S167 List of Accessible Taxis: update after 6 months - C no fixed previous date

Doug Paulley made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Bridgend County Borough Council as part of a batch sent to 54 authorities

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Bridgend County Borough Council,

I am writing this Freedom of Information Request in relation to your Council's compliance or otherwise with the Government's statutory guidance on implementation of S165-167 of the Equality Act, relating to taxi services for wheelchair users. All taxi licensing bodies are obliged under S167(6) to have "due regard" to the document "Access for wheelchair users to taxis and private hire vehicles: statutory guidance" at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy... . The questions I raise below should be interpreted as requests for recorded information under the Freedom of Information Act.

I have previously made a similar request to you in April 2017. 6+ months later, I am repeating the request with some variations. I am repeating because the Statutory Guidance states "We would expect these arrangements to take no more than a maximum of six months to put in place, following the commencement of these provisions" - "these provisions" having been commenced on 6th April.

In response to my previous FOI request on similar matters in April 2017, you indicated that you did not have a Section 167 list but were intending to create such a list, though you didn’t provide a date by which you hoped the list would be in place.

1) The Government guidance states: "Whilst LAs are under no specific legal obligation to maintain a list under section 167, the Government recommends strongly that they do so. Without such a list the requirements of section 165 of the Act do not apply, and drivers may continue to refuse the carriage of wheelchair users, fail to provide them with assistance, or to charge them extra."
Please can you indicate whether you have changed your position since April, such that you do now have a list of wheelchair accessible taxis under your powers set out in Section 167 of the Equality Act 2010, and/or a list of wheelchair accessible private hire vehicles?

2) If you do now have such a list, please provide information in response to the following questions 2a) to 2j):
2a) On what date was it put in place?
2b) The statutory guidance states "The Government therefore recommends that a vehicle should only be included in the authority’s (S167) list if it would be possible for the user of a “reference wheelchair” to enter, leave and travel in the passenger compartment in safety and reasonable comfort whilst seated in their wheelchair."
Is this the definition you have used for a taxi or PHV to be considered wheelchair accessible for the purposes of the list?

2c) The statutory guidance states: "Before drivers can be subject to the duties under section 165 of the Act, the LA must first publish their list of designated vehicles, and clearly mark it as ‘designated for the purposes of section 165 of the Act’. LAs should ensure that their designated lists are made easily available to passengers, and that vehicle owners and drivers are made aware. Lists should set out the details of the make and model of the vehicle, together with specifying whether the vehicle is a taxi or private hire vehicle, and stating the name of operator."
Have you published your list? Is it marked "designated for the purposes of Section 165 of the Act"? Is the make and model of each vehicle listed? Is each vehicle identified as a taxi or a private hire vehicle? Is the name of the operator of each vehicle given in the list? Have you made owners and drivers of vehicles on the list aware that their vehicle has been listed?

2d) The guidance states: "it would also be helpful to include information about the size and weight of wheelchair that can be accommodated, and whether wheelchairs that are larger than a “reference wheelchair” can be accommodated."
Does your list include information on each vehicle as to the size and weight of wheelchair that can be accommodated, and whether wheelchairs larger than a "reference wheelchair" can be accommodated?

2e) The guidance states: "We encourage LAs to provide drivers of taxis and PHVs who are not exempt from the duties with clear guidance on their duties with respect to the carriage of passengers in wheelchairs, either as part of existing driver-facing guidance, or as supplementary communication."
Have you provided non-exempt taxi/PHV drivers with such guidance?

2f) The guidance states: "We recommend that licensing authority rules for drivers are updated to make clear when a meter can and cannot be left running".
Have you updated such rules to make this clear?

2g) The guidance states: "Section 172 of the Act enables vehicle owners to appeal against the decision of a LA to include their vehicles on the designated list. That appeal should be made to the Magistrate’s Court, or in Scotland the sheriff, and must be made within 28 days of the vehicle in question being included on the LA’s published list."
Please tell me how many such applications have been made to the Magistrates Court, and how many have been successful.

2h) How many drivers has the authority prosecuted for discriminatory behaviour contrary to S165 of the Act? How many such prosecutions were successful? What were the sentences?

2i) How many drivers licensed by yourselves have been prosecuted by other people or bodies for failure to comply with S165 of the Act? How many such prosecutions were successful? What were the sentences?

2j) Where drivers have been prosecuted under S165 of the Act, thus affecting their standing as a "fit and proper person", what resultant disciplinary action have you taken in respect of their taxi or private hire vehicle drivers' licenses?

3) If you do not have a S167 list or lists now, please indicate if you still intend to produce such a list.

