S167 List of Accessible Taxis: update after 6 months - B previous date set

The request was successful.

Dear St Edmundsbury 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 but were intending to create such a list in the relatively imminent future.

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 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 still 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

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
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Dear St Edmundsbury Borough 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

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
www.westsuffolk.gov.uk<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk>
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils

Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/doit/index...>

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Thank you for your email. The information you are seeking can be found on our website: https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Business/...

Karen Borley

show quoted sections

Dear St Edmundsbury Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of St Edmundsbury Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'S167 List of Accessible Taxis: update after 6 months - B previous date set'.

Your response - "the information you are seeking can be found on our website" - is not adequate as much of the information I requested cannot be found on the website. Please respond properly to my FOI 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

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
www.westsuffolk.gov.uk<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk>
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils

Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/doit/index...>

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Dear St Edmundsbury Borough Council,

Dear ICO

Please conduct a S50 assessment of the Council's handling of this
request.

You previously got involved after they failed to respond to my request
- your reference FS50715691. But my S50 request is about their
response to my request.

They simply responded that the information I requested was on their
website at
https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Business/...
. But this is incorrect. Despite my concerned searches, I have been
unable to find the information I requested on that webpage or on their
website at all.

So I requested an internal review by email of 7th December, to which
sadly they have failed to respond.

Therefore please conduct a S50 assessment of their handling of my
request for information.

Thank you

Doug Paulley

Yours faithfully,

Doug Paulley

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
www.westsuffolk.gov.uk<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk>
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils

Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/doit/index...>

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Dear Mr Paulley

 

We have been contacted by the ICO regarding the above case which includes
a web [1]link to your request.   Having checked the website I note I wrote
to you on 7^th December responding to your email of the same date
regarding “'S167 List of Accessible Taxis: update after 6 months - B
previous date set'.”  I see from the emails on the website a comprehensive
request dated 4 November 2017 which I was not aware of when responding on
7^th December copy below:

 

Request

“Doug Paulley [2]4 November 2017

[3]Delivered

We couldn’t load the mail server logs for this message.

[4]Try opening the logs in a new window.

Dear Forest Heath 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
[5]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 but were intending
to create such a list in the relatively imminent future.

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 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
still 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”

 

I confirm that this FOI request above has now been registered.  A response
will be sent to you within 20 working days.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Karen Borley

 

 

Customer Services Team
Customer Services & Transformation
Families and Communities

 

Phone 01638 719000 / 01284 763233
 
Email [6][email address]
 
West Suffolk - working in partnership 

[7]www.westsuffolk.gov.uk
Forest Heath District St Edmundsbury Borough
Council Council
   

[8]Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day
[9]Find my nearest for information about your area

 

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Dear foi,

"I confirm that this FOI request above has now been registered. A response will be sent to you within 20 working days."

No, that is not acceptable. Please pull your finger out. Your unacceptable failure to comply with the Freedom of Information Act is causing me inconvenience and delaying my research report to the Department for Transport.

1) St Edumbdsbury District Council received my original FOI request. Here's the mail server log proving that the request was successfully transmitted, in full, to your email server on 4th November 2017 at 04:54am.

Nov 4 04:54:47 leopard exim[22792]: 2017-11-04 04:54:47 [22792] 1eAqTj-0005vV-35 => [email address] F=<[email address]> P=<[email address]> R=dnslookup_returnpath_dkim T=remote_smtp_dkim_returnpath S=11402 H=stedsbc-gov-uk.mail.protection.outlook.com [213.199.154.202]:25 X=TLS1.2:RSA_AES_256_CBC_SHA256:256 CV=no DN="C=US,ST=WA,L=Redmond,O=Microsoft Corporation,OU=Microsoft Corporation,CN=mail.protection.outlook.com" C="250 2.6.0 <[email address]> [InternalId=10118942951263, Hostname=HE" QT=4s DT=3s

Your email server, which you apparently outsource to Microsoft, responded with SMTP code 250 (which means "Requested mail action okay, completed"), indicating that your organisation received my FOI request on that date.

2) You failed to respond to that FOI request. When I chased it, your explanation that "the information you are seeking can be found on our website" was demonstrably incorrect and slapdash in the extreme. So I responded the same day requesting an internal review. I said:

"Your response - "the information you are seeking can be found on our website" - is not adequate as much of the information I requested cannot be found on the website. Please respond properly to my FOI request."
That request for an internal review was also successfully transferred to your email server, as proved by this server log.

Dec 7 13:20:20 leopard exim[19530]: 2017-12-07 13:20:20 [19530] 1eMw66-00054z-7W => [email address] F=<[email address]> P=<[email address]> R=dnslookup_returnpath_dkim T=remote_smtp_dkim_returnpath S=2519 H=stedsbc-gov-uk.mail.protection.outlook.com [213.199.154.202]:25 X=TLS1.2:RSA_AES_256_CBC_SHA256:256 CV=no DN="C=US,ST=WA,L=Redmond,O=Microsoft Corporation,OU=Microsoft Corporation,CN=mail.protection.outlook.com" C="250 2.6.0 <[email address]> [InternalId=9212704857671, Hostname=AM0PR0302" QT=2s DT=2s

Now you say "A response will be sent to you within 20 working days." What? What on Earth are you playing at?

The obligation isn't to respond "within 20 working days". The primary obligation is to respond "promptly". The 20 working days is a catch-all by which "promptly" will have been considered to have passed in all instances. Here's the ICO's guidelines, https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

"The obligation to respond promptly means that an authority should comply with a request as soon as is reasonably practicable.

"Whilst this is linked to the obligation to respond within 20 working days, it should be treated as a separate requirement.

"An authority will therefore need to both respond promptly and within 20 working days in order to comply with section 10(1).

