Disabled people lose out due to rules, say drivers

Row: Taxi drivers Mat Hussain, Wajid Ali and Kahl Hussain.
Row: Taxi drivers Mat Hussain, Wajid Ali and Kahl Hussain.

Taxi drivers say new rules introduced by Wakefield Council is stopping them from taking disabled passengers.

The local authority is bringing in legislation which would stop cabbies from using cars manufactured before September 2016, a move which the district’s drivers say is forcing around 90 per cent of their fleet off the road.

Now the local Private Hire and Hackney Carriage Association says the new rule is making it impossible for them to buy enough wheelchair-friendly vehicles to serve the area. A petition, which the associations says has already been signed by 200 drivers, will be submitted to the council. Association chairman Wajid Ali said: “Our customers are upset we can’t provide them with the service they deserve but it’s out of our hands. Under the Disability Discrimination Act it’s up to local authorities to help drivers be disabled-friendly.

“The NHS used to provide transport for patients between home and hospital, but they’ve cut back so much now we’ve picked up a lot of that work.

“That’s one area where taxis have a vital role to play in our society.” Mr Ali was also critical of plans to introduce more legislation, which will be discussed by councillors next week. Under consideration are plans to make it harder for cabbies with a driving conviction to get their licence back.

Liz Ogden, Wakefield Council’s interim city solicitor, said: “Following extensive consultation, we have updated our hackney carriage and private hire vehicle standards as part of our commitment to ensure that passengers and drivers are safe when travelling and that vehicles meet emissions standards - promoting the uptake of cleaner fuels and improving air quality in the district.