Santa in town."

Carmarthenshire Council said it did not take chances, especially at Christmas, when there were people masquerading as taxi drivers who do not have a licence.

Head of the council's public protection department Philip Davies said: "If Father Christmas applies to Carmarthenshire County Council for a taxi licence he will obviously be able to keep his beard.

"Unfortunately anyone who has not grown their own must appear as they do on their ID badge.

"We are not trying to act like Scrooge, and we certainly don't want to dampen the Christmas spirit or ingenuity of taxi drivers.

"But there is a very serious side to this and public safety must be a priority, especially when there is an attraction for children."

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