"Authorities should regard the 20 working day limit as a ‘long stop’, in other words the latest possible date on which they may issue a response.

"It also follows that an authority which provides its response close to, or on, the final day of the 20 working day limit ought to be able to both account for, and justify, the length of time taken to comply with the request."

So when I submitted my request on 4th November, I was entitled to receive the information "promptly". It is now 5th February, 3 months later, and you are saying you may take another month. Is it really acceptable to respond 4 months, 80+ working days, after my request? Also what makes your authority so different?

Even if you were acknolwedging a new request, it is not acceptable to indicate you will respond "within 20 working days". You are obliged to respond "promptly". But you aren't just acknowledging a new request. Look at the history of my correspondence. 346 other local authorities have managed to respond properly to my request: what makes you so special?

You also are not properly conducting an internal review. That requires somebody senior to yourself to re-examine your handling of the request.

Pull your finger out and provide the information forthwith please.

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

Thank you for your request for information.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council are working together to share services across West Suffolk with all staff working across both Councils' boundaries.

Please note:

* We record requests for information which cannot be found in the council's available sources on our website*. Check our website<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>:
* Open Data<http://data.westsuffolk.gov.uk/>
* Planning applications - view current and historic planning applications<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/planning/v...>
* Licensing registers<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/business/r...>
* Waste service/bins<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/bins/>
* we will contact you if we require clarification to process your request
* the 20 working days allowed for replying to requests does not include Bank Holidays

* data relating to the following is not held by West Suffolk. Requests should be resubmitted to Suffolk County Council<https://www.suffolk.gov.uk/about/freedom...>

* roads and transport
* children, families, learning/schools
* adult social care and health
* public health in Suffolk

Customer Services
www.westsuffolk.gov.uk<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk>
Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough councils

Report, pay and apply online 24 hours a day<http://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/doit/index...>

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prs.support,

Dear Doug Paulley

 

I refer to your request for information dated the 5^th February.

 

As you may be aware, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath
District Council are working together under the banner West Suffolk to
provide a shared service across the boundaries of both authorities. This
response is sent on behalf of the West Suffolk councils.

 

Request and Response:

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 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?
YES – both hackney and private hire list

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? 2 June 2016
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? Is it marked "designated for the purposes of
Section 165 of the Act"? 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 Have you made
owners and drivers of vehicles on the list aware that their vehicle has
been listed? YES

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? Training
and handbook

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

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? NONE AWARE OF
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? NONE

3) If you do not have a S167 list or lists now, please indicate if you
still 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. N/A
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? REPORT and LETTER

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.

[1]https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Business/...

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? None

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? YES, same list but showing as disabled
access

If you are unhappy with this response you may request an internal review
of this matter via the Council’s corporate complaints procedure.

 

If, after an internal review, you are still unhappy with the decision, you
have a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at the following
address:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

Tel: 01625 545 745

Fax: 01625 524 510

Email: [2][email address]

 

 

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

FOI Coordinator

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References

Visible links
1. https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Business/...
2. mailto:[email address]

Dear prs.support,

I have sent a follow-up to the ICO.

Dear ICO

Further to my S50 request below, which you have yet to acknowledge,

The authority have now provided an amended response, see https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s.... However said response is still deficient in multiple areas. Please
therefore conduct a S50 assessment of their compliance or otherwisewith the Act.

In response to:

> Please can you indicate whether 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?
> 2a) On what date was it put in place?

They responded:

> 2 June 2016

This cannot be correct as Section 167 of the Equality Act was not commenced until 8th April 2017. It was therefore not possible for the council to have a list under Section 167 before 8th April 2017.

In response to:

> Have you published your list? Is it marked "designated for the
> purposes of Section 165 of the Act"?

they say "Yes" and "Yes" respectively. However, comprehensive searching of the Council's website (which appears to be on the domain name westsuffolk.gov.uk) has proven to me that the phrase "designated
for the purposes of Section 165 of the Act" does not feature on their website at all.

One assumes that they mean this list: https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Business/... That isn't marked "designated for the purposes of Section 165 of the Act". I don't understand how they could claim that it was.

Further, in response to my request:

> 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?

They responded:

> YES, same list but showing as disabled access

This, again, is non-sensical. The statutory guidance to which I have referred them is very clear that a S167 list must consist solely of wheelchair accessible vehicles, because its purpose is to place drivers of those vehicles under a criminal law duty to transport disabled people traveling in wheelchairs. Including any vehicles that do not have wheelchair access therefore doesn't make sense.

I can't escape my conviction that St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils have not read the statutory guidance and do not know what a S167 list is, thus making the information they have provided totally
inaccurate.

Please continue to a S50 decision notice.

Doug Paulley

This is a forwarded message
From: Doug Paulley <[email address]>
To: [email address]
CC:
Date: Monday, January 8, 2018, 11:26:38 PM
Subject: S50 request: Edmundsbury and S167 lists

===8<==============Original message text===============
Dear ICO

Please conduct a S50 assessment of the Council's handling of this
request.

You previously got involved after they failed to respond to my request
- your reference FS - 50715691. But my S50 request is about their
response to my request.

They simply responded that the information I requested was on their
website at
https://www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/Business/...
. But this is incorrect. Despite my concerned searches, I have been
unable to find the information I requested on that webpage or on their
website at all.

So I requested an internal review by email of 7th December, to which
sadly they have failed to respond.

Therefore please conduct a S50 assessment of their handling of my
request for information.

Thank you

Doug Paulley

===8<===========End of original message text===========

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

Halliday, Teresa,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Paulley,

 

I refer to your complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office
regarding St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s response to your request for
information and attach a further response for your information.  I
apologise for any errors contained in our initial response and please do
not hesitate to contact me if you require any further assistance in this
regard.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Teresa Halliday

 

 

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