Severe lack of accessible taxis failing disabled people

© DC Thomson
Councillor Lois Speed — who is a mum and carer of two adults who are power wheelchair users — has experienced difficulties with travel and taxi access

A “quite shocking” shortage of accessible taxis in Angus has been described as “totally unacceptable”.

Just 14 of 187 taxis or private hire vehicles are wheelchair accessible with a “postcode lottery” of availability.

A consultation exercise will take place to review arrangements after councillors were told the lack of accessible vehicles is leading to “social isolation” and “loss of independence”.

There are five accessible vehicles in the Montrose/Brechin area; six in Forfar/Kirriemuir; two in Arbroath/Carnoustie and just one in Monifieth/Sidlaw.

“It certainly singles people out and it is totally unacceptable,” said Monifieth and Sidlaw Conservative councillor Craig Fotheringham.

“The severe shortages are quite shocking.”

Angus East and Lunan Independent councillor Lois Speed is a mother and carer for two adults who are power wheelchair users and have experienced difficulties with taxi access for years.

She said the Angus deficiency has resulted in disabled people missing hospital or doctor’s appointments.

“I really do think we do have a big problem in terms of accessible travel and transport within our burgh, within Angus and individually within the localities.

“Not being able to access transport the same as others has a huge impact on how the individual with the disability and those who care for the person manage their day to day life.

“I speak not only on behalf of my own family circle but having been a support worker and advocacy worker in Angus for a good number of years I have witnessed the many difficulties that many people with a disability or a health condition have travelling around so I believe I speak for those voices that don’t often get heard.

“It does result in social isolation and loss of independence.”

Ms Speed said disabled people are missing out on “crucial day to day things” most people take for granted.

She said Angus must become a “much fairer and accessible place for our people, especially those who are wheelchair users, so that they can contribute and access the same things as everyone else”.

The consultation exercise will determine whether there is an unmet need for wheelchair accessible vehicles in the county.

It will include disabled people; the taxi trade; disabled groups; and other agencies involved in the licensing of taxis and private hire vehicles.

Sidebar

The review follows sections 165 to 167 of the Equality Act 2010 being brought into force following a report which discussed the provision of taxi and private hire vehicles to people with disabilities.

Taxi and private hire vehicles are, it is identified within the report, vital in the assistance of providing transport to disabled people with mobility problems and other disabilities such as mental health problems, learning disabilities or autism.

The issues specified are that disabled people up and down the country regularly report being refused a taxi and being charged more for an accessible vehicle.

The conclusion of the House of Lords report was that section 165 and the remaining provisions of Part 12 of the Act should be brought into force forthwith.

Section 166 had already been commenced but was unable to be effective due to sections 165 and 167 having not been.

Sections 165 and 167 makes it a criminal offence for drivers of wheelchair accessible taxis and PHVs to refuse to help wheelchair users, or to charge them extra.

The only exception would be those drivers who held a medical exemption certificate.

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