Wakefield taxi drivers no longer able to charge disabled passengers extra

The Equality Act 2010 specifies the requirements drivers must now adhere to, but leaves it up to individual councils to implement and enforce.
The Equality Act 2010 specifies the requirements drivers must now adhere to, but leaves it up to individual councils to implement and enforce.

Taxi drivers in Wakefield will no longer be able to charge disabled customers extra if they have a wheelchair.

Legislation passed by the council will see a full list of private hire and hackney carriage vehicles that are wheelchair-friendly published online in the new year.

From then, no taxi firm or sole trader will be able to refuse a disabled passenger unless they are granted an exemption by the local authority.

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Drivers will also have to help customers with putting the wheelchair in the boot or securing it safely, at no extra cost.

The change was agreed unanimously by Wakefield Council’s licensing committee.

Councillor Elaine Blezard said she backed the change, but was concerned that there may be a backlash from drivers if it put them out of pocket.

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She said: “I wouldn’t personally charge extra but I could understand why the taxi companies might want to.

“If it takes them say, two or three minutes to help put a wheelchair in the back then that adds time onto their journey.”

Councillors were told there was no evidence that disabled passengers in the district were already being charged extra, but that the government was advising local authorities to adopt the legislation.

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The Equality Act 2010 specifies the requirements drivers must now adhere to, but leaves it up to individual councils to implement and enforce.

Chairman Martyn Johnson said he understood Coun Blezard’s point, but added: “This comes down to disabled people who would be financially penalised for their disability, and I think that’s unacceptable.”

The council report on the issue said the change would mean passengers could travel in taxis and hackney carriages “without discrimination”.

Reasons why a driver may be allowed an exemption from the new rules would include medical grounds, or if they were physically incapable of helping with the wheelchair.