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STATEMENT: Supreme Court win for Doug Paulley

SIA is pleased to learn that Doug Paulley has been successful in his Supreme Court case against FirstGroup Plc.

However, it is disappointing it is only a partial victory. Service providers will have to do more than ‘request’ those occupying facilities provided for people with a disability and ‘require’ that able-bodied people vacate wheelchair spaces on buses and trains, or parking spaces, for example at supermarkets.

Quite how far service providers will have to go however with a ‘requirement’ is not clear. As before, much will depend upon the attitude of the individual bus driver in charge of a bus at the time or the train manager if the incident occurs on a train.

It was disappointing that the justices in the Supreme Court did not come down more strongly in support of disabled people and make a judgement that the wheelchair space on public transport is ‘by law’ vacated or made available to those with a disability. Accessible public transport is vital to an inclusive, barrier-free society and it is essential for disabled people to engage in employment, family and social activity, which is so vital to living a fulfilled life.

Dedicated wheelchair spaces on buses and trains are a crucial victory of the disability rights movement in the UK. The notion that the availability of these spaces could have been restricted to wheelchair users represented the potential rolling back of decades of hard won disability rights. This is indeed a positive judgement.

SIA welcomes this step forward and congratulates Doug for persevering with this long legal battle but we still have a long way to go in this country to achieve real equality for people with a disability. Until we have that equality, SIA will continue it’s important campaigning activity.