Alerts

ER Newsline

More ...

Surveys
Forum

Search this site....

Home Forum
Welcome, Guest
Username Password: Remember me

Taxi Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles - in 2021 the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles was 41 - Currently now only 5
(1 viewing) (1) Guest
  • Page:
  • 1

TOPIC: Taxi Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles - in 2021 the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles was 41 - Currently now only 5

Taxi Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles - in 2021 the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles was 41 - Currently now only 5 3 months, 2 weeks ago #1

  • RM64
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 3178
  • Karma: 19
Agenda Item 3
EAST RENFREWSHIRE COUNCIL
LICENSING COMMITTEE
5 December 2023
Report by Clerk to the Licensing Committee

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE VEHICLE POLICY

PURPOSE OF REPORT
1. To seek Committee’s approval to commence a consultation with the trade, public and
relevant disability rights groups to provide information to inform potential changes to
the Council’s current wheelchair accessible vehicle policy.

RECOMMENDATION
2. That the Committee authorises the Clerk to:

(a) Commence consultation with relevant stakeholders to ingather information
regarding the current availability of wheelchair accessible vehicles to the public
and the demand for such vehicles;

(b) Undertake an Equalities Impact Assessment to inform any future changes to
the policy; and

(c) Bring a further report to Committee in early 2024 with proposals as to any
recommended changes to the policy.

BACKGROUND
3. In April 2021, as a result of the financial impacts of the Covid pandemic upon
members of the taxi trade, East Renfrewshire Council Licensing Committee agreed
to relax its previous policy whereby all applications for the grant of new taxi and
private hire car licences required to be submitted in respect of vehicles which were
wheelchair accessible (WAV’s).

From that juncture, only new taxi car applications required to meet this criteria. The Committee at that time also determined to review the position once experience of the new regime had been gained.

REPORT
4. At the time of the decision to relax restrictions in 2021 the number of wheelchair
accessible vehicles operating under East Renfrewshire Licences numbered 41.

As at today’s date this number has dropped dramatically both as a result of lapsed
licences and drivers replacing wheelchair accessible vehicles with vehicles which did
not provide that facility at the time of licence renewal.

Recent investigation suggests that there are only 5 such vehicles currently licensed.

5. At the introduction of the policy, it was agreed that the policy would be reviewed to
determine its effectiveness and to decide what changes, if any, should be
implemented.

This review is now required to consider the impact of this reduction in
wheelchair accessible vehicles and to identify mechanisms which will meet the interests of both the disabled population and the trade. The review requires to be informed by the views of relevant stakeholders and on that basis authority is sought to commence a consultation with those groups over the next few months.

6. Any policy decision made by the Council which is likely to affect individuals with
protected characteristics under the Equalities legislation should be screened and
assessed for its impact prior to the policy being determined.

An impact assessment will allow the findings of such assessment to inform the Committee’s ultimate consideration of the policy.

RECOMMENDATION
7. That the Committee authorises the Clerk to:

(a) Commence consultation with relevant stakeholders to ingather information
regarding the current availability of wheelchair accessible vehicles to the public
and the demand for such vehicles;

(b) Undertake an Equalities Impact Assessment to inform any future changes to
the policy; and

(c) Bring a further report to Committee in early 2024 with proposals as to any
recommended changes to the policy.

Report Author: Gerry Mahon Clerk to the Committee and Chief Officer – Legal and
Procurement
Tel: 0141 577 3801
e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Re: Taxi Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles - in 2021 the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles was 41 - Currently now only 5 3 months, 2 weeks ago #2

  • RM64
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 3178
  • Karma: 19
MINUTE of LICENSING COMMITTEE
Minute of meeting held at 10.00am in the Council Chamber, Council Headquarters,
Giffnock, on 5 December 2023.

Present:
Councillor Paul Edlin (Chair) Councillor David Macdonald* Provost Mary Montague*
Councillor Edlin in the Chair
(*) indicates remote attendance

Attending:
Gerry Mahon, Chief Officer (Legal and Procurement); Brian Kilpatrick, Civic Government
Enforcement Officer; Jennifer Graham, Committee Services Officer; and Lesleyann Burns,
Assistant Committee Services Officer.

Also Attending:
Chief Inspector Graeme Gallie and Sergeant Lisa Campbell, Police Scotland.

Apology:
Councillor Andrew Morrison.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
677. There were no declarations of interest intimated.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE VEHICLE POLICY

678. The committee considered a report by the Chief Officer (Legal and Procurement)
seeing approval to commence a consultation with the trade, public and relevant disability rights groups to provide information to inform potential changes to the Council’s current Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Policy. (Item 3 refers).

The report explained that, as a result of the financial impacts of the Covid pandemic upon members of the taxi trade, the Licensing Committee had agreed to changes to the previous Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Policy with effect from April 2021.