4) If you don't have a S167 list but do intend to produce one, please provide information in response to questions 4a) and 4b) below.
4a) Please indicate when you intend to have the list in place.
4b) Where you have already made relevant decisions, please indicate whether you intend to comply with the elements of the statutory guidance set out in 2b) to 2f) above.

5) Irrespective of whether you have created a list or not or indeed whether you intend to create such a list, since 2010 you have been obliged to process applications under Section 166 of the Equality Act for driver medical exemptions from the duty to transport and not discriminate against wheelchair users. The Guidance states; "the Act allows LAs to grant exemptions from the duties to individual drivers. These provisions are contained in section 166, and were commenced on 1st October 2010."

5a) How many exemptions have you granted under S166 of the Equality Act 2010?

5b) The guidance states: "We understand that some licensing authorities have already put in place procedures for accessing and exempting drivers, and as an absolute minimum, we think that the evidence provided should be in the form of a letter or report from a general practitioner."
Do you accept or require a letter or report from a GP to process applications for driver exemption under S166?

5c) The guidance states: "The Government’s view is that decisions on exemptions will be fairer and more objective if medical assessments are undertaken by professionals who have been specifically trained and who are independent of the applicant. We would recommend that independent medical assessors are used where a long-term exemption is to be issued, and that LAs use assessors who hold appropriate professional qualifications and who are not open to bias because of a personal or commercial connection to the applicant"
Have you appointed independent medical assessors to determine applications for medical exemption under S166?

5d) Please provide a copy of your application form for driver exemption under S166.

5e) The guidance states: "Section 172 of the Act enables drivers to appeal against the decision of a LA not to issue an exemption certificate. That appeal should be made to the Magistrate’s Court, or a sheriff in Scotland, and must be made within 28 days beginning with the date of the refusal."
How many appeals against refusal to issue S166 exemptions have been heard?

5f) How many appeals against refusal to issue S166 exemptions were successful?

6) The guidance states: "We would therefore recommend that LAs also publish a list of vehicles that are accessible to passengers in wheelchairs who are able to transfer from their wheelchair into a seat within the vehicle. It should be made clear however that this list of vehicles has not been published for the purposes of section 165 of the Act and drivers of those vehicles are therefore not subject to the legal duties to provide assistance."
Do you currently publish a list of vehicles that are accessible to passengers in wheelchairs who are able to transfer from their wheelchairs into a seat within the vehicle?

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Doug Paulley

foi, Bridgend County Borough Council

Dear Sir/Madam

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST X01-6941

We acknowledge your request for information received on 6 November 2017.

We are considering your request and you should receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, unless the information is exempt or we require additional time to consider whether disclosure is in the public interest in accordance with section 2 of the Freedom of Information Act.

We will try to supply information in electronic format by email, but if this is not possible we will let you know. If you have any special requirements e.g. language, audio, large print, etc. then please let us know.

The Act defines a number of exemptions which may prevent release of the information you have requested. Before we provide the information we will consider whether it is proper to release it and if any of the exemption categories do apply then the information will not be released. We will tell you if this is the case, and you will have a right of appeal.

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to release the information to you. We will tell you if this is the case.

You may have to pay a fee for this information. We will consider this and let you know. If so you will have to pay the fee before we process and release the information.

If you have any queries or concerns, then please contact me directly. You can find out more about the Act from the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioner’s Office – Wales
2nd Floor
Churchill House
Churchill Way
Cardiff
CF10 2HH
Telephone: 02920 678400 Fax: 02920 678399
Email: [email address]
Website: https://ico.org.uk/

Yours sincerely

Y Swyddfa Rhyddid Gwybodaeth | Freedom of Information Office
Gwasanaethau Gweithredol a Phartneriaethol | Operational and Partnership Services
Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Pen-Y-Bont ar Ogwr | Bridgend County Borough Council
Ffon / Phone: (01656) 643473
Ffacs / Fax: (01656) 657899

E-bost / E-Mail [Bridgend County Borough Council request email]
Gwefan / Website: www.bridgend.gov.uk

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg. Rhowch wybod i ni os mai Cymraeg yw eich dewis iaith.
We welcome correspondence in Welsh. Please let us know if your language choice is Welsh.

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Mae'r e-bost hwn ac unrhyw atodiadau a drosglwyddir gydag ef yn cynrychioli
safbwyntiau'r unigolyn a'i anfonodd (unigolion a'u hanfonodd) ac ni ddylid eu
hystyried fel safbwynt swyddogol Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr.
Mae'r cynnwys yn gyfrinachol ac wedi'i fwriadu ar gyfer y sawl y'i cyfeiriwyd ato
yn unig. Os ydych wedi ei dderbyn mewn camgymeriad, rhowch wybod i weinyddwr y
system ar (+44) 01656 642111.

