A Keighley battle to win equality for disabled taxi passengers has gone to Parliament.
An Early Day Motion has been tabled acknowledging the campaign and demanding wheelchair users be charged the same fares as the able-bodied.
The move follows a three-year fight by People First Keighley and Craven for a section of the Equality Act 2010 to be enacted.
“Ministers have the power to enact the clause, which would solve this problem,” said John Grogan, Labour’s Keighley parliamentary candidate. “I fail to see a good reason for further delay. It is simply a matter of basic justice that a wheelchair user should pay the same for a journey, in a vehicle suitable for them, as anybody else.”
He invited Bradford South Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe to visit the People First Keighley and Craven offices. They discussed the issue with campaign leader, Tom Walsh. Afterwards, Mr Walsh, 30, told the Keighley News he was delighted the matter was being raised in Parliament.
He said: “Private hire drivers with accessible vehicles were charging double the fare for wheelchair users. That figure is now time-and-a-half but it is still totally wrong. The discrimination is still going on and we must put a stop to it.
“The fact is that disabled people should not have to pay any extra.”
Mr Sutcliffe tabled the motion noting the importance of the campaign and calling on government to bring into force section 165 of the Equality Act.
“Private hire firms that have vehicles designated as accessible by a local authority must carry passengers in wheelchairs without making an additional charge,” he said.
Research by People First showed many drivers charging double for disabled passengers. Mr Walsh was filmed by the BBC taking un-dercover taxi trips to expose discriminatory practices.
Wheelchair users need to travel in larger, adapted vehicles.
Stuart Hastings, of private hire firm Metro Keighley, said: “There is a lot more involved than carrying an able-boded passenger and it can take twice as long. We have 22 wheelchair accessible vehicles. Our disabled customers appreciate the additional work required and are happy to pay more for the service our drivers provide.”
Mmmm... The Equality Act has been in place since 2010, having taken over from the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. In both Acts, only the sections compelling taxi and PHV drivers to carry assistance dogs have ever been enacted. It will be very interesting to see (a) if any Early Day Motion is acted upon during the remainder of this Parliamentary session; and (b) depending upon the results of May’s election, whether this Motion is taken forward under the auspices of a new Government. We shall see... Ed.