London Taxi PR is set to start a campaign to raise awareness of the current operating restrictions being imposed on the profession and all disabled passengers who wish to use a licenced London Taxi. The group are heavily critical of the recent road traffic restrictions that have been imposed in the areas of Islington and Hackney.
The PR and marketing experts who promote the interests of the Licenced London Taxi profession, is calling on those councils and Government bodies applying the restrictions to provide clear clarification and definition for the profession, including a request for exemplification for all Licenced London Taxis who are either dropping off or picking-up disabled passengers within the restriction zones. All London taxis are fully wheelchair accessible, and the recent imposition of road traffic restrictions in Islington and Hackney prevents the vast majority of the 23,500 licenced taxis being able to take disabled passengers into these areas to either drop off, or pick-up, as the restrictions only access to electric vehicles. Currently, there are just 500 ULEV taxis in operation in London, so not only is this felt to be a restrictive practice being imposed on the profession, but, more importantly, for all disabled passengers. Equally, it is thought that by allowing only electric taxi vehicles to access these areas that the restrictions are potentially breaching the Equality Act 2010. The recent exclusions are said to put some disabled people at a disadvantage, and the aim could have been achieved through less restrictive alternatives.
Since the recent road traffic restrictions have been imposed, an increasing number of London’s licenced taxis are already reporting that they are having to decline disabled customers who want to travel into the affected areas, informing them that they can only take them for part, and not the whole of their journey, as they would normally be able to do. Or, worse still, are not able to take them at all if they are travelling to and from an area within the restriction zones. These Ultra Low Emission Zones, some of which will not come into operation in London until 2019 has already LTPR feels, caused confusion within the profession due to some of the statutory obligations that apply and leaving drivers fearing they will be open to a breach of these regulations and open to possible litigation.
The PR group highlight that in London, section 35 of the London Hackney Carriage Act 1831 states that it is an offence: “Hackney carriages standing in any street shall be deemed to be plying for hire; and the driver thereof refusing to go with any person liable to a penalty.”
These regulations are considered to place a duty on drivers of licensed hackney carriage vehicles not to refuse a fare when standing on a rank unless they are hired or, have a “reasonable excuse”. The duty to carry people when standing for hire applies only to journeys undertaken in within the prescribed distance or in other words those that starts and ends within the relevant licensing authorities’ district.
As the distinct possibility for litigation from the industry the implementation of these new clean air zones, LTPR feels that the profession needs ‘A clear and unified clarification of these regulations, and the exemplification for those licenced taxis whose customers are disabled passengers’. Inclusion London supports over 70 deaf and disabled organisations working across every London borough. Through these organisations, its reach extends to over 70,000 Londoners.
Ellen Clifford, Campaigns and Policy Manager for Inclusion London, stated, “Inclusion London is concerned about any measures that act as a further barrier to travel for Disabled people. We urge local authorities to engage with their local Deaf and Disabled People’s Organisations to identify and halt policies that will have a detrimental impact on Disabled residents.”
LTDA General Secretary Steve McNamara added: “This unnecessary and unworkable restriction on our members’ ability to do the job they are uniquely trained to do is an outrage.
“The taxi trade is the only form of transport in London that is 100% wheelchair accessible and disability access friendly.
“We have no choice in the vehicle we buy and until recently we had no choice other than diesel. Since January we have had the option of a clean electric taxi and are buying all the factory can make, and there is now a waiting list into 2019 to get delivery.
“We have taken this draconian ban up at the highest level at Hackney and will be challenging any PCNs issued to members. We will also be part of an upcoming all trade lobby of councillors at Hackney town hall.”