Mae'r e-bost hwn ac unrhyw atodiadau wedi cael eu sganio gyda 'Mcafee' -
http://www.mcafee.com/
________________________________________________________________________

foi, Bridgend County Borough Council

Dear Mr Paulley,

 

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST X01- 6941

 

We refer to your email dated 6 November 2017 which contained a request for
information as set out in italics below.  Following consideration of your
request, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I respond
to each point as follows:

 

I am writing this Freedom of Information Request in relation to your
Council's compliance or otherwise with the Government's statutory guidance
on implementation of S165-167 of the Equality Act, relating to taxi
services for wheelchair users. All taxi licensing bodies are obliged under
S167(6) to have "due regard" to the document "Access for wheelchair users
to taxis and private hire vehicles

 

I have previously made a similar request to you in April 2017. 6+ months
later, I am repeating the request with some variations. I am repeating
because the Statutory Guidance states "We would expect these arrangements
to take no more than a maximum of six months to put in place, following
the commencement of these provisions" - "these provisions" having been
commenced on 6th April.

 

In response to my previous FOI request on similar matters in April 2017,
you indicated that you did not have a Section 167 list but were intending
to create such a list, though you didn’t provide a date by which you hoped
the list would be in place.

 

1) The Government guidance states: "Whilst LAs are under no specific legal
obligation to maintain a list under section 167, the Government recommends
strongly that they do so. Without such a list the requirements of section
165 of the Act do not apply, and drivers may continue to refuse the
carriage of wheelchair users, fail to provide them with assistance, or to
charge them extra."

Please can you indicate whether you have changed your position since
April, such that you do now have a list of wheelchair accessible taxis
under your powers set out in Section 167 of the Equality Act 2010, and/or
a list of wheelchair accessible private hire vehicles?

 

A draft list of both types of vehicle is in the process of being compiled
to be reported to the Licensing Committee.  A date has not been set but
will the report will be published at: [1]www.bridgend.gov.uk

 

2) If you do now have such a list, please provide information in response
to the following questions 2a) to 2j):

2a) On what date was it put in place? Not applicable

2b) The statutory guidance states "The Government therefore recommends
that a vehicle should only be included in the authority’s (S167) list if
it would be possible for the user of a “reference wheelchair” to enter,
leave and travel in the passenger compartment in safety and reasonable
comfort whilst seated in their wheelchair."

Is this the definition you have used for a taxi or PHV to be considered
wheelchair accessible for the purposes of the list?

 

This is the definition being used to compile the list.

 

2c) The statutory guidance states: "Before drivers can be subject to the
duties under section 165 of the Act, the LA must first publish their list
of designated vehicles, and clearly mark it as ‘designated for the
purposes of section 165 of the Act’. LAs should ensure that their
designated lists are made easily available to passengers, and that vehicle
owners and drivers are made aware.  Lists should set out the details of
the make and model of the vehicle, together with specifying whether the
vehicle is a taxi or private hire vehicle, and stating the name of
operator."

Have you published your list? Is it marked "designated for the purposes of
Section 165 of the Act"? Is the make and model of each vehicle listed? Is
each vehicle identified as a taxi or a private hire vehicle? Is the name
of the operator of each vehicle given in the list? Have you made owners
and drivers of vehicles on the list aware that their vehicle has been
listed?

 

The list has not been published and the final format is under
consideration.

 

2d) The guidance states: "it would also be helpful to include information
about the size and weight of wheelchair that can be accommodated, and
whether wheelchairs that are larger than a “reference wheelchair” can be
accommodated."

Does your list include information on each vehicle as to the size and
weight of wheelchair that can be accommodated, and whether wheelchairs
larger than a "reference wheelchair" can be accommodated?

 

See response to 2 b)

 

2e) The guidance states: "We encourage LAs to provide drivers of taxis and
PHVs who are not exempt from the duties with clear guidance on their
duties with respect to the carriage of passengers in wheelchairs, either
as part of existing driver-facing guidance, or as supplementary
communication."

Have you provided non-exempt taxi/PHV drivers with such guidance?

 

Yes but this will be refreshed when the list is published. 

 

2f) The guidance states: "We recommend that licensing authority rules for
drivers are updated to make clear when a meter can and cannot be left
running".

Have you updated such rules to make this clear?

 

There are no published rules of this description but guidance is given
during a pre-licensing course.

 

2g) The guidance states: "Section 172 of the Act enables vehicle owners to
appeal against the decision of a LA to include their vehicles on the
designated list. That appeal should be made to the Magistrate’s Court, or
in Scotland the sheriff, and must be made within 28 days of the vehicle in
question being included on the LA’s published list."