From that date, only taxi car applications would require to meet the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) criteria.

The Chief Officer (Legal & Procurement) advised that only 5 WAVs were currently licensed in East Renfrewshire, a drop from 41 prior to April 2021, and that a review of the policy would be required to review its effectiveness and decide what changes, if any, should be implemented.

In response to questions from members, the Chief Officer (Legal & Procurement) confirmed
that all of the WAVs currently licenced in the area were able to accommodate a wheelchair
within the vehicle; and that the consultation would be advertised widely, in liaison with the Council’s Communications Team, and would include, but not be restricted to, contact with taxi/private hire groups, local and possibly national disability groups, community councils and the general public.

The committee agreed to authorise the Clerk to:-

(a) commence consultation with relevant stakeholders to ingather information
regarding the current availability of wheelchair accessible vehicles to the public
and the demand for such vehicles;

(b) undertake an Equalities Impact Assessment to inform any future changes to
the policy; and

(c) bring a further report to committee in early 2024 with proposals as to any
recommended changes to the policy.

End of Agenda Item 3

Re: Taxi Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles - in 2021 the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles was 41 - Currently now only 5 3 months, 2 weeks ago #3

  • RM64
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 3178
  • Karma: 19
8/2/2024

Post ERC facebook page

www.facebook.com/eastrenfrewshirecouncil/?locale=en_GB

East Renfrewshire Council
19 h
We're currently reviewing our licensing of taxis and private hire cars policy with reference to accessibility criteria for disabled users.

As part of this process, we'd like to hear the views of drivers, booking offices and users of these vehicles, whether disabled or otherwise.

We're particularly interested in hearing views about the current availability of wheelchair accessible vehicles, current and potential demand for them and any other information which will help to determine appropriate numbers of accessible vehicles within the licensed fleet.

We'll also consider wider disability related issues including the carriage of guide and assistance dogs.

Please submit your views by 5pm on Friday 1 March 2024.

Email

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

or post to,

Licensing Enforcement Officer, East Renfrewshire Council, Eastwood Park, Giffnock, G46 6UG.

More at:

orlo.uk/B4W0T

Re: Taxi Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles - in 2021 the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles was 41 - Currently now only 5 2 weeks ago #4

  • RM64
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 3178
  • Karma: 19
Agenda Item 3
EAST RENFREWSHIRE COUNCIL
LICENSING COMMITTEE
14 May 2024
Report by Clerk to the Licensing Committee

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE VEHICLE POLICY

PURPOSE OF REPORT
1. To report to committee on the response to the consultation regarding potential
changes to the Council’s current wheelchair accessible vehicle policy and to
recommend proposed changes to the policy following such responses.

RECOMMENDATIONS
2. That the Committee:-

(a) notes the proposals to:

(i) amend the current policy in respect of wheelchair accessible
vehicles to require all new applications for taxi or private hire car
licences (and any subsequent substitutions) to relate to vehicles
which are wheelchair accessible;

(ii) recommend that no fee is charged for new applications for WAVs;

(iii) instruct the Chief Officer Legal and Procurement to report
Committee’s recommendation regarding proposed fees for WAV
applications to Cabinet for final decision;

(iv) require all vehicles identified as replacements in a substitution
request and which are capable of carrying more than 4
passengers to be wheelchair accessible;

(v) approve the definition of wheelchair accessible vehicles as
outlined in this report ;

(vi) adopt the amended policy for an initial trial period of 18 months
and to thereafter review its practical effect at that time.

(b) invites representatives of the various stakeholders providing responses
to the consultation to attend the Licensing Committee of 11 June 2024, if they
so wish, to express their views and answer any questions the Committee may
have and adjourns determination of these proposals until said meeting.

BACKGROUND

3. In April 2021, as a result of the financial impacts of the Covid pandemic upon
members of the taxi trade, East Renfrewshire Council Licensing Committee
agreed to relax its previous policy whereby all applications for the grant of
new taxi and private hire car licences required to be submitted in respect of
vehicles which were wheelchair accessible (WAV’s). From that juncture, only
new taxi car applications required to meet this criteria. The Committee at that
time also determined to review the position once experience of the new
regime had been gained.

4. Following a decision of the Licensing Committee in December 2023 a
consultation with relevant stakeholders was undertaken to ingather views
regarding the availability of wheelchair accessible vehicles within East
Renfrewshire and any suggestions regarding changes to the existing policy.
Responses were received in the period January to March and suggested
amendments to policy were thereafter formulated based on the views
received.

