Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) - Board Meeting - Minutes - 31 January 2023


  • Linda Bamford – Convener (Chair)
  • Hilary Stubbs – Vice Convener
  • Audrey Birt (AB)
  • Caroline Barile (CB)
  • David Hunter (DH)
  • Elliot Cooper (EC)
  • Graham Dunn (GD)
  • Joanne Devitt (JD)
  • Lesley Macinnes (LM)
  • Lynsey Shovlin (LS)
  • Michael Tornow (MT)
  • Naghat Ahmed (NA)
  • Simon Watkins (SW)
  • Susan Fulton (SF)

MACS Secretariat:

  • Vanessa Altweck (VA)
  • Ally Nelson – Head of Secretariat

Transport Scotland

  • Steven Dora – Deputy Sponsor, Accessible Travel Policy Team Lead
  • John Maxwell – Sponsor
  • Lucy Logan (LL) – Accessible Travel Policy Adviser
  • Jacqueline Macdonald (JM) – Rail Accessibility and Policy Manager

Agenda Item 1: Welcome, Apologies and Housekeeping

The Convener welcomed everyone to the meeting and wished them all a happy new year. She outlined the specifics of Board meetings; they occur quarterly and actions are recorded independently.

The Convener announced Heather Still would be stepping down as a member and thanked her for her contribution over last year.

The Convener reminded the Committee that January Board meetings are different to other Board meetings; there are no workstream updates and no Convener update, but will agree the workplan and workstreams for 2023/24.

Agenda Item 2: Welcome to new members

The Convener welcomed the new members to the Committee and attendees introduced themselves and their work remits.

SW asked the Secretariat for contact details of the new members.

Action 1: Secretariat to circulate member contact list to the Committee.

Agenda Item 2: Welcome to new members

The Convener welcomed the new members to the Committee and attendees introduced themselves and their work remits.

SW asked the Secretariat for contact details of the new members.

Action 1: Secretariat to circulate member contact list to the Committee.

Agenda Item 3: Approval of minutes, matters arising and update on action points from previous meeting

The Convener asked the Committee to confirm that actions 1, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 9 could be marked as complete, and 2, 7, 10 as ongoing.

The Convener asked the Head of Secretariat to reopen action point 3 as this had not been fully completed.

The Convener asked the Deputy Sponsor to update on action points 2 and 10 about inclusive design guidance.

The Deputy Sponsor confirmed action point 2 was ongoing, further work on the draft document was required to make it more compatible with existing guidance. Feedback has already been reviewed internally and the document is at an advanced stage, but the Deputy Sponsor cannot meet end of January deadline and would need to return to the Inclusive Design working group, which includes SF and NA from MACS, first rather than straight out to consultation.

The Convener confirmed with the Deputy Sponsor that the document would be with the working group by mid-February, prior to the Leads meeting, and the Committee by end of February.

The Deputy Sponsor also highlighted that the updated sponsor team action for Action 2 was submitted to the Secretariat after the agreed deadline 17 Jan and so had not been incorporated into the papers circulated for the meeting.

Action 2: Supersedes previous actions 2 and 10, Deputy Sponsor to produce inclusive design guidance document for mid-February to the accessible travel working group and end of February to MACS.

The Vice Convener pointed out that in the Sponsor update document that a meeting had taken place and she remarked about having missed an opportunity with the aviation team, as she had not been informed that the accessible travel policy team was meeting with airport colleagues.

The Deputy Sponsor confirmed a member of his team had contacted each airport to take initiative and make connections with relevant people.

The Vice Convener said she was not made aware and would have been expected to be part of these discussions.

The Deputy Sponsor remarked this was an initial meeting to bring together colleagues as a loose forum and the intention was to involve MACS further down the line.

The Vice Convener remarked that MACS criticise other organisation for not being consulted at an early stage and saw this as a missed opportunity to work with TS colleagues.

The Deputy Sponsor confirmed it was still the intention to involve MACS, but it had not been the right time.

The Convener noted that MACS members are bound by same confidentiality as TS officials and could be involved from the start.

