Wheelchair users 'prisoners in own home' with lack of accessible taxis

Only two taxis in the whole of East Renfrewshire are specialist vehicles, the lowest in Scotland.

Wheelchair assessible: Freedom of information request lodged by Stewart Maxwell MSP. <strong>STV</strong>
Wheelchair assessible: Freedom of information request lodged by Stewart Maxwell MSP. STV

Wheelchair users are being left to feel like prisoners in their own homes because of a lack of accessible taxis, according to disability campaigners.

Figures obtained by STV News show a big difference in the number of vehicles, both public and private hire, across local authority areas.

Council areas for East Renfrewshire, Argyll and Bute and some island councils report some of the lowest figures, with only specialist vehicles in the former constituency.

It equates to less than half a percent of the available taxis with many wheelchair users having to phone companies out with their boundaries, leading to higher charges and longer waits.

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In Argyll and Bute there are nine taxis with wheelchair access, equating to just 4%, while in Moray only 12 such taxis, 6%, are currently in service.

A larger area like South Lanarkshire has 342 public taxi licences and 1234 private hires – however only 3% of those can be made available to wheelchair users (54).

To compare with smaller constituencies, 7% of taxis in the Orkney Islands Council (three) are wheelchair accessible and only 2% in the Western Isles (two taxis).

Chris Baird, who lives in East Renfrewshire, is part of a campaign to increase access to taxis across Scotland where in total less than a quarter of taxis can take wheelchairs.

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He told STV News: “People can’t get out so it’s increasing social isolation and marginalisation of disabled people.

“It’s just preventing you from participating and contributing in our local communities and just do the everyday things that people want to do.

“It ends up people are being stuck prisoners in their own home.”

East Renfrewshire Council say it has been working to increase the number of wheelchair accessible taxis in the area and recently conducted a one year trial where a number of drivers using specialist vehicles could avoid paying the fee for a taxi licence.

The small step could become part of a larger initiative but in the meantime leaves those in need of the taxis either waiting longer or paying for a taxi from another area.

In comparison every public hire taxi in nearby Glasgow City Council is wheelchair accessible as part of the local authority’s rules, while Aberdeen City Council aims to be 100% wheelchair accessible in 2017.

Flagging other councils:

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Elsewhere:

Out of the hundreds of music venues in Glasgow, only 25 were listed with wheelchair access. Read Mary McCool‘s report below.


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