At 9.45am Judgment was handed down in my case against First Bus Group. It was immediately appealed to the Supreme Court.
Unfortunately for our many supporters, to whom I am truly grateful, it’s us that are doing the appealing.
The Judgment will be available here shortly, as soon as I can get a final copy. In the meantime, you can see our Application for Permission to Appeal to the Supreme Court.
If you’re a wheelchair using passenger, then you can be happy that the decision is already good enough to improve your rights. If your bus company operates an “ask only” practice to clearing the wheelchair space then they will have to change it, or risk being sued for damages.
Lady Justice Arden has set out what she believes would be reasonable adjustments for bus companies to have to make to ensure access for wheelchair users:
1. The bus company MUST provide training for bus drivers and devise
strategies that drivers can adopt to persuade people to clear the wheelchair space. She even suggests drivers could decline to drive on for a short while.
2. They should run an awareness campaign to educate passengers of the needs of wheelchair users.
3. They should put up notices designed to make passengers more aware of the
needs of wheelchair users.
4. Conduct surveys to find out when people are likely to travel and what
their needs are so that they can do whatever they can to provide an
appropriate number of buses for everyone.
5. Consider changes to bus design, such as more fold-up seats or a space for folded buggies.
This is great….
BUT, there are two reasons why we’ve got to push on to achieve more.
Firstly, as a matter of fact, Firstbus don’t make those adjustments and provided no evidence to suggest they weren’t reasonable adjustments, so my case should have been upheld instead of overturned.
Secondly, we remain committed to the principle that if it’s fine to have someone thrown off the bus for eating a kebab, or committing a general nuisance, then it’s both practical and legal to enforce the principle that disabled people who can only travel in the space designed and designated for wheelchair users have an absolute right to occupy it over non-disabled people.
Firstbus said that they were appealing the decision for ‘clarity’. Ironically this decision creates a mess. We have a Judge in Leeds telling us that Parliament intended that disabled passengers should have priority, and we have appeal Judges in London saying that only rules specifically made by Parliament can allow bus companies to remove their passengers from the wheelchair space.
If Firstbus are serious about seeking clarity then we invite them to agree that the case should proceed to the Supreme Court for the final say.
I am both disappointed and pleased at the same time. I hope to have this finally sorted in the Supreme Court.
I would like to thank those from Transport for All who have supported me so consistently, the many disabled and non-disabled people who have also offered invaluable support, also my excellent, award-winning lawyers Unity Law and world renowned expert counsel from Cloisters chambers.
The battle isn’t over yet.