Concerns as Fareham only has three wheelchair accessible hackney taxis

DISABILITY campaigners are in shock after it was revealed just three cabs have wheelchair access in a town.

One per cent of the 306 hackney carriages in Fareham are licensed as being able to carry wheelchair users, a meeting was told.

The issue was brought before Fareham Borough Council’s licensing and regulatory affairs committee where it was agreed more information would be gathered to see if the low number was affecting disabled people in the borough.

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Neighbouring Gosport has 38 such licenses, while Havant has seven and Portsmouth 85. The figure has prompted calls for action.

Steve Taylor, from Fareham Area Disability Forum, said: ‘These statistics are truly shocking.

‘There is a need for these issues to be raised as the council should absolutely be doing more to provide facilities for disabled people in its taxis.

‘For someone who has a wheelchair, getting from A to B can be the most important part in terms of being able to get out and do things.

‘I did not realise the figures would be quite this bad.’

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During the council meeting, head of environmental health Ian Redman told councillors the local authority had received no complaints about people being unable to get a wheelchair accessible taxi.

But he also said council officers had not checked if taxi firms had got complaints.

Councillor Susan Bell said residents might complain directly to the taxi company and not to the council, which was possibly why there were no complaints recorded.

She added: ‘If we haven’t received any complaints then maybe this isn’t an issue but I don’t think people would know to complain to us about this. We need to check with the taxi firms.’

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Mr Redman told councillors only having three wheelchair-accessible taxis was a concern but it was not a problem that was easily solved.

He said specific designs and performance requirements for wheelchair accessible taxis did not exist which was a problem.

Cllr Arthur Mandry asked what could be done if the council wanted to add more wheelchair accessible vehicles.

Mr Redman said: ‘We could offer incentives but it is difficult to justify doing that.’

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Chairman of the committee Cllr Pam Bryant recommended the officers speak to disability groups and the Hackney Carriage Association to see if having three vehicles was a problem.

She said: ‘Once we have spoken to them, we can compile a report.

‘It is a very important area we are responsible for.’