REPORT

5. There is no statutory definition of the term “wheelchair accessible vehicle.” At
present, East Renfrewshire views the term as describing a vehicle, whether a
taxi or private hire vehicle, which is of a size capable of accommodating a
wheelchair user (in their wheelchair) and at least one other passenger,
provides a safe means of both entry and egress from the vehicle and has an
appropriate means of securing the wheelchair whilst in transit. At the time of
the decision to relax restrictions in 2021 the number of wheelchair accessible
vehicles operating under East Renfrewshire licences numbered 40. As at
today’s date this number has dropped dramatically both as a result of lapsed
licences and drivers replacing wheelchair accessible vehicles with vehicles
which did not provide that facility at the time of licence renewal. Recent
investigation suggests that there are only 4 such vehicles currently licensed,
all of which are private hire cars. The total number of vehicles licensed
currently stands at 429 (40 taxis and 389 private hire cars).

6. It should be recognised that taxi and private hire drivers are self employed
and the Council has no control over their schedules or hours of work. In
essence, this means that any imposed criteria regarding wheelchair
accessibility will not guarantee that any particular number of such vehicles will
be on the road or available to book at any given time. It is however self-
evident that the greater the number of such licensed vehicles, the more likely
their availability to wheelchair users.

7. Responses to the consultation were received from MyDisability Plus, East
Renfrewshire Disability Action (ERDA), Include Me 2, Eastwood Mearns Taxis
and the East Ren branch of the Scottish Private Hire Association (SPHA).
Copies of those responses are attached as Appendices 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5
respectively. Despite specific requests to stakeholders for statistical
information regarding the volume of calls over the preceding 6 months
requesting WAVs only Thornliebank Cars replied to advise that no such
requests had been received in that timeframe. In summary, responses from
disability rights groups highlighted personal experiences of disabled users and
their families indicative of the fact that they often struggled to organise WAVs
for scheduled trips, particularly those coinciding with school run times, due to
vehicles being utilised to transport pupils. Users also highlighted that they had
been deterred from making bookings due to historic difficulties in obtaining
appropriate transportation. It was also suggested that drivers of WAVs were
reluctant to undertake short journeys due to the disproportionate time required
to assist the customer in entering and exiting the vehicle. Some users also
noted that vehicles classed as WAVs were in fact unable to accommodate
larger motorised wheelchairs. Comments were also received regarding the
high costs of using such vehicles. MyDisabilityPlus focussed to a large extent
on what they viewed as defects with the last change to policy in 2021. They
did however highlight a number of recommendations reflecting a desire for the
Council to lobby government to create a national policy in this regard, a
requirement for drivers to undergo training in equality/neurodiversity issues
and a further survey to determine the market, geographical need and type of
vehicle required to accommodate the range of wheelchairs currently available.

8. The taxi and private hire trade generally commented on the economic burden
licence applicants would face in obtaining vehicles which met the relevant
criteria, noting that the price of new vehicles of this type was in the region of
£70,000. They suggested the need to ensure that any changes to policy were
both proportionate and reflective of the local demand for such vehicles, which
they did not believe to be high. They also noted the potential that any
requirement to make all vehicles wheelchair accessible may have unintended
consequences for elderly taxi users who may struggle to get into such
vehicles given their typical high chassis levels. They further cautioned that a
demand for wheelchair accessibility in new applications could have the effect
of deterring applications and shrinking the taxi/private hire fleet to a size which
did not provide a reasonable service to all East Renfrewshire users.

9. There is no doubt that the disabled community are currently disadvantaged by
the reduction in licensed WAVs in East Renfrewshire since 2021. The existing
number of 4 vehicles is considered to be insufficient to accommodate the
potential demand from within the area, particularly given the variability in
driver hours and particular stresses at certain times of the day. Whilst demand
appears to have been fairly low it is acknowledged that this may be a result of
prior negative experiences in booking WAVs which deterred further attempts5
to do so. On this basis, it is recommended that steps are taken to boost the
number of licensed WAVs to enhance their potential availability.

10. The high financial cost of obtaining or converting to an appropriate vehicle is
also recognised, as is the difficult financial climate currently facing drivers. On
this basis it is recommended that the mechanism to increase the number of
such vehicles does not impact on existing licence holders but is rather
focussed on new licence applicants in the first instance. As such, it is
suggested that all new applications for Taxi and Private Hire Car Licences
received after a date of the Committee’s choosing will require to relate to
vehicles meeting the definition of a WAV as adopted by the Council. Any
substitutions for such vehicles will also require to be WAVs.

11. As highlighted in trade responses to the consultation, there is potential for
such a requirement to see a reduction in new applications, effectively
shrinking the potential supply of cars generally without creating any additional
WAV capacity. In order to mitigate this to some degree it is suggested that as
an enticement to encourage applicants, initial applications for WAV licences
are processed for no fee. A fee would remain chargeable for any renewals
thereafter although Committee may wish to consider whether that renewal fee
should also be discounted to some extent. It should be noted that final
decisions regarding charging for services are subject to cabinet decision but
would follow upon a Committee recommendation.

