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Eastbourne considers removing wheelchair accessibility requirement for newly licensed taxis

Image credit: Dynamo Taxi

Eastbourne Borough Council is considering changes to its licensing guidelines that could remove the requirement for new taxis to be wheelchair accessible.

The council's licensing committee has agreed to seek public consultation on its proposed plans, which aim to address concerns surrounding accessibility and the cost of wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Under the current guidelines, any new vehicles submitted for use as a hackney carriage in Eastbourne must be wheelchair accessible to be considered by the council. However, the council is now seeking to revise these requirements.

The committee acknowledged two primary reasons behind this proposed change. Firstly, they noted that the high cost of wheelchair-accessible vehicles has deterred potential new drivers from entering the taxi trade. Secondly, they raised concerns that such vehicles may not be suitable for all disabled passengers, prompting a need for alternative options.

According to the Sussex Express, the committee highlighted recent legislation obligates all hackney and private hire drivers to accommodate disabled passengers and provide mobility assistance, irrespective of whether or not their vehicles are wheelchair accessible.

No final decision has been made yet, as the proposed changes become subject to an upcoming public consultation. The consultation period is set to run for six weeks, inviting feedback from various stakeholders, including the taxi trade, organisations operating within the district, and the general public.

The potential removal of the wheelchair accessibility requirement has long sparked nationwide debates about the balance between promoting driver accessibility and ensuring a practical and cost-effective taxi service for all passengers, including those with disabilities.


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