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

Doug Paulley made this Freedom of Information request to West Somerset District Council as part of a batch sent to 84 authorities

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was successful.

Dear West Somerset 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

Customer Services, West Somerset District Council

Thank you for contacting West Somerset Council.  Your email has been
received by our Customer Services Team who will process your enquiry or
forward it on to the relevant department for action.

If your enquiry relates to an urgent issue, you may like to contact us on
01643 703704 to discuss it further, or visit one of our offices at West
Somerset House, Killick Way, Williton or at Minehead Library, Bancks
Street (see [1]http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/hom... for
opening hours)

Further information can also be found on our website
[2]http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk

Thank You

Customer Services

of Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council

01643 703704

[3][West Somerset District Council request email]

 

[4]www.tauntondeane.gov.uk

[5]www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk

 

 

West Somerset Council’s Vision: To enable people to live, work and prosper
in West Somerset

 

West Somerset Council values your feedback on the services provided. 
Please could you take a couple of minutes to provide yours by clicking
[6]here

 

You can follow us on [7]Facebook and [8]Twitter

 

Please Read: 
1. This message is sent in confidence for the addressee only.  The content
of the email and its attachments are considered proprietary information
and should not be disclosed to parties outside of the intended recipient’s
organisation. 
2. This e-mail constitutes privileged information.  If you are not the
intended recipient, you must not disclose, copy, circulate or in any other
way use or rely on this information, please delete it from your system and
notify the sender.
3. E-mails to and from the council are monitored in accordance with lawful
business practices.
4. The views expressed in this message are personal and must not be
considered to be the official views of West Somerset Council.
5. Whilst every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure that this
e-mail message has been swept for the presence of computer viruses the
company accepts no responsibility once an e-mail and any attachments are
sent.

 

[9]https://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk

 

This message has been scanned for viruses

References

Visible links
1. http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/hom...
2. http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/
3. mailto:[West Somerset District Council request email]
4. http://www.tauntondeane.gov.uk/
5. http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/
6. https://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/Fo...
7. https://www.facebook.com/westsomerset
8. https://twitter.com/wsomerset
9. https://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/

Dear Customer Services,

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

Customer Services, West Somerset District Council

Thank you for contacting West Somerset Council.  Your email has been
received by our Customer Services Team who will process your enquiry or
forward it on to the relevant department for action.

If your enquiry relates to an urgent issue, you may like to contact us on
01643 703704 to discuss it further, or visit one of our offices at West
Somerset House, Killick Way, Williton or at Minehead Library, Bancks
Street (see [1]http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/hom... for
opening hours)

Further information can also be found on our website
[2]http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk

Thank You

Customer Services

of Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council

01643 703704

[3][West Somerset District Council request email]

 

[4]www.tauntondeane.gov.uk

[5]www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk

 

 

West Somerset Council’s Vision: To enable people to live, work and prosper
in West Somerset

 

West Somerset Council values your feedback on the services provided. 
Please could you take a couple of minutes to provide yours by clicking
[6]here

 

You can follow us on [7]Facebook and [8]Twitter

 

Please Read: 
1. This message is sent in confidence for the addressee only.  The content
of the email and its attachments are considered proprietary information
and should not be disclosed to parties outside of the intended recipient’s
organisation. 
2. This e-mail constitutes privileged information.  If you are not the
intended recipient, you must not disclose, copy, circulate or in any other
way use or rely on this information, please delete it from your system and
notify the sender.
3. E-mails to and from the council are monitored in accordance with lawful
business practices.
4. The views expressed in this message are personal and must not be
considered to be the official views of West Somerset Council.
5. Whilst every reasonable effort has been taken to ensure that this
e-mail message has been swept for the presence of computer viruses the
company accepts no responsibility once an e-mail and any attachments are
sent.

 

[9]https://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk

 

This message has been scanned for viruses

References

Visible links
1. http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/hom...
2. http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/
3. mailto:[West Somerset District Council request email]
4. http://www.tauntondeane.gov.uk/
5. http://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/
6. https://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/Fo...
7. https://www.facebook.com/westsomerset
8. https://twitter.com/wsomerset
9. https://www.westsomersetonline.gov.uk/

FOI - West Somerset,

1 Attachment

 

Dear Requestor

 

Please can you forward a copy of your original FOI request so we can look
into the matter.