12. It is further suggested that any application to substitute a vehicle capable of
carrying over 4 passengers (plus driver) on to a pre-existing licence to replace
a smaller car must be in respect of a WAV.

13. The Council’s current description of a WAV is set out in paragraph 5 of this
report. It is suggested that the Committee endorses this definition for the
purposes of the revised policy. While consideration has been given to the
potential adoption of an approved vehicle list, it is felt that such a level of
prescription is unnecessary, financially restrictive to applicants and resource
intensive to maintain and update given the frequent entry of new models into
the market. Officers will undertake further inquiry to establish relevant
dimensions for wheelchair models (including motorised models) and licences
will only be granted if vehicles are confirmed as capable of accommodating
these sizes at pre-grant inspection. Committee may wish to instruct the Chief
Officer Legal and Procurement to revisit this exercise on an annual basis and
delegate to him the authority to change any size requirements to take account
of changes in technology and/or wheelchair design.

14. At present WAV vehicles are subject to different criteria regarding the
maximum age limit at first licensing and the age at which they cease to be
suitable as licensed vehicles (7 and 12 years respectively, as opposed to 56
and 10 years for non WAVs). It is considered that this extended lifespan goes
some way to offsetting the higher purchase costs of such vehicles. Officers
are of the view that such age limits remain appropriate and that no change
should be made to these requirements.

15. It is difficult to predict the impact the suggested changes to the policy will have
in practice. In this regard, it is considered sensible to set an initial short trial
period and to revisit the number of WAVs licensed at the end of that period to
assess whether there has been a sufficient increase in their availability. A
period of 18 months is considered appropriate in this regard. A further report
outlining the results would be brought back to Committee at that time.

16. The consultation responses clearly highlight the strength of feeling relevant
stakeholders hold in regard to this matter. It is recommended that Committee
takes time to digest the responses, considers the recommendations proposed
and invites those providing views to the next scheduled Committee to speak
directly to Committee members and answer any questions members may
have regarding the issues they have raised.

17. Any policy decision made by the Council which is likely to affect individuals
with protected characteristics under the Equalities legislation should be
screened and assessed for its impact prior to the policy being determined. An
impact assessment has been completed in respect of the recommended
policy amendments and is attached as Appendix 6.

18. Members will note that the consultation responses extended beyond the topic
of WAVs and also address more general issues relating to the carriage of
disabled passengers including driver awareness of neurodiversity, assistance
animals, assistance to passengers and general customer service. While these
issues are beyond the scope of this report, it is intended to bring a further
report to Committee in respect of these matters in the coming months for
consideration. The response of MyDisabilityPlus also recommends lobbying of
national government to prompt a consistent national policy on WAVs and the
potential purchase of an East Renfrewshire WAV. It is suggested that
Committee authorises the Chief Officer to refer these matters to the Council’s
Strategic Services for consideration.

RECOMMENDATIONS

19. That the Committee:-

(a) notes the proposals to:

(i) amend the current policy in respect of wheelchair accessible
vehicles to require all new applications for taxi or private hire car7
licences (and any subsequent substitutions) to relate to vehicles
which are wheelchair accessible;

(ii) recommend that no fee is charged for new applications for
WAVs

(iii) instruct the Chief Officer Legal and Procurement to report
Committee’s recommendation regarding proposed fees for WAV
applications to Cabinet for final decision.

(iv) require all vehicles identified as replacements in a substitution
request and which are capable of carrying more than 4
passengers to be wheelchair accessible

(v) approve the definition of wheelchair accessible vehicles as
outlined in this report

(vi) adopt the amended policy for an initial trial period of 18 months
and to thereafter review its practical effect at that time.

(b) invites representatives of the various stakeholders providing responses
to the consultation to attend the Licensing Committee of 11 June 2024 , if they
so wish, to express their views and answer any questions the Committee
may have and adjourns determination of these proposals until said meeting.

Report Author: Gerry Mahon Clerk to the Committee and Chief Officer –
Legal and Procurement
Tel: 0141 577 3801
e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Re: Taxi Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles - in 2021 the number of wheelchair accessible vehicles was 41 - Currently now only 5 1 week, 6 days ago #5

  • RM64
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 3178
  • Karma: 19
There is a submission from Mydisabilityplus.com attached to the above paper -

Appendix 1 and Appendix 2

Appendix 3 - Include me 2 club

Appendix 4 - Eastwood Mearns Taxis

Appendix 5 - East Ren Scottish Private Hire Association (SPHA)


Apologies, It is difficult to reproduce these parts of the report here.


You can read the report (Agenda Item 3) from Council webpage here -

www.eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk/licensing-committee-140524


This is a link to the report(Sorry if it does not work) -

www.eastrenfrewshire.gov.uk/media/10336/....pdf?m=1715342893457
  • Page:
  • 1
Time to create page: 0.24 seconds