Implementation of S167 lists of taxis - Previously A

Doug Paulley made this Freedom of Information request to Canterbury City Council as part of a batch sent to 107 authorities

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 successful.

Dear Canterbury City 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 two similar requests to you, one in April 2017 and one in November 2017. I am now requesting an update to assess the impact of implementing this legislation, 12 months after it was commenced. Please note: this request is not identical to my previous requests and in any case asks for updated information as of the time of sending the request. It is therefore not appropriate to respond simply "see previous answer" or "situation unchanged".

In response to my previous FOI request on similar matters in November 2017, you indicated that you had implemented a S167 list.

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 still 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 so, please provide information in response to the following questions 2a) to 2i):
2a) 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?

2b) 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?

2c) 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?

2d) 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?

2e) 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?

2f) 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.

2g) 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?

2h) 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?

2i) 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) 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."

3a) How many exemptions have you granted under S166 of the Equality Act 2010?

3b) 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?

3c) 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?

3d) Please provide a copy of your application form for driver exemption under S166.

3e) 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?

3f) How many appeals against refusal to issue S166 exemptions were successful?

4) 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?

Yours faithfully,

Doug Paulley

CCC FOI, Canterbury City Council

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Freedom of Information Team
Canterbury City Council

CCC FOISupport, Canterbury City Council

Reference:         6158

Title:                   Taxi licensing and the Equalities Act

 

Thank you for your freedom of information request.

 

Please see below for our response. 

If you are unhappy with the way your enquiry has been dealt with, you may
ask for an internal review by e-mailing [1][email address] or by
following the procedure set out on the council’s website. 

If you are still dissatisfied after an internal review, you may appeal to
the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow SK9
5AF.

Kind regards,

 

Emma

 

 

Freedom of Information Team

Canterbury City Council

 

 

Reference:         6158

Title:                     Taxi licensing and the Equalities Act

Date of reply:    08 May 2018

 

Summary:          

Request for information held in respect of accessible taxis policy

 

Question 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
charge them extra."

Do you still 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?

Our response:

Yes

 

Question 2

If so, please provide information in response to the following;

a.       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?

Our response:

Yes

b.      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?

Our response:

Our list is available on request; it is not published because it is a
living document it could be out of date within hours of publication.

·      Is it marked "designated for the purposes of Section 165 of the
Act"?

Our response:

Yes

·      Is the make and model of each vehicle listed? Is each vehicle
identified as a taxi or a private hire vehicle?

Our response:

Yes

·      Is the name of the operator of each vehicle given in the list?

Our response:

Yes

·      Have you made owners and drivers of vehicles on the list aware that
their vehicle has been listed?

Our response:

No, this will be done once the new software package allows us to do so

 

c.       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?

Our response:

No

d.      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?

Our response:

As per our response to the last FOI this is included in our Policy. We are
always encouraging drivers to obtain a wheelchair accessible vehicle

e.      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?

Our response:

As per our response to the last FOI this is included in our Policy.

f.        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."

How many such applications have been made to the Magistrates Court, and
how many have been successful?

Our response:

None

g.       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?

Our response:

None

h.      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?

Our response:

None that we are aware of

i.        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?

Our response:

Not applicable

 

Question 3

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."

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

Our response:

1

b.    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?

Our response:

Yes

c.     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?  

Our response:

No, each case will be assessed on its individual merits

d.    Please can you provide a copy of your application form for driver
exemption under S166?

Our response:

Not applicable

 

e.    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?

Our response:

None

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

Our response:

None

 

Question 4

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?

Our response:

No, we ensure that all vehicles can take a folded wheelchair

References

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