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

The request was successful.

Dear Wirral 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

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Paulley

 

Thank you for your recent Freedom of Information enquiry.  Please see
Wirral Council’s response below.

 

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?

 

In response to your enquiry, Wirral Council can advise that all hackney
carriage vehicles licensed in Wirral are wheelchair accessible. There is
no similar requirement for private hire vehicles. Details of all vehicles
are still available on the public register at
[1]http://licensing.wirral.gov.uk/MVM/Onlin....
This public register was available when a similar request was made by
yourself in April 2017, as advised in our previous response to you.

 

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? The public register has been live
for a number of years.

 

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 not currently the definition used.

 

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 public register is not marked “designated for the purposes of
Section 165 of the Act”. The public register includes the make and model
of every hackney carriage vehicle. The name of the operator is not
relevant as private hire vehicles are not required by Wirral Council to be
wheelchair compliant. Licence holders are aware that a public register
exists of licensed vehicles.

 

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? No.

 

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? All licensed drivers have undertaken a vocationally related
qualification (VRQ) which includes a module relating to the carriage of
wheelchairs and users.

 

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? This question is
unclear – if it relates to conditions attached to licences there is
nothing specific in relation to when meters can and cannot be left
running.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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? Information not
held.

 

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? N/A

 

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

 

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. N/A

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. N/A

 

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? 34

 

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? A letter or medical is
required from a GP or other relevant medical professional before an
exemption is granted.

 

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. We do not have an application form – the request is usually
made in person and is only granted on production of a signed letter or
medical from a GP or other medical professional.

 

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? N/A

 

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.

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Lynette Paterson

Senior Information Management Officer

Business Services - Digital

 

Treasury Building

Argyle Street
Birkenhead
Wirral
CH41 1AH

 

[2]Tel: 0151 691 8201

[3][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

 

[4]LGC Awards15_Winner_MIP

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. http://licensing.wirral.gov.uk/MVM/Onlin...
2. file:///tmp/Tel:0151
3. mailto:[Wirral Borough Council request email]

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'S167 List of Accessible Taxis: update after 6 months - D previously undecided'.

The fact that all of your taxis are accessible and there's a public register is irrelevant to my request and does not provide the information I am requesting. I don't care about your public register, I am asking about a S167 list. Please stop going on about your register, as you indeed did in April 2017, and provide me with the information I actually requested, about your power to produce a S167 list and thus put drivers under the obligations under S165 of the Equality Act.

Try again: your response to my FOI request was not any good in that it provided different information to that I requested and did not provide the information I actually requested.

Perhaps read the statutory guidance first to educate yourself as to what a S167 list is and does, then perhaps you will accept this is entirely different from your public register and that your public register is thus irrelevant to my request.

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

Yours faithfully,

Doug Paulley

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Paulley

 

I write further to your email of 7 December 2017 expressing
dissatisfaction with Wirral Councils’ response to your original Freedom of
Information request of 4 November 2017.  Your email has been treated as a
request for an internal review and has been forwarded to me for
consideration and response.

 

In doing so I have considered the scope of your original request and the
Council’s initial response, together with the points raised in your email
of 7 December 2017.  Upon review, it is my decision to substitute the
following response to your enquiry.

 

Wirral Council has not published a designated list of wheelchair
accessible taxis and PHVs in accordance with Section 167 of the Equality
Act 2010.

 

As a result, the remainder of your questions are either not applicable or
have already been answered in our previous response dated 22 November
2017.  If you remain unhappy with the Council’s handling of your request
for an internal review, you may complain directly to the Information
Commissioner at [1]https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management Officer

Business Services - Digital

Treasury Building

Cleveland Street
Birkenhead
Wirral
CH41 1AH

[2]Tel:0151 691 8397

[3][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

 

[4]LGC Awards15_Winner_MIP

 

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   You are free
to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.
If you have received this email in error please notify the system manager.

References

Visible links
1. https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/
2. file:///tmp/Tel:0151
3. mailto:[Wirral Borough Council request email]

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

I have requested that the ICO conduct a S50 assessment of your handling of this request, in the following terms.

"Dear ICO,

Please conduct a S50 assessment of this request:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

They didn't provide all the information I requested, so I requested an
internal review. In response to the internal review request, they
(eventually) provided a little more information, but they have still
not responded to some elements of my request.

Today (9th January) they have said:

"Wirral Council has not published a designated list of wheelchair
accessible taxis and PHVs in accordance with Section 167 of the
Equality Act 2010."

But they have still not responded to these elements of my original
request:

> 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.

In their response to my requests for information specified in 3), 4a)
and 4b) they simply responded "N/A". But it clearly is applicable, is
a request for recorded information and I want that information.

I am fed up with this public body's dilatory and distracted "response"
to my FOI request, so please conduct a S50 assessment.

Thank you

Doug Paulley"

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Paulley

Thank you for your email of 9 January 2018.

We acknowledge that in the first response the letters 'N/A' were recorded erroneously against question 3, which should have stated:

"Wirral Council have not published a list of designated vehicles in accordance with section 167 and do not currently intend to produce such a list."

This response renders questions 4a and 4b not applicable (N/A).

We hope this now fully answers all of the questions raised in your FOI request.

Yours sincerely

Lynette Paterson
Senior Information Management Officer
Business Services - Digital

Treasury Building
Argyle Street
Birkenhead
Wirral
CH41 1AH

Tel: 0151 691 8201
[Wirral Borough Council request email]

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may involve licensing and the application of a charge

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify the system manager.

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