Councilors have called for more wheelchair-accessible taxis after reports of people ‘waiting for more than an hour’ at a taxi rank.
At a Licensing and Regulatory meeting, members discussed a report carried out by the ‘licensed vehicle surveys and assessment’. The report looked into the ‘unmet demand survey report.’
Liberal Democrats Councillor Pat Keith for the Cambridge Ward said: “You said there doesn’t seem to be a problem in Southport. But I found – I don’t use the station that much – this happened in the space of two or three weeks.
“I met a lady with her mother who was in a wheelchair and she told me they were going to have to leave the rank because they couldn’t get a taxi for over an hour. It was cold and she said this happened quite often.
“Two weeks later I saw a young woman – about 19 – who was very distressed and in a wheelchair.
“It was the first time she had traveled by herself and she was rowing with her mum over it, as she didn’t want her to travel by herself. But the young woman wanted to be independent.
“She wanted to go to Sandpipers and she was told there was over an hour delay for a taxi. Her mother was on the phone hysterical when I was talking to her.
“They rang Sandpipers where she was going and they said this happened regularly. I know you are saying there aren’t any complaints but I wonder if you are asking the right people?”
Leading taxi operations analyst at LVSA, Ian Millership said he was disappointed he wasn’t able to talk to these case studies.
However, he added it was difficult for the local authority to change the ranks performance as it was privately owned. Furthermore, he recommended the committee to discuss the issues with the company.
He also said there was a difficulty as “people with disabilities often feel they can’t speak up”. Mr. Millership then suggested members advertise a clear way for users to raise concerns.
However, council officer Mark Toohey said there are 30 Southport-based wheelchair accessible vehicles. “It sounds like some wheelchair users are not aware of this,” he said.
He added if the committee wanted to consult the trade to introduce a condition only for new vehicles to be wheelchair-accessible only, it is something that could be looked into.
Cllr Keith agreed it was something which should be looked into. “Yes I would say so if they are not using their voice we have to stick up for them.”