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

The request was partially successful.

Dear Nottingham City 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

Nottingham City Council

THIS IS AN AUTOMATED ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF YOUR ENQUIRY

Dear Doug Paulley,

Nottingham City Council acknowledge the receipt of your email.

Your enquiry has been given the reference number IG/10083. A case officer
will be assigned to your request and you will receive a response in due
course.

Please note that;

For requests that fall under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the
Environmental Information Regulations 2004 you should expect a response
within 20 working days commencing the next working day following receipt
of your enquiry.

For requests that fall under the Data Protection Act 1998 (requests for
personal information) you will receive a response within 40 calendar days
of the Authority receiving everything we reasonably require from you.
Where requests for personal information are received and involve large
amounts of information or complex materials, an officer will contact you
to further discuss your case.

Further information about the handling of your request can be found on our
website at
http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/article....

Regards,

Information Management Services

FOI and EIR Requests:
Email: [Nottingham City Council request email]
Tel: 0115 8764376

Data Protection Subject Access Requests:
Email: [email address]
Tel: 0115 8763855

Nottingham City Council
Loxley House
Station Street
Nottingham
NG3 2NG This email is security checked and subject to the disclaimer on
web-page: http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/privacy... This message
has been scanned by Exchange Online Protection.

Information Rights, Nottingham City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Requester

 

Please find attached the response to your request for information
submitted to Nottingham City Council.

 

Regards

 

Information Rights & Insight Team | Information Management Services

Nottingham City Council | Loxley House | Station Street | Nottingham | NG2
3NG

Direct Line:  0115 876 4376

 

Website: [1]www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk | Nottingham Insight:
[2]www.nottinghaminsight.org.uk |Open Data:
[3]www.opendatanottingham.org.uk

Please consider the environment before printing this email

 

This email is security checked and subject to the disclaimer on web-page:
http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/privacy... This message has been
scanned by Exchange Online Protection.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/
2. http://www.nottinghaminsight.org.uk/
3. http://www.opendatanottingham.org.uk/

Dear Nottingham City Council,

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

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

You are either being disingenuous or flip-flopping in an incredible manner.

On 10th May 2017, you said "We do not keep a formal list of wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire cars and there is no intention to create one at this time." https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...

Similarly on 10th May 2017, your spokesperson told the One Show that Nottingham City Council "is intending to create a list which will help them prosecute drivers in the future."

I therefore requested an internal review. On 14th June 2017 you said: "The relevant department have subsequently confirmed that since providing their response to your request, they discussed the matter and decided to commit to producing a list for the future, which is why our statement on the
One Show reflected a dif ferent position" https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...

Then on 28th November you said, in response to this FOI request, "No changes since April ... the council does not hold a list of wheelchair accessible taxis ... the council does not currently have any documented plans to produce such a list"

Which am I to believe, please?

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

Nottingham City Council

THIS IS AN AUTOMATED ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF YOUR REQUEST FOR A REVIEW

Dear Doug Paulley,

Nottingham City Council acknowledge the receipt of your email.

Your request for a review of case reference number IG/10083 has been
received and logged. An appropriate officer will be assigned to your
request and you will receive a response in due course.

Please note you should expect a response to a request that falls under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 within 20 working days of receipt of your enquiry. You
should expect a response to a request that falls under the Data Protection
Act 1998 (requests for personal information) within 40 calendar days of
receipt of your enquiry.

Regards,

Information Management Services

FOI and EIR Requests:
Email: [Nottingham City Council request email]
Tel: 0115 8764376

Data Protection Subject Access Requests:
Email: [email address]
Tel: 0115 8763855

Nottingham City Council
Loxley House
Station Street
Nottingham
NG3 2NG This email is security checked and subject to the disclaimer on
web-page: http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/privacy... This message
has been scanned by Exchange Online Protection.

Dear Nottingham City Council,

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

Dear ICO,

Please conduct a S50 assessment of Nottingham's handling of my FOI
requests at
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...
and at
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...
.

The information they have provided in response to my two FOI requests
is self-contradictory.

On 10th May, at
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...,
they said:

"We do not keep a formal list of wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire cars and there is no intention to create one at this time."