Please tell me how many such applications have been made to the
Magistrates Court, and how many have been successful.

 

Not applicable

 

2h) How many drivers has the authority prosecuted for discriminatory
behaviour contrary to S165 of the Act? How many such prosecutions were
successful? What were the sentences?

 

None. Not applicable.

 

2i) How many drivers licensed by yourselves have been prosecuted by other
people or bodies for failure to comply with S165 of the Act? How many such
prosecutions were successful? What were the sentences?

 

None. Not applicable.

 

2j) Where drivers have been prosecuted under S165 of the Act, thus
affecting their standing as a "fit and proper person", what resultant
disciplinary action have you taken in respect of their taxi or private
hire vehicle drivers' licenses?

 

None notified to the Council.

 

 

3) If you do not have a S167 list or lists now, please indicate if you
still intend to produce such a list.

 

Yes

 

4) If you don't have a S167 list but do intend to produce one, please
provide information in response to questions 4a) and 4b) below.

4a) Please indicate when you intend to have the list in place.

 

By March 2018

 

4b) Where you have already made relevant decisions, please indicate
whether you intend to comply with the elements of the statutory guidance
set out in 2b) to 2f) above.

 

Not applicable at present but see 2 b) above

 

5) Irrespective of whether you have created a list or not or indeed
whether you intend to create such a list, since 2010 you have been obliged
to process applications under Section 166 of the Equality Act for driver
medical exemptions from the duty to transport and not discriminate against
wheelchair users. The Guidance states; "the Act allows LAs to grant
exemptions from the duties to individual drivers. These provisions are
contained in section 166, and were commenced on 1st October 2010."

 

5a) How many exemptions have you granted under S166 of the Equality Act
2010?

 

None

 

5b) The guidance states: "We understand that some licensing authorities
have already put in place procedures for accessing and exempting drivers,
and as an absolute minimum, we think that the evidence provided should be
in the form of a letter or report from a general practitioner."

Do you accept or require a letter or report from a GP to process
applications for driver exemption under S166?

 

Yes

 

5c) The guidance states: "The Government’s view is that decisions on
exemptions will be fairer and more objective if medical assessments are
undertaken by professionals who have been specifically trained and who are
independent of the applicant. We would recommend that independent medical
assessors are used where a long-term exemption is to be issued, and that
LAs use assessors who hold appropriate professional qualifications and who
are not open to bias because of a personal or commercial connection to the
applicant"

Have you appointed independent medical assessors to determine applications
for medical exemption under S166?

 

No

 

5d) Please provide a copy of your application form for driver exemption
under S166.

 

The form is not yet published.

 

5e) The guidance states: "Section 172 of the Act enables drivers to appeal
against the decision of a LA not to issue an exemption certificate. That
appeal should be made to the Magistrate’s Court, or a sheriff in Scotland,
and must be made within 28 days beginning with the date of the refusal."

How many appeals against refusal to issue S166 exemptions have been heard?

 

Not applicable

 

 

5f) How many appeals against refusal to issue S166 exemptions were
successful?

 

Not applicable.

 

6) The guidance states: "We would therefore recommend that LAs also
publish a list of vehicles that are accessible to passengers in
wheelchairs who are able to transfer from their wheelchair into a seat
within the vehicle. It should be made clear however that this list of
vehicles has not been published for the purposes of section 165 of the Act
and drivers of those vehicles are therefore not subject to the legal
duties to provide assistance."

Do you currently publish a list of vehicles that are accessible to
passengers in wheelchairs who are able to transfer from their wheelchairs
into a seat within the vehicle?

 

No.

 

I hope this response satisfies your request. If you are dissatisfied with
the handling of the request, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 you
have the right to request a review of the Council’s response to your
request for information.  If you wish to request a review, please write
to:

 

Mr P A Jolley

Corporate Director, Operational and

Partnership Services and Monitoring Officer

Bridgend County Borough Council

Civic Offices,

Angel Street

Bridgend, CF31 4WB

 

within 28 days of the date of this letter.  If you remain dissatisfied
with the outcome of that review, you may seek further recourse by lodging
an appeal with the Information Commissioner at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office – Wales

2^nd Floor

Churchill House

Churchill Way

Cardiff

CF10 2HH

Tel:  02920 678400

Fax:  02920 678399

E:mail : [2][email address]

Website:  [3]www.ico.org.uk

 

Yours sincerely

--

Freedom of Information Office

Bridgend County Borough Council

Level 2, Civic Offices

Angel Street

Bridgend

CF31 4WB

Tel: 01656 643565

Email: [Bridgend County Borough Council request email]

 

 

 

 

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