Denton & Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne last week had his Disability Equalities Training Bill filibustered and prevented from going to a vote by Conservative MP filibustering. This week, after enthusiasm from the minister, Gwynne has advanced in making the measures proposed by his bill become a reality.
The bill if passed would have made it mandatory for all taxi license applicants to receive training on the rights of all disabled people as passengers. The Minister is looking at adding measures to to the Police and Crime Bill to protect taxi users with guide dogs, which they hope will gain Royal Assent in April 2017.
As part of the Police and Crime Bill, the Government will be updating statutory guidance on safeguarding (including in relation to taxis and private hire vehicles). This also gives the Government an opportunity to update and strengthen the existing non-statutory guidance relating to taxis on accessibility issues within a single document.
In addition, Mr Hayes has asked his officials to conduct an analysis of local authority performance on the assistance dog and wider accessibility issues, and will be writing to each council on their performance and telling them, if necessary, to improve on both training and enforcement.
Andrew Gwynne said:
“It was shameful that two Tory MPs decided to talk this bill out and prevent those with guide dogs from accessing basic services needed to go about their daily lives. However after this week’s meeting with Transport Minister John Hayes, I am feeling positive about the future of transport accessibility for people with assistance dogs.
“The minister has assured me that he expects the enforcement of these measures to succeed and although the timescale is longer than if my bill was passed, it will be implemented as quickly as possible.
“His Department will be monitoring closely what happens after the new guidance is issued and he will threaten further action if things don’t improve.”