Availability of Wheelchair Accessible Taxis/PHVs

Dick Fowler made this Freedom of Information request to North East Lincolnshire Council

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

The request was partially successful.

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE TAXIS/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLES (“WAVs”)-AVAILABILITY
This study is concerned with actual rather than notional availability of wheelchair accessible taxis and PHVs (“WAVs”). Individuals and some organisations can have great difficulty obtaining WAVs when and where required. As a generality, in rural/semi-rural areas or at schooltimes, on some evenings and on Sundays. This seeks to begin to clarify why this occurs and what does and does not work to improve the situation.
1. TAXI STATISTICS : How many a)wheelchair accessible taxis; b) other taxis c) wheelchair accessible phvs d) other phvs do you have licensed? This is to update the 2015 DfT statistics, the 2017 update is due shortly.
2. TAXI POLICY & PUBLIC SECTOR EQUALITY DUTY : FACTORS AFFECTING AVAILABILITY:
Typical factors affecting availability in a given licensing area are:
a) whether individual licensing authorities require a fully or substantially WAV fleet;
b) LA (eg SEN, schools, social care) and NHS (eg goods, staff ,NEPTS etc ) contracts;
c) not making all WAV operators booking/ contact details publically available;
d) operators refusal of prebookings;
e) operators refusal to carry wheelchairs;
f) drivers medical exemptions (wheelchair and assistance dog);
g) significantly more people relative to resident population eg commuters, tourists, passengers in transit;
h) private contracts, driver rest, vehicle repair and maintenance etc;
Please say if and how your taxi policy takes into account each of a)-h) above, or anything else relevant to try to ensure that sufficient WAVs are available to meet demand .*
3. CONTACT INFORMATION:*
To enable further research into accuracy, reliability, consistency and completeness of public and commercial information please provide a list/ spreadsheet/link etc showing the business contact details for all WAV operators with which your authority has dealings (eg as a Licensing Authority or contracting party including for Unitary Authorities, SEN, social services etc. In two-tier authorities please also state the contracting authority).
4. RAIL INDUSTRY : *
To obtain approval by the rail regulator, of their Disabled Persons Protection Policies (“DPPPs”) in order to meet the requirements of their operating licences, station and Train Operating Companies (“TOCs”) should know about WAV availability both for their own needs (rail disruption etc) and to inform passengers.
What arrangements if any have you made to inform them or to ensure that licensed WAV operators do so?
5. INFORMATION FOR TOURISTS , AIR/SEA/RAIL etc PASSENGERS IN TRANSIT ;*
Does your authorities information (including websites & social media) clearly tell the public:
a) the contact details for all WAVs licensed by your authority? If not, why not?; b)if and when WAVS are likely to be hard to obtain?;
c) that TAXI/PHV operators may charge extra etc to carry wheelchairs? (ie unless and until s167 is formally commenced).
6. COMPETITION.
Large authorities responsible for schools/SEN Transport can typically spend around £10m-£11m annually on taxis, including many WAVs .
Have you carried out or collaborated with any value for money studies on this? With what outcome?

Having discussed this matter with the ICO I wish to draw the following to your attention:
1. RE-USE OF INFORMATION PREVIOUSLY SUPPLIED
To minimise duplication I intend to re-use information on wheelchair accessible taxis/PHVs recently provided by your authority to Mr Doug Paulley in response to his Freedom of Information Request. This is for possible use by anyone interested in any way in disability and transport , including government, and is NOT for commercial gain.
2. *If providing the information in exactly the form requested is onerous, but is available in another easier to provide form (eg in a report or printed document) please say so as soon as possible.
Yours faithfully,
dick fowler

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Fowler

 

I am pleased to acknowledge your request for information, which has been
allocated the reference number NELC/6391/1718.

Your request has been passed to the relevant department for processing and
you can expect your response within the 20 working day limit. If it will
take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you, we will inform you
of this and provide you with the expected date for receiving a response.

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of
Information requests is available on our website at:

[1]https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council-infor....

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or
assistance quoting the reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

 

 

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Fowler

 

Thank you for your information request, reference number NELC/6391/1718. I
wish to confirm that North East Lincolnshire Council holds the following
information:

 

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE TAXIS/PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLES (“WAVs”)-AVAILABILITY
This study is concerned with actual rather than notional availability of
wheelchair accessible taxis and PHVs (“WAVs”). Individuals and some
organisations can have great difficulty obtaining WAVs when and where
required. As a generality, in rural/semi-rural areas or at schooltimes, on
some evenings and on Sundays. This seeks to begin to clarify why this
occurs and what does and does not work to improve the situation.

