Taxi access victory for campaigners


Wheelchair-users are celebrating a court victory over their local council that should lead to them being able to use a more accessible make of taxi.

Campaigners in Liverpool had asked Liverpool City Council to licence the Peugeot E7 taxi, which they said was bigger and safer than the traditional TX2 that is currently used.

When the council’s licensing committee rejected the E7 – which is licensed by more than 400 other local authorities – the campaigners took them to court.

Now the high court has found – with the help of an intervention by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) – that the council made mistakes in reaching its decision and its assessment of the impact of that decision on disabled people was flawed.

The council will now have to restart its decision-making process.

Alma Lunt, co-chair of Merseyside Coalition of Inclusive Living and treasurer of Liverpool Wheelchair User Group, who was one of the claimants in the case, said she was “ecstatic” at the ruling and hoped the council would now take disabled people’s views into account.

“This would give me the freedom I need,” she said.

Nearly two in five wheelchair-users in Liverpool cannot use the TX2, but would be able to use the E7, she added.

Donald Pow, general manager of Allied Vehicles, the other claimant, which manufactures the E7 with Peugeot, said he was “delighted” with the ruling, which came at the end of “a long, hard struggle”.

But he said other public bodies, including Manchester City Council and Transport for London, are also refusing to license the E7, although it is licensed in 95 per cent of local authority areas.

Susie Uppal, director of the EHRC’s enforcement team, said: Access to public transport, and taxis in particular, is a fundamental issue for disabled people and essential to them in order to access the same opportunities as non-disabled people.

“For many years, disabled people in cities such as Birmingham, Glasgow and Cardiff have been able to travel in safe, efficient and convenient E7 taxis. It is only right that the people of Liverpool may now have that same opportunity.”

A council spokesman said: “We need to look at the implications of this judgement along with our legal team and until we have had an opportunity to do that we would not wish to comment.”

3 August 2009

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