Disabled people not protected by new law for taxi users - The Leamington Observer

Disabled people not protected by new law for taxi users

Leamington Editorial 27th Aug, 2017   0

DISABLED people in Warwick district will not be protected by a new law ensuring equal treatment for wheelchair-bound taxi users.

A change in the equality act in April means taxi drivers face a fine of up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport wheelchair users or attempt to charge them extra.

But the law only applies to drivers registered on council lists of wheelchair accessible taxis, known as Section 167 lists.

To date, Warwick District Council has made no plans to introduce such a list, leaving wheelchair users in the district at risk of high fares and difficulty booking trips.

But a spokesperson for the council has confirmed it was looking at possibly introducing a list of designated wheelchair accessible taxis, and a report would shortly be going before licensing chiefs.

They also explained all new licence applications for hackney carriages in the district had to be for brand new, side-loading, wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Disability activist Doug Paulley and charity Muscular Dystrophy UK, which campaigns for disability rights, are calling on the government to make councils take their responsibilities seriously, and for all councils to set a deadline for creating a list.

Mr Paulley told The Observer: “It is disappointing that the government’s intent in bringing in this legislation is being undermined by the failure of many councils to undertake the required office work, meaning that taxi drivers can continue to discriminate against wheelchair users with impunity.”

Research by Muscular Dystrophy UK indicated that a quarter of disabled people had been refused service by a taxi driver, purely because they were disabled.

Nic Bungay, director of campaigns, care and information at Muscular Dystrophy UK, which lobbied for years for the law change, said: “Taxis are not a luxury for disabled people – they often represent the only way to get from A to B when public transport isn’t accessible.

“We need councils to implement lists now as per the government’s recommendations, and for the Department for Transport to promote the lists as a matter of urgency.”


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