Doug Paulley

Wheelchair user and residential care user, sometimes thorn in the side of authorities.

Apr 272018
 

Pie chart: Taxi licensing authorities S167 list by April 2018 - No: 49% Yes: 51%

Download report

Pie chart: S167 grade of authorities, November 2017

A “new” law requiring taxi drivers not to discriminate against wheelchair users was commenced on 6th April 2017. Taxi drivers face £1,000 fines for refusing to take or help wheelchair users, or if they charge wheelchair users more. But the new law only takes effect if the local council has created a “designated list” of wheelchair accessible taxis.

Accessible taxis are an essential part of an inclusive society; especially given the extensive barriers disabled people face with other forms of transport.

The Department of Transport’s guidance states:

Section 167 of the Act (Equality Act 2010) permits, but does not require, LAs (Local Authorities) to maintain a designated list of wheelchair accessible taxis and PHVs (Private Hire Vehicles).
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.

It recommended local authorities create their lists by October 2017.

I decided to find out what local authorities are planning to do in response to this. I submitted Freedom of Information requests to all 366 taxi licensing councils, and Transport for London (who administer taxi licensing on behalf of all the London boroughs) in April 2017 and in October 2017.

My report and data can be downloaded in full at the top of this page. It gives depressing results.

Boundary data:
Contains National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right 2016
Contains OS data © Crown copyright and database right 2016

Map of my data by Jeff Harvey of Transport for All shows which authorities have a S167 list (green), plan to produce one (yellow) or have no current plan to do so (red).

Only 51% of British taxi licensing authorities either had a list or have a plan to create one this financial year. It’s particularly bad in Scotland where only 28% are taking it up.

26% of authorities have actively decided not to work towards such a list at the moment.

In areas that don’t create a list, wheelchair users can continue to be overcharged. Even if they report it, the driver won’t face the legal penalty. Wheelchair users will continue to be disempowered.

Even where authorities have created a list, the law is not enforced. There are 30,298 wheelchair accessible hackney carriages licensed by the 119 authorities that have implemented S167 of the Act. Yet no driver has faced enforcement action under the legislation, one year after it was commenced.

It is disappointing that many councils are undermining the Government’s intent in bringing in this legislation, by their failure to undertake the required office work. Their inaction means that taxi drivers can continue to discriminate against wheelchair users with impunity.

In much of the UK, councils have no clear plan to implement the anti-discrimination law.


All is not lost.

Pressure and publicity from disabled people and their allies has already made some authorities decide to implement the law. For example, of the seven dissident councils contacted by the Disability News Service following my initial research results, five councils (Oldham, Epping Forest, Stratford-on-Avon, Suffolk Coastal, and Waveney councils) changed their policy.

If your council has yet to commit to implementing this anti-discrimination legislation, (you can check in my data tables above) contacting them may well cause them to change their tune. Your contact point would be the councillors for your area on the District or Unitary council, or your London Assembly member. You can use WriteToThem to identify and contact the relevant ones, by putting your postcode in this box:


writetothem.com


Please use your own words, but you may wish to include some of the following points:

  • Taxis are essential for disabled people’s quality of life, especially given the barriers disabled people experience with other forms of transport.
  • Creating a list is a relatively minor bureaucratic procedure that sends a clear message that wheelchair users have the right to travel by taxi without discrimination.
  • The Government’s Statutory Guidance strongly recommends councils produce a list, because “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.
  • The licensing body should create a list even if all taxis licensed by them are wheelchair accessible. Simply stating “all the taxis we license are wheelchair accessible” doesn’t have the desired effect of putting taxi drivers under a legal duty to take wheelchair users and not to charge extra for doing so.
  • It is important to create a list even if there are very few accessible taxis. It is perhaps even more important that drivers of such taxis don’t discriminate against wheelchair users.

Fleur Perry has written a template letter which may be useful to inspire you in your message.

Additionally, you may choose to tweet your local council. Muscular Dystrophy UK suggest “Taxis are not a luxury for disabled people. Will you support the equality act and make your taxis accessible? #section167fail”

AGM Activism: the 4,000th Living Wage employer – thanks to Share Action!

 Miscellany  Comments Off on AGM Activism: the 4,000th Living Wage employer – thanks to Share Action!
Apr 262018
 

We all deserve to be paid a true Living Wage: a fair day’s pay for a day’s hard work, calculated based upon the Cost of Living. That’s why in Summer 2017 I attended Croda International’s AGM, on behalf of Share Action.

I knew we may be pushing on an open door; and I’m glad to say we were: our approach asking them to consider Living Wage Foundation accreditation was well received.

As a result, Croda met with ShareAction and the Living Wage Foundation; and in March 2018, Croda became the 4,000th UK company to become Living Wage Foundation accredited!

Picutre: me on a bus

On the Bus to the AGM

So yesterday I went to their AGM to congratulate them on their achievement, and to ask them what benefits the Living Wage is bringing them.

Before the “formal” business started, I chatted with Group Chief Executive Steve Foots. He described the Living Wage as a “no-brainer” for such a people-focussed company; and he was glad to share the good news around all areas of the company. Tracy Sheedy, Group HR Director told me that Croda’s commitment to the Living Wage had resulted in increasing wages and compliance across other local employers, which is great.

Then the formal business began. I steeled myself to ask my question – the first of several searching questions from the audience. I introduced the subject, and asked:

In what way do you see this positive investment in your employees as helping to deliver your strategy for the years ahead?

a selfie

With Anita Frew, Group Chair of Croda International

Croda’s directors told me that they were very grateful ShareAction had brought the Living Wage to their attention. It shows the power of listening to shareholders, and they were very happy to move forward. On reviewing their workforce, they discovered that only 10 of their 1,000+ UK employees were paid under the living wage. This was unacceptable given their people culture, and something they sorted out immediately. Now they are working on making sure all their contractors also pay the Living Wage.

People are the most important asset to Croda, as it is People who deliver innovation. They’re proud to be “doing the right thing” and have noticed a morale boost, and the publicity it has generated has also been positive, particularly as they happen to be the 4,000th Living Wage employer.

Afterwards, I persuaded Anita Frew, Group Chair to agree to a selfie with me (thanks Anita!), and I celebrated with the Board and shareholders over posh nosh, in the similarly posh surroundings of the Pavilions of Harrogate.

I guess it just goes to show: Share Activism does make a difference!

Interactive Map: British Driver Only Operation and Station Staffing

 Trains  Comments Off on Interactive Map: British Driver Only Operation and Station Staffing
Mar 292018
 

A co-campaigner has produced the following map from “my” Driver Only Operation and station facilities data. It shows the DOO/DCO status of British rail stations, their staffing, the presence of call points and their step-free status. Zoom in and select a station for more detail.

Driver Only and Staffing status of UK Stations. With thanks to Jeff for coding.

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