Brecknock Access Group has been advised that people with disabilities are sometimes unable to obtain taxi carriage for a range of everyday activities they want to participate in. This is a particular issue if they have wheelchairs or other mobility aids.
There is a barrier here for people with disabilities which Powys may have a resolution to through the licencing process, where we understand there could be an issue both for taxi drivers and maybe for Powys.
To enable Brecknock Access Group to understand the issues involved are you able to provide information for residents of Brecon and beyond on whether there are trained taxi drivers licenced in Powys to help and provide a service for people with disabilities who don’t have access to a personal vehicle or nearby public transport.
Response by Head of Service:
Brecknock Access Group have been in contact with the Environmental Health Licencing team directly to request that they attend their next meeting. The Licencing team will attend to answer questions.
There is currently no mandatory disability driver training required by persons applying to be licensed as a taxi driver in Powys. The Welsh Government is however currently in the process of drafting new taxi legislation for Wales. Below are some extracts taken directly from a guidance document published in March (attached):
Welsh Government are developing new legislation and will be engaging with key stakeholders over the next 12 months to ensure this meets the needs of the sector. Our long-term aim is to produce a licensing system with a focus on, public safety, equality, improving the environment and customer experience.
Equality: the aim is to ensure that all passengers, regardless of their gender or any disability, have access to suitable vehicles. Drivers and operators will provide a service that fits customer needs.
Welsh Government’s plan is that Wales’s taxis and PHVs are accessible by all. There are many documented accounts from members of the public that have experienced problems accessing taxi and PHV services in Wales.
It is anticipated that mandatory disability awareness training will form part of new driver standards for Wales in the new legislation. The draft legislation once prepared will be subject to consultation and I expect the Welsh Government to engage with all the relevant stakeholders including those representing disabled passengers.
As an interim measure Welsh Government have produced voluntary standards aimed to be quick fixes to some of the inconsistencies amongst Welsh authorities on taxi licensing. The Planning, Taxi Licensing and Rights of Way Committee are shortly to receive a report recommending adoption of these standards in a new Powys Taxi Licensing Policy. The interim standards contain the following requirement in relation to accessibility:
a suggested licence condition applicable to proprietors/drivers of wheelchair accessible vehicles aims to ensure that all drivers are able to deploy wheelchair ramps correctly and load and secure wheelchairs safely.
This condition will hopefully be a new feature for taxi licensing in Powys from early next year once the final policy has been consulted on and approved.