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

The request was successful.

Dear South Staffordshire District 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

External Email for Freedom Of Information, South Staffordshire District Council

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. Your email will be
forwarded to the relevant department(s) who will respond to you in due
course.

Dear South Staffordshire District Council,

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

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Doug Paulley

External Email for Freedom Of Information, South Staffordshire District Council

Good Afternoon Doug,

My apologies for the lack of a response, I have spoken with our licensing department, who are under the impression that a response has been sent to you.

I will look in to the records now to check and if I cannot locate a response I will request that another one is drafted as soon as possible.

Kind regards,

Kate Evans

s106 Compliance Officer/Legal Admin
Planning Enforcement and Community Safety
South Staffordshire Council

Tel: 01902696212

Have you visited our website? https://www.sstaffs.gov.uk

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Gerring, John, South Staffordshire District Council

 

 

John Gerring

Environmental Health Manager
Environmental Health & Licensing
South Staffordshire Council

Tel: 01902696211

Have you visited our website? [1]https://www.sstaffs.gov.uk

“Like us on [2]Facebook. Follow us on [3]Twitter”

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Gerring, John, South Staffordshire District Council

Dear Mr Paulley,

 

Please find below the answers to your FOI request. I apologise for the
delay in replying.

 

The specific answers to your questions are listed in relation to each
question below.

 

Whilst they are negative in terms of Section 167 we will be reviewing our
Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy later next year with a view to
adopting a new policy in April 2019 and we will reconsider this matter
during the review.

 

The authority at present have 132 vehicles licensed. The authority is
mainly a rural area covering 158 square miles (409 square KM) and is
attached to the Council areas of Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Cannock
Chase, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Dudley. South Staffs District Council
area does not provide the capacity for its licensed vehicle’s to provide
this particular service. The needs of the people in the area can be met
through Hackney Carriages/Private Hire vehicles from the neighbouring
areas (namely Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Cannock Chase, Wolverhampton,
Walsall and Dudley).

 

Yours sincerely

 

John Gerring

Environmental Health and Licensing Manager

 

 

Dear South Staffordshire District 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
[1]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? No

 

2) If you do now have such a list, please provide information in response
to the following questions 2a) to 2j): Not applicable.

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. We will reconsider the matter during the
review of our Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy during 2018 for
adoption in April 2019.

 

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. Not
applicable.

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? 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? If we receive such an application we
will seek the assessment from a suitably qualified person.

 

5d) Please provide a copy of your application form for driver exemption
under S166. If we have an enquiry for such an application we will seek the
appropriate information.

 

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.

 

5f) How many appeals against refusal to issue S166 exemptions were
successful? There have been no appeals.

 

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.

 

Thank you

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Doug Paulley

 

 

John Gerring

Environmental Health Manager
Environmental Health & Licensing
South Staffordshire Council

Tel: 01902696211

Have you visited our website? [2]https://www.sstaffs.gov.uk

“Like us on [3]Facebook. Follow us on [4]Twitter”

We are committed to becoming a customer focused organisation and would
like your feedback on the service our teams provide. Please spare 5
minutes to complete our online survey

[5]http://www.sstaffs.gov.uk/images/lphsurv...

This transmission is confidential and may be privileged.
This transmission is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may
contain sensitive or protectively marked material up to RESTRICTED and
should be handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or
authorised to receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or
disclose it to anyone else. If you have received this transmission in
error please contact the sender at:  [6][email address]

All GCSX traffic may be subject to recording and/or monitoring in
accordance with relevant legislation.

In the interest of sustainability think about your use of energy and
paper, please do not print this message unless absolutely necessary.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy...
2. https://www.sstaffs.gov.uk/
https://www.sstaffs.gov.uk/
3. https://www.facebook.com/pages/South-Sta...
4. https://twitter.com/south_staffs
5. http://www.sstaffs.gov.uk/lphsurvey
6. mailto:[email address]

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