Newmarket Journal readers' letters to the editor
The dispute over whether all taxis should be wheelchair accessible dominated our mailbox this week.
DISABLED JUST WANT A CHANCE TO BE ACTIVE
I trust John Bone (Journal, August 19) was just seeking a response to his comments regarding taxis and disabled folk and was not meaning to be taken seriously.
Leaving aside the fact that an Act of Parliament governs this subject, he suggests that councillors should leave this bit of ‘busy body perfection’ to a future day. Like so much legislation regarding disabled living it should not be delayed, far too many of these laws are already ignored.
Please stop and consider; we did not choose our disability, unlike the drinkers who may exceed their capacity and drive home. It is their choice how much to drink and chance needing a taxi. For a great many people their only choice is to attempt to get a taxi or stay at home
Now car-less myself, I am still learning how to get into a normal car one legged. I fear having to use a transfer board at present rules out ‘normal’ taxis. Hopefully, one day my surviving leg will be strong enough for me to get into a taxi without the board. I am one of the lucky ones, many do not have the options open to me.
Instead of people such as the taxi owners looking at negatives, the least they can do is seek for possibilities. Not all WAVs (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles) are Transit van conversions. These I do admit are a problem, with their step-in height, for some older folk, but there are alternatives. I believe Driving Miss Daisy have some vehicles that suit.
Mind you, from what I have heard from some folk that require a taxi for a wheelchair person, getting one of those apparently available in Newmarket, when needed, is harder than getting a Cup Final ticket.
Disabled folk do not seek pity, just a chance to be an active part of society, to make the most of whatever their condition permits.
Tony Pringle, Newmarket
NOT ALL DISABILITIES ARE THE SAME
Why should all taxis have to be wheelchair accessible? As the taxi drivers themselves point out, many of us (their customers) prefer standard cars, which offer a much more comfortable ride than the approved ‘London cab’.
It is surely enough if there are some wheelchair accessible cabs, as it is if some, but not all, toilets are adapted for disabled people. After all, disabilities come in many forms, and what is good for one may disadvantage another, or non-disabled people in general.
The Equality Act does not require that everyone has the same experience of any service. It bans direct discrimination, which means that you can’t discriminate against someone simply because they are disabled. Indirect discrimination ‘is’ permitted where the cost of providing a service is not proportionate, and that cost includes the negative effects on others.
The Act is also clear that within each of the nine protected characteristics, no one expression of them has any priority.
It is as illegal to discriminate against people for not using a wheelchair as it is to do the opposite.
The taxi drivers would win this one in court: better if the council finds an acceptable solution first.
Rachael Padman, Dalham
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