On 10th May also, they said to the One Show (who were producing a
documentary section on the issue)

Nottingham City Council "is intending to create a list which will help them prosecute drivers in the future."

I therefore asked for an internal review of their response to my FOI
request. They responded on 14th June at
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/l...
saying:

"The relevant department have subsequently confirmed that since
providing their response to your request, they discussed the matter
and decided to commit to producing a list for the future, which is why
our statement on the One Show reflected a different position"

Yet in response to my new FOI request, at
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...
, on November 28th they said:

"No changes since April ... the council does not hold a list of
wheelchair accessible taxis ... the council does not currently have
any documented plans to produce such a list"

This can't possibly be "no changes since April" because in May they
said they are "intending to create a list which will help them
prosecute drivers in future" and on 14th June "The relevant
department... decided to commit to producing a list for the future"

I simply don't understand why they are presenting such
self-contradictory information in response to my two FOI requests and
my requests for internal review. Simply put: it is not possible that
the information they provided in response to my FOI requests is
accurate because said information is directly self-contradictory.

I asked the authority to conduct an internal review of their handling
of my requests, but sadly they failed to respond. So please conduct an
assessment of their compliance with S1 FOIA in respect of both
requests.

Thank you

Doug Paulley

Yours faithfully,

Doug Paulley

Information Rights, Nottingham City Council

Dear Mr Paulley,

Thank you for your email. We understand that an internal review of 9499 was completed and sent to you on 14th June 2017.

We received your request for an internal review of 10083 on 7th December 2017. Usually we would aim to complete all internal reviews within 20 working days of receipt (this would be today for this request) but due to annual leave over the Christmas period I am still finalising your review response. I hope to be in a position to issue this response with the next day or two.

Thank you for your patience and apologies for the slight delay.

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights & Insight Team | Information Management Services
Nottingham City Council | Loxley House | Station Street | Nottingham | NG2 3NG
Direct Line: 0115 876 4376

Website: www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk | Nottingham Insight: www.nottinghaminsight.org.uk |Open Data: www.opendatanottingham.org.uk

show quoted sections

Dear Information Rights,

"We received your request for an internal review of 10083 on 7th December 2017. Usually we would aim to complete all internal reviews within 20 working days of receipt (this would be today for this request) but due to annual leave over the Christmas period I am still finalising your review response. I hope to be in a position to issue this response with the next day or two."

Yeah that didn't happen. Where is your response to my request for an internal review please?

BTW I note that the DfT states you don't have a S167 list. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-not... "Nottingham City Council said it believed it had compiled such a list but the Department of Transport said it did not meet the criteria." I note you emailed the ICO to inform their caseworker that you now have such a list. I take it you will be correcting this assertion?

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

Information Rights, Nottingham City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Paulley

 

As requested, please find attached the outcome of the internal review of
our response to request IG-10083. We apologise for the delay in issuing
you with this response.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Theresa Pollard| Information Governance Specialist

 

Information Rights and Insight Team | Information Management Services

Nottingham City Council | Loxley House | Station Street | Nottingham | NG2
3NG

 

 

Website [1]www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk | Facebook:
[2]www.facebook.com/nottingham |Twitter: [3]www.twitter.com/mynottingham

 

 

This email is security checked and subject to the disclaimer on web-page:
http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/privacy... This message has been
scanned by Exchange Online Protection.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/
2. http://www.facebook.com/nottingham
3. http://www.twitter.com/mynottingham

Dear Information Rights,

"It is clear from the tone of your correspondence that you are making these requests as you are not satisfied with the timescale in question; namely the fact that the Council stated that it had a commitment to publishing the full individual vehicle list of both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles that are wheelchair accessible, but has not yet done so, nor has it put in place any definitive timescale for doing so. "

No; don't put words in my mouth and don't assume some special focus on your council. I have sent the same FOI request to all 347 taxi licensing bodies in Great Britain as part of research I am conducting to inform the DFT on the state of implementation of S167 of the Act, and of licensing bodies' compliance with the statutory guidance on the issue. Whilst I am obviously of the opinion that councils across the UK should implement S167 and the statutory guidance, all I was asking for in my requests, and in the subsequent internal reviews, and in my referral to the ICO, is that Nottingham achieve "compliance with information rights legislation and guidance", as you put it. At no point have I asked for anything else; I've simply asked for the information I requested, and for said information to be accurate. Out of all the 347 taxi licensing authorities I have contacted, yours has been the most difficult to extract any form of meaningful and consistent answer; I have to wonder why.

