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Wheelchair users have no rights to space on buses, court rules

By Andrew Johnson

Wheelchair users have no automatic right to occupy the designated areas for disabled people on buses, the Court of Appeal has ruled in a landmark case.

It means that able-bodied people who are occupying the wheelchair space do not have to move and bus drivers have no power to make them do so.

The case was brought by the First Group bus company, which was appealing against an earlier ruling which had ordered it to pay £5,500 in damages to Doug Paulley (36), a wheelchair user from Wetherby in West Yorkshire.

Mr Paulley was denied access to a bus in Leeds in 2012 after a woman with a sleeping baby refused to move from a designated wheelchair area.

A judge at Leeds County Court ruled First Group was in breach of its duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

But yesterday three appeal court judges disagreed. While expressing sympathy, they said that Parliament would have to change the law before bus companies could be made responsible for enforcing disabled areas.

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