S167 List of Accessible Taxis: update after 6 months - D previously undecided

The request was successful.

Dear Knowsley Metropolitan 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 and were currently undecided whether to create such a 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 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 now 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

Freedom of Information, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Paulley,

Thank you for your email received on 6 November 2017 requesting information about S167 list of accessible taxis.

I have recorded your request for information under reference F2017.11.4056.

This has been passed to the relevant service and you will receive a response by 4 December 2017.

In line with guidance published by the Information Commissioner’s Office, the council may make a charge for the provision of information – for example in order to cover the costs of postage (in line with the relevant postal charges) or charges for printing and copying (which will reflect photocopying charges levied by the council’s public libraries) or if this falls within the regulations of an EIR (Environmental Information).

You will be informed if a fee is to be applied before information is to be provided.

If you need further information please contact me.

Kind regards,

Freedom of Information
Knowsley MBC
Archway Road
Huyton
Knowsley
Merseyside
L36 9UX

Dear Freedom of Information,

What has happened to the response to my FOI request please? The 20 working day long-stop has passed.

Thank you

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

Freedom of Information, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Paulley,

Please accept my apologies for the delay. I have sent an urgent e-mail to the team and will contact your again shortly.

Once again, please accept my apologies for this delay.

Kind regards,

Freedom of Information
Knowsley MBC
Archway Road
Huyton
Knowsley
Merseyside
L36 9UX

show quoted sections

Freedom of Information, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Paulley

 

Freedom of Information request F2017-11-4056

 

Firstly I would like to apologise for the delay in responding to your
freedom of information request for information about Designated Vehicles. 
Please find detailed below our response to your request .

 

1)    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?

 

The Council’s position has changed in that it is now in the process of
finalising a list of wheelchair accessible vehicles which will be
accessible via the Council external website.  A draft list has been
prepared and is being verified and the owners of such vehicles are being
notified of their inclusion.  It is anticipated that this will go live in
the next few weeks.

 

1)            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?

 

             Please see the answer to question 1 above.

 

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?

 

YES

 

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? 

 

No- Please see the answer to 1 above.

 

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

 

Yes - The draft is and the final version is expected to be.

 

Is the make and model of each vehicle listed? 

 

YES.

 

Is each vehicle identified as a taxi or a private hire vehicle? 

 

YES.

 

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

 

Yes - The last known operator will be listed.

 

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

 

This is ongoing.

 

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?

 

The proposed list does not include this information as this is not
possible due to the restrictions of the current licensing system however
suitable methods are being investigated to enable this information to be
included.

 

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?

 

This is an ongoing process at present concurrent with informing the owners
that their vehicles are on the list.

 

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?

 

No not as yet but planned to do so via website guidance which is intended
to be a “live” document, updated as necessary.

 

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.

 

None to date so none 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?

 

None to date so none successful.

 

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 to date so none successful. It should perhaps be pointed out that
KMBC has for many years insisted that all Hackney Carriages are wheelchair
WAV and so drivers have long expected to have to cope with reference
wheelchair-using passengers at least.

 

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' licences?

 

None to date.  If this did happen then offenders would expect  to be
referred to a Chairperson’s Disciplinary Hearing process.

 

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

 

See answers to 2 above.

 

3)            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.

 

01 January 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.

 

See answers to 2 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 requested and none granted.

 

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?

 

Not as yet. Assessment to be done by GP with access to records at present.
This may change dependent on demand for exemptions in the future.

 

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

 

Attached

 

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?

 

None as no exemptions have been requested.

                                      

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

 

None as no exemptions have been requested.

 

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?

 

No.  Almost any KMBC Standard of licensed vehicle is capable of being used
in this way and so this guidance is not at present being put into effect.
Many local PH Operators are known to have a high proportion of such work
and currently no problems have been reported to us.

 

 

If you need further information please see contact details below.

 

Kind regards,

 

Freedom of Information

Knowsley MBC

Archway Road

Huyton

Knowsley

Merseyside

L36 9UX

 

 

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