Coventry City Council’s Licensing and Regulatory Committee is becoming increasingly concerned about the rise in complaints from wheelchair passengers being illegally transported in hackney carriages.
City taxi drivers undergo training and assessments as part of the licensing requirements, but despite this, checks by taxi licensing enforcement officers found some drivers are failing to follow correct procedures when transporting wheelchair passengers and are putting them at risk of injury.
Cllr Christine Thomas, Chair of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, said: “Drivers who fail to transport wheelchair passengers correctly, are not only breaking the law under the Equality Act 2010 but they are affecting their insurance too.
“I’m absolutely committed to supporting the local taxi trade but there are drivers that are not following safety guidance – and that’s even though they have received the appropriate training.
She added: “This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Drivers are well aware of their responsibilities and whether it is them or the passenger who is agreeing to bypass the safety standards, there is no excuse for the numbers of taxi drivers that have been found to be failing in their duty.”
Taxi Licensing Enforcement Officers made random checks on drivers to monitor whether they were adhering to their training, procedure and legislation. Scott Yarker, Taxi Licensing Enforcement Officer at the Council, added: “To date 22 drivers have been found to be illegally transporting wheelchair passengers.
“There have been others that have been separately investigated following complaints. The drivers are trained and have to pass an assessment before we licence them, we also offer support to any driver who has difficulties, so there is no excuse.”
He said: “A small number of drivers, due to medical reasons, have exemption certificates. These should be shown to prospective wheelchair passengers before kindly refusing the fare and directing them to another suitable vehicle. Members of the public also need to know the legislation and not persuade drivers to take them illegally, as this has also been observed by Taxi Licensing Officers.”
Some drivers that have failed in their obligations to transport wheelchair passengers correctly have been referred to the Council’s Regulatory and Licensing Committee where they have had been issued written warnings including additional training, received suspension of their licenses or have had their licences revoked.
Checks will continue on licensed hackney carriage vehicles.
Information and guidance can be obtained from the Taxi Licensing Office during normal office opening hours on 024 7683 2138 or 024 7683 2183 and is also available on the website.