Council agrees to list wheelchair accessible vehicles, opening taxis up to £1,000 fine

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Proposals for a published list of wheelchair accessible taxis and private hire vehicles in Argyll and Bute have moved a step closer after councillors gave their backing to the idea.

Details of the plans went before the council’s planning, protective services and licensing (PPSL) committee at its virtual meeting on Wednesday November 17.

Councillors questioned the long process behind the publication of the list, the next step of which will be a draft list of requirements to go before the same committee next month.

But the proposal was approved unanimously – and if the rest of the process goes to plan, the list will be published by the council in spring 2022.

Under the plans, drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) will be duty bound to carry a wheelchair user in their wheelchair at no additional charge, or in a passenger seat if they choose to sit there.

They must also take steps to ensure the passenger travels in comfort and safety and to give the passenger mobility assistance as required.

Failure to comply with these duties is an offence which carries a fine of up to £1,000, under Section 165 of the 2010 Act.

In the report before councillors, executive director Douglas Hendry explained: ‘The consequences of having a designated list of WAVs is that Section 165 of the 2010 Act imposes statutory duties on the drivers of these designated vehicles and failure to comply with these duties is an offence, unless exempt, liable to a fine of up to £1,000.

‘As Argyll and Bute Council does not currently maintain and publish a designated list of WAVs, an offence would not be committed under this piece of legislation.

‘Currently, if a wheelchair user feels they have been discriminated against, they would have to raise a civil court action themselves against the driver.

‘That is a lengthy and expensive process that puts many people off seeking legal redress for their rights being breached.

‘Secondly, it allows wheelchair users to see what WAV availability there is in their area. This will assist the public in being able to find out from a central list what provision there is for their needs in their locality.’