Members have complained about the behaviour of some drivers blocking disabled bays and overcharging disabled users.
Great news from 6th April this year it is illegal for taxi drivers to discriminate against people with disabilities.
At our meeting on 8th Dec 2015 we had an update from Rachel Wallwork. The council are trying very hard to address this issue ( see an earlier email below) but they need your help in reporting instances of abuse. Please take all detail possible car reg, drivers number, date time place etc. and report it by email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01782 232774
I am also told that private hire charges are not determined by the council. They can charge what they like as long as it is agreed before hand, but they cannot charge a disabled person more for the same journey as an able bodied person. The council cannot take action on this discrimination but they will help the individuals to take action.
Paul from PHAB FREEWHEELERS 01782 812625 has also had complaints from some of his members.
If you have any problems with this issue, please report it to email email@example.com or ring 01782 232774
Alex Shaw has written the following guidance to help:
There are two kinds of vehicle that people call 'taxis' Hire Cars and
Hackney Carriages (which is the legal name for proper taxis) but so
far as the law is concerned they are very different.
Hire Cars have a yellow plate fitted at the rear of the vehicle which
bears a two or three digit number. They are not fitted with a meter
and can charge more or less what they want. If you are charged more
than you consider to be reasonable for travelling in one of these all
you can do is complain to the driver.
Real taxis (Hackney Carriages) have a white plate fixed at the rear
and have a TAXI sign on top and are fitted with a meter. What they can
charge you is fixed by the local authority and it is a criminal
offence if they charge you more.
You should not be charged more than the amount displayed on the meter
[plus say 50p at most but this is questionable, see item (3) below] so
if you are overcharged for a taxi journey and wish to complain you
must do the following.
(1) Make sure that the taxis meter is switched on and if not ask. Why?
(You will usually be told it is broken)
(2) Make a note of the journey start and end points.
(3) Note the time it takes to load and unload your chair (The drivers
often justify the extra charge as 'waiting time.' It is questionable
whether this is allowed but must not be more than 10p for each 40
(4) Make a note of the meter reading (If the meter is not switched on
note this also)
(5) Note the number on the white plate on the rear of the vehicle.
You must complain to the Licensing Department located in Hanley Town
This may appear a little onerous but if you wish to succeed you will
need this information, however, in consolation, if you are overcharged
the taxi owner is legally obliged to refund your money and if they are
doing their job the council will also impose a penalty.
32 Albert St
Telephone: 01782 341066
STAND has been assured that all instances of this kind of discrimination will be severely dealt with. Please let me know if you have any problems or successes after contacting Rachel as we are closely monitoring this situation.
I had this email from Rachel this morning 25.8.15
Thank you for your email, Michael Clarke had also asked me to respond to you following the last STAND meeting.
We are aware of the concern around disabled people being charged more for a taxi / private hire journey than able-bodied people.
This practice is a clear breach of disability discrimination and equality legislation, but one that is unfortunately only a civil offence actionable by one of the parties to the discrimination.
Because the Equalities Act 2010 has not been fully commenced to allow us to take action against this practice, we are currently looking to amend our taxi and private hire policy to allow us to take enforcement action against the drivers and operators who are charging disabled people a higher fare.
Taxi drivers and operators already received training on this matter as part of obtaining a licence form the Council, which emphasises that discriminatory charging should not occur. From the BBC programme it was clear that the Council needs to do more to discourage it and to achieve this we are working on the following:
· Revising the training given to new licence applicants
· Requiring existing licence holders to attend regular refresher training
· Introducing a licence condition adding discriminatory charging to the list of things that a licence holder must not do.
· Introducing a licence condition clarifying that charging on the meter must not start until a passenger is seated and the vehicle is ready to move off
· Clarifying our enforcement guidance to confirm that evidence of discriminatory charging will automatically trigger a review of the licence.
These measures will require amendments to our taxi policy. Legally changes in policy have to be done following a process of consultation with members and the trade and so will take some months to introduce.
If you would like I can add you to our list consultees?
In the mean time we have written to all of our licensed private hire operators and hackney carriage (taxi) to reinforce the training we provide and to confirm that if the Council receives a compliant from an individual suffering discrimination, we will provide assistance to them, if they wish to bring a civil case.
Rachel Wallwork Licensing Manager
Public Protection Division
A member of STAND wrote this to complain on 19.02.2016
Dear All, Today I’ve been shopping in Tesco, Longton, Stoke on Trent.
Outside Tesco’s they operate a queueing system for Lucky Seven private hire taxis. (Contract with Tesco, I’ve been told previously by a Lucky Seven driver on another visit to the store). My partner pushed the shopping trolley whilst I self –propelled myself in my Wheelchair to the taxi queue. Initially, we were heading towards the first taxi in the queue, but the chap who was controlling/marshalling the queue guided us to the large black cab (also Lucky Seven – badge no 220) who was in fact no.2 in the taxi queue.
Luckily, because I have attended (Stoke on Trent Area Network for Disabilities, STAND) meetings at the Civic Offices in Stoke on Trent, my partner was aware of disabled people’s issues and STANDS issues regarding over-charging challenged/vunerable peoples struggles and financial problems of being over-charged by private hire cabs, as this could contribute towards people becoming isolated, cutting them off from society and becoming depressed. NHS and DWP expenses! My partner has also been aware of me travelling from Blurton to Stoke being charged £10, which would normally, if able bodied, would normally cost £3.50-£4.00! ) My partner asked the driver in the big cab if we would be chargedmore than the normal going rate for an abled person and he was told yes because it was a wheelchair client! We both stated that to charge us more than the going rate would be discrimination of people with disabilities. We decided not to engage his services. I also stated I would inform the council of this experience.(Done) We then went to the private hire car at the front of the queue(same company – Lucky Seven), loaded the wheel chair in the boot with our shopping and returned home at the going rate! (Abled body rate!) Taxis/Hire cabs pick up drunks and drug abusers who must be more incapable than me! Maybe they do charge more for incapables, but they are also “vunerable” customers are they not?
I have since spoken to a Tesco customer service department with reference to the above and been referred to the store managers e-mail address. (Copied in) I just wanted to highlight this issue to all good service providers (Tesco on this occasion) who are “blighted” by a poor “contracted customer service provider” Lucky Seven, in this case which could have repercussions for Tesco. We can boycott if we wish! The taxi firm, not Tesco. Tesco ,now informed, may wish to reconsider who they contract for add-on services.
I suggest all companies/businesses to have a “glance” at the website: STAND, (www.stand-stoke.org.uk
) for a more sympathetic approach to disability and the challenges we may endure whilst visiting their sites.
Thank you for your consideration regarding this matter.
Following Michelle’s complaint Lucky 7 said that there are 3 differing fees depending on the size of taxi/private hire, so there should be no extra charge if you are able to travel in an ordinary car size vehicle, but if you need a bigger vehicle eg mini bus with ramp then it will cost more.
Another interesting fact, Lucky 7 have taxis/hackney carriages and private hire vehicles. They can use taxis/hackney carriages as private hire but not the other way round.
The Council say that ALL private hire have to be prebooked before you can travel. The taxi marshall cannot just put you in a private hire without prebooking. In Michelle’s cvase, Lucky 7 say that she travelled in a taxi not a private hire.
Confusing isn’t it?
STAND’s advice is to get a price before you travel, ask for a receipt and if you are unhappy COMPLAIN to the taxi/private hire firm in writing with a copy to Rachel.Wallwork@stoke.gov.uk at the council and a copy to STAND.