Leeds & West Yorkshire

Doug Paulley told 'risk assessment needed' for bus access

Doug Paulley Image copyright Doug Paulley
Image caption Doug Paulley won a legal challenge after a dispute with a buggy over wheelchair space on a bus

A wheelchair user claims he was refused access on a bus because the driver told him an individual risk assessment had to be done before he could travel.

Disability campaigner Doug Paulley said he was left in tears by the driver who was "aggressive and confrontational".

Mr Paulley, who won a legal challenge in 2017 over wheelchair access on buses, had tried to get on the 412 North Yorkshire County Council service.

The council said the vehicle did not have a dedicated wheelchair space.

The 41-year-old was hoping to travel on the 17:25 BST bus from Wetherby bus station on Wednesday for a planned meeting as part of volunteering work.

He said the driver refused and told him she could only take people in a wheelchair if an extra person was present and each individual wheelchair user had to be risk assessed in advance.

Image copyright Doug Paulley
Image caption Mr Paulley had tried to travel on board this 412 bus from Wetherby to York

"I was flabbergasted," Mr Paulley said.

"The bus clearly had a wheelchair accessible badge displayed and there was an access lift at the back.

"She became aggressive and confrontational and at one point she told me that it was above her pay grade to be dealing with this sort of thing.

"It was such an upsetting situation. In the end I was left in floods of tears on the pavement."

In a statement, the council said it had stepped in to rescue the service after a commercial operator dropped out and as such was using a 16-seat minibus which did not have a dedicated wheelchair space.

Mr Paulley said: "At no point did she tell me there was no space for a wheelchair and there were wheelchair symbols all over the vehicle."

He added: "All I wanted to do was just catch the bus like anyone else."

Mr Paulley has won dozens of disability discrimination cases over the last decade and has represented himself in many of those challenges.

David Bowe, the council's corporate director for business and environmental services, said: "We are really sorry that the gentlemen was not able to use this service and we are reviewing how we might address this in the future."

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