Written byLAURA HAMMOND
TAXIS which are not suitable for wheelchair users will continue to be licensed in East Staffordshire, regardless of looming legislation suggesting they ought to be phased out.
Licensing staff at East Staffordshire Borough Council recommended that saloon hackney carriages, which stand at ranks throughout the borough, should no longer be licensed in a bid to comply with upcoming disability laws.
But members of the taxi trade and the authority’s licensing committee decided the change, which could cause inconvenience for taxi operators, was not necessary, as the rules had not yet come into force and were not expected for some time.
A spokesman for the authority said: “After consultation with the Taxi Trade Group, no clear line was drawn under the preferred outcome for the saloon Hackney Carriages.
“However, it was noted that the preferred option of the Taxi Trade Group was for the saloon vehicles not to be phased out.
“Furthermore, the licensing committee considered that as the section of the Equality Act relating to taxis had not yet been implemented the saloons should continue to be licensed.”
If the decision had been made to phase out the saloon cars, there would have been no further licenses approved for that type of car. They would have been phased out of use completely by April 2015.
Mohammed Ikhlaq, chairman of the East Staffordshire Taxi and Private Hire Association, said he thought it was unnecessary for all taxis to be made suitable for people who use wheelchairs.
He told The Mail: “The majority of taxis running of the rank, and how many people do you see using a wheelchair there?
“Out of every 100 vehicles you may have only one or two people who use a wheelchair. It would not be financially viable for people to replace them.”
But one wheelchair user said she disagreed.
Joy Hincks, of Oakland Village in Swadlincote, said there should be more taxis licensed which are suitable for disabled passengers.
Mrs Hincks, who uses a power chair, said: “There isn’t enough, and with more and more people having these things as we are living longer it is a problem.”