Dear Department for Transport,
With respect to taxi licensing bodies' lists of accessible taxis under S167 of the Equality Act 2010, the DFT's statutory guidance at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy... states this:
"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."
"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."
As you state: "This is a statutory guidance document, issued under section 167(6) of the Equality Act 2010 and constitutes the Secretary of State’s formal guidance to LAs in England, Wales and Scotland on the application of sections 165 to 167 of the Equality Act 2010. LAs must have regard to this guidance document."
The issue is some taxi licensing bodies have 100% accessible fleets. Rather than going through the chirade of creating a list of all their taxis and calling it a S167/S165 list, they simply state that all of their taxis are wheelchair accessible and so all their drivers are subject to S165.
For example, Transport for London simply states at https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/taxis-and-pr...
"All taxis in London are wheelchair-accessible and have been designated as such under Section 167 of the Equality Act 2010. The list of designated wheelchair-accessible private hire vehicles is available here, and is updated regularly."
They haven't produced a "S167 list of taxis". There's therefore a distinct question as to whether drivers of London taxi are, or are not, subject to the anti-discrimination obligations set out in S165 of the Act.
I remonstrated with Coventy City Council that even though all of their taxis are accessible, their drivers aren't subject to the obligation not to discriminate set out in S165 of the Equality Act because they haven't gone through the motions of producing a "S167 list". Their website at http://www.coventry.gov.uk/info/25/taxi_... states:
"Designated vehicle list (under s.165 Equality Act 2010)
"All hackney carriage vehicles licensed by Coventry City Council (London style black cabs in Coventry) are Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) and all Coventry's fleet of hackney carriages are able to carry the Department of Transport (DFT) designated 'reference wheelchair' (a set of dimensions which the DFT have published on their website).
"The vehicles licensed by Coventry City Council and able to accommodate the "reference wheelchair" are;
"London Taxi Company (LTCs); TX1, TX2, TX4 and TX5
Mercedes-Benz/one80; Vito 111, 113 or 114 CDI Taxi (this vehicle must have the additional rear wheel steering to meet the 25ft turning circle requirement) "
"Do you have a list clearly marked "designated for the purposes of section 165 of the Act"? Is it published, does it solely list accessible vehicles, does it include the make, model, license type (taxi or PHV) and the name of the operator? If you do then you have a S167 list. If you don't then you don't have such a list. The webpage you supplied does not appear to comply with the obligations set out in the guidance.
"The fact that all your taxis are wheelchair accessible is irrelevant: unless you produce a compliant S167 list of the vehicles, the operators aren't subject to the new obligations. You have to go through the motions."
"As per our previous response to your earlier request our legal advice is that we do not have to specify the individual vehicles as it is Department of Transport Guidance rather than law in requesting ourselves to do so.
Therefore our previous response stands and Coventry City Council does not intend to produce an individual list."
My FOI request is therefore as follows.
1) Where taxi licensing bodies (significant example: TFL) simply state that all taxis licensed by them are wheelchair accessible and drivers are thus subject to the S165 duties, and such bodies have not gone through the motions of producing the "s167 list" as set out in your guidance, does the DFT consider that the drivers of taxis licensed by that body are under the duties not to discriminate as set out in S165 of the Act?
2) Where taxi licensing bodies (significant example: Coventry) produce a "S167 list" of models of taxis that they license that they consider to be wheelchair accessible, as opposed to a list of each individual vehicle, in direct contravention of the statutory guidance, do you consider that the drivers of those model vehicles licensed by that body are subject to the duties not to discriminate set out in S165 of the Act?
3) If the answer to either or both of the above is "no" then there is a significant issue in that taxi licensing bodies believe they have taken the action necessary to make taxi drivers subject to the new anti-discrimination legislation (which you state is so important) have not in fact been successful. What actions are you taking to ensure that this inconsistency is dealt with?
4) Please supply copies of all communications to or from taxi licensing bodies, especially TFL and Coventry but others as well, on the issue of the obligation or otherwise to produce "S167 lists" where an authority states that all licensed taxis are accessible.
5) Are you going to update your statutory guidance to make it clear what licensing bodies with 100% accessible fleets have to do in order to make the taxi drivers subject to S165? I think this is a significant omission and leaves the question unhelpfully open to debate.
Dear Doug Paulley,
I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your request for information which
has been allocated reference number P0014864.
A response will be issued to you in due course.
Department for Transport
FOI Advice Team
Information & Security Division
Sedlescombe Road North
St Leonards on Sea
Good morning Mr Paulley
Please find attached response to your request dated 30^th May 2017 made
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) for information relating
to taxi licensing bodies’ lists of accessible taxis under Section 167 of
the Equality Act 2010.
[IMG] Mrs Beth Drake
Accessibility Policy Advisor, Buses and Taxis Division
D/06 AHH, Ashdown House
Sedlescombe Road North, St Leonards on Sea, TN37 7GA
020 7944 8171
Follow us on twitter @transportgovuk
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Dear Department for Transport,
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.
I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Transport's handling of my FOI request 'S167 lists and "all our taxis are accessible"'.
1) You've taken too long to respond. The FOI act makes clear that the primary obligation is to respond to FOI requests "promptly". I consider that you could and should have responded with your refusal at a much earlier stage in order to assist me in my enquiries.
NB: precedent and the ICO have established that the secondary obligation to respond "within 20 working days" is separate and additional to the primary obligation which is to respond "promptly". The 20 working days is a safeguard and longstop by which "promptly" will always have passed.
2) You contend
"The FOI Act provides a general right of access to recorded information held by public authorities. The Act does not require public authorities to create new information, nor express an opinion, nor find the answer from staff who may happen to know, if the information that would answer the question is not already held in recorded form. We have assessed that your questions 1, 2, 3 and 5 fall into this category and are therefore not valid requests for information under the FOI Act."
I think that you should have looked for and provided all recorded data that would provide the information I requested in questions 1, 2, 3 and 5, or stated that you don't hold any data. The ICO and decision notices are clear that FOI requests in the form of questions are legitimate and should be treated as requests for recorded information that may inform or answer the questions. I'm frustrated that you haven't done so.
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...
Dear Mr Paulley
You requested an Internal Review of the Department for Transport's handling of your recent FOI request. An independent review has now been completed and I attach a copy of the reviewer's findings.
FOI Advice Team
Department for Transport