 

1.            TAXI STATISTICS : How many a)wheelchair accessible taxis; b)
other taxis c) wheelchair accessible phvs d) other phvs do you have
licensed?

76 WAV’s This is to update the 2015 DfT statistics.

 

2. TAXI POLICY & PUBLIC SECTOR EQUALITY DUTY : FACTORS AFFECTING
AVAILABILITY:

Typical factors affecting availability in a given licensing area are:

a)  whether individual licensing authorities require a fully or
substantially WAV fleet;

In North East Lincolnshire Council we have a mixed fleet

 

b)     LA (eg SEN, schools, social care) and NHS (eg goods, staff ,NEPTS
etc ) contracts;

North East Lincolnshire Council does not hold this information.

 

c) not making all WAV operators booking/ contact details publically
available;

We have a list on our website:

[1]https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/licensing/tax... (its on
that page under licensed wheelchair accessible vehicles)

 

d) operators refusal of prebookings;

North East Lincolnshire Council have no evidence of this or complaints in
relation to this point.

 

e) operators refusal to carry wheelchairs;

No evidence or complaints that operators are refusing wheelchairs or our
recent independent Unmet Demand Survey which looked at this issue

 

f) drivers medical exemptions (wheelchair and assistance dog);

wheelchair exemptions =  52,   guide dog exemptions = 5

 

g) significantly more people relative to resident population eg commuters,
tourists, passengers in transit;

North East Lincolnshire do not hold any recorded information in order to
answer this question.

 

h) private contracts, driver rest, vehicle repair and maintenance etc;
Please say if and how your taxi policy takes into account each of a)-h)
above, or anything else relevant to try to ensure that sufficient WAVs are
available to meet demand .* 3. CONTACT INFORMATION:*

North East Lincolnshire Council do not hold any recorded information to
answer this question.

 

To enable further research into accuracy, reliability, consistency and
completeness of public and commercial information please provide a list/
spreadsheet/link etc showing the business contact details for all WAV
operators with which your authority has dealings (eg as a Licensing
Authority or contracting party including for Unitary Authorities, SEN,
social services etc. In two-tier authorities please also state the
contracting authority).

Education organise the school contracts within North East Lincolnshire
Council.  North East Lincolnshire Council’s  Licensing Section liaise with
them but they do not keep lists etc.

 

4. RAIL INDUSTRY :To obtain approval by the rail regulator, of their
Disabled Persons Protection Policies (“DPPPs”) in order to meet the
requirements of their operating licences, station and Train Operating
Companies (“TOCs”) should know about WAV availability both for their own
needs (rail disruption etc) and to inform passengers.

What arrangements if any have you made to inform them or to ensure that
licensed WAV operators do so?

North East Lincolnshire Council does not hold any recorded information in
order to answer your question.

 

5. INFORMATION FOR TOURISTS , AIR/SEA/RAIL etc PASSENGERS IN TRANSIT ;*
Does your authorities information (including websites & social media)
clearly tell the public:

 

a) the contact details for all WAVs licensed by your authority? If not,
why not?; 

Please see the information published on our website
[2]https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/licensing/tax... there is
PDF list available.

                                                        

b)if and when WAVS are likely to be hard to obtain?;

North East Lincolnshire Council do not provide this information

 

c)that TAXI/PHV operators may charge extra etc to carry wheelchairs? (ie
unless and until s167 is formally commenced).

North East Lincolnshire Council do not provide this information

 

6. COMPETITION.

Large authorities responsible for schools/SEN Transport can typically
spend around £10m-£11m annually on taxis, including many WAVs Have you
carried out or collaborated with any value for money studies on this? With
what outcome?

No

 

If you believe that your request for information has not been handled in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, you have the right to
request an internal review by the Council. Please be clear about which
elements of the Council’s response or handling of the request you are
unhappy with, and would like the Council to address during the internal
review process.  If following this you are still dissatisfied you may
contact the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you wish to request
an internal review, please contact me and I will make the necessary
arrangements.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

 

 

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of North East Lincolnshire Council's handling of my FOI request 'Availability of Wheelchair Accessible Taxis/PHVs'.

