Coventry City Council bans wheelchairs from accessible taxis

As I have previous reported, one of the downsides of using an electric wheelchair has been my relationship with taxis. After extensive discussions with Coventry City Council’s Taxi Licensing Office, I have been that while the regulations state drivers can not refuse to take passengers who use wheelchairs, in reality since most wheelchairs can only use a taxi sideways, it is no longer deemed safe after 1 incident in Birmingham.

So Coventry has scrapped its regulations and allows any driver who refuse to take a wheelchair. I am further told that I can only use Ring and Ride or off peak council transport which means going via the bingo hall and dealing with a service designed for older people, not a leading independent consultant.

I am also told by implication that I am no longer allowed outside my home at night or early morning, like when I need to catch a train to London. So basically ordering me to stop working and sit on my beanbag like a good spastic. 

The council propose to solve MY IMMEDIATE problem by consulting with ‘groups’ that represent disabled people, so spending months to bend the groups, who don’t always represent disabled people who sit on national committees and travel the country, that it will be okay to keep disabled people household and dependent on ring and ride, with the permission of their social worker!

And this year, the city is hosting events for the Olympics and Paralympics but how, when wheelchair using athletics are no longer welcomed in this city!

My wheelchair can go in taxis and it has gone in taxis and it must go in taxis, the Coventry just need to  realise banning disabled people from its Taxis is not helpful for your image, unless they wish to be known for systematic hate crime!

Did direct payments really change my life?

Everyone talks about how direct payments and personalisation changes people’s lives and I agree for many it has certainly appeared to be that case. But the question is whether it was the fact money was provided or rather the amount that was provided and the support planning process which went along with it.

I came to Coventry in September 1992 and I entered the realms of being a service user at the very start of community care. The idea of residential care was certainly not on the table and definitely not since I am an ambitious university student who had high expectations of what I was going to do with my life.

I was always going to lead an independent life and direct payments was simply the mechanism available to do that. If direct payments was not around, which was indeed the case, other ways to make a payment to me was made possible.

Therefore direct payments did not change my life as it was my life. I was always on track and I think this is the right way to see this issue. We should not be changing people’s lives as services should not be bad enough to need changing. 

Social care currently assumes the lowest expectations for someone’s outcomes and then tries to make it a bit better. I think it should be assumed people have high expectations and potential which services and systems should simply deliver without a needing to celebrate every time the fact users are do what is actually or should be quite normal.