S167 List of Accessible Taxis: update after 6 months - E previous no intent

The request was successful.

Dear East Hertfordshire 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 any Section 167 lists and did not at that time have any intent 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 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

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

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Dear [email address],

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

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

Thank you for your email.
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If you have submitted a new request under FOI, EIR or Data Protection Act:

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exempt or containing reference to a third party.

If your request is made as a Subject Access Request under the Data
Proetction Act, you will receive a response within 40 calendar days as
specified in the Act.

 

The Acts define a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of the
information you have requested.  There will be an assessment of your
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eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

Thank you for your request for information, this has now been processed
and the information that we hold is enclosed.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to you.

In answer to Q1, the position has not changed since April and therefore,
the council is unable to answer Q2a to j.

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East Herts Council
www.eastherts.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1279 655261
Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8EQ.

*Please note: Information released under the Freedom of Information Act
may also be published on our website, along with details of the intitial
request.

Dear East Hertfordshire District Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of East Hertfordshire District Council's handling of my FOI request 'S167 List of Accessible Taxis: update after 6 months - E previous no intent'.

You haven't responded to the majority of my FOI request; being these elements.

3) If you do not have a S167 list or lists now, please indicate if you 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?

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

Dear [email address],

I have requested that the ICO conduct a S50 assessment in the following basis:

dear ICO

Please conduct a S50 assessment of East Hertfordshire's handling of my
FOI request at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

They have not provided the information I requested in the following
elements of my FOI request:

> 3) If you do not have a S167 list or lists now, please indicate if
> you 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?

I asked them to conduct an internal review but they didn't respond and
more than 20 working days have passed so please conduct a S50
assessment of their compliance with their obligations under S1 of the
Freedom of Information Act, in respect of my request.

Thank you

Doug Paulley

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

Thank you for your email.
This is an automated response and acknowledgement.

 

If you have submitted a new request under FOI, EIR or Data Protection Act:

Your request will be considered and you will receive the information
requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by
the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being
exempt or containing reference to a third party.

If your request is made as a Subject Access Request under the Data
Proetction Act, you will receive a response within 40 calendar days as
specified in the Act.

 

The Acts define a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of the
information you have requested.  There will be an assessment of your
request and if any of the exemption categories apply then the information
will not be released.  You will be informed if this is the case, including
your rights of appeal.

 

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you.  You will be informed if this is the case.

 

There may be a fee payable for this information, this will be considered
and you will be informed if any fees are payable.  In this event the fee
must be paid before the information is processed and released.  The 20
working day time limit for the response is suspended until receipt of
payment.

 

If you have any queries about the processing of your request then please
do not hesitate to contact me. 

 

It is important that you include the FOI reference number in the subject
line of all electronic correspondence related to this request.

If you are responding to an existing request, providing more information
or asking for more information

Your email will be automatically queued to your case (provided you have
included the case reference inside of square brackets (e.g. [F12/XXX] )
If you have not done so, we will try to manually allocate your email to
your case (we may have to contact you for the case reference).

If you have emailed for any other reason

If your email is not related to requests for information under FOI, EIR or
Data Protection Act, we will try to make sure it is passed to the correct
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eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

An internal review of your case has been processed and the information
that we hold is enclosed.

Following communication withe the ICO I can confirm an internal review of
this case has taken place.

 

The freedom of information officer and the legal service manager met to
discuss the response to this case.

On investigation it appears that the response was not complete. Although
the statement that the position of the authority had not changed since the
last response could be deeemed to have answered the request it was felt
that the reply did not go into enough detail.

The revised response is as follows

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?

The position of the council has not changed since the previous request we
are therefore unable to answer any aspect of question 2

 

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
intend to produce such a list.

Not at this time.

 

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.   N/A

 

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?

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?

We require a letter from a suitably qualified medical practitioner.

 

 

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 at this time as our previous medical adjudicator stopped carrying out
this work. Looking to appoint one for aspects of medical fitness.

 

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

We do not currently have an application form.

 

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?

zero

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

zero

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

If you have any queries or complaint about the processing of your request
please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Alternatively for more information on the Freedom of Information Act
contact the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone 01625 545 700

https://ico.org.uk/

 

It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all
correspondence related to this request.

 

Thank you for your request.

 

 

Information Management Team
East Herts Council
www.eastherts.gov.uk
Telephone: +44 (0)1279 655261
Wallfields, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8EQ.

*Please note: Information released under the Freedom of Information Act
may also be published on our website, along with details of the intitial
request.

Dear [email address],

And your explanation and apology for 1) not responding within the prescribed timescale, 2) failing to read my request properly and provide the information I actually requested, and 3) ignoring my request for internal review? Said explanation and apology is notably missing from your belated response, yet by failing to comply with your legal duty and my legal right, you have delayed my research and thus my report to the Department for Transport; also wasting my time, your time and the information commissioner's in the process.

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

eastherts@infreemation.co.uk,

Thank you for your email.
This is an automated response and acknowledgement.

 

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