Cheltenham looks to London Electric Vehicle Company to help with zero carbon wheelchair accessible taxis

LEVC Cheltenham

Cheltenham is taking a long hard look at alternative, greener and wheelchair accessible taxi vehicles for the town’s licensed taxi drivers to test drive.

Cheltenham Council has announced that the implementation date of 31 December 2021 of its wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) policy for taxis will be removed and has committed to reviewing and implementing an updated WAV policy to bring this into line with its 2030 climate ambition, aiming for Cheltenham taxis to be both wheelchair accessible and carbon zero.

As part of the council’s commitment, the licensing team invited the Coventry-based London Electric Vehicle Company to Cheltenham to demonstrate alternative, greener and wheelchair accessible taxi vehicles for Cheltenham licensed taxi drivers to test drive.

Cllr Martin Horwood, member for customer and regulatory services, said: ‘’My ambition is to develop a policy where we have a 100 per cent zero carbon and wheelchair accessible taxis. The climate emergency motion passed by Council in 2019 commits to Cheltenham being zero carbon by 2030 and accessibility remains a priority for the council.

‘’The revised policy will be developed through extensive engagement with representatives of the licensed trade and disability groups, with advice from our climate change team.

‘’We need a comprehensive plan covering charging infrastructure implementation, affordability and finance for drivers, likely government disability legislation and air quality considerations.

‘’In the meantime, I also want to deliver an immediate and significant increase in the availability of taxis for wheelchair users in Cheltenham.  To make this happen we are in discussions with an app developer to make it much easier for wheelchair users in Cheltenham to hail one of the 70 wheelchair accessible hackney cabs we already have.’’

The council recognises the investment made by drivers who have already converted to wheelchair accessible vehicles, and will ensure that the further move to zero carbon will be phased in for those with existing wheelchair-accessible vehicles. New applicants will still be required to license a WAV taxi, so the number of WAV’s will continue to increase.

Ann Lightfoot, chair of the Cheltenham Accessibility Forum said: “We welcome the Councils policy which strives for accessibility for everyone and the use of carbon neutral vehicles.  The Forum is delighted to be involved in working towards equality of access for all and believes that cooperative working benefits all parties.’’

London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC), based in Coventry, has been manufacturing the official London black cab for more than 100 years and reinvented the iconic taxi as an electric zero emissions capable TX in 2018. Since launch, more than 5,000 units have sold worldwide, and its green credentials have prevented more than 57,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere and saved 35 million litres of fuel from use.