Where are the wheelchair taxis?

Test Valley Borough Councillors are to debate the shortage of wheelchair accessible taxis in Romsey.

At present, the authority licenses 36 taxis, of which two operate in the Romsey area; none of these are wheelchair-accessible vehicles.

Last year, the licensing committee agreed to offer extra licences to operators of wheelchair accessible vehicles in the Romsey area.

Expressions of interest were invited, but only six responses were received and only one of those from the Romsey area.

A council spokesman said: “The council is keen to increase the number of wheelchair accessible hackney carriages licensed in Test Valley and is exploring options to help achieve this. Licensing committee members will consider the report at the meeting on Thursday (January 17).

“The council was disappointed with the low response rate and will consider the options set out in the paper to help increase the number of wheelchair-accessible hackney carriages.”

Currently, the council restricts the number of hackney carriage licences it issues and one of the options before the committee is to abandon the restriction in the hope that will result in more taxis for Romsey, some of which will be wheelchair-friendly.

John Hutson, of the Romsey Disability Forum, said while he had his own transport and he knew that others in the group had theirs, he had concerns for anyone who was disabled who didn’t have a wheelchair-accessible car.

“I would hate to be in Romsey and having to hail a cab if I was disabled. I’m lucky that I have got my own car and drive myself.

“I don’t know what anyone would do if they were in the middle of Romsey or Southampton needing a taxi that can take a wheelchair.

“It has to be big enough for someone to slide in and then the wheelchair can go in the boot,” he said.

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