Taxi driver told to remove Santa beard over health and safety
A taxi driver has criticized council officials after they banned him from wearing a Santa Claus beard over health and safety concerns.
Brian Makwana, 37, has dressed up as Santa to bring some festive cheer to his customers in Grantham, Lincolnshire.
But South Kesteven District Council’s licensing team has now ordered him to remove his false white beard “for public safety”.
The ruling came after a passenger complained to the council, saying they couldn’t identify Brian because the beard covered his features.
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Brian – who is celebrating his 38th birthday on Christmas Day – was told the rules said his face had to match his official ID.
He said he will be forced to scrap the “Santa Taxi” he planned to drive around town in the New Year.
Dad-of-three Brian said: “It just doesn’t have the same impact without the full costume.
“I get waves from the public on the street and in cars, young and old.
“But since I don’t wear my beard, I don’t get anything because they just think it’s a person wearing a Santa hat.
“Eventually it was the Council and the Government to wear a mask and this was deemed acceptable. So what’s the difference since you can see my eyes and the side of my face?
“I just find it very petty and short-sighted of the Council.
“Also, the size of my photo on my badge, which I wear around my neck while driving, is only visible when a customer leans in close or asks to see it, which has never happened before.”
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To get around the beard ban, Brian dyed his regular beard with white hairspray, but he says it “flakes a lot and doesn’t last very long.”
Brian, who works for CB Taxis, says he remains “determined to keep putting smiles on people’s faces”.
He added, “I feel like some people need more Christmas cheer to help them because they’re feeling so bad or down to have to complain about something like this.”
South Kesteven Borough Council said it was not its “intent to spoil the celebrations” but “the safety of the public must always be a top priority”.
A spokesman said: “The photo on a driver’s license gives passengers security when they need it.
“Therefore, we ask that items of clothing that make it difficult to identify a driver may not be worn.”