Hounslow Council


Agenda item

Open Forum

Minutes:

Cllr Mel Collins advised that he had attended a meeting of the TfL Sub-Regional Disability Mobility Transport Forum along with John Beattie and John Foster. A number of high powered speakers were featured. The meeting had discussed the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street where it was learned that it was proposed to have a ‘shared space’ between pedestrians and cyclists during the day, with buses allowed in after 10:00pm. A consultation would be held in late June.

 

The second topic was the TaxiCard scheme, the tender for which was likely to be bid for in October 2017. Options were ‘kerb to kerb’ and pick up at the door, drop off at the destination. Cllr Collins suggested door to door would be best and that needed to be added to the tender. There had been a lot of discussion about assistance dogs. It was felt that drivers should be required to indicate whether they were prepared to carry such dogs before they accepted a job; it was very important to note that drivers could not suddenly refuse on arrival. Following questions, Cllr Collins advised that drivers were currently allowed to refuse but it was hoped that a change in legislation would mean they had to state in advance. It was hoped that this matter would be included in any new service contract. A member of the Forum expressed the belief that access for assistance dogs was a clear equalities matter and religious/cultural beliefs should not stand in the way of access to a public service. Celia Golden advised that it was a matter for the law to decide whether it was permissible to refuse to carry dogs on religious grounds. Under the new legislation however drivers would be obliged to state in advance if they would refuse dogs and it was then up to TfL if they were still prepared to enter into a contract with drivers who refused. Cllr Collins advised that he would be attending a seminar on hospital transport on 18 June, which he would report on at the September meeting of the DCF.

 

In response to a question from the floor Ms Golden advised that the law on reasonable adjustments required that disabled people had a right of access to public buildings but in regards to the Treaty Centre there was a question about where responsibility lay. The primary duty to ensure that the lifts were accessible and in working order lay with the owner, followed by the leaseholder, then the contractors. As there were so many parties lift accessibility and maintenance tended to ‘fall through the net’ and so legal advice was needed. There was a need to ascertain who was responsible. Currently the leaseholders were saying they wouldn’t allow non-customers to use the lifts and there was nothing to compel Job Centre Plus to allow people to use the lifts. It seemed the leaseholders were not willing to do the right thing and allow disabled people access and so legal advice was being sought.

 

Finally the Chair announced that due to cuts in staffing levels DCF meetings would no longer be attended by a clerk. He offered thanks to Democratic Services staff for their work to date.