Council crackdown after claims taxis are refusing to take wheelchair passengers in Chorley

Cabbies in Chorley have been warned about their obligation to wheelchair users after claims that a disabled passenger has been struggling to get taxis to take her out.

By Brian Ellis
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 4:55 am

Ellen Radley, 82, complained to the council after alleging a string of firms had refused to pick her up even though some had wheelchair accessible vehicles.

"I'm stuck at home because I can't usually get a cab to take me out," she said. "And it's been happening to other disabled people I know.”

Chorley Council has now told cabbies it will investigate any cases where disabled travellers feel they are being discriminated against.

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Ellen Radley claims she struggles to get taxis in Chorley because of her wheelchair.

And it is urging passengers to report instances where they are finding it difficult to get a taxi.

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The authority is also encouraging firms to consider adding more wheelchair accessible vehicles to their fleet.

One councillor said that if firms were refusing to take customers with disabilities, despite having accessible vehicles available at the time, the council would investigate any concerns raised "with utmost importance."

Cabbies say they are trying their best, but many don't have disabled access cars.

Ellen, who lives off Blackburn Road in Chorley, uses a mobility scooter to get out and about during the day. But in an evening she prefers to travel by taxi because she feels less vulnerable.

"I've been having a terrible time getting cabs," she said. "I've tried most of the taxi firms and I keep getting told they don't have one available that can take me.

"It came to a head the other week when I needed to go to A&E because I was in severe pain. I was told there was a nine-and-a-half hour wait for an ambulance and when I tried to get a taxi to take me I couldn't.”

The Post contacted a number of private hire firms in Chorley and most said they didn't have a suitable vehicle. One said one was "in the pipeline" but wasn't available yet.

Ellen feels trapped in her home in an evening due to problems getting cabs.

Drivers of black cabs in the town - there are 10 on the council's list equipped to take wheelchairs - said motorised ones can be too heavy for the taxi and buckle the ramps.

But one firm, A1 Wheelchair Taxis from Eaves Lane, confirmed it would be willing to pick Ellen up "whenever she needs us."

"The bulk of our work is taking wheelchairs," said boss Wajid Hussain. "Ellen only needs to ring us."

Coun Alistair Morwood, executive member for planning and development, said: "Accessibility for all in our community is important to us.

"We have put measures in place to make it easier for wheelchair users to find taxi firms which are able to accommodate by publishing a list of wheelchair accessible vehicles and contact details on our website and we have changed our policy to allow for taxi firms to license rear loading wheelchair accessible vehicles and to encourage more in their fleets.

"Some of our local firms unfortunately do not yet have accessible vehicles however.

"There are a number of provisions in the Equality Act regarding increasing the proportion of vehicles in a taxi fleet which are wheelchair accessible, and we are actively encouraging our local firms to consider or increase accessible vehicles in their fleets.

"If anyone wishes to make a complaint about a taxi company or driver, please contact us on 01257 515151 or by email to [email protected]"