NORTH EAST LINCOLNSHIRE COUNCIL (NELC)
NELC /6391/1718
Please clarify your replies to my Questions 1, 2, 3 and 5
Q1 Statistics. NELCs reply says 76 WAV taxis. The 2017 DfT statistics say 60 WAV taxis (down from 90 in 2015) and 0 WAV PHVs . NELCs current online list in Excel format of WAV taxis shows 64 WAVs (of which 10 do not show phone numbers, and 3 of these 10 are licensed to the same person) . NELCs reply at Q5a said “pdf list available “ but the online list in pdf format on the same page shows 23 WAVs and this is believed to be an old list.

Q2 This is about factors other than just numbers affecting WAV availability which you may or may not have considered in your taxi/phv policy or as part of your Public Sector Equality Duties (PSED). I have read the 2015 Total Transport Workshop notes and the 2016 Taxi Study by TAS. The latter used the figure of 90 WAVs and a range of comparators and, broadly recommended no change.
NELCs taxi policies appear to cap numbers at 220 except for 10 new WAVs, though in 2012 non-accessible replacement taxis were allowed. DfT Statistics show 230 taxis in 2017.
NELC has a high number Wheelchair Medical Exemptions (52) which is one of the highest in the country at present. Also the 2015 TT workshop (when 90 WAVs were licensed) noted “ Shortage of accessible taxis at peak time. But NELC is largest single purchaser [presumably SEN, Social Services etc] as well as responsible for licensing…….”
Please help me to reconcile this. With 52 medical exemptions and 60-76 WAVs , who is driving the WAVs for NELC Contracts* ? At least one WAV belonging to Links Cabs of Grimsby is contracted to Lincolnshire County Council. Presumably nobody will seek a wheelchair medical exemption unless they are going to drive a WAV and there are only 27 drivers more than taxis + phvs (DfT 2017).
* NELC CONTRACTS. To this part of Q3 NELC replied “ Education organise school contracts within NELC . NELCs Licensing Section liiase with them but do not keep lists. “
My FOI request said “ please provide a list/ spreadsheet/link etc showing the business contact details for all WAV operators with which your authority has dealings (eg as a Licensing Authority or contracting party including for Unitary Authorities, SEN, social services etc. In two-tier authorities please also state the contracting authority).
NELC is a Unitary Authority and my request was made to NELC, not just the licensing department. This does not require a separate FOI request. Please ask the Education Dept /Social Services etc to supply the information on WAV contracts.

Q3 Contact information. Apart from reconciling WAV numbers , 10 of the 64 WAV s on NELCs online list have no contact details shown. When I obtained a previous list 3 years ago I was told that only those who had given consent included phone numbers.
This question is about WAV Taxi/PHV business contact information which you hold. Whether this business contact information is made public is addressed separately at question 5a. I examined NELCs taxi/phv related application forms which require personal and business names and contact phone numbers , so there is little doubt that NELC hold most of the information requested.

I discussed this with the Information Commissioners Office .What is required please is to state whether the information regarding the WAVs is held or not, then either supply the information and/or state whether you are refusing to supply a) some of it or b) all of it , and on what specific exemptions you are relying.

Some LAs withhold contact information citing the Data Protection Act , or more specifically, s40 DPA , the personal data exemption. However, the basis for this is somewhat confused. Some LAs appear to be withholding information where the data subject is not a named individual but an employee of a business, or is working under a business name. For example, 3 WAVs without phone numbers on NELCs WAV list are licensed by the same person, and this is generally an indicator that the vehicles would be identified by a business name (eg Links Cabs) , not the personal name. A personal name could be omitted or redacted.

Please also bear in mind that most taxi and phv operators openly publicise contact details variously on vehicles, on business cards, on commercial lists or websites and on social media. A key part of my study is to compare contact information from LAs, which should be reliable and up to date, with commercial sources which often are not, with many defunct or wrong entries on commercial listings.

Q5c regarding s 167 . to this NELC replied “NELC do not provide this information” However it seems that NELCs website does mean that the authority have triggered s167 and made the duties clear and public. Please advise if this is incorrect .

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/a...

Yours faithfully,

Dick Fowler

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam 

 

I am pleased to acknowledge your correspondence and wish to confirm that
an Internal Review of the handling of your Information Request
NELC/6391/1718 is to take place.