 

Kind regards

 

 

FOI Administration Desk

Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI - West Somerset,

It's at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

As you can see, you issued an automated receipt so you definitely received it

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

FOI - West Somerset,

Dear Requester

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Thank you for your request for information. Your request has been received and it will be dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

You will receive the information requested within 20 working days, starting from the first working day after we received your request, unless there is a reason for it to be withheld, in which case we will write to you to inform you of this outcome, or if the information is not held by the District Council (please see below).

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case we will let you know before we send any information to you.

Any charge made for FOI requests will be made in line with the national FOI fees regulations and our locally set disbursement costs (printing, photocopying and postage).

If the cost of

- determining whether the information is held;
- locating the information, or a document containing it;
- retrieving the information, or a document containing it; and
- extracting the information from a document containing it

does not exceed £450 (equivalent to 18 hours work) there will be no charge, other than possibly for disbursements. Disbursement costs will not be charged if the total is under £5 - above this, we will charge the full amount, including the initial £5.

If the cost (excluding disbursements) exceeds £450 (which is known as the ‘appropriate limit’) we will charge for all the hours (including the first 18 hours) at a rate of £25 per hour - alternatively, we will assist you in refining the request to within 18 hours to ensure no charge will be incurred (other than possibly for disbursements).

Where a fee is involved, we will issue a fees notice requesting payment - the FOI request will not progress until the fees have been paid. The 20 working-day target for responding to requests will not begin until any fees are paid

Please be aware that we may publish requests and responses to requests for information made under the FOIA on our website. However, we would withhold any personal details of the requestor (e.g. their name, address, email address and telephone number).

Please note that as a Borough Council we do not hold information regarding Schools, Education, Social Services or Highways and Transport. If your request for information falls under one of these services you will need to re-direct your request to Somerset County Council at [email address].

Further information regarding Freedom of Information is available from:

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Tel No: 01625 545700
Fax No: 01625 545510

www.ICO.ORG.UK

The information Commissioner’s Office have produced a helpful guide regarding fees which is available here.

Regards

FOI Administration Desk
Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council

IMPORTANT NOTICE.
This communication is intended solely for the person (s) or organisation to whom
it is addressed. It may contain privileged and confidential information and if
you are not the intended recipient (s), you must not copy, distribute or take
any action in reliance on it. If you have received this e-mail in error please
notify the sender and copy the message to [email address]

FOI - West Somerset,

2 Attachments

  • Attachment

    image003.jpg

    2K Download

  • Attachment

    Freedom of Information request S167 List of Accessible Taxis update after 6 months D previously undecided 3256TD Response.html

    22K Download

 

Dear Mr Paulley

 

The attached response to the FOI request was sent to you on 12 December
2017.

 

Kind regards

 

 

FOI Administration Desk

Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI - West Somerset,

That response says "This is Taunton Deane Borough Council’s response to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000." and was sent to the response address for Taunton Deane.

Whilst I acknowledge that you are in a partnership with Taunton Deane, I sent this request to West Somerset, which is a body in its own right for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act, and is legally entitled to its own response. It thererefore requires a separate response.

At the very least you should have made clear that the response was a combined one on behalf of both councils in respect of the separate requests I sent. Otherwise given the response was sent just to one of my email addresses and only said that it is (quote) "Taunton Deane Borough Council's response" to my "request" (singular), how do you expect me to know that this one response is also supposed to be on behalf of West Somerset?

I have already asked the ICO to conduct a S50 assessment of your handling of this request. But in the meantime, please confirm your response to my request that I sent to *WEST SOMERSET DISTRICT COUNCIL*.

Yours sincerely,

Doug Paulley

FOI - West Somerset,

3 Attachments

 

Dear Requester

 

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Information Request FOI – 3331WS

 

Response

 

This is West Somerset Council’s response to your request under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000.

 

Your request for information has now been considered and the information
requested is attached:-

 

If you are not satisfied with this response you may ask the Council to
undertake a review of the response.

 

An applicant must submit a request for a review no later than 40 working
days from the date of receipt of our response.  Please submit any request
for a review to [1][email address] or by writing to
The Freedom of Information Officer, West Somerset Council, West Somerset
House, Killick Way, Williton, Taunton, Somerset TA4 4QA.

 

We will undertake an internal review and issue a response within 20
working days of receiving a request for an internal review. The 20 days
will commence on the first working day after the day on which we receive
your request.

 

It will help us deal with any request for a review if you explain clearly
the reasons for disagreeing with the Council’s decision.

 

Should you remain dissatisfied after that review you can appeal against
the decision by contacting the Information Commissioner.

 

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel No: 01625 545700
Fax No: 01625 545510

 

Regards

 

FOI Administration Desk

Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council

 

 

 

 

 

show quoted sections