"The very nature of the situation is that until the Council works on the procedures required to be in place
for the list to be published, it will not hold relevant recorded information about doing so" - that is not the case. Decisions about whether and how to implement S167 lists are necessarily made by councils' licencing committees before work is started. Authorities are required, by law, to have considered such; that's why other authorities that have decided to implement a S167 list but have not yet done so, or have not decided yet whether or not they will do so, or have actively decided not to do so, have held, and supplied, recorded information on this. Your licencing officer appears to be making responses up on the spot, without reference to the licensing decision making mechanisms. Presumably that's why they have given such conflicting responses on the issue. In any case, you issued a formal response to the BBC One Show indicating that you intend to create a list. That in itself is recorded information that you intend to create a list - which is contrary to your claim not to hold such recorded information.

My requests, both internal reviews, and both S50 requests, have been clearly and solely "focused on acquiring information" and I object to your suggestion to the contrary. Neither will I be engaging with the Council's taxi licensing body to lobby them on the issue. If I did that with all 347 licensing bodies I have submitted this request to, I would be swamped; or even if I just engaged those that don't have S167 lists yet.

Let's look at the timeline of responses yet again.

10th May 2017 you told me, in response to my FOI request: "We do not keep a formal list of wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire cars and there is no intention to create one at this time."

10th May 2017 you told the One Show: Nottingham City Council "is intending to create a list which will help them prosecute drivers in the future."

On 14th June, in response to my request for an internal review, you told me "The relevant department have subsequently confirmed that since providing their response to your request, they discussed the matter and decided to commit to producing a list for the future, which is why our statement on the One Show reflected a different position"

On 28th November, in response to my FOI request, you stated "No changes since April ... the council does not hold a list of wheelchair accessible taxis ... the council does not currently have any documented plans to produce such a list"

On 17th January 2018, you told the BBC you had compiled a S167 list. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-not... But the DFT told you it didn't meet the technicalities to be a valid list. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-not...

On 6th February 2018, you told me in an Internal Review response: "as the Council is not yet at the stage where procedures regarding private hire operators’ individual vehicles being listed have been finalised and put in place, it is not yet able to publish and maintain the corresponding list in accordance with s165 of the Equality Act 2010. "

I get the distinct impression that your own licensing officer has no real idea what their position is regarding lists, or how to implement one.

To summarise: over the past 9 months, you have formally stated (respectively) that you have no intention to produce a list, you do intend to produce a list, that you initially didn't intend to produce a list but do now, that you do not have any documented intention to produce such a list, that you now have a list, and that you don't have a list but intend to have one, but don't yet have sufficient details of vehicles to create one.

How am I to know which of the morass of statements reflect the actual situation?

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

Information Rights, Nottingham City Council

Dear Mr Paulley,

Thank you for your comments. We are sorry that you are not satisfied with the result of our internal review and you received the response after our expected deadline. At this stage we are unsure if any further internal review under the FOI Act would provide you with an answer to your question at the end of your email, as this matter has already been through that process and at this stage we would not anticipate a different outcome if it were carried out again.

We have forwared your response below to the Licensing team and will await their proposed response before passing that on to you directly.

In the meantime, you may wish to refer to your formal appeal rights regarding the content of our review response which are at the bottom of our response letter.

Yours sincerely,

Information Rights & Insight Team | Information Management Services
Nottingham City Council | Loxley House | Station Street | Nottingham | NG2 3NG

Website: www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk | Nottingham Insight: www.nottinghaminsight.org.uk |Open Data: www.opendatanottingham.org.uk

show quoted sections

Dear Information Rights,

"In the meantime, you may wish to refer to your formal appeal rights regarding the content of our review response which are at the bottom of our response letter."

As I stated in my email to you, I already have S50 requests in to the ICO about your handling of my requests, so I don't know why you are re-referring me to that mechanism. I will be pursuing this thorough to formal decision notices.

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

Looking for an EU Authority?

You can request documents directly from EU Institutions at our sister site AskTheEU.org . Find out more .

AskTheEU.org