 

The Internal Review has been passed to the relevant department for
processing and you can expect your response within the 20 working day
limit. If it will take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you,
we will inform you of this and provide you with the expected date for
receiving a response.

 

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of
Information requests is available on our website at:
[1]https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council-infor....

 

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or
assistance quoting the reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely

 

North East Lincolnshire Council

 

 

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Mr Fowler

Further to your request an Internal Review has taken place into North East
Lincolnshire Council's handling of your information
request NELC/6391/1718, concerning wheelchair accessible taxis.

I have reviewed the response provided to you and the handling of your
request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and find:

o That your request was responded to within the statutory time of 20
working days;
o That you were informed whether or not the information you asked for
was held by North East Lincolnshire Council;
o That you were provided with the information you asked for available
under the Freedom of Information Act; and
o That your response provided you with your rights of appeal. 

Although I am satisfied that the Council has acted in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act in the handling of your request it is evident
from further review that some further information could have been provided
to you as part of the original response. Please accept my apologies that
this information was omitted. This omission was not deliberate and I
believe was a result of the amount of information being requested and the
fact it crossed a number of different services.

Your queries are in bold below with further answers provided against each:

Q1 Statistics. NELCs reply says 76 WAV taxis. The 2017 DfT statistics say
60 WAV taxis (down from 90 in 2015) and 0 WAV PHVs . NELCs current online
list in Excel format of WAV taxis shows 64 WAVs (of which 10 do not show
phone numbers, and 3 of these 10 are licensed to the same person)

 

North East Lincolnshire Council statistics were correct at the time of
submission (76 WAV). The list is recommended in statutory guidance and the
details included have been selected on the basis of their usefulness to
passengers. There is no requirement to include a drivers telephone number,
but we have included one where this has been agreed with the driver. The
list on the web site is always changing and is updated quarterly. It is
subject to ongoing vehicle licence transfers and vehicles that may be off
the road. We are unable to comment on the DFT statistics you have quoted
as we are unaware of their origin.

With 52 medical exemptions and 60-76 WAVs , who is driving the WAVs for
NELC Contracts* ? At least one WAV belonging to Links Cabs of Grimsby is
contracted to Lincolnshire County Council. Presumably nobody will seek a
wheelchair medical exemption unless they are going to drive a WAV and
there are only 27 drivers more than taxis + phvs (DfT 2017).

North East Lincolnshire Councils Policy is that if a medical exemption is
issued any WAV can be replaced for a saloon type vehicle following
approvals. All names included are the owners of those vehicles – some
drivers have more than one vehicle

 

With regards to usage of WAVs for special needs home to school/college
transport, the education transport team currently procures 9 WAVs for this
purpose. We use the following contractors for WAV:

 

Links Taxis, 01472 353535

Coxons, 01472 361111

Wheelchair Friendly Taxi Service 01472 328166

Country Cabs, 01472 825010

 

Q3 Contact information. Apart from reconciling WAV numbers , 10 of the 64
WAV s on NELCs online list have no contact details shown. When I obtained
a previous list 3 years ago I was told that only those who had given
consent included phone numbers.

Prior to the statutory guidance we provided a list of WAV (PDF format)
with the drivers permission. When we implemented the procedures set out in
statutory guidance some drivers requested their personal telephone number
not being included. A refusal to allow any details to be included in the
list would be the subject of a formal appeal to the magistrates court. The
omission of a telephone number, that is not specifically required is not
considered to require such action.

Q5c regarding s 167 . to this NELC replied “NELC do not provide this
information” However it seems that NELCs website does mean that the
authority have triggered s167 and made the duties clear and public. Please
advise if this is incorrect

We have triggered S167 hence the list and notifying all drivers of their
responsibilities. As stated this was also in place prior to the statutory
guidance in order to assist disabled passengers

It should be highlighted that North East Lincolnshire Council is
pro-active in providing this information to the public and has been doing
so for some time. We are among the few authorities that do publish the
list and trust that this information is useful for members of the public
such as yourself.

I trust that this Internal Review answers your queries in relation to your
request, and clarifies that your request has been handled in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act. 

If you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of your request, or
the decision of the internal review you can request an independent review
by contacting the Information Commissioner's Office at Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

 

North East Lincolnshire Council

 

 

 

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