SCOTTISH Borders Council has been accused of not using the full force of the law to protect disabled taxi passengers.
Under the 2010 Equality Act, taxi drivers can face fines of up to £1,000 if they refuse to transport wheelchair users or if they charge them extra.
However, those rules only apply if councils have registered accessible taxi vehicles to a section 167 list, which Scottish Borders Council has so far failed to do.
Creating a section 167 list is not mandatory under the act, but research carried out by Muscular Dystrophy UK shows that Scottish Borders Council is one of only three local authorities in Scotland not to have current plans to create one.
Nic Bungay, director of campaigns, care and information at the charity, said: “Taxis are often the only way that disabled people can get from A to B when public transport isn’t an option, but the new legislation simply isn’t working to help ensure they can do so safely and fairly.
“Our research robustly demonstrates the impossible situation that many disabled people find themselves in.
“Passengers, taxi drivers and councils alike are crying out for clearer guidance, and we need to see the taxi lists made mandatory, to make this well-intentioned law workable.”
Scottish Borders Council was recently accredited as a disability-confident employer, and through its membership of the Scottish Borders Health and Social Care Partnership it is consulting on a draft disability strategy.
A council spokesperson said: “A section 167 list is not a requirement, however it is something that is being considered and a report will be discussed by the civic government licensing committee in due course.
“A list of 1995 Disability Discrimination Act-compliant vehicles is already held by the council.”
Lauren West, trailblazers manager for Muscular Dystrophy UK, said: “Scottish Borders Council is correct that a section 167 list is not mandatory. However, without one in place, taxi drivers who overcharge or refuse to transport wheelchair users cannot be fined and held to account.
“We are calling for the Department for Transport to tighten its guidance to protect disabled taxi users but in the meantime would urge all councils who don’t currently have section 167 lists, including Scottish Borders Council, to put one in place.”