Action 3: Secretariat to set up a call between the Vice Convener and aviation team.

DH asked that previous action 3 should remain open. He explained that MACS previously had a role on the Delivery Board for implementing the National Transport Strategy 2 (NTS2). DH outlined that during lockdown, the remit of the delivery board changed to include only transport providers; MACS and other stakeholder were taken off the board and asked to influence through other means, such as the Transport Equality Network (TEN). DH concluded that the first pillar of the NTS2 is reducing inequalities, but MACS have no formal input and need to seek clarity on how they can influence.

The Convener added that she was waiting on reply from the Minister for Transport on NTS2 and where she sees MACS linking in.

Action 4: Supersedes previous action 3, Secretariat to contact TS colleagues to clarify MACS’ role with regard to monitoring and influencing delivery of NTS2.

The Convener noted action points had not been completed three months apart, adding to workloads and delays. She urged that priority was given to progressing actions post Board meetings.

Agenda Item 4: Sponsor Team - paper and update

The Convener handed the floor to the Sponsor team to discuss the Sponsor team update paper provided. The Deputy Sponsor opened the floor for questions to the Committee.

SW noted the Sponsor update touched on the accessible travel framework and Disability Equality Scotland report evaluating the framework and associated delivery plans, and he asked about the next stages.

The Deputy Sponsor highlighted that the Accessible Travel Team and Disability Equality Scotland were planning a webinar for 8 February to gather information to inform the work and he added that it was hoped the work would be completed in March with a report being a key output. He added the next stage is to use the findings of the report to inform the next delivery plan and to consider if an annual delivery plan model is preferable over a longer term plan. He also remarked that it was hoped it might also provide some useful insights to inform early thinking on what might come after the current Accessible Travel Framework when it reached the end of its scheduled period of operation in 2026.

SF noted that there was a lot going on in active travel and MACS were seldom included. SF asked the accessible travel team to advocate for MACS involvement when working with active travel colleagues.

SF asked what exemptions were in place for accessible taxis in Low Emission Zones (LEZs).

LL confirmed there was extensive work around this area with taxi colleagues, as LEZs have had a huge impact on them. LL said she would ask about exemptions for wheelchair accessible taxis, but confirmed that all accessible vehicles are exempt. She added that disabled person’s road tax falls under criteria for exemption and the individual wouldn’t have to apply separately for an exemption.

SF remarked this did not cover all disabilities, such as hidden disabilities.

MT echoed SF’s point about active travel, because of the difficulties with active travel infrastructure. MT said he had spoken with taxi drivers in Glasgow, who said they needed to replace/retrofit their vehicles within a limited timeframe.

LL remarked that TS were providing funding for the retro fit and the timeframe had recently been extended, but she would ask for specifics and how it applies to taxis.

MT noted that unless retro fitted under grants available (TS or transport funding), taxi drivers would have to pay the full cost of the retro fit. He added there is a general perception that taxi provisions are reducing as the result of emission zones or industry. LL agreed.

Action 5: LL to enquire about specifics of LEZ exemptions and retrofit funding for wheelchair accessible taxis.

CB remarked that with the first roll out of LEZs in Glasgow coming in June 2023, many Blue Badge (BB) holders were not aware the exemptions were coming into force and more information needed to be provided for online BB applications.

LL agreed that making applicants aware of LEZs along with the Blue Badge application forms would be useful. She added more communication is required and noted she had recently spoken with the LEZ team who are in process of drafting an information sheet to go out to local authorities (LAs) for distribution. LL noted there were delays due to TS still designing the exemptions website and they wanted this nailed down before further communications. LL assured this should happen in the next 4 to 6 weeks, as the testing of the platform is already planned.

EC remarked he was learning to drive and was unaware that LEZs could apply to BB holders

NA remarked she was only aware that BB holders needed to apply for an LEZ exemptions because of her membership of MACS.

Action 6: Secretariat to ask LL/ LEZ team to share plans for informing Blue Badge holders of the implications of LEZs.

