Veteran Barrhead taxi driver Frank Smith has a plan he hopes will finally end the misery of disabled people who cannot find a local taxi.

He is seeking licensing councillors' backing for a scheme which would finally give Barrhead and Neilston residents with mobility problems a cost-effective way of using taxis in their own area.

Like Barrhead disabled campaigner Chris Baird, featured earlier this month, he argues it's a scandal that East Renfrewshire has virtually no disabled-friendly taxis – none in Barrhead, and just one or two elsewhere – while in neighbouring Glasgow and Renfrewshire these vehicles are standard.

In recent weeks Barrhead News has detailed the anger and frustration of disabled people like Chris, and campaigning organisation East Renfrewshire Disability Action, over what they see as a litany of failure and fudge on the part of the council.

Anyone with a mobility problem has to go for the inconvenient and expensive option of a vehicle from Glasgow or Renfrewshire if they want a taxi, and it has been argued that this amounts to a form of discrimination.

Now Frank, who has been involved with taxis for more than 30 years, and who was a director of a taxi firm for more than 20, says he's determined to find a workable solution to East Ren's virtually unique – some say “shameful” - situation.

He adds that he also has the distinction of having driven the last disabled-friendly taxi in Barrhead, and so wants to see the problem resolved “in a fair and workable manner” as soon as possible.

“The key to all of this is the legislation covering taxis”, Frank told Barrhead News. “It took me a while to see a way through all this that would be short of making it compuslory to have wheelchair-accessible vehicles across the board, but there is another way of doing it which is within the law and – I think – fair to all concerned.”

The proposal he's urging the Licensing Committee to study when they come back after their summer holidays in August involves fixing a compulsory quota on each firm operating taxis in the area.

It would be applied as a condition to the “Booking Office” (taxi company) licence, much as though – in a completely separate and unrelated area of legislation – conditions can be attached to a pub or offsales licence by a licensing board.

Frank says it's time taxi companies took on responsibility, and that putting the onus on firms would take the pressure away from drivers who can't easily afford the outlay required for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

He concedes there's an argument over private hire cars (typically saloon cars which don't lend themselves to adaptation), and notes they cannot sit in ranks or ply for trade.

However he argues there's no good reason why East Renfrewshire Council cannot bring in a regime which is fair, relative to the size of population, even if it does not come close to the universal availability of disabled-friendly taxis in Glasgow or Renfrewshire.

“I would suggest a ratio of one to 25 would be fair,” he says, “and that it would be realistic to get the number to 20 wheelchair-accessible taxis within a year.”

But he adds that it's the principle of the move that is important, and that the actual number (which could be amended to suit changing times) can be agreed, and possibly revised periodically, by the licensing committee.

Frank says it's unfortunate the lengthy holiday season means there isn't another Licensing Committee meeting until August, but hopes that by then the message that the present situation is no longer tenable will finally lead to positive progress.

“I think it's a good idea,” he said, “and now it's up to councillors to decide whether or not I am right.”