Drivers say taxi loss could affect disabled people in Worthing
Four taxi drivers fear disabled passengers will be left struggling to get around town if the licenses for their wheelchair accessible taxis are not renewed next year.
Trevor Goss, a taxi driver of nearly 39 years, said a council licensing officer had decided four of Worthing’s 15-year-old London taxis ‘have had their day’ and must leave the roads next year.
But Mr Goss said this would leave Worthing short of wheelchair accessible vehicles, as drivers could not afford to replace the £50,000 taxis.
The 58-year-old said: “To lose four wheelchair taxis in one year is not good.
“Disabled people already find it hard to get a wheelchair taxi.”
According to Mr Goss, most other cities allow London cabs to remain on the road for 20 years.
“We can’t see why they shouldn’t license them, providing that they pass the MOT,” he said.
“We are prepared to have extensive work done and to have an MOT every six months, as opposed to every year.”
He believes it is a case of ‘red tape’ and is calling on the council to reconsider.
Grandmother Shirley Cable, a wheelchair user, believes she would be ‘absolutely stuck’ if the taxis were to come off the road.
“It’s the only way I can get around,” she said.
The taxis are also used late at night and are especially safe, Mr Goss said, because of the screen seperating the driver and passenger.
Chris Cooper, managing director of Castlegate Security Solutions which guards Worthing’s taxi rank at night, said wheelchair users already faced a wait for suitable taxis at night.
He said: “The main concern is, if there aren’t enough cabs, how are they going to get home?”
But a Worthing Borough Council spokesman said 12 per cent of the Worthing Hackney Carriage fleet was made up of wheelchair accessible vehicles.
The council had taken steps to increase this ratio by only issuing new hackney carriage plates to applicants providing wheelchair accessible vehicles, the spokesman said.
“We take our responsibilities as the taxi licensing authority extremely seriously and keeping the public safe is our overwhelming priority,” the spokesman said.
“Our taxi handbook sets out the standards expected of hackney carriage vehicles.
“This ensures the safety of the public and makes sure that everyone, including those with limited mobility, have access to comfortable and suitable transport.
“All hackney carriage vehicles are inspected at least every year to ensure all vehicles meet the council’s standards.
“There is no ban on older vehicles operating in Worthing.
“The latest version of the handbook, agreed in November, gives a standard maximum age for cars as ten years.
“However, those deemed to be in ‘exceptional condition’ are allowed to continue in service after this date, providing they pass a six monthly inspection.
“Obviously, for public safety reasons, vehicles that do not meet the standard cannot be licensed.”