The Convener thanked Lucy for her updates. She commended the narrative around free bus travel under 22, as an enabler of human rights, that was included in the Sponsor paper. She noted that we are a long way short of delivering the same aspiration for disabled people as we are for free bus travel; warm words and vision statements are not lived experience and can underestimate the mobility gap. She added that it was good to see free bus travel in the Sponsor paper defined as ‘what needs to happen’.

The Convener noted the update included from the Equality and Human Rights Directorate on developing a disability strategy. She remarked that early 2022 MACS had asked to join the group developing the strategy and asked for an update on this.

The Deputy Sponsor advised the Secretariat had met with policy colleagues who were leading on this area. VA added that the Secretariat had been told that membership for the group had been completed. 

Action 7: Secretariat and Sponsor team to speak with Equality and Human Rights Directorate to clarify options for MACS input into the disability equality strategy.

EC noted he had been told by rail staff that there were no ramps at stations.

JM responded there were platform ramps at some of the rail stations. She added that the decision to remove ramps flows from the necessity to comply with safety regulations, however delivery of the first phase of the ScotRail project is currently being reviewed and recommendations have been put to Scottish Rail Holdings and will return to TS possibly seeking funding. She noted that the hope is that platform ramps that were previously available are reinstated.

The Convener thanked Jacqueline for coming to the Sponsor team update and noted that it was much easier when area-specific policy colleagues attended.

SF asked if Equality Impact Assessments (EqIAs) were carried out on the withdrawal and change of ramps at rail stations and if MACS could view these.

SW responded that he had put in a FOI request and received the EqIA which he can share with SF. He added that the Office for Road and Rail had initiated the project and concluded the original ramps were dangerous; there initially was only one phase of installing ramps, there is now a second stage to roll them out.

MT noted there was not always a conductor on board the train and new ramps should be placed on board as well as at the rail stations.

LS noted issues when no second staff member was available to put a ramp down and staff needing to be physically capable to do this making it unreliable for disabled people to travel. LS added that the design needed to be better and that she understands there is a safety issue, but travel needs to be accessible.

JM responded that there had been a new safety requirement that ramps needed to be locked in place when being rolled off a train and universal ramps were no longer fit for purpose. She added that relying on second member of staff hasn’t always delivered what is required, hence the current review.

The Convener thanked the Sponsor team and policy colleagues for attending and closed the meeting for lunch.

Agenda Item 5: Agreement of 2022-2023 revised work plans and discussion on review of workstream structures

MACS Convener reviewed and discussed the draft 2023-2024 work plan and workstream areas of engagement with MACS members; various final amendments were agreed.

The Convener committed to finalising and sending the proposed plan to the Minister for Transport by mid-February to seek approval.

Action 8: Convener to send finalised workplans and workstream structures to Secretariat for the attention of Minister for Transport by mid-February.

Agenda Item 6: Key Messages for Twitter

DH said he would tweet out the workplans once published on the MACS website.

AB asked if any members were interested in supporting twitter duties. The Convener noted the new B2 post in the Secretariat could support with twitter as well and encouraged MACS member to volunteer to get involved.

CB asked about guidance of retweeting MACS posts from personal accounts. The Convener confirmed this was okay and DH said he would provide guidance in a one to one with CB, and aimed to implement a twitter rota.

Agenda Item 7: AOB

The Convener asked for the meeting schedule for 2023/2024 to be reissued by Secretariat.

Action 9: Secretariat to reissue meeting schedule 2023/2024 to all members.

The Head of Secretariat asked the Leads to send in their December/ January newsletters, and would asked for their top 3 workstream achievements for the annual report. He also highlighted upcoming leave arrangements for the Secretariat.

The Convener explained that newsletters were the structure for the annual report.

The Vice Convener highlighted that the workplans ran for the full year and that herself and DH will be completing their terms before then.

VA asked for the Leads to get in touch with the new members and highlight agreed workstream meetings. She also asked new members to send photos to Secretariat and standing members to relay any changes to member biographies before upload to the MACS website.

The Convener thanked all attendees and closed the meeting.