Leeds & West Yorkshire

First Bus appeals against wheelchair court ruling

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Media captionFirst said its bus drivers needed to know "what they are legally required to do and how".

First Bus is appealing against a court ruling, won by a disabled man from West Yorkshire, that the firm's wheelchair policy is discriminatory.

Doug Paulley, 36, from Wetherby, was denied access to a First bus to Leeds when a woman with a pushchair refused to move.

He won his claim the company had breached the Equality Act in a hearing at Leeds County Court in September.

First said its drivers needed to know "what they are legally required to do".

The case is expected to last three days at the Court of Appeal.

Sleeping baby

Mr Paulley attempted to board the bus to visit his parents in Leeds in February 2012.

But he was told to wait for another when the woman with the pushchair refused to move because her baby was asleep.

A judge at Leeds County Court said First's policy of "requesting but not requiring" non-disabled travellers, including those with babies and pushchairs, to vacate the space if it is needed by a wheelchair user was in breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Mr Paulley was awarded £5,500 damages.

At the Appeal Court in London, Martin Chamberlain QC for First Group said it was an example of a long-running problem on public transport that had "produced conflicting court decisions".

He said bus operators were now seeking legal clarity.

Mr Paulley said: "Public transport should be for everybody, including parents with pushchairs, but ultimately it is a wheelchair space.

"Without that space ,wheelchair users are unable to travel on the bus."

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