Cambridge council’s U-turn on taxi disability rights

Cambridge Council’s August taxi licensing newsletter (pdf) has this correction.

In the March 2017 edition of the Taxi newsletter we published an article entitled ’Important Changes to Equality Law’. The article concerned the recent changes to equality law and the duties imposed on drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Following publication of the newsletter it came to light we made an error in this article, which we would now like to rectify.
For clarification, the requirements for drivers of wheelchair accessible taxi and private hire vehicles are a policy requirement and not a legal requirement: (their emphasis)

  • Transport wheelchair users in their wheelchair
  • Provide passengers in wheelchairs with appropriate assistance
  • Charge wheelchair users the same as non-wheelchair users

This is very different from their March newsletter:

"Transport accessibility" section in Cambridge council's March 2017 newsletter
Excerpt from March 2017 newsletter

From the 6th April 2017 …In a change to the law, drivers found to be discriminating against wheelchair users face fines of up to £1,000 as part of provisions being enacted from the Equality Act.


The same “error” is still present in Cambridge Council’s Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy, and in their Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Taxi Handbook.

15.7 The Equality Act 2010 places certain duties on licensed drivers to provide assistance to people in wheelchairs and to carry them safely. There are similar requirements on drivers in relation to the treatment of passengers with an assistance dog. Neither drivers nor operators of licensed vehicles can make any extra charge or refuse to carry such passengers.

Legislative provisions and legal requirements

Drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles must:

  • Carry a passenger seated in a wheelchair
  • Charge wheelchair users the same fare as non-wheelchair users; the meter, where used, must only be started when the journey begins

Despire correcting their newsletter, the Council has not corrected their Policy or Handbook.

Why have the Council not implemented the new taxi wheelchair law?

The Council would have to create a list of the wheelchair accessible taxis licensed by them. The drivers of said taxis would then be subject to this law. But the Council has chosen not to produce the list. (For more info, see my blog on the subject.)

The strong implication is that the Council told all taxi drivers they would be subject to this law, but changed its mind when it realised it would have to do some minor office work.

Taxi drivers in their area are not subject to a criminal law obligation against discriminating against wheelchair users (as intended by Parliament) all because the Council refuses to do some office work.

What message does that give to disabled people?

2 Replies to “Cambridge council’s U-turn on taxi disability rights”

  1. Hi Doug, As someone who has held a Hackney Carriage licence in the past, most drivers in my experience willingly assist wheelchair users and persons with other disabilities. They wouldn’t dream of charging anymore than the fare displayed on the taximeter. In my day, ‘accessible vehicles’ were rare outside of the major cities and were usually regular saloon cars. I was happy to fold a manual chair and lift it into the boot. However on one occasion I went to an address where the gentleman was in what I can only describe as an electric tank. I doubt it would have fitted in an accessible ‘black cab.’ When I tried to explain, he went ballistic, used foul and abusive language so I left. He reported me to the Council Licensing Dept. I had to go and take my cab so they could see (having visited the man at home) that I wasn’t being unreasonable. The only other problem was a lady with a new scooter. The handlebars would fold down, and it might just have fitted in the boot, but it was too heavy to lift safely. As you well know, I will not accept discrimination in any form, but, and I think you’ll agree that there are a very small number of people with disabilities whose attitudes and demands spoil things for everyone else.

    • Yup, always the selfish or unreasonable few who spoil it for others, in all groups, including disabled taxi users and also taxi drivers. I’ve been treated pretty badly and discriminatory by some taxi drivers, albeit a minority.

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