Brighton and Hove cabbies urged to improve service for wheelchair users

Posted On 14 Feb 2011 at 4:45 am

Cabbies are to be asked to provide a better service for disabled people across Brighton and Hove.

Many drivers have already voluntarily bought taxis capable of carrying wheelchairs and they have been praised for doing so by councillors and disability campaigners.

But members of Brighton and Hove City Council Licensing Committee have decided to strengthen the council’s policies in the area.

The committee agreed to keep a list of “designated wheelchair accessible vehicles”.

Keeping the list is likely to bring more taxi and private hire drivers within the scope of the Equality Act 2010.

Those on the list will have to

  • carry passengers who use a wheelchair
  • not charge extra for doing so
  • carry their wheelchair if the passenger chooses to sit in a passenger seat
  • take steps to ensure wheelchair-using passengers are carried safely and comfortably
  • give reasonable help to those passengers getting in and out of a taxi

Cabbies can be exempted from the duty to help passengers in wheelchairs either on medical grounds or if the driver is simply not physically fit enough.

The committee was told that the Get Involved Group based at the Federation of Disabled People had been consulted by the council.

A report to the committee said: “It is clear that disabled people, in particular wheelchair users, support the introduction of a list of all designated wheelchair accessible vehicles as a matter of urgency.”

The changes are expected to benefit not just wheelchair users who live in Brighton and Hove but also visitors to the area.

The taxi trade carries thousands of tourists and people attending conferences every year.

One taxi driver said: “A growing number of drivers do understand the benefits of having a wheelchair-friendly cab, especially as we have more older passengers now and a lot of them are getting less mobile too.

“They’re not cheap, and more and more of us have to have them as a condition of our licence.

“I can’t pretend we like having lots of rules and conditions and they do seem to keep changing.

“But some of us do actually buy them because it’s a good thing to do, being able to take pretty much any passenger, including those in a chair.

“I think most of us know this is the way forward for the trade.”

  1. Valerie Paynter, saveHOVE Reply

    WRONG!

    TOSH, TWADDLE AND PC BUNKUM GONE HAYWIRE!

    The majority of taxi drivers would not agree with this specimen taxi driver and quote. Indeed, I am told that the sale value of an existing saloon car hackney carriage has collapsed to about £16,000 from £30-40,000 a year ago because of the fact that new hackney carriage licences for the new owners have to be for wheel-chair carrying vehicles – this is what the taxi drivers are telling me.

    One serving councillor and a colleague of his both sold their hackney carriage saloon cars while they could get a decent price for them
    before the licensing nightmare took hold.

    Last year some taxi drivers gave regular passengers who always need a saloon car forms to fill in to try to demonstrate how wide and important the elderly and disabled need for saloon cars is.

    I am one such. I have not been able to climb up into a London taxi or people carrier without hazard for some years now. Lately not at all. Knees, spine, muscular issues and various non-wheelchair disabilities all mean a need for a SALOON CAR.

    One lady I know with a wheelchair and a car to wheel it onto and drive herself (with a dog helper)can, with massive effort, two crutches and her helper dog, walk down a path to a taxi.Like me, she only USES SALOON CARS and she does not support this insane wish to make all taxis into wheelchair carriers.

    Both of us fear losing saloon car taxis to this PC cruelty of aspiring to make all taxis into wheelchair carriers.

    It is stupid, cruel and disenfranchising to promote these vehicles when the majority of elderly and disabled people ACTUALLY REQUIRE A SALOON CAR. The number of people needing to drive a wheelchair into a taxi is very small compared to the rest of us.

    I resent and have no respect for the Federation for the Disabled and its narrow and PC attitude promoting the interest of a niche area of disability (wheelchairs) at the expense of all other kinds of mobility needs.

    Indeed, with mobility scooters, battery operated wheelchairs, electric wheelchairs that can take their passengers out for several hours of travel, the PC message from zealots has skewed the truth about what is truly needed.

    At the weekend I raised an e-petition for the council website on this very issue which I hope the council will accept and upload shortly.

  2. Valerie Paynter, saveHOVE Reply

    You take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink! My friend with her own wheelchair accessible car cannot always use it to get to where she is going because of embarking and disembarking parking problems so she takes a taxi in those circumstances.

    She uses saloon car taxis because of the difficulty of getting wheelchair accessible taxis to actually pick up a job that involves taking people like her in their tank-mobiles. The day will come when her legs will no longer allow use of saloons, then what?

    Nurses in hospitals will no longer physically help a patient to sit up in bed. They use a hoist for the simplest thing. Why would a taxi driver take a risk that a nurse would not? Tell me that? It is a major problem.

    This move from the council “to bring more taxi and private hire drivers within the scope of the Equality Act 2010” will, instead, REMOVE TAXIS FROM OUR STREETS !!!!!!!!!!!!

    Think again. Coercion of cabbies will just make even more of them sell up.

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